Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.


This was a surprising ending price. These German devil head diecuts are arguably among the most common. They surface regularly and typically sell for well below $200. So, not only were the bidders overly frenzied, but this is the time of the year when so many solid vintage Halloween items are listed that bargains are to be had. Why overpay? My contention is that NOW is the very best time to be a buyer. There are so many listings with collectors having only so many dollars to spend, that lots tend to go cheaper now than at any other time of the year. I have many items on my watch list and expect to buy several nice items for much less than one would expect to pay at other times of the year. Aberrant results like this one should lessen between now and middle of November.

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.

Vintage Halloween Porcelain Devil Ashtray RARE

Outside of the complete set I’ve owned since 1991, this is the first time I’ve seen this ashtray. (You can see the set on page 130.) I bought the set from a show in North Carolina in 1991. When I began to research what it was all about I found a book on “country store collectibles” that had the plate, humidor and match holder shown, but no ashtray. The photo’s caption said it was from the collection of Mary Lou Holt. I found a way to contact her to ask about the ashtray. Her initial response was that there wasn’t an ashtray. I offered to send a photo - and did so. Maybe a week later Mary Lou called to say how excited she was to now know there was an ashtray as part of the set. She told me that there were only ten plates made and speculated that there were only 10 ashtrays made since she had never seen one before. Mary Lou and I became friends. She was a great source of knowledge on many collectibles topics, including vintage Halloween. She passed away a number of years ago. I miss her still.

04/18 Update: This brought $201.50.

Antique German Halloween Devil Jack-O-Lantern, Compo Nose, Ears & Horns--Great!

I’ve never been particularly attracted to lanterns, but this would be one that would have a place of some honor amongst any collection. As with retailers today spanning the spectrum from Dollar Tree to Nordstrom, back in the 1920s there were the dime stores at the low end where most holiday goods were sold and posh retailers at the high end selling such things as this lantern. The Durante proboscis, the add-on horns and those ears all differentiate this from the garden-variety lantern. The seller is a collector well-known for his vintage Christmas collection and expertise. It will be fun to see what this somewhat sizable lantern fetches.

04/09 Update: This brought $1,862.87.

RARE Vintage Halloween Composition Devil Head Lantern W/ Orig Insert Formalite ?

I’ve received a number of inquiries as to my opinion of this item. I know the seller to be an ethical and affable person who has long been a collector of vintage Halloween memorabilia. I have much regard for him. That said, I don’t feel this lantern has much age to it. From what I understand, the Formalite process applied to items made from original F.N. Burt molds simply means a gesso-like coating over the typically used pulp, like shown in the second photo. I question why the bottom of the one up for auction is flat. If original molds were used, why wouldn’t the bottom be indented, like the one shown in the third photo? (Notice, too, that the lantern shown in the third photo is marked.) The lantern up for auction seems to be made from composition, not pulp. I suspect it was probably made off-shore sometime in the last 15 years.
My thanks to a long-time blog follower for supplying the second and third photos.


RARE Vintage Halloween DEVIL Tiara Diadem Diecut Decoration. Germany 1930s

This seller has four of the better tiara designs listed for sale right now. Overall, condition seems to be quite good. The Germans issued these as a set of 12 during the 1920s. I feel individual designs were also sold separately. Given the recent sale wherein another tiara design brought an unsustainable price of $1608.14, I felt we'd be seeing others flushed out by the frenzy generated by a relative handful of determined, deep-pocketed bidders. What I didn't expect was to see some of the best and rarest designs being offered is such fine condition. The Halloween market seems to be too frothy right now. It'll be interesting to see what prices these tiaras bring on September 3rd. 

09/04 Update: The devil tiara brought $790. The seller's other three tiaras brought $1782.12, $1982.12 and $2182.12. These are astounding sums. I will sell any of my tiaras - I own all 12 - for an average of these last three prices! :) 

NICE Vintage Foil Jointed HALLOWEEN EVIL DEVIL Skull Crossbones RARE

This was a high price to pay for this fairly common foil diecut. They surface regularly. This devil was produced by Happy Holiday of Battleboro, Massachusetts during the late 1950s and into the early 1960s. They typically change hands for $30-40. Foil items have not been a strong market segment for many years - if ever. Is that changing? More selling data points will tell the story. At this point, I feel this result is an outlier. 

Vintage Halloween DEVIL 30" jointed Die Cut ? Beistle Electric Man

Here's a great Beistle item you don't often see. This was issued for the 1931 season only and marketed as a Lightning Wumpus, one of four large jointed designs Beistle issued. They issued two in 1929 and two in 1931. (You can see them all on page 146.) This is one of their two best, the other being the scowling Skairo. This one appears to be in remarkable condition given how much can go wrong with this large item with its wholly irregular edges. SGV is $525. 

06/24 Update: This seems to be a slow time for quality listings - and when they do surface, the results, at least in this case, have to be disappointing. This stellar item sold for well below SGV. It brought $407. The buyer must be on cloud nine. 

Orig. Rare Vintage 1910-1914 Halloween Devil Candy Container 8" Made In Germany

This is an exceedingly rare and desirable devil from the grand trio of capacious candy containers made in Germany in the early days. (The others are a witch and a black cat.) This listing represents a rare opportunity to acquire a tippy-top-shelf item through an auction format. I am personal friends with the seller and know him to be a knowledgeable and selective collector. The fact that he is fun, decent and forthright are simply bonuses. If you want to get an item that will almost certainly enhance your collection, you are looking at it. 

04/02 Update: This brought $1725. 

1920s German Composition Arched-Back Black Cat atop Devil Head Candy Container

This is one of the most pleasing devil head candy containers I've seen for some time. I like its surprised, slightly dazed expression. I see that someone asked whether this is a truly vintage item. I don't have any doubts on that score. In looking closely at the ample photos provided, everything is as it should be. The flaking of the cat's paint is quite common, and for those whom it really bothers, easily remedied. (I would encourage the soon-to-be-new-owner to leave the paint untouched...) I am not buying vintage German compo candy containers much these days, but this one sure is tempting! 

Vintage Devil Satan Paper Mache Halloween Lantern

I've seen these oddly colored devil head lanterns occasionally over the decades and remain unimpressed. They just don't have the impact the traditionally toned ones have for me. I do believe F.N. Burt made these with varying odd colorations, probably late in the overall production run. As with all inserts I haven't examined personally, I assume it is newer. Sustainable guide value for this lantern with a typical look is $350. I can't imagine, even during an optimal listing time, that this would get more than a fraction of that value, even if it didn't have a carved bottom. 

01/19 Update: This brought $153.50, a bit more than I would have guessed. 

~ 1930's Paper Mache Halloween Devil ~Vintage Jack O Lantern ~Pumpkin

Personally, I have never been a fan of pulp. Even when I first started to troll the antiques stores in 1988 for vintage Halloween items, I'd almost always pass on purchasing pulp. I felt and feel the genre is too common and too space-consuming. That said, I do have a few pulp items in the collection. One of the designs I have long liked is this devil head lantern. (I like this design far more than the other one shown on page 29.) It exudes a slightly threatening air, so different than the vast majority of pulp JOLs, especially the choir boy designs I especially dislike. Given its overall condition, this sold right around where I feel it should have. 


This magnificent lantern leviathan is a true showstopper. While I was scrolling through the listings I couldn't pass it by, the imagery is that strong. These huge lanterns were store displays and were made right around 1919 and then for 1-2 more seasons. I have seen three designs over the years - this devil, a witch head and an eerie JOL. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen this lantern. These are so rare that lantern collectors should be scrambling to be the prevailing bidder. I'll be watching! The bonus here is the seller, an honest person who strives to be correct in her listings. It would be hard to find a nicer seller. 

10/02 Update: This superb item sold for $2,550!