Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Rare Vintage Halloween Dancing Cats Centerpiece

I'm glad to see such great Gibson enveloped products being offered. (Ebay really has been a wasteland overall for a long time now.) This dancing cat four-sided centerpiece was made by Gibson during the later 1920s. The seller, a very nice person and long-time collector, is correct to point out that these centerpieces don't surface often in complete, mint condition. Almost always one or more of the delicate tabs are ripped clean off. Given that the envelope is also part of the package, both parties to the transaction should be happy with the final purchase price of $200. (eBay shows $225 but the BIN offer accepted was $200.) 

Vintage Halloween German Pumpkin Germany Jack O' Lantern Tea Set. Sugar Jar

Demand for the unusual pieces to the various-sized German tea sets remains strong evidenced by this result. Although I cannot be sure how this piece was meant to be used, I'm pretty sure it wasn't as a sugar jar. There would be a lid for that and this wasn't designed to be a lidded piece. Given that there is a hole in its bottom the ending price seems much too high to me. Looking at the bidding history, only one person kept bidding against a bid that was placed on July 10th. Only during the final minute did another entity make a play for the item, bidding it up to the precise level that the bidder from July 10th bid at that time. 


The prevailing bidder made a smart purchase of this rare enveloped set, although the price ended higher than I would have forecast. Beistle made three iterations of the smallest of their Johnny Pumpkin family of diecuts. The ones sold in this lot represent the third and rarest of the iterations. As I write on page 123, "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." These were made during the span 1923-1925. The set shown in the reference was made later during that range, while this one was made earlier during that range. How is this determined? Beistle's first inclination was to issue things in somewhat plain envelopes, with envelopes getting more ornate during the production run. Check out the differences. 

Halloween Clock Beistle 1923 Very Rare Nice Shape

This 1923 fairy clock diecut manufactured by Beistle is a real eye-catcher. Imposing, brightly colored and pretty far out there in terms of overall imagery, this diecut doesn't come up for sale very often - perhaps twice a year on eBay. With all that in mind, I was surprised that it didn't fetch more. The seller did a good job at pointing out the blemishes, and there were many, but all in all I would have expected this to fetch in the $500-600 range. 

Pre-War Japan Old Fashioned Telephone Candy Container

The seller should have a hard time moving this for his BIN price of $625. These kinds of Japanese items were cheaply made and look cheap. The Japanese tried to emulate the German designs and utterly failed. These sorts of vintage items have not developed strong values in the resale market for as long as I've collected. I don't expect this to change. 

antique papermachie paper card board Germany Halloween OWL clacker noise maker

The Germans produced several different clapper designs during the 1920s, all the same in the way they were assembled - two identical diecuts affixed to an orange shaped cardboard paddle. What some collectors don't know is that more often than not these diecuts were painted to look distressed. What a casual observer may conclude is wear actually isn't. You can see other clapper designs on page 196. 

Original 1940's Flaming Halloween Fortune Tissue Candle Holder

Beistle produced this game in the very early 1930s. Its graphics and just overall appeal as a game is underwhelming. Prices for the complete games have been drifting downward for nearly a decade as collectors reach the same conclusion. The seller incorrectly assumes the three-sided lantern was part of the set. The lantern was made around the same time but by an entirely different company, The Gibson Art Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

07/22 Update: This lot brought $325.20, with the significant majority of the value tied up in the rare cardboard envelope for this rather dull game. This is typically seen with a glassine envelope. 

VINTAGE 1920's 1930's HALLOWEEN Cardboard Standing Black Cat SQUEAKER NOISEMAKER

This cat squeaker has long been a puzzler. There aren't maker's marks and I can see no characteristics present that would provide a clue as to the maker. There were two designs that are quite similar that I feel were issued at the same time. Whether they were produced by the same manufacturer or by competitors is unknown. The other design has more personality and seems to surface a tad less frequently. To see it, please refer to page 211. (I will say that the current price of $180 is not understandable, given its overall availability and its pretty terrible condition.) 

07/17 Update: I was surprised to see this end at $198.50, far above what I felt it would bring based on condition. 

Happy 4th of July!

There sure hasn't been a lot to comment on lately, not surprising since this is typically the doldrums for vintage Halloween listings. Given this, I am going to take a short break to focus on some other projects. Look for new posts in mid-July. Until then, enjoy the 4th!

Vintage Halloween Porcelain Pumpkin Face Creamer - Germany!

I received a number of emails from readers asking if I felt this was a German item, rather than one made in Japan. Given the nice photos, it was easily discerned to be German. There are only a small number of pieces that were made by both countries. As I write on page 119, "The Japanese seem to have copied only a few items: the lidded teapot, the lidded sugar, the creamer, plain waste bowls and medium-sized cups without handles." Japanese pieces have a pebbled surface - some output more than others. The expressions also seem to be goofy. It is hard to explain these expressions, but as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in a case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, "...I know it when I see it..." 

Vintage Halloween Tambourine - U.S. Toy Co. - Jack-O'-Lantern with Witch

Too bad there is so much rust on this rare tambourine, one of the better designs out there. This Art Deco inspired noisemaker was manufactured by T. Cohn of Brooklyn, New York, sometime during the 1930s. It has an RSIN of 2, so you know it doesn't surface often. Guide value in near-perfect condition is $375, but I doubt this well-loved piece will approach that figure. 

Vintage Halloween Owl, Black Cat and Pumpkins Bridge Tally - Hallmark - HTF!

The seller's description of this tally as being hard-to-find is a welcome understatement. I love paper and wasn't able to acquire one of these until recently. As tallies go, this is royalty. It is large, very colorful and a rare example of Hallmark producing an exquisite Halloween item. Because of the many pointed edges on this masterpiece, to find one in near-perfect condition or better is challenging. I would expect that this design gem would bring a price several multiples of the opening. 

07/01 Update: This brought $304.88, a perfectly ridiculous price driven to the never-to-be-repeated stratosphere by two determined, if not addled, bidders.