Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Antique Early 1900’s GHOST DANCER Halloween Bobble Toy German Scarce Halloween

This has a strangely lumpish look to it. The detailing present in other similar items I’ve seen is absent in this item. This is especially noticeable with the feet. All unquestionably vintage such items I’ve seen have slightly pointed heads, rather than the smooth one this item has. Overall, the molding looks primitive. Ask the seller lots of questions.

06/12 Update: This questionable items was included as part of a two-item lot. That lot sold for $125. I remain unconvinced as to its vintage nature.

08/25 Update: The same seller sold another one of these ghost dancers as part of a three-item lot on August 22 for $381, strengthening my belief that the dancer is not a vintage item.


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.

Halloween Beistle Rare Antique Nut Candy Basket 1920 Witch Ghost Cat Owl Bats

It is nice to see a true gem amongst the many listings. This early Beistle creation is among the very first items that began to firmly set their iconography. As I write on page 51, "This delicate basket has virtually all of the early, iconic imagery associated with Beistle. Made at the beginning of their golden age, this light cardboard candy basket has a trio of seated black cats and two flying bats on one of the other sides and a witch with a broom on her shoulder, two flying bats and a pine tree (odd...) in the background on the remaining side." SGV is $325, but one hasn't come available in some time, so it will be fun to see where this ends. 

09/25 Update: The answer is known! This ended at a completely unsustainable price of $687.99. 

Vintage Halloween 1920's Rocker Stand Up Fortune Place Card Skeleton, Cat, Owls+

Unusual small paper has been on fire over the last year. This result far exceeds what I would have expected. The tombstone and graveyard motif is underused in vintage Halloween design, and that may have contributed to this eyebrow raising result. You can't go wrong with this seller - truly a gem in our fun field. I wish this piece was marked. It is definitely not Dennison nor Beistle. It doesn't strike me as a Gibson item. Whitney? 

Vintage Dennison Halloween Ghost Invitation, Victorian Couple, Unused w/Envelope

Dennison excelled in small form factor ephemera. This tri-fold ghost invitation first appeared in the 1922 Bogie Book. Everything is exquisite about this item from the unsettling expression on the ghost or ghoul to the distended lettering. Given how hot this sub-genre of collecting is right now, I'll be surprised if the ending price doesn't blow past the guide value of $65. The condition is near-perfect, as is the seller! 

I am not surprised this  fetched $154.50. I don't feel this is a sustainable price, but do feel the guide value is too low. 

Vintage Halloween Place Card, Skeleton Ghost in Front of Shed, Full Moon, Unused

This is an extraordinarily high price to pay for this attractive, but not overwhelmingly so, place card. Not attributed to any particular manufacturer, the subject matter is cool, but I don't understand the ending price. That is the price level for a good Dennison place card or one of the Beistle place cards with a flip-out base. I am thrilled for the seller, a wonderful person and knowledgeable seller, but $140 and change for this - really? 

1930s Dennison HALLOWEEN DIECUT 19” FLOATING GHOST Skeleton Head & Hands

I love this diecut! When I first read of the Dementors in the Harry Potter books, this is the image I fixed in my head. I'm glad to see these early Dennison paper items get the exposure they deserve. Given the overall condition of this example, I'm not surprised it didn't exceed book value. A cautionary note: 2-3 years ago, I saw 8" sizes of these floating about. All had ragged edges and poor lithography. Given that Dennison always stated the dimensions as being what this seller states, the smaller ones are poorly done reproductions. 

Halloween Ghoul with Wings 1940s cardboard/crepe paper decoration

Although there are condition issues with this winged ghost decoration Beistle issued only in 1925, they are easy to overlook given just how unusual it is to see complete examples. Yes, the top knots are hanging on by a thread and there is unfortunate discoloring to the area around that face that only a mother could love, but importantly for me, the base is intact. As I write on page 228, "Weirdly, both ends of the base are generally also missing." With well over five days to go, this iconic Beistle masterpiece has already been bid up to nearly $225. It'll be fun to see where it ends. 

Vintage Halloween Ghost Decoration

This scary Beistle winged ghost was issued in 1925 in two variants: white or orange honeycombed paper wings. Both are valued equally. This example has the typical damage: both knots are missing as is a section of the base. I understand the typically missing knots, but have long wondered why the bases are typically truncated. 

Vintage Halloween Beistle Placecard

Beistle issued these mechanical place cards in at least two packaging variations around 1930. The one shown on page 220 held four: two owls, one ghost and one witch. Beistle assigned this variant stock number 757. The second held 6 place cards, three owls, two ghosts and one witch. This small package has a cello front and was assigned stock number 657. I guess Beistle made a surfeit of owls! 


This is one of a trio that comprises a full set. The seller is correct in stating that this 3-D table decoration was made by Beistle. The complete set, made in the mid-1950s, is shown on page 231. This is the one that typically brings the most money when sold. 

04/20 Update: Surprisingly, this fetched only $89.88. 

1920's Halloween tin shaker with cow, spooky tree, cat & JOL

Matthew Kirscht, who did a bang-up job laying out my newly published third edition, feels the same unknown manufacturer responsible for this great shaker also made the four-sided bell-shaped noisemaker that brings relatively significant dollars even though it surfaces regularly. He subtly placed these two items next to each other on page 207. Check them out!