*The red coat is 'new'. Images of Father Christmas prior to about 1880 most pictures showed him with a green coat. The red became the most popular colour after the US introduction by Coca Cola during the 1930s.
How do we know what Father Christmas looks like?
We owe much about what we know about the Father Christmas today to the Americans of the 19th Century. In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore described what he imagined Father Christmas to look like in a poem.
The poem is often referred to as 'The Night Before Christmas', but originally it was titled 'A Visit from St Nicholas'.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his sack.
His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump,--a right jolly old elf--
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
Written by Clement C. Moore in 1822 as a Christmas present to his children.
In 1866, Thomas Nast, a cartoon artist for the Harper's Illustrated Weekly, made a montage entitled, "Santa Claus His Works" and for the first time established 'Santa' as a maker of toys
George P. Webster (Walker) made five of Nast's drawings into coloured pictures (lithographs) to illustrate a poem he wrote in Nast's book Santa Claus and His Works (circa 1869). Santa is portrayed as an overly fat, happy, white bearded elf, wearing a spotted red-brown, skin-tight suit, the base of the jacket trimmed in white fur lined with spots or attachments just below a red sash. The poem identified the North Pole as Santa's home.