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Santa’s got a brand new bag, sort of

By Dian Vujovich

Once upon a time, long long ago, Santa’s face could be found nearly everywhere–including on our greenbacks.

Yes, it’ s true. Santa Claus and St. Nicholas were once paper currency holiday regulars. That was, of course, before the U.S. Treasury nixed the idea back in 1861, according to Bloomberg.

That news sourced reported: “From 1793 to 1861, when the U.S. Treasury was given exclusive rights to produce legal tender, thousands of different styles of bank notes were created by U.S. banks,” and prominent on some of their holiday-themed currency, a blog post from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York tells us, was Santa Claus.”

It seems that way back when, as Christmas was becoming an official holiday and Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “ A Visit for St. Nicholas” that we affectionately now know as “The Night Before Christmas” was becoming popular, banks figured they’d get in on this seasonal action too. So, an assortment of gold-backed bills was printed. And, it turns out, wound up being collectibles. Which paid off for at least one lucky holder: One Santa paper bill sold for $40,000 in 2011, according to Heritage Actions.

To learn more and view a few of the Santa and crew images found on yesterday’s paper currency, visit Bloomberg’s piece at http://tinyurl.com/k9xapmg. Liberty Street Economics has an entire piece on Santa Claus as legal tender at: http://tinyurl.com/pxrcayr. Then, raid grandma’s attic and safety deposit boxes to see if, by any chance, a Santa bill might be hiding in it.

In the meantime, no matter what faith you may or may not practice, or how much money may or may be in your personal coffers, this time of year is often one of reflection.

On that note, I found this quote by Scottish author, William Barclay, seasonally appropriate for everyone: “In the time we have it is surely our duty to do all the good we can to all the people we can in all the ways we can.”

Happy holidays.

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