1897 "Yes, Virginia" Santa Claus Letter

Value (2012) | $30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

My great-grandmother's name is Virginia O'Hanlon, and when she was eight years old she asked her father if there was a Santa Claus, and to avoid the question he told her, "If you see it in the Sun, it's so," and he was referring to the New York Sun newspaper. So she wrote a letter to the editor asking if there was a Santa Claus, and that was in 1897, and that inspired the editorial written by Francis P. Church, I believe, coining the phrase, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

Here we have the original letter when she was eight years old, when she did write to the editor, Dear Editor, was there a Santa Claus. And the response from Mr. Church has been reprinted hundreds and thousands of times in many, many languages all across the world, and it's almost a wonderful free verse poem. It's so wonderful that she saved this.

My grandmother-- her daughter-- had it in her possession for quite a while, and when she moved out of her house, my mother acquired a lot of the scrapbooks and photo albums and she gave it to me. I know I got a lot of show-and-tells out of it in school.

It's wonderful to have memorabilia intact like this. The only thing I would suggest is, because it's not on an acid-free paper that you should invest in removing this. Do you have any idea what this might be worth?

No, and to be honest with you, I didn't really think it had any monetary value to it at all. It's more of an interesting piece of history, I think.

Well, after doing a little research, we had sort of a conference backstage of a number of the appraisers together and we really feel that something like this would be worth between $20,000 and $30,000.

Wow, that's impressive.

Appraisal Details

Heritage Auctions
New York, NY
Update (2012)
$30,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Appraised value (1997)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Phoenix, AZ (July 19, 1997)

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