Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Antique Whitney's Halloween Novelty Spinning Place Cards w/ Fortune BOX ONLY

This box is that rare Whitney non-postcard item actually marked. Even though this box is empty, it makes a great display piece. As I write on page 273, “The contents are fairly plain, consisting of twelve place cards, twelve wood spindles and two sheets with six fortunes per sheet.” The box is in nice shape with a single break along one long edge and no distressed corners. This is worth acquiring.


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.


This is a jumble of parts to arguably the very best interlocking centerpiece that Whitney ever produced. Each piece is quite a bit larger than pieces comprising other interlocking centerpieces. Some of these pieces measure up to 9.5” high. The lot on offer is missing a side while having duplicates of two others. Sadly, all look to be in regrettable condition. Look on page 274 to see the one ghost side missing. This may very well have been one of the few Whitney paper masterpieces they produced before shutting their doors in 1942.

04/02 Update: This jumble sold for $135.50.


Any of the House of Fate cards are desirable and very rarely surface. It was exciting to see this listing. This card comes from a series manufactured by Whitney in the early 1930s that they called The House of Fate. The cards are superbly designed with pull-away roofs containing the printed fortune. I believe that nine constitute the complete set, although that is just a guess. At first glance, the differing base designs look similar. However, when you closely examine the cards, 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. (Check out the eight examples on page 278.) This card is in stellar condition and is being offered by a stellar seller.

10/04 Update: This sold for an unbelievable $550, deep into bubble territory. If someone wants to buy the eight shown on page 278 in my book, they can be yours for $4400. Shipping would be free.


In my wildest dreams I would not have projected that this rare invitation would have gotten close to $350 much less actually ending at $520.99. Made by Whitney in small quantities during the 1920s, it is one of a set of at least three. The design is pretty darn awesome! Whitney had an odd design sensibility that makes many of their scarce products today coveted by many. Take a look at their boxed set of "Novelty Spinning Place Cards with Fortunes" shown on page 273. That is an odd one! 

Vintage Victorian Halloween Party Witch Cat Fortune Telling Cards Black Cats

The seller got a little enthusiastic in describing these as Victorian. Queen Victoria dropped in 1901, so these aren't even Edwardian. Produced by Whitney sometime during the 1930s, they'd most accurately be described, in terms of British royalty as Georgian. I have this diminutive boxed set in the collection. On the lid is a cat wearing a witch's hat sitting on a broom in the unquestionable Whitney style. The text on the box reads, "Witch-Cat Fortune Cards. They reveal the past present and future." I've seen the game on average once per decade since 1988, so it is a rare one. The price paid seems high given there is no box, but perhaps the buyer had a box and needed the cards. 

WHITNEY PUMPKIN CAR CAT WITCH INVITATION 1920's unused near mint no reserve

Whitney produced some of the most endearingly odd Halloween small paper, especially during the 1920s! This is one of a trio of invitations Whitney issued with a pumpkin car theme. While this one is being driven by a cat, the others are driven by a witch and an owl. (They can be seen on page 280.) It took me many years to finally acquire the trio in near-mint or better condition. It is a tough slog. How great is it that this fine seller is offering this rare treasure in a true auction format with no reserve? Don't even hesitate in snapping this gem up!  

04/02 Update: This sold for $203.50. 

Vintage Halloween Witch Centerpiece Whitney Co. Ma. Late 1920's Diecut

eBay has been a real desert for months, so it nice to see a few really nice things pop up these last few days. This wonderful four-sided centerpiece fence comprising two designs was produced by Whitney during the 1920s. I have an envelope this set was sold in, so know Whitney assigned it a stock number of 2477. As I write in the section showing various fence centerpieces, "The presence of all tabs for each interlocking section significantly increases the value of the overall centerpiece." Sustainable guide value is $200, which has already been exceeded. It will be interesting to see where this ends. 

02/14 Update: This sold for the phenomenal sum of $379.99!  


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. 

Vintage Halloween Invitation Black Cat Driving Witch Owl

The level of detail of this invitation is amazing. This was produced by Whitney during the early 1920s. Because the invitation's clasps are so intricate and delicate, it is hard to find this in near-perfect or better condition. Whitney made a trio of these car invites. While this one is driven by a cat and features a witch and an owl as passengers, the others have different passengers with one car driven by a witch and the other by an owl. The latter two appear on page 280. I am proud to now own all three in near-mint or better condition. 

Vintage Halloween Nut Cup Rats Black Cat

This fine seller had four different designs, three from the same set and one from another set featuring witches, that all ended today with very strong results, contributing to the data indicating that small paper is one of the hottest sub-genres currently. Whitney made these intelligently designed nut cups during the 1920s. These sets seem to have 6 designs each. I bought all the cat/mice nut cups from the same source about a year ago for an average of $48 each. The four that ended today ranged from $76.85 to $99.99, a steep increase in one year. 

1925 Pop-Up Folding Halloween Party Invitation

The ending price of this remarkable pop-up invitation is another indicator of how strong the market is for unusual small paper. I recently purchased a sizable small paper collection out of Iowa. One invitation was from this same set. Also written in, it too had a date of 1925. Because I have never seen examples from this set surface prior to the last few months, I surmise these were made for a single season only. Given the graphics, the pop-up and the cool closing method (The "To Let" sign is perforated.) these were expensive in 1925.