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Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Creepy 1899 date Skeleton Skull Antikamnia Cure Medicine Pawn Star Calendar Card

Although these items do not fall within the category of a vintage Halloween collectible, I thought I’d comment on this sale nonetheless. I began seeking to buy complete Antikamnia Chemical Company calendar sets over twenty years ago, well before interest in them began to soar. The firm, long defunct, sent calendars to doctors gratis as an advertising gimmick. The first calendar was 1897. From that year through 1900 each complete calendar consisted of 6 hand-tinted cards showing two months each. These mischievous skeletons were drawn by Louis Crusius. Although he died at a young age in 1898, Antikamnia had purchased enough drawings to publish and distribute these calendars through 1901. (The last year’s calendar consists of only 4 hand-tinted cards showing three months each.) I now own near-mint or better examples of each calendar page, numbering 28 in total. They look awesome framed together. I’m glad to see they are finally getting the exposure in popular culture that I feel they deserve.

1925 SET OF 3 Beistle Nut Cups Honeycomb Favors Baskets RARE VTG Halloween

I feel $1200 is an enormous sum to pay for this trio of favor baskets. Beistle produced four designs of this size from 1927 through 1931. The best design, the witch wearing a dress decorated with skulls, is not amongst this trio. Even at $300 each, the envelope isn’t worth the remaining $300. It might be if it was something to look at, but being a plain glassine envelope limits its appeal and brings the “wow” factor down to nothing.

Antique Halloween Palmer Cox Brownie Candy Container

This is an interesting item. The art was almost certainly derived from Dennison’s Gobolink cut-out, which they released in 1925. Although Dennison provided some financial assistance in capitalizing the C.A. Reed Corporation during the 1920s, this item is the first tangible result of the arm’s length relationship between the two firms I’ve seen. There are subtle differences, most notably the extra buttons to better hold in this version’s slightly more-swelled belly!

1940’s Halloween Place Card Scary Black With Owl Face In Flame HTF

Here is another relative bargain, although not as pronounced as the item directly below. 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." These have routinely changed hands in a range of $135-200 during the last 18 months, so the prevailing bidder did well.

Vintage Beistle Company Halloween Honeycomb Die Cut Decoration, 1925

Wow, people were asleep at the switch here, including me. This is one of those increasingly rare, true bargains for a great piece of truly vintage Halloween memorabilia. This is one of four favor basket designs Beistle produced from 1927-1931. (I think it is the least interesting of the four designs. The best is the witch wearing a skull-festooned dress.) You can see them all on page 225.

Vtg RARE German 1920s HALLOWEEN Porcelain PUMPKIN FACE JOL CANDY CONTAINER Jar

This exceedingly rare double vase certainly went for a lot of money, mainly due to my bidding. I was the underbidder, actually content not to have had to pay my top bid of $3215.15. I placed the bid, thinking there may be a very few collectors more crazed than I who would pay such money. I was right. Although I would liked to have it as part of the collection, in the final analysis, the price was too high, so I was not unhappy to have been outbid. Congrats to whomever the prevailing bidder was.

THE WITCH OF ENDOR Fortune Telling Game 1929 Salem Mass HALLOWEEN Rare

Over the years, this 1929 game hasn’t gotten the collector love it deserves. With now two major exceptions, the price has hovered around $100. This ending price of $299.95 was almost certainly driven by its extremely nice condition. This game’s lid is almost always concave with significant chipping. Not this one. Even so, a very high price indeed. (In June 2016, an example in slightly lesser condition sold for a record price of $316.99.)

BEISTLE SIDE OF GLASS PLACE CARD COMPLETE SET WITH ENVELOPE no res

To me, this is a previously unseen packaging variation of these place cards meant to hang from the top of a glass. These same designs were issued by Beistle as early as 1918 in an enveloped set of six given stock number 584. In that earlier set, the contents distribution was three witches, two cats and one ghost. In this larger set, the contents distribution was six witches, three cats and one ghost. So, although the numbers are different the relative scarcity remains the same - the ghost being the hardest one of the trio to get. I felt the ending price was pretty high - certainly good news for the fine seller. (I’ve done business with this seller and look forward to doing more!) Looking at the prices obtained for the singles from this set that he sold in other listings, their prices, too, were dazzlingly high.

Post-Holiday Listing Doldrums

The number of listings in the “Vintage Halloween” category on eBay has plummeted by over 1,000 items since October 31st. With the exception of a handful of interesting items, virtually everything listed in the last few days has been dross. When I find something worth commenting on, I’ll do so, but plan on concentrating on adding to the Acquisitions section of the site between now and the end of the year.

Vintage Halloween Party Hat, 1920,s Made in U.S.A

Beistle issued three “domino hat mask” designs between 1926 and 1931. Most of the time they were just stand-alone masks as shown on pages 236-237, but occasionally they were stapled to a random band hat, as in this listing. The entire bottom section of the mask is missing, so this is more of a substantial remnant than anything else. Virtually all of its collectible value has been eliminated due to its poor condition.

11/13 Update: …And yet this sold, in these bubbly times, for $86!

Vintage Antique Halloween Jack-o-lantern Pumpkin cardboard Papier Mache style

This cute happy/sad 1950s slot-and-tab JOL lantern used to surface much more often than it has these last few years. I haven’t seen one with such deep green highlights as are present with this splendid example. I really like this coloration. The condition is really clean. The ending price was nearly exactly double guide, but I can see its attraction.

Happy Halloween Readers!

Well, another season is nearly in the books. I hope you were able to purchase great things at reasonable prices. The latter seem to be very scarce on eBay! I’ll be making an effort to add to the new Acquisitions section of this site during the remainder of this year before my attention turns to preparing for my annual May auction. As always, I’ll offer high-quality, rare vintage items in 2019. I already have wonderful things put away for the event.

Enjoy the day!

Vintage 1920s-30s Gibson "Cold Facts" Diecut Sign Decoration Halloween Skeleton

Now, this is one helluva freaky, fantastic diecut. When I first saw this Gibson listing, I prayed that it would be in collectible condition. I was disappointed when it fell far short of the acceptable threshold for my collection. This is precisely the kind of odd imagery and disorienting colors I eat up. I contacted the seller who stated this was the sole example of this diecut she had available. My decision was easy not to try for it. (The ending price of $610 blew me away. I sure am glad I began collecting 30 years ago, as collecting truly vintage Halloween is rapidly becoming a hobby for the wealthy!) I will add it to my very short “Holy Grail” list and hope one comes my way.

Vintage 1920-30s Gibson "Wise Up! This is A Party" Diecut Sign Halloween Owl

This Gibson party sign diecut with their classic signature slanted exclamation point went for FAR more than I would have guessed. Prices tend to moderate at this stage of the season, but I haven’t seen much evidence of this usual trend this year. This seller had several wonderful diecuts - all of which sold for astronomical prices. Given the final photo in all of her listings, I am curious how many of each will be on offer over time.