MBL's Blog

Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Vintage Halloween Ghost Decoration

This scary Beistle winged ghost was issued in 1925 in two variants: white or orange honeycombed paper wings. Both are valued equally. This example has the typical damage: both knots are missing as is a section of the base. I understand the typically missing knots, but have long wondered why the bases are typically truncated. 

Vintage Halloween Beistle Placecard

Beistle issued these mechanical place cards in at least two packaging variations around 1930. The one shown on page 220 held four: two owls, one ghost and one witch. Beistle assigned this variant stock number 757. The second held 6 place cards, three owls, two ghosts and one witch. This small package has a cello front and was assigned stock number 657. I guess Beistle made a surfeit of owls! 


This small composition Veggie person was made in Germany during the early 1920s. Most of this ilk were meant to stand on round cardboard bases, hence the glue remnants on the bottom. I don't feel that the absence of the base is a material factor in valuation with this category of figurals. The buyer got a very solid bargain, given that sustainable guide value is $135. An identical example is shown on page 81. 


I've written about this seller before. She has long been on my list of those with whom I do not do business, both under her former Ebay handle of shadowtown and under her current handle, trappedintheshadow. A collecting friend was the prevailing bidder and contacted me seeking my input. I said that the seller has long sold Halloween items I question, concerned about their true age. I stated that this foursome was almost certainly not the real deal, specifying that they would probably be on thick paper and have a glossy, shellacked texture. (These traits are characteristic of many Halloween items this seller offers for sale.) Sure enough, my suspicions were validated. The buyer contacted the seller and was immediately offered an apology and a full refund. Is this an M.O.? Is it a calculation that occasional returns are simply the cost of doing business? I certainly don't know. What I do know is that I will continue to do no business with her. 

Vintage Large Gibson Halloween Die Cut Out Scary Witch Table Neckwear

I'm really glad to see unusual Gibson items getting the attention they deserve. This "Table Neckwear" place card was made during the early 1930s. It exemplifies the cleverness with which Gibson approached their designs. An example showing how this would look on a table decorated for Halloween is shown on page 269. This traded for double guide value, either an indication of a serious uptick in Gibson prices or an idiosyncratic result resulting from avid bidders. 


I am disappointed that this seller doesn't define his use of the word, "vintage." This cat head lantern was made in Germany during the 1950s. The mark on the lantern's bottom, "Container Made in Germany," tells us the general manufacturing date. The Germans only used this mark during that decade. So, is something made during the 1950s vintage? In some cases, use of this generic term to describe something made during that time is probably not inappropriate. However, given the price difference in German lanterns made during the 1920s and those made during or after the 1950s, this seller should take care to define the word. This lantern typically fetches between $55-$95, depending on the enthusiasm of the bidders. Its value doesn't come close to the BIN price. 


It is too bad that this seller, who has been offering solid items for too-low BIN prices, is offering this item. This is one of the best known fantasy pieces that began washing ashore in the mid-1990s as truly vintage Halloween candy containers and other composition items were rapidly escalating in price. These typically are offered without a bottom, but the presence or absence of a bottom indicates nothing. There are no vintage counterparts to this well-done fake, making it, more precisely, a fantasy piece. As such, it possesses modest decorative value, about one-tenth of what this seller hopes to get. 


This is the last nearly-annual issue Dennison published touting their Halloween party goods line. They tentatively began the practice in 1909, and didn't issue another issue until 1912. From that year through 1935 Dennison issued an annual issue except for the years 1918 and 1932. Their names and formats changed over the years, as did, most importantly, their utility in assisting modern day collectors in piecing together when products were first produced and then for how long. The publication title changed from Bogie Books to Party Magazine to Parties to Hallowe'en Suggestions to The Party Book to Hallowe'en Parties. The issues through 1924 are the most detailed. Those published during or before 1921 are the most coveted, reflected by realized prices.  


This is one of a trio that comprises a full set. The seller is correct in stating that this 3-D table decoration was made by Beistle. The complete set, made in the mid-1950s, is shown on page 231. This is the one that typically brings the most money when sold. 

04/20 Update: Surprisingly, this fetched only $89.88. 

Vintage Halloween Party Hats Set Of 8

This was interesting in that I hadn't seen it before. I wonder what it would have fetched if the seller hadn't offered it up as a BIN? I agree with the seller that it looks to be from the 1950s. Beistle's artistry was by this time a pale shadow of what it had been in their Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s. This set's designs aren't too memorable compared to the fantastic, wildly imaginative Beistle hats shown on pages 237-241. (For instance, look at the "New Moon" hats on page 239. Wow!) 

Vintage Antique Rare Halloween Candle Black Cat Place Cards Dennison

This has to be one of Dennison's most inspired designs. The artist packed a lot of detail in such a small item, meant to be used as a place card. This first appeared in 1928. As I point out on page 257, "Notice the cat's face in the flame and the candle's expression. Although not particularly scarce, this iconic, diminutive Dennison masterpiece consistently sells at or above the cited value. It was sold with stock number H565." 

04/16 Update: This great piece of ephemera changed hands for $100.99, slightly exceeding sustainable guide value of $85. 

Halloween Decoration Witch on Envelope w/Fortune verses USA Whitney Co 1920's

Whitney seemed to approach their Halloween merchandise outside of their many postcard designs with indifference. This is a great example. As I write on page 273, "The contents are simply four sheets with six fortunes per sheet. The value for this item is due almost solely to the envelope." Although I have assigned a RSIN of 2 to this 1920s item, and am glad to have one in the collection, it is rather dully executed. The tag line of "Just What You Are Looking For" is particularly uninspired. 

Vintage Halloween METAL Noisemaker - Wizard & Kids & Witch by BUGLE TOY MADE USA

Although not a prolific producer of tin litho Halloween noisemakers, Bugle Toy of Providence, Rhode Island, was an imaginative one. Virtually all of their designs pushed the envelope away from the anodyne or overly cutesy imagery so common then and toward idiosyncratic, memorable imagery. This aesthetic has made Bugle tin items highly collectible and collected. As I write on page 189, "This firm's output was much smaller relative to the others mentioned here. What their line lacked in breadth was compensated for by cleverness. (This applies to their tin items only. Their lithoed paper output is unmemorable.)" Check out page 212 for a nearly complete inventory of their tin designs. 

Vintage Dennisons Halloween Seals and Boxes

The seller placed too low of a BIN price on these great Dennison boxed items. Although apparently incomplete (the listing's verbiage is unclear...), being able to obtain these nice slide boxes for ~$25 with shipping is a solid bargain. 
Dennison really cornered the market starting in the teens and extending through the early 1930s with their imaginative assortment of boxed seals, cut-outs, illuminated silhouettes and the like. These boxed goods are among my favorite of all vintage Halloween genres. Gibson threw their hat in the ring and came up with compelling designs from time to time. These are harder to find, having been made in much smaller quantities than the quantities having been pumped out by the Dennison juggernaut. Whitney, too, tried to join the party, but their output was curiously devoid of memorable designs. I say curiously as they were a prolific producer of interesting postcard designs. Whitney's management must not have believed in the staying power of small items with which to decorate envelopes, invitations, etc.