This jolly ruddy faced and bearded character is a welcome secular figure of celebration across modern multicultural society.
And, of course, manufacturers have spared no effort in recreating him- fantastic for festive collectors! So where did Santa come from?
Originating in 4th century Turkey, Saint Nicholas famously gave away all his wealth, even dropping treasure bags down chimneys of the poor.
Spreading across Europe and then to America, Santa Claus became our recognisable magical, joyful and rotund gift-giver through the anonymous poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas’ (commonly known by its first line, “Twas the Night Before Christmas”), published in 1823.
There is a distinct field in collecting the Santa-specific memorabilia which spread from the mid 19th century, including Santa-themed ornaments, postcards, die-cut paper dolls, board games and puzzles; even jack-in-the-boxes with Santa popping out!
Major ceramics studios were soon producing depictions of Father Christmas in all sorts of guises. Antique figurines are very rare and can fetch thousands of pounds, but with production continuing to this day, 20th century examples from a range of makers are good investments.
Royal Copenhagen, Wade, Lladro, Hantel Miniatures and even Swarovski all include wonderful Father Christmas pieces which are very collectable. A good tip is to keep an eye out and pick up a lost and lonely looking Santa out of season, you might even find a marked-down bargain!
Royal Doulton have long been hailed for their Christmasware, with figurines to decorative plates and tableware. Their ‘Bunnykins’ range includes many delightful bunny Father Christmases, which illustrate the value of limited editions. ‘Santa Bunnykins Happy Christmas’ was produced from 1982 until 1996, its high numbers meaning copies can be picked up for around £20.
‘Santa Bunnykins Happy Christmas Tree Ornament’ however, produced only in 1987, had a limited run of just 1,551, and is therefore valued at £1,500! And just so you don’t miss out, Moorcroft Pottery Collectors Club produced a 2008 vase modelled as a Christmas post box, valued at £60-80. So post your letter, and see what Santa might bring- only if you’ve been a good collector this year!