Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Set 5 Vtg c 1920 Original Beistle Halloween Party Favors Stand Up JOL Decoration

This lot of Johnny Pumpkin figures was made by Beistle between 1923 and 1925. The "family" was made in sizes ranging from 5" to 20.25". This lot contains the smallest of the family, and perhaps the hardest-to-find variation. The smallest Johnny Pumpkins had three variants. This is the third variant - being smaller, brighter and possessing a folding prop that is part of the original art, rather than the glued-on easel always found with the other sizes. The packaging is plainer than the example in the collection, perhaps indicating this was manufactured earlier in the date range. The ending price was higher than guide, but that could be a function of the lot surfacing when almost nothing of quality was available on eBay. 


This lot prompted a number of emails. I wrote each person the same thing - that I would pass on the lot since the condition was poor. Even so, the lot brought strong dollars. These House of Fate fortune cards were made by Whitney during the early 1930s. Each of these is different than the 8 examples in the collection. At first glance, the 3-4 base designs look similar. When you closely examine different examples, there are always very minute differences present. I'm puzzled as to why Whitney would have introduced these subtle differences. It doesn’t seem cost effective. Perhaps we'll never know. Whitney went out of business in 1942. 


This is a great image and part of a set of five scalloped-edged, sizable diecuts Beistle began producing in 1932. Given their large size, these typically surface in poor condition. This one seems pretty nice. (Tape residue on the reverse doesn't bother me at all.) The rarest one from the set of 5 is the skeleton walking through the graveyard. It has been several years since one has surfaced. It sold for ~$3400. 

Dennison Halloween Lady Clown with Owl in Front of Full Moon Die-Cut 1920s

This seldom-seen design of a woman in an extravagant ruffled collar with an addled owl behind was first made available to the public in 1923. It was sold in two forms: a slide box of 6 cut-outs with a stock number of H-94 and a slide box of 20 seals with a stock number of H-656. They weren't sold for more than two seasons. I was able to find a box of cut-outs for the collection only ~2 years ago and have not yet located the box of seals. I feel the starting price is quite reasonable. 

Beistle Halloween Hallowe'en Place Cards Witch Broom Decoration Envelope 1920s

Beistle issued at least two packaging variations containing these place cards meant to be suspended from the edge of a glass. Both have the same stock number, 584, but one enveloped set contained six place cards whereas this one contained ten place cards. However, both should contain an assortment, whereas the set on offer here contains all witches. A proper assortment would contain three designs - a witch, a black cat and a ghost. 



This witch mechanical tally first appeared in Dennison's 1928 Price List pamphlet. Dennison produced three designs of what they marketed as "novelty tallies." This one is more intricate than the other two designs, a cat head and a JOL. All are hard-to-find in working condition. You can see all three designs on page 258. These also had a dual purpose of being a place card.

12/07 Update: This sold for $240.50, a wholly unsustainable price. 


This is not an old piece. Blumchen and Company is a firm that imports many newly made holiday items from Germany. They do not sell truly vintage Halloween items. Established in 1985, they at one time sold a smattering of truly old Halloween items, but that hasn't been the case for many years. The good news is that the buyer didn't waste that many dollars on this decorative object. Do your research before buying anything in our fun hobby. It has gotten too expensive overall not to educate yourself before committing dollars to a purchase. 

Wonderful Six Sided Halloween Lantern Not Marked Germany New Old Stock Nice

If collectors have any one lantern in their collections it is this one. It is VERY common for a couple of reasons. This lantern was produced for many, many years. Also, a substantial quantity of true new/old store stock was discovered about 12 years ago, so finding near-mint or better examples is easy. (Generally, when a seller uses the term new/old store stock for purportedly vintage Halloween items, be suspicious.) So, with that said, this seller was lucky to get $300 for the lantern. They nearly always trade for $150, so the buyer had to be someone newer to the hobby. 

Happy Halloween To One and All!

Well, another Halloween is upon us! Where does the time go? I'm always a little bummed out on Halloween since my favorite season is at an end. Yes, Christmas is around the corner and all that, but nonetheless it will pain me when I turn the lights off my 7.5' black artificial tree tonight festooned with mostly older Radko ornaments. My outdoor purple and orange lights will turn off at 10:00 and will be packed away the next day until later in 2018. 

This last week has been so busy that I've made no time for my blog. I know that I post much less frequently during November and December, but do check back occasionally. I'll return with gusto in January. 

I'm already preparing for my annual May auction. I am pleased with the lots I'll be offering this year. Remember that the auction and my For Sale page items are only open to those who have purchased the third edition of Vintage Halloween Collectibles. The number of copies that I have to sell is getting low and I will not do another printing. Know that I plan to raise the price from $49 to $55 as of January 1st, so if you've been delaying purchasing a copy, you may want to put it off no longer. 

I hope you, my faithful readers, each have a wonderful Halloween night! 

BEISTLE HAT? Halloween printed headband with paper hair

I feel this was a tremendous amount to pay for such a damaged hat. This band hat was produced by Beistle from 1930-1931 only, so it is rare. Beistle material from their Golden Age has done very well this year. This result continues that trend line. The ending result would have been more understandable as a one-off had the condition been near-mint or better. Given the hat's unfortunate condition, the buyer did pay dearly. 


This is a very rare and very large German lantern made during the 1920s. Except for the one witch panel, it is remarkably good condition. The missing bottom connector is identical to the top connector, so if you are enterprising and creative, replicating one shouldn't be too big of a deal and wouldn't detract from its showiness. Perhaps 12 of these were found at a flea market in southern California in the 1980s. Perhaps this is one of those originally found then. (The seller is from that part of the world.) In any event, this may be an opportunity to acquire one of these eye-catchers for a reasonable price. The one in the collection is shown in my Inner Sanctum section on page 118. I acquired mine from a southern California dealer in ~1991. (She was the person who found the flea market cache.) By the way, this is the time of the year when good items seem to go more cheaply than normal on eBay. By this time, most casual collectors have spent their annual acquisitions budget, so it'll be fun to see what this brings.

10/31 Update: No bargain here. This sold for an astonishing $1,425.07. 

graphic old Halloween black cat string sign decoration

This is one from a set of twelve that Beistle first released in 1932 and made for many, many seasons thereafter. However, the typical versions are a combination of orange, black, green and white. Very early in the run, Beistle issued each design in these unusual color variations that remind me of foil. These variants are difficult to locate. Please refer to pages 151-152 to see others from the set.