ALBANY, N.Y. -- A city as old as Albany is bound to have some famous firsts, like perforated toilet paper or modern electricity and, sometimes, Christmas even wants to get in on the party.

"One of Richard H. Pease’s claims to fame, besides his giant Temple of Fancy and Variety Store, was that he created the first American Christmas Card," said Thomas Nelson Albany Institute of History & Art Exhibitions and Graphic Designer.

The Temple of Fancy was an upscale five and dime store that had its doors open in 1847 on Broadway in Albany. Pease elaborated on the first English Christmas card that came out a few years earlier and turned it into a festive business card shortly after his store’s opening.

"It’s so incredibly rare that there is only one copy of this card known and it’s at the Manchester Library in England," said Nelson. 

As rare as it is now, that wasn’t always the case. The cards were manufactured in Pease’s print shop above the Temple of Fancy and it’s believed that they were given out for free to all of variety store’s customers. While printing the first Christmas Card this side of the Atlantic was a bright idea, his real moment of clarity came several years earlier while running another popular store: Pease’s Great Variety Store.

"He was the first person to realize that Santa Claus has tremendous selling potential. He was going to take this figure of Santa Claus and turn him into a salesman. Sort of made a deal with him. You like to give out gifts, I like to make gifts." 

On December 17, 1842, Pease took out an ad in the Albany Evening Journal but unfortunately every known copy has been destroyed throughout the years. But there is another.

"If he went through all the trouble of making this plate and printing it, maybe he did it again," said Nelson. "And sure enough, a week later on December 23rd in the Albany Argus he printed it again. This is the very first time that Santa becomes a salesman.”

What Pease probably never envisioned was that Santa Claus would go on to become the most popular salesman in the world.

So we can essentially say that Pease was probably the father of modern day Christmas? 

“That’s the take we are maintaining, yes," said Nelson. 

From it’s humble newspaper beginnings it seems that Albany, for better or worse, is the birthplace of the Christmas that we all know today.

One of the buildings that served as its spark still stands on Broadway as a deli with three floors of apartments above it. The same floors where the first American Christmas Card was printed over 160 years ago.