Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

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.

WOW! Antique Made In Germany Halloween Paper Mache Candlestick Candy Container

I’m not sure what this is, but it wasn’t made in Germany. The seller describes it as being in “overall great condition.” Hmmm…. It looks like it has been through quite some torment. The candle portion of this thing has all the hallmarks of Japanese paper design - namely cheap, lifeless and forgettable. What shocks is that the item has been already bid up to $160.50 with over 6 days left. I’m not sure why. If you want to see the actual and elegant German design, turn to page 132.

04/02 Update: This atrocity actually brought $318.88.


Here's a tin litho clicker that I haven't seen for sale in a while. In terms of Halloween output, Japanese material is largely derivative and poorly made, hence the market for their items has never taken off. There are exceptions, though, and this visually engaging diminutive noisemaker is one of them. I'm glad to have one as part of the collection. If you like strong design coupled with a modicum of rarity, this is just the item for you. 

09/04 Update: This sold for a very strong $169.50. 

Vintage Halloween Orange & Black JOL /w Tongue Noisemaker / Clicker

Generally, vintage Halloween designs from Japan are derivative and forgettable. Not in this case! This tin litho clicker design is energetic, fun and just plain weird. This was produced sometime during the 1930s. Right now, the bidding is at $51 with over six days to go. I've seen some of the better Japanese designs go for ~$100. It'll be fun to see where this ends. 

03/01 Update: This great clicker made in japan sold for $153.50. 

Old Rare 1920s German Pumpkin Face Cdbd Suitcase Squeaker w/ Candy Container

I think this is an item made in Japan during the 1920s as an homage to the first-rate German pieces with a similar look made from ~1916-1921. The German pieces have eyes that lean toward each other rather than away as with the piece up for auction. None of the German items from this set have crepe paper sides. (Most Japanese candy containers liberally use crepe paper.) Its value is about half of what a German-made item would bring. I would opine that at its current price, it is already fully valued, if not more so. 

02/08 Update: This sold for $316. 


For many years I mistakenly believed this was produced by Beistle due to the imagery. It was only when I couldn't find any reference to Beistle actually producing such products that I looked closely at the artwork and noticed many differences between the art in such things as their Party Books and hats and this horn. It finally dawned on me that this horn was almost surely an authorized adaptation of Beistle imagery. There is a likelihood the horn was made in Japan, but I don't know this for certain. In any event, it is a nice item, and still has a SGV of $125, but it wasn't made by Beistle. 

Antique Vintage German Halloween Child Pumpkin Tea Set Anthropomorphic Pitcher

It is difficult to differentiate German and Japanese porcelain tea set items from photos alone. We know that the Japanese copied a limited number of items from the more competently made German porcelain line. We also know that there is no evidence that the Japanese output was ever contemporaneously marked. I feel this creamer is likely one made in Japan for three reasons. It has a plethora of knobby protrusions. The lip of the creamer is inelegantly large. There is an open area where the handle ends inside the creamer. The German made creamers do not have this opening. Given that this is likely a Japan-made item, be cautious when bidding. SGV for the German creamers is $175. One made in Japan should bring substantially less. 

05/25 Update: I wasn't surprised this creamer fetched $132.50, as these Japanese porcelain items typically fetch far less than their German made counterparts. 

antique Witch Halloween candy container

The workmanship of this container is so poor that I feel this is something made in Japan not Germany. The hands, rather than being composition, are merely clumps of spun cotton. The drab swaddling of crepe paper throughout also denotes a lack of finishing skill so unlike most German-made items. Being an item made in Japan, the overall value doesn't approach this seller's opening price of $300. 

04/16 Update: The market is typically uninterested in such items, shown by the seller has relisted this with an opening price of $150 or a BIN of $200. I feel fair market value is $80. 

(2) Early Halloween 7 3/4" Jointed Crepe Figures WITCH & SCARECROW. c1930s NR

The seller is off by up to three decades as to when these were made. Both the scarecrow and witch "whimsies" were made by Beistle during the 1950s. (An owl was the third design of the set.) Only later, almost certainly under license, were these designs made in Japan. The designs marked as being made in the United States have sustained collector interest. When the ones marked "Japan" do sell, they bring half or less of what the older ones made in the USA bring. 

1920s Rare German Porcelain Children's Lidded Sugar Bowl & Creamer Set

The moment I saw this listing I knew both pieces would not have maker's marks to them. Why? These two items were both made in Japan and have perhaps half the value of their German counterparts, shown on page 120 of my third edition. (This seller, one of the collecting pioneers in this field, has not been an active buyer for many years. She references the now-outdated first edition from 2003.) Japanese porcelain tea set pieces were never marked. They have none of the grace and fine styling of their German brethren. The Japanese copied these designs, but turned out rather clunky versions that compare quite unfavorably to the German items. The asking price is far too high. 

10/04 Update: I was sorry to see that some buyer paid $395 for these Japanese made items. I contacted the seller to have her correct the listing, but as is so often the case she resisted, boldly saying that the Japanese never manufactured such items. Given that she hasn't invested in a decent reference in over ten years, she is content to remain ignorant. I think fair market value is in the $175 to $200 range. 


Halloween celluloid in good condition, like this item, has been on a tear these last few months. This piece was made in Japan during the 1920s and rarely surfaces. The seller is a long-time collector who is knowledgeable and honest. Know that you can conduct business with her with absolute confidence. If you wish to see one of the best visual displays of Halloween celluloid, turn to pages 110-115 and feast your eyes. 

09/09 Update: This great item sold for $542.89! 

Pre-War Japan Old Fashioned Telephone Candy Container

The seller should have a hard time moving this for his BIN price of $625. These kinds of Japanese items were cheaply made and look cheap. The Japanese tried to emulate the German designs and utterly failed. These sorts of vintage items have not developed strong values in the resale market for as long as I've collected. I don't expect this to change. 

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. 

5 New Old Stock Bagged Vintage Halloween Decorations. Cats, Witch and Scarecrow!

This assortment consists of designs originally conceived by Beistle but later copied by the Japanese. Whether this copying was done with Beistle's cooperation, or even knowledge, is not known. These copies were done in the latter half of the 1960s and have very modest value as the ending price for this lot was $49.95. The older originals, clearly marked "Made in USA," have greater value.