As Father Christmas is preparing for his annual task I thought I would look at a couple of Victorian illustrations of the great man, taken from my own collection, both of which show Father Christmas, but not the Father Christmas we are used to.
The first is a Christmas Card, printed on a flat sheet, like most Victorian cards, and shows an elderly gentleman in a white, fur trimmed robe, with a satchel full of presents and a small Christmas tree.
The second is much more unusual, it is a complete Christmas Decoration (which was sent as a card ‘from Fergie’).
It is free standing as the ‘fence’ at the front folds out. Here Father Christmas is shown as another old gentleman in a fur trimmed white robe, but this time with two little girls, the older has a music book open, so perhaps they are carol singers. The girls are wearing warm winter clothes of the late nineteenth century, this would have been sensible at this time as the end of the century was a period of very cold winters.
On the fence in front of the are a number of birds, again very apt for the period of these cards. The cold winters were very hard for wild birds and so people (especially the members of the newly formed
Society for the Protection of Birds) started putting out food for them.
The card is still speckled with glitter, a typically unsafe Victorian embellishment, probably made of powdered glass and lead ore.