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A Christmas Classic by Thomas Nast
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CAUGHT! Thomas Nast’s classic image of Santa Claus being hugged by a little girl graces the front cover of this issue of Harper’s Weekly.

The double-page centerfold is another nice Thomas Nast Christmas print, “Christmas Fancies – ‘Don’t You Wish You Wore Stockings?’,” showing children and their dog in front of a fireplace. Will Carleton’s poem, The Christmas Tree, is illustrated with art by Howard Pyle which fills nearly an entire page. Other prints include the “Electric Railway at Berlin, Prussia,” “The Ring Theatre, Vienna, Recently Destroyed by Fire,” “Hon. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State,” “The Late John W. Forney,” “Short and Sweet – ‘It’s Too Too Too Funny!’,”  and “The Interrupted Journey.” Thomas Nast is credited with creating the modern version of Santa Claus.

[CHRISTMAS]. Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, New York, N.Y., December 24, 1881. 16 pp., 11¼ x 16 in.

Inventory #H 12-24-1881       Price: $375

Kindly see “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore for a legendarily scarce volume with a distinguished provenance.

For information about the controversy over the authorship of the beloved poem linked above, see our article The Authorship of The Night Before Christmas.

Historical Background

Harper’s Weekly was founded by Fletcher Harper in 1857. It soon became one of the nation’s most influential papers, and its images are central to any visual interpretation of nineteenth-century America.

Printed in New York, Harper’s covered the key events of the day, including politics and elections, the Civil War, sports, literature and arts. Each issue has at least ten engravings, as well as political cartoons, editorial essays, “Humors of the Day,” and fascinating advertisements. Harper’s are printed on rag paper—different in weight and quality than the pulp paper used for today’s news.

Thomas Nast, an early contributor, became Harper’s staff artist in 1862. During the Civil War, and through the 1880s, Nast’s images and reports were famous. His scathing cartoons brought an end to the notoriously corrupt New York “Tweed Ring” in 1872, and he created the Democratic Donkey, the Republican Elephant, and the modern image of Santa Claus.

Winslow Homer contributed to Harper’s beginning in 1858. Homer’s The Sharpshooter is arguably the most famous Civil War image, illustrating the first war in which the technology of impersonal killing became truly effective. Homer contributed drawings to Harper’s until 1875.

Reproductions of some issues are available online and in museum gift shops, but we sell only authentic original printings.

Condition

Very good. Some toning throughout. The last page is separated from the rest of the pages and there is a small, ¾ inch tear on the front cover margin, not affecting the art of text.


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