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Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Vintage Halloween Scratch Jointed Black Cat Beistle Original Envelope c1920s

If you ever have a chance to acquire an early Beistle envelope like this one, jump on it. By the ending price, it is evident that at least two people understood just how rare and desirable early envelopes are. This isn’t even one of Beistle’s masterpieces. Take a look at the Hallowe’en Elf envelope on page 125 to see what is arguably the pinnacle of their artistic care of something truly meant to be disposable.

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!

VTG 11" BEISTLE Halloween Black Cat Pumpkin Bat Honeycomb ORIG CT

It’s great to finally see some quality items on eBay, a forum that has lost much of its luster due to its lackluster policing of the categories, its practice of automatically listing and relisting the same crapola without requiring sellers to lower prices, its disparate treatment of sellers versus buyers and the seemingly endless increases to fees.
This rare hat produced by Beistle only during 1930-1931 is an example of the stuff I’d like to see more of on eBay. Beistle produced a limited number of inspired designs for their band hats during this interval. This is one of their best designs. (You can see others on page 240.) Although this isn’t in near-mint condition, I haven’t seen one for sale for so long that it may not make that much of a difference.

08/18 Update: This brought $202.50. Condition did seem to impact the bidding.

RARE Vintage Halloween 20s Black Cat Waving Walking Die Cut Germany N. MINT HTF

I love this heavily embossed German diecut. It has so much energy and personality. It’s one you don’t see very often. The bonus is that it is being sold by one of the good guys. The seller is knowledgeable, honest and a true collector in his own right. Don’t hesitate in doing business with him! This particular item appears to be in exceptional condition. I appreciate and value the minimalist description. I wish more sellers would just stick to the basics rather than going on and on in their descriptions. This diecut is “2” on my RSIN and was produced during a short window in the 1920s.

08/06 Update: I’m so glad to see this gem sold for $251.50.

1920's Antique German Halloween Die Cut Candy Box-- Rare & Hard to Find

This is just a poorly married item. Some untalented end-user simply glued a tatty German diecut to a box. The arched-back black cat diecut doesn’t even fit on the box top properly. This seller, one of the earliest collectors on the scene, really should know better. It is disappointing to see this kind of junk listed as something worth collecting. It has decorative value only - nothing approaching the price this seller is dreaming to get.

Vintage Heavy Embossing Pulp Cat in Costume Halloween Decoration Germany 15.5"

I’m glad to see this not uncommon diecut garner such strong dollars, certainly due to its condition. I recently acquired a near-mint German fence diecut complete with four figures. This diecut is quite long, about 28” or so. It is exceedingly rare. I’ve looked for one for years, but never found one good enough to be part of the collection. I finally found one being sold along with many other fine things out of an old collection near Philadelphia. Its acquisition has caused me to begin planning for a massive overhaul of two large walls currently covered with diecuts. My intention is to deaccession about one-third of my German diecuts, keeping only the rarest and those in the very best condition. The overhaul will be a big chore, one that I haven’t been eager to start. When it is done, I think I’ll gain more satisfaction from having fewer diecuts spread a little farther apart. So, stay tuned. I’ll be selling lots of German diecuts in a few months.

Antique German Halloween candy container Witch on cat TINY!

This great seller rightly states that most such German compo items were cheaply made and cheaply sold so the molding isn’t the finest. That said, some were very finely cast indeed. Those items were expensive then (~1910-1914, then late teens through the mid-30s) and command quite a premium today. For what this is, the result is quite pleasing. The witch looks comfortable as she sits on a sturdy black cat with an enormous spring tail. This would have a home in any respectable collection. I do wonder if the candy box is original to the piece.

02/19 Update: I thought this would bring more than it did - $227.50.

1940’s Halloween Place Card Scary Black With Owl Face In Flame HTF

Here is another relative bargain, although not as pronounced as the item directly below. This has to be one of Dennison's most inspired designs. The artist packed a lot of detail in such a small item, meant to be used as a place card. This first appeared in 1928. As I point out on page 257, "Notice the cat's face in the flame and the candle's expression. Although not particularly scarce, this iconic, diminutive Dennison masterpiece consistently sells at or above the cited value. It was sold with stock number H565." These have routinely changed hands in a range of $135-200 during the last 18 months, so the prevailing bidder did well.

Vintage Halloween Beistle 1930-1931 Rocker Favor Cat & Half Moon

Beistle made six different rocker designs and typically sold them in enveloped sets of six during the 1930 and 1931 seasons with inventory number 760R. Beside the black cat, the other designs are an owl in a cauldron, a flying bat, a broomed witch, a perched owl and a ghost. Although the eBay surface page shows this sold for $39, it actually changed hands for $30. 

Germany Halloween Cat with hat & veggy body candy container OLD!

It's nice to see one of these cylinder candy containers that actually appears to be the real deal. This form of candy container has been largely overrun with the fakes currently being cranked out in Germany, being a fairly easy form to fake. (Whenever you see one of these with a slanted hat brim, know that it could have been made yesterday.) From the photos, everything looks supportive of a conclusion that this was made sometime between 1925-1935.