Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

German Parade Lantern News

In 1997, I was lucky enough to purchase an exceedingly rare parade lantern. Here is how I describe it on page 129:  
"Made in Germany circa 1908–1912, this layered papier-mâché with compo wash lantern and its original inserts served as the focal point for a small town Halloween parade, probably in New Jersey. A stick would be placed in the wooden yoke surrounding the lantern before it was hoisted high to lead the festivities. This item transcends the singular Halloween genre, easily crossing into the wider world of folk art. The design was done by a gifted artist, with the great care taken in its creation obvious in how dramatic this item is to look upon. The Parade Lantern measures 7.25” h x 7.75” diameter and has a removable bottom plug candleholder. This is a one-of-a-kind item as to its size and intended purpose. (I know of two other similarly-sized lanterns in other collections created by the same artist, but both are tabletop decorations, as they lack yokes. This same artist created many smaller lanterns, and like their two larger brethren, all were meant as tabletop lanterns as none have yokes. There are ~twenty of these small tabletop lanterns known to exist, most without bottoms. The last cache to be discovered numbered seven, found in Pennsylvania in 2003. These small tabletop lanterns sell for $2,200 to $2,300 each. This unique Parade Lantern is valued at $13,000 to $15,000."
As some of you know, my collecting tastes have been changing over the last few years. I was never all that interested in lanterns and candy containers, but made an effort to collect the best of those genres anyway. I have moved much more enthusiastically into collecting paper items like diecuts, table decorations, boxed goods and small paper ephemera (invitations, tallies, invitations and the like). I rarely purchase lanterns or German compo candy containers as they simply don't elicit much excitement for me anymore. I will retain my favorite 100 or so German compo candies and sell the rest in a measured way over the next many years. 
So, with this as a background, I decided to sell my parade lantern in early March to a collector with exquisite taste and an impeccable eye. She and I have known each other for many years. It sold for a price in the middle range of the stated guide value. 
There was a holiday show held in Columbus, Ohio on the Sunday of this past Memorial Day weekend. Surprisingly, a German parade lantern surfaced for sale. It was given to a high-end dealer to sell on consignment by a collector who likes to keep a low profile and who lives in the South. It is only the second such yoked lantern known to exist. It sold to a savvy collector who lives in northern California for about half of the low range of the value cited in my book. The lantern has a broken yoke and has a different color palette, not possessing the warm golden tones of the one that was in my possession for 20 years. Those issues and the hustle-bustle of a show setting probably account for a selling price I'd characterize as low. 
Interestingly, I was told that someone was claiming on a social media site that two additional German parade lanterns are owned by an elderly collector in Minnesota. Although one can never be sure, I doubt this. Back in 2003, I attended an event called The Halloween Opera in Jim Thorpe, PA. I was fortunate to chat with a pioneer in the field of holiday collecting, Roy Olsen. He had a small tabletop lantern he wanted to sell. Like nearly all of them that are extant, it lacked a bottom. We talked about the yoked version I then owned. He said that he owned a large tabletop version without a base and knew of no other yoked versions beside the one I bought in 1997 from Hugh Luck through a Dunbar Gallery auction. 
So, from all I know now, there were two yoked versions existing - the one I sold in early March and the slightly differently hued version that changed hands in late May in Columbus, Ohio. 
Unfortunately, there is now still only one German parade lantern known to exist. Sadly, the collector who purchased the parade lantern from me in March lost everything in a house fire at the end of May. Her house burned entirely to the ground. All of her collections, including her extensive and well-curated Halloween collection, were lost. She was not home when the fire occurred and no one was injured, a true blessing in a fire of this magnitude.