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Gattamalata Inactive Member25 Dec 2015 11:13 p.m. PST

When Santa Was a Bank

For much of the 19th century, Santa Claus had a branch office at No. 12 Wall Street. This was the "Saint Nicholas Bank," established in 1853 and capitalized at $500,000. USD

The origins of the Saint Nicholas Bank are a bit murky. Aside from the fact that it built a safe that Bankers' Magazine described in 1854 as "the largest in the United States, if not the world," the new institution attracted very little notice.

At this time, state-chartered banks in the United States issued their own currency, in denominations and designs of their choice. This system of private money creation flourished before the Civil War, with nearly 2,000 banks printing their own currency by the end of the 1850s.

The Saint Nicholas Bank printed money illustrated with who else? Santa Claus. The $1 USD and $3 USD bills showed Santa popping out of the fireplace to tend to children's stockings. The big man was depicted in various poses in his reindeer-drawn sleigh on the $2 USD, $5 USD, and $10. USD The $20 USD and $50 USD showed the jolly old elf popping out of another fireplace, with sleeping children tucked into a bed a few feet away. (The rarely seen $100 USD note, by contrast, showed the U.S. Capitol building so much for holiday cheer).

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