MBL's Blog

Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Vintage Halloween Rare 1925 Beistle Witch/ Cauldron/JOL Honeycomb Basket- LOOK!!

It is such a pleasant surprise to see an exceedingly rare Beistle item on the rather sad selling platform that Ebay has become. (This decay began when their management chose to compete with Amazon rather than focusing on cultivating sellers of rare, vintage goods.) This favor basket was sold from 1927-1931. Beistle made four different designs, all measuring ~4" x ~4". All of them have an RSIN of 2. The condition issues on this example could be easily rectified by a careful, competent paper restorer. (I can recommend ACA Paper Restoration in Devon, PA.) These baskets almost never become available for sale, so it'll be fun to see what this brings. 

Antique 1920's German Halloween Paper Candy Container Jack O Lantern Figure

This small figural on a candy box exhibits a problem common to a high percentage of vintage composition pieces painted black - flaking. I have seen it so often for so many years now that it must be a quality inherent in the black paint used in the 1920s and early 1930s. In my view, such flaking underscores the age of the piece, so I typically don't find it too off-putting. 

Rare German made Jack o lantern Halloween black cat Squeeze box

Wow, the seller made a costly error when listing this ultra-rare German squeeze box for a BIN price of $139! I have never seen this before - in any collection or in any catalog - it is that scarce. The fact that it still makes noise is remarkable. This is an item that surely would have brought ~$1,000 if it had simply been allowed to breathe through a typical auction setting. 


This is a desirable and hard-to-find noisemaker. It was made by T. Cohn in the later 1920s. As I write in the third edition: "This unusual noisemaker has attached wood balls painted like eyes, as well as the original cardboard ears, giving it a truly finished look. This is one of the earliest T. Cohn items in the collection." Sustainable guide value is $165 with a RSI number of 2. 


T.Cohn made two styles of these "putty knife" clangers in the 1930s. Typically, they are pretty beaten up, but this example seems to be in near-mint condition. Although the sustainable guide value is $60, this seller has assigned a laughably high postage cost to an item that weighs nearly nothing. Sending it regular first class shouldn't cost more than $2.50, not the eye-popping $7.15 that will be charged. 

03/01 Update: Even with the high postage, this fetched a solid $55.99. 

History's American Pickers: Parade Lantern Discovery

I watched The Maineiacs episode of History's American Pickers when it aired Wednesday and was excited to see the Mike Wolfe’s discovery of the tin parade lantern. I was honored to have been asked to provide an on-air appraisal of the item with Danielle Colby at the Antique Archeology location in LeClaire, Iowa. This appraisal was given on January 20th. The entire experience was a great deal of fun. Danielle is just as warm and gracious as she appears to be on camera. The appraisal segment will air in the near future. I’ll be sure to give you all a heads-up as to when that airing will occur. Given that they say the camera adds 10 pounds, I’m both excited and apprehensive at the prospect. Once it does air, I’ll share some behind the scenes experiences and some photos I took during my time there. What I can say now is that the American Pickers’ team, both in front of and behind the camera, is professional, fun and made this writer feel very welcome and valued!

Vintage Halloween Pumpkin Witch Black Cat Lamp Light Paper Shade

This is one Gibson shade that I haven't seen come available all that often. Made in the 1930s, this example seems to be in perfect, unused condition and fetched almost the precise sustainable guide value. As I write in the caption for this shade on page 41, "Can you imagine any mainstream manufacturer of holiday goods today incorporating a cigarette into their designs?" 

Vintage Halloween cardboard cat fence and moon orange black

I saw this within ~45 minutes of it being listed and was in the process of buying it for the bargain basement price of $13.50 plus shipping, but my fingers couldn't fly across the keyboard quickly enough. Whomever bought this literally beat me out by seconds. These silver variants of the somewhat common Beistle set of twelve designs are hard to find. Being made from a thinner paper stock than the "normal" ones, finding them in solid condition is tough, too. The seller should be kicking themselves, as this was something that should have brought 11 times what it did bring. 

Rare Antique 1940s HOO'S NEXT Halloween 'Game Of Stunts' H. E. LUHRS Vintage USA

Although sustainable guide value for this rare game is $185, and this example sold for $160 plus shipping, it wasn't a good deal for the buyer. As with virtually everything, condition is paramount, especially with paper items. The condition of this desirable game is decidedly below what I feel is an acceptable level in that all of the perforated windows have been undone. Making it worse, there is surface marring  at too many of the windows. Fair market value for the example is well below half guide value. My motto is be ready to step up and pay a premium price for an item in premium condition, and never pay much for an item with too much damage. 


Just as in many genres, stellar prices flush out like items. The first of these great references brought ~$285, whereas this one fetched $224.50. As additional copies in similar condition surface, the price should drift down to what I consider a sustainable level - around $100. Congrats to the seller, a good soul who has long been on my list of those with I love to do business. 


I'm surprised this seller hasn't modified his listing to acknowledge this is not a diecut that is in "marvelous condition." I've sent him at least two emails since he began trying to sell this diecut over a year ago. So, what's wrong with it? It has been trimmed to give the JOL a Jay Leno-like chin. It wasn't sold this way. Given its damage, the price is decidedly south of $20, nowhere near the $85 BIN price. 


I believe this is a poorly made reproduction. This seller's former Ebay handle was shadowtown. I placed this seller on my list of those with whom I choose not to do business as I felt they sold reproductions of vintage Halloween items. This game, which sold for $305, is definitely not the real deal. An authentic version has directions and 24 fortunes printed on the reverse. The reverse of the offered game is blank, even though the verbiage on the front's bottom states, "The numbers refer to fortunes on the back of card." Additionally, authentic items are not made from heavy paper stock, but are made from a light-to-medium stock. If whomever bought this abomination reads this blog, return it for a full refund right away. 

02/11 Update: Happily, the buyer read my post and wisely decided not to consummate the transaction. The seller, by way of some explanation, burbled that she herself would be seeking a refund from the person she obtained it from. Uh huh....