Santa Claus as legal tender

While Christmas is definitely over, it is currently snowing in Prague, and this central banking story suddenly acquired an extra appeal again:

Who would have thought that Santa Claus was once legal tender?

During the unregulated 19th century, a variety of banks issued their own holiday-themed currency. One popular figure featured on many bills was Santa Claus. The Santa Claus bank notes became very popular as keepsakes, because denominations were typically small and the subject was at the forefront of peoples’ minds given the brand-new official holiday. One motivation for the banks to release these and other collectible currencies was to dissuade people from redeeming the bills for their underlying gold value.