One Thousand Christmas Beards

One Thousand Christmas Beards by Roger Duvoisin.
Knopf, 1955.

In my own perfect world, I would own all the wonderful old books by Roger Duvoisin, so I could pull them out whenever I needed a smile.

Alas, I do not live in a perfect little world. Many Duvoisin titles are out of print, few are available for check out at the local library, and used copies can go for large sums of money, more than I would be willing to pay.

Perhaps there is hope: Knopf / Random House just re-released Duvoisin's long-unavailable version of The Night Before Christmas. I tried to pick up a copy at my local indie store last week, but they were sold out! That's a good thing, though, right? See, publishing companies, people will still buy these books!

I did score a tattered copy of One Thousand Christmas Beards this year. From 1955, it's full of the humor and whimsy one expects from a Duvoisin book. The opening endpapers are stamped "Discarded." Isn't that terribly sad?

The beginning of the book finds Santa raving. He cannot believe how many imposters are about in the world! With fake white beards! He is angry. He wants to put an end to all the fake Santas.

And so Santa goes on a rampage. He bustles about, yanking beards off many imposter Santas. Except for the Santa in the coffee shop - he gladly gives Santa his beard, as it's getting in the way of his coffee.

Santa returns to the North Pole, proudly showing off his haul to Mrs. Claus. One thousand white beards!

But Mrs. Claus is appalled. She reminds Santa that he is much too busy to be out and about in the world. It brings people joy to see Santa Claus, even if he's peddling Christmas trees or ringing a Salvation Army bell. Santa begins to regret his snatching of the beards. He wraps up each beard and mails them to their owners.

This was in the girls' Advent calendar bag on December 6, by the way: St. Nicholas Day!

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  1. this is so weird and wonderful, i love it! ha ha ha! oh how GREAT is Duvoisin?? This is such a treasure, I can't believe someone voluntarily parted ways with it! LOVE the art. :)

    1. It's so wonderful! I really, really want a copy of The Christmas Whale. The pictures I've seen online are awesome. Our library has it, but it's in the Decorative Arts Collection, marked "In Library Use" only. (Lots of awesome vintage books are there. So frustrating!)

  2. Me too, love the art, and it is good news that people still buy these books!! What a little gem, and love the connection with St Nicholas Day!

    1. Yes! I so hope they reissue more.

      I got your card! I mailed your package... today. Sorry. Perhaps you can add it to your book countdown next year. :(

  3. Beautiful! and.. discard - just unbelievable. Am off into town today to try to find replacements for the two packages from "Santa" that got lost in the post. Wish me luck.

    1. Oh no! How awful! Yes, good luck. That must be so disappointing. Have a very merry Christmas, Lucy.


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