The best known tale about St. Nick is one of him giving a poor man with three young girls gold for their dowries to aid in their search for appropriate husbands. Sadly, young women without dowries in those days risked the real danger of becoming prostitutes out of desperation.
This broadside, engraved by Dr. Alexander Anderson in 1810 and re-engraved by the artist in 1864, was distributed to the New-York Historical Society for its first celebration of the Festival of St. Nicholas on December 6th in 1810.
In this image, the saint retains his traditional religious clothing and pose. The bountiful hearth is drawn as a traditional Dutch fireside, with a teakettle, waffles and cat. Note that one stocking is filled with gifts for the good girl, while the other stocking is packed with birch rods for the naughty boy next to her. In many European countries, Santa's gifts were traditionally placed in wooden shoes rather than stockings.