Harper’s Weekly – January 1, 1881

Of all the symbols Nast created, popularized or inspired, Santa Claus is the most endearing, and probably will be the most enduring, as an irresistible holiday image — for both hearts and pocketbooks. The merry old Santa who appears in countless newspapers on Christmas Eve or Day every year, mirrors the artist’s features. Santa was extremely personal to him and his family; they appeared in many of the 33 Santa Claus cartoons he drew for Harper’s Weekly and the 21 he drew for Harper’s Bazar over 24 years.

Somewhat ironically, while Nast’s influence and reputation were predicated primarily on the effectiveness of his negative attacks on Confederates, the Tweed Ring, and Democratic Presidential candidates, it is his jolly Santa Claus image which has become his principal legacy in today’s fast-changing world.