These little chenille Santas were made by the millions in Japan and sold in American dime stores from the 1930s to '50s. Averaging 2.5 inches tall, their little faces are usually made of molded clay, and they each have their own unique character.
Closely related to the chenille Santa is the cotton batting Santa. These are harder to find than the chenilles, probably because of their greater fragility.
When new, these little Santas decorated Christmas trees and gift packages. Now they are highly sought by collectors and their prices have risen accordingly, typically $10-13 each, but occasionally as high as $28 for an early or unusual example. The lucky hunter can sometimes still find them for a few cents at garage sales, so it pays to dig through boxes of vintage Christmas decorations whenever you can.
I keep my stash in this old glass candy container, where they are safely lodged in the chimney.