Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Rare Large German Black Cat Pumkin Head Lantern W Ears Red Lips

This really is an eye-catcher! I don't collect German or US pulp lanterns but this one is appealing. The ears, the bright whiskers and insert and the mammoth size all contribute to making this lantern desirable. Look at the strong ending price. Most of the German lanterns with added ornamentation were made in the later 1920s and through 1935. The earlier ones typically are plain. It took a few seasons for the Germans to get in the swing of things. 

Vintage Halloween Paper Mache Pulp Cat-On-A-Fence JOL, ca. 1940s, All-Original

I just had a conversation with two close friends who visited today regarding the many crazy, unsustainable prices being seen lately for otherwise ordinary vintage Halloween items. The tulip mania or bubble of the 1600s was mentioned. Are we in a bubble phase wherein unremarkable and imperfect items are bid to - let me say it - ridiculous levels that I feel are unhealthy for the overall hobby? This pulp lantern is so common that nary a week goes by that you can't have your choice of several. The typical trading range is around the $150 level. Why would this go for $385? Now, I am happy for the seller who assuredly cannot believe her good fortune, but the buyer will almost certainly never again see this price when, and if, they ever decide to sell. 

Vintage Paper Mache Halloween BLACK CAT CANDY Bucket Antique YELLOW EYES GERMANY

This beat-up pulp cat head lantern made in the United States actually sold for $80! Based on my personal experience running my auction as well as following what items are currently selling for on many on-line sites, vintage Halloween prices seem to be stronger than ever. Given the plethora of collecting categories that have plummeted in value (Hummels, Jim Beam decanters, Avon bottles, "brown" furniture - anyone? anyone?...) vintage Halloween items have held up like a wedding night woody. I never stop being amazed at the heights to which prices for good items inexorably climb. 


I am disappointed that this seller doesn't define his use of the word, "vintage." This cat head lantern was made in Germany during the 1950s. The mark on the lantern's bottom, "Container Made in Germany," tells us the general manufacturing date. The Germans only used this mark during that decade. So, is something made during the 1950s vintage? In some cases, use of this generic term to describe something made during that time is probably not inappropriate. However, given the price difference in German lanterns made during the 1920s and those made during or after the 1950s, this seller should take care to define the word. This lantern typically fetches between $55-$95, depending on the enthusiasm of the bidders. Its value doesn't come close to the BIN price. 

All-Original Vintage Halloween Paper Mache Pulp Cat Jack o Lantern, USA 30s-40s

Wow, another stellar result from one of my favorite sellers. I am wondering what is driving these baffling results for items that are relatively common. (This style of lantern was made for many, many seasons both with an orange and a black finish.) Given auction results elsewhere, I feel the fair market value for one of these in this condition is right around $200, so the buyers duking it out for supremacy overpaid by a considerable margin. When you examine the bidding history you find that it was the same 3 fiercely determined bidders driving the price from a not unreasonable level of $223 right into the stratosphere. This demonstrates the potential pay-off for sellers committed to the auction format, rather than slapping head-shaking BIN prices on things you see listed repeatedly with no significant price change. You need just two, or in this case three, people determined to prevail for surprising results. All in all, kudos to the seller for her commitment to the auction format and for routinely offering truly vintage items to share with the rest of us.