Santa’s silver sleigh
This month James has a look at how the legend of Santa’s famous method of transport took flight
The traditional festive legend always tells us that reindeer pull Father Christmas’s sleigh through the night sky to help deliver gifts to children on Christmas Eve. The first reference to Santa’s sleigh being pulled by reindeer appears in
Old Santeclaus with Much Delight, an illustrated children’s poem published in New York in 1821.
The original author and illustrator are unknown but it may have been for a Christmas advertising campaign by a department store. However the version that is the most widely popular and we associate with the most is the version that derives from the 1823 poem A visit from St Nicholas written by Clement C. Moore and more commonly called The night before Christmas and is arguably the basis of the reindeer popularity and association with the Christmas legends.
The commonly cited names for the eight reindeer that pull the festive sleigh are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem. The names Dunder and Blixem were mistranslated by Edmund C. Stedman in 1844 in his An American Anthology when the spelling of the reindeer names became Donner and Blitzen. However both translate from the Dutch words for thunder and lightning.
Rudolph’s story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939, and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time. Rudolph’s story became so popular that it has been retold in nearly every known language around the globe in numerous forms, but most notably a wellknown children’s Christmas song; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This led to Rudolph’s popularity and allowed him to join the reindeer list, and thus bring the number of Santa Claus’s reindeer up to nine.
At Juels’ Limited we adore unusual silver objects and have recently purchased a splendid novelty silver Christmas table centre piece depicting a reindeer pulling a gilded sleigh to add to our collection, The festive silver table object d’art is cast in solid 925 sterling silver. It has full imported 925 silver hallmarks via the London assay office. This fine table object probably comes from Bavaria, Germany. The sleigh is gold gilded and would have been used as a bon-bon or sweet dish. Fun, festive and highly desirable.
At Juels’ Limited we have many lovely silver items to adorn your Christmas table, so why not pop in and see James in the Royal Arcade.
‘Rudolph’s story became so popular that it has been retold in nearly every known language’
ABOVE: James’s gilded silver sleigh