Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

1930's -'40's Halloween Sample Book of Cats, Witches< JOL & Other

Even as an aficionado of vintage Beistle items, I'm puzzled by the ending price for this sample book. Sure, based on the photos there was a number of interesting and rare items contained within the pages, but they were all glued in, making their collectible value a fraction of what some of these items would have brought otherwise. I wonder, too - how is something like this displayed? 

Dennison's Bogie Book - 1922 Halloween Catalog - vibrant color

Three Bogie Books from the 1920s are appreciably more common than the others: 1922, 1925 and 1926. The latter has always been common. Dennison must have been having a banner year then. The other two have become more common since 2012 when a largish quantity was unearthed in Kentucky, all in near-mint condition or better. Given that, this is a copy that is over-priced and over-graded. 

Vintage Halloween Paper Hat ~Witch Riding Moon W/ Broom ~ Black Cat ~15" Tall

I'm surprised that this visually striking, large and very rare hat didn't bring more. I wouldn't need all the fingers on one hand to count how many times I've seen hats from this small set surface. Yes, there are some condition issues, but fairly minor. (The main fold is unavoidable as these hats were shipped that way from Shippensburg.) My feeling is that the buyer got a solid bargain. 

Antique Vintage German Halloween Child Pumpkin Tea Set Anthropomorphic Pitcher

It is difficult to differentiate German and Japanese porcelain tea set items from photos alone. We know that the Japanese copied a limited number of items from the more competently made German porcelain line. We also know that there is no evidence that the Japanese output was ever contemporaneously marked. I feel this creamer is likely one made in Japan for three reasons. It has a plethora of knobby protrusions. The lip of the creamer is inelegantly large. There is an open area where the handle ends inside the creamer. The German made creamers do not have this opening. Given that this is likely a Japan-made item, be cautious when bidding. SGV for the German creamers is $175. One made in Japan should bring substantially less. 

05/25 Update: I wasn't surprised this creamer fetched $132.50, as these Japanese porcelain items typically fetch far less than their German made counterparts. 

Vintage Halloween Party Hat Witch Devil Black Cat

This pop-up hat was made in Germany during the 1920s. I've seen this style of hat several times, all with a different brim. The other brim is the same as shown on page 244 with a pleasing design of running cats. The thin tissue center is identical to the one in the book. I feel this checked brim is less visually appealing, so I wonder if it will affect what this ultimately brings. SGV is $160. 

05/23 Update: I feel the checked brim acted as a brake on the price this fetched as it brought $117.50. 

May 2017 Auction

Thanks to all those who participated in this year's auction! I had significantly more registered bidders than ever before, with a higher percentage of those bidders actually placing bids. The prevailing bidders were more numerous - nicely apportioned between familiar names and those whom I hope will become familiar. 

By all metrics, this was a successful event. 

I enjoy hosting it on own busy site, enabling me to restrict participation to those who demonstrated their care for our fun hobby by investing in the only broad-based and in-depth reference available. 

The results closely tracked trends I've seen developing over the last 18 months. Small paper items like invitations, tallies and place cards, as well as post cards, games and diecuts typically over-performed while lanterns and candy containers somewhat under-performed. Tin noisemakers seem to have recovered some of their mojo from the chilly depths to which they had sunk. I forecast we'll see further strengthening of this genre. 

Thanks again to all those who were part of the fun!

1925 Pop-Up Folding Halloween Party Invitation

The ending price of this remarkable pop-up invitation is another indicator of how strong the market is for unusual small paper. I recently purchased a sizable small paper collection out of Iowa. One invitation was from this same set. Also written in, it too had a date of 1925. Because I have never seen examples from this set surface prior to the last few months, I surmise these were made for a single season only. Given the graphics, the pop-up and the cool closing method (The "To Let" sign is perforated.) these were expensive in 1925. 

unused Halloween diecut nut cup with BLACK CATS, pumpkins, mice - Whitney??

This pleasing piece of ephemera was produced during the 1920s, almost certainly by Whitney. (Frustratingly, Whitney marked nearly none of their output aside from post cards. One has to look at Whitney's art from that time using post cards and items from their boxed sets to gain insight into their aesthetic. Hallmark produced items with a similar aesthetic at this time so one has to be careful with attribution. Hallmark typically cared about their product enough to mark much of their output.) There are at least six different designs from this set, maybe eight. Small paper is hotter now than at any time since I began collecting in 1988. It will be interesting to see if the BIN option is exercised. 


This is one of the earliest commercially produced Halloween party games. It is unusual to see this intact, because to play it you had to cut it up. That alone makes this a worthwhile something to acquire. Saalfield was a long-lived Akron, Ohio based firm best known for being a publisher of children's books. Founded in 1900, they survived through 1977. This party game was copyrighted in 1907 and produced for several seasons on muslin. There was a smaller enveloped version made from 1910-1919. This later version was printed on cheap paper that hasn't held up well over a century's time.  The muslin game should fetch around $100. 

vintage GURLEY O-PEE-CHEE Halloween Candles FULL CASE Lot of 12 NOS New

Candles are an excellent genre for those starting out in our fun hobby as they were typically nicely molded and remain affordable. The buyer of this lot got a solid deal as they were able to acquire a dozen nice candles and its unusual box for only $150. I say the box is unusual primarily because it represents goods sold in Canada. I am not sure if I've seen this particular iteration before. There were a good number of holiday candle manufacturers. Gurley was arguably the most skilled purveyor of these now-vintage candles as their designs were numerous and often inventive. 

VINTAGE 1930's Gibson HALLOWEEN Owl and Black cat, Pop up card

For a Gibson item, the art is curiously flat and uninspired. (Without it being marked, I would not have guessed it was Gibson.) What I do like about this is the slight 3-D effect as a result of the place card's design. Clever design, ho-hum art. If you like small paper items with a 3-D design element, check out Lot 95 in this year's auction. It is arguably the best small paper lot I've ever been able to offer. The auction's preview period goes through Saturday. The auction begins this Sunday and will end the evening of May 7. 

Vintage Halloween Jack O' Lantern 4 Sided Cardboard Die Cut Lampshade & Oil Lamp

This shade doesn't come up for sale as often as it used to. This shade was made in Germany, probably for Beistle. There are three different shades all made about the same time during the late 1920s. The owl and cat shades are pretty dull in that all sides are identical. The artist seems to have spent the most time designing this shade as the JOL's expressions differ on each side. Guide value is $125, but one hasn't surfaced in some time, so who knows what this will bring. The oil lamp the seller is including is immaterial. 

Vintage Halloween Noise Makers lot of 4

Someone got a solid deal buying this lot. The star is the round Kirchhof rattler/clanger combo, a form I've not seen before. Kirchhof made that noisemaker, as well as its companion piece that can be seen on page 204, for one season only in the early 1930s. Its RSIN is 1, so you know it simply doesn't surface often. When you do see them, they are almost always in poorish condition - faded, scuffed, dented. (I don't know why.) SGV for that item alone is $325, so bravo to the prevailing bidder. 

RARE VTG Jack-O-Lantern Halloween Lamp Light BEISTLE Honeycomb Cat Witch

I haven't seen one of these true gems listed in some time. Although in rough condition, it is nice to see one of these survivors on its way to a good home. Beistle issued this lantern masterpiece in 1930-1931. I feel it is a physical manifestation of the acme of their art. Beistle used this art on an 8" version then never again. SGV is $1,200, but given its overall condition, I think this will be hard-pressed to meet that level.