MBL's Blog

Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Well, it is that time of the year when my attention is taken up with many other activities outside of my vintage Halloween collecting addiction. Although I will sporadically update this site between now and the New Year, I like to take this period of the year to recharge my batteries. 

I am already selecting and photographing items in preparation for my annual May auction. I intend to have somewhere between 70-90 lots up for auction, with a significant minority percentage comprising items from my personal collection that have appeared in my reference guides. 

The event is only open to those who have purchased a copy of my third edition of Vintage Halloween Collectibles. Ordering information can be found under the Third Edition Now Available tab of this site. 

Stay tuned for further details...

Vintage 1960's Salerno Trick or Treat Halloween Cookies Box haunted house

Although this is a very cool item, with a design strongly reminiscent of the mid-1950s Brach's candy boxes, it is a far inferior design. The Brach's box was intricately designed with many nice touches - a discarded witch's broom and dilapidated shutters just to name two. Time was spent designing that box. This is not as good. The detail is lacking and the colors are unattractive. This seller has this priced much too high. Items from this era, by and large, don't bring significant dollars. I feel fair market value for this item, in this condition, is $75-95. 


Do photos really matter? This seller posted two identical photos that show only a portion of the front and none of the back, yet the bidding is already atop SGV with over seven days to go. I wonder if simply describing an item minimally, and posting no photos, would bring even a better result? 

11/24 Update: This item, with incomplete photos, actually fetched $224.50. 

1923 Beistle Halloween Christmas Decoration Paper Novelty Catalog Vintage ORIG.

These early Beistle catalogs almost never surface, so for the seller to offer it as BIN with a paltry price of $75 was an error, reinforced by the fact that it sold in less than 75 minutes. These catalogs, different from the Dennison Bogie Books in that they were meant for retailers and not end-user consumers, show the varied items Beistle was offering at the time, some of which were never offered again. For that reason alone, these catalogs are superb research tools. I regret that I didn't see this as it would have had a treasured place in my library. 

Rare LARGE German Halloween Pumpkin Candy Container OLD Must See !!!!!!!!!!!

The seller is offering this repainted and painfully poorly repaired JOL candy container for a chuckle-inducing opening bid of $2800. The colored highlights throughout are after-purchase additions. The eyes look like they have been retouched. The repair to the crack in the back is breath-taking in its ineptness. I doubt this container is worth much more than a few hundred dollars, and then that value resides more in the size than anything else. 

Happy Halloween!

Well, another season draws to a close. I feel this was a bounteous year for seeing some great vintage Halloween being offered for sale. On the flip side, there were also a number of new fakes, reproductions and fantasy piece worming their way into the marketplace. I think the sub-genre most being faked right now is the clockwork mechanical items. BEWARE OF THIS SUB-GENRE. Virtually every one (maybe all...) I've seen on eBay and being proudly touted on the Vintage Halloween Facebook group has been faked, meaning that although some components may be vintage (like the metal mechanisms), others are not. One of my favorite Canadian collectors calls this bad trend "Frankensteining." I know some otherwise sensible collectors being taken in by dishonest or ignorant dealers. If you have a question as to whether one of these items is authentic, post a photo to the Vintage Halloween FB group and let the many advanced collectors on that forum weigh in. Be ready for bad news. One silly collector posted one of her many faked clockwork items on that forum. When about 10 advanced collectors all weighed in to say she had been duped, she deleted her posting and went to another Facebook group and posted the same garbage. Ignorance must be bliss! 

Be vigilant for the new season. Buy only from reputable sources. Check with accessible live resources like me if you have a doubt about something. The hobby has gotten so expensive that doing your homework before any notable purchase only makes sense. If you haven't done so already, for heaven's sake, buy the third edition of my reference work, Vintage Halloween Collectibles

Start budgeting now for my annual vintage Halloween auction on this site. Lat May I offered 79 lots of awesome items. It takes place in early May and is open only to those collectors who have purchased a copy of my third edition. 

In the meantime, enjoy the evening! Happy Halloween!


Early vintage Halloween standup decoration

You have to laugh at either the ignorance or audacity of some sellers. All this is is a trimmed photo of a lantern with a cardboard backing. To complete the sheer lunacy of this and similar listings, the seller wants over $7 to ship a 6x4" piece of worthless cardboard. 

Vintage E. Rosen Company Pumpkin Pops Display, Halloween, Eyes Roll

This listing underscores the peril of listing an item with a BIN when you don't have much of an idea what it is that you are selling. If this seller had listed this as an auction style listing, it surely would have reached a price in many multiples of what his ill-chosen BIN price brought. This Pumpkin Pops mechanical point-of-sale sucker holder is exceptionally rare. This is only the second time I've seen a complete example for sale. (The prior time was in 1997 when I purchased the one in the collection from Dunbar Gallery.) Even with the unfortunate damage, this is a prize, and the person who snatched it up for a song is surely singing a very sweet tune. Refer to pages 116-118 for other examples of these wonderful Rosen creations. 

Antique German Porcelain Halloween Jackolantern Sugar Bowl

This is not a German-made porcelain item. It was made in Japan and has significantly less value than its corresponding German counterpart. This is an atypical Japan porcelain example as some of its characteristics are opposite of what is normally seen. Although the item appears to be overly knobby, and does looks disproportionate to the more elegant German design, this example looks heavy and clunky, cheap-seeming in that way, rather than the feather-light cheapness you would normally expect to see in a Japanese-made porcelain item. For a solid tutorial on how to tell German porcelain items from Japanese porcelain items, see page 119. 

Vintage Halloween Spinner Party Game, Ex Cond.

This is a tiny game that I've never seen before. (I missed this listing as I've been so busy lately, else I would have attempted to have it be part of the collection.) This was certainly made by Whitney in the 1920s. Given its diminutive size, it may have been used as a place setting at a long-ago party. I like the whimsical nature of the design, the expression on the young witch's face and the cat's expression. He seems to be thinking, Feed my already, hag! The buyer got a solid bargain.
This is the time of the year when bargains abound on eBay. Sellers make the mistake of thinking October is the best time to sell vintage Halloween items. Wrong! So many people think that, that the listings explode and the average price drifts inexorably downward. I feel the best time to sell is April through June, with September and October being the best time to buy. 

ORIGINAL Vintage Halloween Die Cut Beistle Mechanical Walking Man

This hard-to-find vampire clown diecut is far less than complete than this seller knows. The seller correctly points out that two of the five feet on a rotating disc are missing. However, and notably, the entire front of the diecut, consisting of a wheelbarrow with a movable wheel carrying a chagrined JOL is long gone. Essentially, what remains is merely a remnant with little to no collectible value. To see a complete example, as well as the other three diecuts that comprise a complete set, refer to page 284. 


This is a rare enough Rosen candy box that I've never seen one before. Rosen made exquisite candy boxes as well as point-of-sale containers that are quite sought after. Even though the condition of this compelling box is somewhat problematic, it reached a solid price of nearly $200. I wonder what other Rosen treasures remain undiscovered?