Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Halloween Pressed Paper Hanging Decorations Large OWL, small cat & small bat

It’s pretty rare that I am able to get a bargain on eBay outside of the mispriced BIN listings. This auction-format listing actually ran for a full week. I put in a bid significantly higher than what I ended up paying for this lot - a relative pittance of about $110 with shipping. Lots of collectors were asleep at the switch or were inundated with the avalanche of listings that materialize at this time of the year. Although the owl is quite nice, it was far eclipsed by my interest in the two mini-diecuts - both rare enough that I’ve never seen them. Although the bat is not in the condition normally required to become part of the collection, it is energetic and full of personality. I have a similar cat with the tail demurely by its side, but not this great design. For once - an auction bargain!

Later Update: Well, not so fast. A good friend pointed out to me that the mini-diecuts I was so excited about look to be cut-outs from two of the set of six German diecuts of characters with crescent moons that you can see on page 184. I don’t know how I didn’t see that before. So, the only person asleep at the switch was me. The lesson here is that even someone who has been collecting for 31 years can be dumb enough to waste money on remnants! Very good catch, CR. How I wish I would have had your wise counsel before bidding on the lot!

Vintage German Diecut Embossed Halloween Bat Decoration Very Good Condition NR

This is a nicely designed 1920s diecut. The Germans made few bat designs and this is the largest I know of. The Germans were proud crafters - just look at the detailing of this smallish diecut. Condition is pretty high. I appreciate the seller began this treasure at a modest $29.99. As of this writing, it has been bid up to $111. Sustainable guide value is $150.

Very Fine Vintage Halloween Devil Bat Die Cut German Germany

The Germans were known to make subtle variations in their later diecuts. Notice how the teeth differ from the example shown on page 136. There are other variations as well. Can you spot them? This is arguably the most visually arresting design the Germans produced. I count this design amongst my very favorites. I’ve seldom seen a better example.

05/30 Update: This sold for $2,376.


I’ve been away for nearly a week on vacation and have taken few opportunities to wallow in eBay’s listings. Imagine my surprise when amongst all of the crapola, I see this exceedingly rare item in nice shape! This sinister devil bat diecut was produced by Beistle during the interval of 1925-1931. I haven’t seen one in this condition for many years. (Typically, one of the horns and at least one foot are long gone.) The orange honeycomb wings look essentially unused. Beistle also made this item with black honeycomb wings. This deserves to bring a very strong price, indeed.

03/05 Update: And it sure did bring a strong price - $970 - perhaps a record.

Vtg 1920s 1930s Jolly Halloween Die Cut Party PLACE CARDS Bats Cats Cauldron

I'd not seen this awesome place card design prior to this listing. There doesn't appear to be a maker's mark. I know the manufacturer isn't Beistle, Dennison or Whitney and suspect that it isn't Gibson. Maybe Volland or Henderson Line? What I do know is that I like the design very much. If the buyer is a reader, know that I'd love to buy one!

03/08 Update: Thankfully, the buyer is a reader and will offer one to me once the lot is received. Thanks!

Beistle Halloween bat diecut and tissue

Man, I haven't seen one of these offered for quite some time. This rare devil bat diecut was made by Beistle for a few seasons bracketed by the years 1925-1931. It was sold in two variations: with either orange or black crepe paper wings. This diecut is impossible to find in truly mint condition given the way it was designed. Knowing this, the one being offered here is darn nice. The imperfections the seller has endeavored to highlight are all minor. Sustainable guide value is $400, but early and rare Beistle items have routinely been bringing well in excess of guide during the past year. It will be fun to see what this listing fetches. If you don't own this yet, don't let this slip through your fingers. 

01/17 Update: This great item brought $485. 


It isn't surprising that these two superb diecuts ended up together in a paper bag as described by the seller, as they were sold as a set. Beistle sold these as enveloped sets, with the envelopes having a number of variations. (The orange envelope is earlier.) They were marketed as Mechanical Hallowe'en Silhouettes and sold in the early 1920s. Somewhat later, the owl was made as a table decoration with a flip-out base. 


What a nice surprise to see this exceedingly rare diecut being auctioned. This is the smaller of two similar designs. (The other can be seen on page 136.) Each is breathtakingly rare. The seller describes this as being in fair condition, but it seems better than that to me. Yes, the bends in the legs are somewhat off-putting, but the separation between the tail and the wing could be easily mended. The last time one was listed was almost exactly one year ago and it fetched $3,100. It was a mirror-image of this one and was in better condition and was much brighter. The Germans made this very late in their production of holiday items for the export market before WWII. These "last year" designs were almost exclusively exported to the population centers in eastern Canada and are among the most interesting, out-there designs the Germans made before WWII - and arguably ever. 
Take a moment and read the questions and answers posted as part of the listing. They all ask for a BIN price to be added, fair game for collectors eager to get a dream piece without the uncertainties of the auction process. The seller is smart, saying basically no - there is too much interest. Read the pathetic question posted by a "Michael," who bangs on about how he wants one and then makes an eye-rollingly low-ball offer of $70. What a schmuck! I kind of hope he never gets to own one of these. 

03/18 Update: I have heard from an avalanche of collectors since this auction ended last night, most stating that if they knew it was going to be sold for such a pittance, they would have bid. The moral of the story is always to place a bid for the maximum you'd want to pay, because sometimes you might score a bargain like whomever this prevailing bidder was. It sold for only $913.99. 

Halloween BAT with WINGS 1940s

Here is another listing from the same seller with the winged ghost decoration. This devil bat was made by Beistle only from 1925-1931. Given its six season production run, these are extraordinarily difficult to find complete. Typically, the wings are ripped and/or the feet are missing. Often, the horns are long gone. I love just how evil this diecut is! The manufacturers made party decorations for adults back then, and this design exemplifies this fact. In my view, this is one of the VERY best examples of this incredibly desirable Beistle masterpiece. If you don't own one, bid on this one for sure! 

09/25 Update: Items from Beistle's Golden Age have been white-hot for many years and keep setting record prices. Here is another record: This superb example sold for $1,025. 

One Vintage Halloween 1930s WITCH, BAT, BLACK CAT lantern FULL MOON, BLUE SKY

This 1930s Beistle lantern has long been a favorite of mine. Whether that is because it is somewhat of a departure from their design aesthetic norm or simply that is was one of my first lanterns I don't know! What I do know is that I appreciate this seller's no nonsense description. It is simple, has excellent photos, is complete with necessary information - including that the bottom is not original - and is free of the annoying GIFs and other affectations plaguing so many eBay listings. 

2 Vintage Halloween Decorations Witch & Bat Made in Germany Cardboard Die Cut

This was a solid score. Happily, good friends of mine snagged this pair of German diecuts. The sustainable guide value for the bat alone is $150. It always amazes me when sellers list something as a BIN without any knowledge of what they are selling. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: "The sum of the intelligence of the planet is a constant. The population is growing." 

Vintage Halloween Embossed Diecut Devil Bat German Germany

This is only the second time I've seen this offered for sale. A seller listed two of these some years back on Ebay and I was able to acquire the one in the collection at that time. The two that seller listed were mirror images of one another, just as this is the mirror image of the one shown on page 136. Looking carefully at it, I notice some minor surface paint differences from mine, underscoring that these diecuts were made at a time when hand flourishes were not discouraged. The Germans made this very late in their production of holiday items for the export market. These "last year" designs were almost exclusively exported to the population centers in eastern Canada and are among the most interesting, out-there designs the Germans made before WWII - and arguably ever. The seller started it at $2000 and a bid was received within the hour. It will be very fun to sit back and see what this fetches. 

03/25 Update: This fine diecut brought a record high of $3,100.