Before Clement Moore’s “The night before Christmas”, was Santa ever depicted as a jolly old elf wearing a red suit with white trim and a black belt with round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly? Or is our modern conception really an outgrowth of the poem?
Clement Moore with a strong assist from Thomas Nast:
FYI, here is a SDSAB column on this.
Thanks to both of you. The two links provide a pretty complete answer to my question.