Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.


As regular readers know, the Halloween decorations and related ephemera I collect tend to be from the 1920s and 1930s rather than from anytime in the 1960s, as I prefer the design aesthetics then in vogue. However, this 1960 Butterfinger's candy box is compelling. I like the graphics, especially the way the wrapped candy bars appear to be so readily grabbable! I can see that these commercially manufactured candy boxes could become a hot sub-genre. This great box sold for only $65 plus shipping, so this sub-genre right now seems to be an inexpensive toehold into the wider, more expensive world of vintage Halloween collectibles. 

Vintage Halloween flying owl--wings flap-

These owl decorations were made by Gibson in the early 1930s. They were made in two sizes. These appear to be the smaller of the two sizes. The larger design measures ~7.25" high by ~6.75" wide by ~11" long. The larger one typically trades for $65. 


The Johnny Pumpkin family of decorations was made by Beistle during a short window of 1919-1922, except for this size, the smallest of the litter, which was made in three variations through 1925. This is an example of the third variant, which I describe on page 123 this way: "This is the final variant of this size. These are smaller, brighter and have no easels. Instead, there is a prop that unfolds from the side enabling the item to stand. This was sold with stock number 514." 

Vintage Cat halloween paper mache candy container

The seller listed this as a BIN - and did so without knowing or caring what the market price is for this hard-to-find pulp lantern, evidenced by the fact that the listing was live for a scant 21 minutes before some lucky and discerning buyer scooped it up, no doubt with a big smile. 

Antique Halloween Paper Mache Pumpkin

This slot and tab cardboard (not paper-mache) lantern was made by the Dolly Toy Company of Dayton, Ohio sometime during the span of 1935 through the 1950s. They were made in varying sizes and all are quite common, having an RSIN of 5. Other sizes can be seen on page 31. Given the handle of the seller, he leaves much unsaid, like the dimensions of the item, obvious though they are not. 

2016 Auction a Great Success!

Thanks to all those many collectors at all levels who participated in my May 2016 auction! The preview began on April 24th and the auction itself concluded on May 8th. The event was comprised of 103 lots and all but 8 sold. I had many more bidders this year than last. I hope everyone had as much fun participating as I had administering! 

The aftermath has taken my time away from regularly updating the blog, but now that the invoices have been generated, payments processed and all the precious treasures carefully packed and shipped, I should be able to turn my attentions to the blog on a much more regular basis. 


This diecut is what I call a mini, and it is part of a set of six designs shown on page 185. (Although there are 6 main designs, often there are minor variations in the mold, so knowledgeable collectors scrutinize these mini-diecuts looking for those subtle differences.) Pieces from this set routinely fetch $225-250 and up, so this result is a true fluke and resulted in some person getting VERY lucky in acquiring it for a pittance. This mini-diecut set is one of the very few examples of these deeply embossed German diecuts to be made after WWII. They are typically marked to reflect the specific occupied zone in which they were made, and virtually all came with these black props. There are 1 or 2 people who believe these diecuts were made through the 1980s, just as there are those who still believe the Earth is flat or that the moon landings were faked. If you hear such nonsense, laugh and move on. 


I feel whomever prevailed upon this listing got a real bargain. Vintage Beistle material is hard-to-find and typically brings very strong prices. To find honeycomb items in the condition the seller states is unusual, so I am mystified as to why this trio didn't bring stronger dollars, especially considering there have been so many recycled listings on eBay for so long. 

Antique Vtg Bugle Toy Co Halloween Tin Clanger Bell Noisemaker Ghost Wizard Rare

This seller has three pieces of Bugle lithographed tin up on eBay right now. As readers know, I love Bugle's tin output as their designs were quirky, quite a bit different from the not-so-memorable output by the major players. The mistakes this seller make are twofold: They don't adjust their asking prices for condition and their prices are simply too high anyway. By and large, tin items are plentiful. Most designs were made for many seasons and they last. My stance is always buy the best items in the best condition. This goes doubly so with tin. 

Vintage Halloween Tin Lithograph Noisemaker Cat Faces Wood Handle HTF

This tin litho noisemaker, made by an unknown manufacturer during the 1930s, is very cleverly designed. I have my suspicions that it was made by Bugle Toy of Providence, Rhode Island, but they were disciplined about marking their tin litho items and this tin item has no mark. It has their characteristic clever design. Take a close look at it to see the almost Art Deco integration of four orange cat faces bordered by two bats and two owls. 
Tin as a genre has been ice cold for years now. This was an aggressive ending price. Does this presage an upward movement for tin litho items? 

SCARCE & VERY FINE Vintage Halloween Witch Face Diecut Decoration, Germany 1920s

My good friend has been listing a very nice collection of German diecuts these last few weeks. This has long been one of my favorite of the German designs. The Germans made a head-spinning number of Halloween diecuts for export beginning in the very early 1920s and continuing through about 1950, with a major interruption from about 1935 through 1946. Everything the Germans made for Halloween was exported. Some designs are more common than others. The rarest designs were made for a single season only, 1935, and exported to eastern Canada. Among these designs are the two devil bats, skulls with several varieties of hats, the two crawling baby designs and a Puss'N Boots, among others. This witch face isn't among those rarefied number, but is quite an eye catcher nonetheless. A much rarer variant is offered in my auction this year. The auction's preview period is happening now, with the auction itself beginning this Sunday. Check it out. By the way, you can't go wrong with this seller. She is truly one of the best out there. 


These two lithoed paper over cardboard horns were produced by Bugle Toy of Providence, Rhode Island. The seller is correct in pointing out that textile spindles were reused in the manufacture of these noisemakers, an early and laudable example of recycling. Bugle was an odd company. They made memorably wacky tin litho Halloween noisemakers, different from their coma inducing designs on paper. It seems likely that a key art designer left the firm and was replaced by a hack, but who knows? Bugle tin litho items sell quickly, whereas most of their lithoed paper designs linger in the marketplace. 

Circa 1910 Halloween Small Skeleton Ghost Black Cat Die Cut Stickers Decoration

This seller has a number of small paper items up right now, all cited as being older than they are. These two small seals were produced by Gibson and sold in the early 1920s in a boxed set of twenty. (See the top of page 264 for the set as well as the other I feel represent the very best designs Gibson made.) Complete Gibson boxed sets are quite hot now, and have been for some time. They were made in significantly smaller quantities than the slide boxes Dennison produced.