The Man Who Drew Too Much
Although writer Clemente Moore described a jelly-bellied Santa in his poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, it was artist Thomas Nast who truly brought the beloved character to life. Nast, born in Germany, was unable to read English. His wife read Moore’s’ poem to the artist to inspire him.
As a staff artist on “Harper’s Weekly” from 1862-1866, he used that inspiration to give America some of its most recognized images: the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and the American version of Santa Claus.
Nast’s drawings defined Santa as fat, jolly, bearded and red-suited. But he did more than change the “shape” of Santa. He changed the shape of Christmases to come.
He was the first to “house” Santa in the North Pole and the first to give him a workshop with busy little elves.
The custom of sending Santa a letter can also be traced to Nast, but that’s another story. And although the custom of kissing under the mistletoe was known in Europe, it was though Nast’s engravings in America that the custom caught on here.
And here’s a biggie: prior to Nast’s engravings, all children received gifts from Santa. Nast conceived the idea that bad children would not receive gifts from Santa.
Nast’s writings are just as valuable as his drawings. A short handwritten letter from Nast was recently sold for $2,999.00. *
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*This was an excerpt, courtesy of: Betcha Didn’t Know That! 101 Antiques and Collectibles Trivia Tips That Can Make You Rich, Famous, and Hit of the Party, Volume One, by Leon Castner and Brian Kathenes www.BetchaBook.com