Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Small Vintage Halloween Jack O Lantern JOL Candy Container Pumpkin hj6020

I’ve received lots of questions as to my opinion on this lantern. Given that I owned the larger and one-of-a-kind parade lantern made by the same artist or artist’s collective from 1997 through 2017, I am confident that it is genuine, dating from 1908-1912. (However, short of personally examining it, this is only an opinion. Don’t rely on it for anything.) I feel that the mouth insert is not original. Please refer to page 129 for more on the parade lantern.

10/04 Update: This lantern brought $5600, significantly in excess of the $2500-3000 they’ve brought over the last 5 years.

Vintage 1940's Halloween Paper Mache Jack O Lantern Pumpkin with original insert

The Japanese made few JOLs - or conversely few have survived. I sold two in my May 2018 auction. One of these, Lot 79, was identical or close in size to this one. Here is how that lot description read:
”The Japanese made a half-hearted attempt to penetrate the JOL market dominated by Germany in the 1920s and through the mid-1930s. They were largely unsuccessful. Consequently, JOLs produced in Japan, especially early compo-wash-over-cardboard examples are breath-takingly rare. This one measures ~4.75” high by ~5.5” across. (All measurements exclude the bale, if present.) The multi-piece inserts are original.”
That lot sold for a scant $66 - a true bargain. This one is in better condition. I feel these are rare enough that they should bring $100-150.

07/28 Update: Inexplicably, this sold for only $56.69.

1920's L.E. Smith Glass C0 Jack O Lantern Halloween Pumpkin Candy Container JOL

I like the seller’s no-nonsense “just-the-facts-ma’am” description. Often, less is more. These glass JOL’s were cold-painted, which is why they very seldom surface in such pristine, original condition. Although these aren’t particularly rare, I can’t recall seeing one in such nice shape in a long time, totally justifying the ending value. (The bonus is that I learned something from reading about the item!)


This incredible invitation is part of a set of at least three produced by Whitney during the early 1920s. (One shows a cat on the stoop, while the other has an owl on the stoop. This one is the most populated and, in my opinion, the very best.) As I forecast some time ago, small paper has become a white-hot market segment. This same seller sold another one of these in September of 2018 for $495. Most collectors I know have decidedly moved on from lanterns and many candy containers to concentrate on small paper (invitations, place cards, tallies and nut cups) made by a wide variety of manufacturers and diecuts made by Dennison, Gibson and Beistle. As the first generation of serious collectors leave the stage, defined as those who began collecting in earnest during the 1960s, the market will see a relatively large influx of lanterns and candy containers become available. Few first, second or even third generation collectors concentrated on paper goods, so few collections richly featuring such items will be coming to market in the near to medium-term. My analysis routinely indicates that certain market segments will slacken while others grow even more competitive. The small paper market segment, for one, will continue to see price increases that will outstrip, maybe far outstrip, price increases seen elsewhere.

Smiling Jack-O-Lantern Face Vintage German Halloween Candy Container; Mint!

It was refreshing to see such a high-quality item appear on eBay. This genre of item is among my favorites. (Check out pages 58-60 to see the items in the collection.) These were made from 1916-1921. They seldom surface in such nice condition. There is an identical design made in a slightly larger format that you can see on page 59. The ending price was right where I expected it to be.

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.

RARE RARE RARE German Halloween Match Holder? Candy Container?

I’m not sure what to make of this item. It bears a resemblance to the refined German railroad lantern candy container shown on page 59. This item isn’t gracefully designed and seems clumsily executed. It is smaller than the one that has been in the collection for nearly 30 years. The borders are so thick and claustrophobic that they obscure the central JOL face on each of the four long sides. I wonder if this could be something made in Japan? I know I don’t care for it.

10/16 Update: The broad collecting market must have shared my doubts about this item. It brought $720, much less than half than an indisputably German item would have brought.

Two antique Halloween JOL & Funny Face Lapel Pins

This seller left money on the table by listing this pair of lapel pins for a BIN of $10. Although you could toss the one on the right in the trash, the JOL face pin is worth considerably more than $10, perhaps 20 times more. I don't understand why sellers list things they know nothing about for a BIN price. (By stating they were from the 1950s, the seller signals their lack of knowledge in the same way using tongs for tongues indicates only a glancing acquaintance with spelling.)