Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

early vintage Die Cut OWL 9"x14" mechanical USA

These were originally sold in one envelope as “Mechanical Hallowe’en Silhouettes” by Beistle. They were produced in the early 1920s. The owl is in rough condition yet still brought an unsustainably high price. The bat seems to be in significantly better condition yet brought a bit less. These results are a result of two apparently deep-pocketed collectors escalating the price beyond reason.


E. Rosen Company Pumpkin Pops Mechanical Countertop Display, mid-1930s

eBay is generally such a wasteland that it is bracing to see a truly high-quality item properly included in their Vintage Halloween category. This is only the third time I’ve seen this complete item offered for purchase, but those three times involve only two different complete examples. What do I mean? Well, the first time I saw this great Rosen mechanical design was in 1997 when it was auctioned. I acquired it then for the collection. The second example was sold in late 2015. This second example is now being offered for sale again.
Rosen didn’t produce many mechanical lollipop holders. They are all ingeniously designed with fun graphics. In my opinion, the best one is the Spooks Pop mechanical with the haunted house as the central image and ghosts popping up from the bushes. I feel this is the next best design. (You can see the ones in the collection on pages 116-118.)
Any collector with an affinity for the best in paper would be proud to have this item as a centerpiece of their collection. It will be fun to see where this ends. It deserves some big dollars. By the way, I have concluded based on some information contained on the bottom of a Rosen Valentine Pops box that the Rosen mechanical and non-mechanical "Pops" boxes were not meant as retail countertop displays, but were actually sold to the end-consumer. I included this new insight as part of the errata for my book maybe two years ago.  

05/14 Update: This item brought $1,444.69.


As of this writing there are over 8100 items listed on eBay in the Vintage Halloween category. Only ~3% of these listings are worth a second glance, and this surely is one of them. I’ve only seen this for sale one other time - when I purchased it in 2007. The one in the collection is more visually appealing in that the highlights are orange rather than light blue, but if you are someone who wants rare and amazing items in your collection - this listing is for you. Rosen produced a small but very desirable array of mechanical candy boxes and holders. (Look at pages 116-118 for some others.) This small segment of the market is surely within my top five loves. In 30 years of collecting I’ve only located seven different examples. There is at least one design I don’t yet have. I saw it in another collection several years ago. I’ll be watching how this listing fares with great interest.

10/02 Update: This rare item sold for the opening bid of $1,195, a relative bargain in these bubbly days. I wonder if the price would have been higher if the seller would have started it at a much lower price?


This great seller is correct - this is one of a complete set of four mechanical nut cups that I know are exceedingly rare. Beistle issued the set for one season only in 1938. They slightly adapted already existing artwork to produce the set. (So many firms were hurting then due to the lingering Great Depression that cost reductions were more important than ever. Beistle wasn't immune, hence this set.) I had the good fortune of buying several complete and unused sets and then several singles out of an estate in Massachusetts in April 2015. I kept the best one, auctioned the next best one for ~$1800 and sold everything else over the next few years. (I am never in a hurry to sell anything.) Beistle printed these on surprisingly thin paper stock considering their intended use. Few survived unscathed. Few exist overall - so when an opportunity presents itself to get one, especially from such a wonderful seller, don't let it slip by. 

06/14 Update: This sold for a modest $119.50. 


This Moon Pop mechanical was produced by Rosen during the 1950s. It was sold as part of an omnibus Moon Pops boxed set comprised of 45 Trix or Treats cards, 9 suckers and 9 of these mechanicals. (What makes it a mechanical is that part of the witch's cape can be moved up and down.) The graphics are interesting. Because it was meant to stand, it can be part of en eye-catching display. 

05/09 Update: This sold for $403.50 with a number of bidders going FAR beyond SGV of $50. This is a result that I don't understand. These Rosen items come up with some regularity. The seller was quite fortunate. 

Vintage Mechanical Halloween Advertising Piece. Chases Fine Candies. RARE & HTF

The seller doesn't state an opinion as to when this was produced, but I think this interesting and large item was made during the later 1950s through the early 1960s. The benign imagery is representative of that period. The Chase Candy Company has been in business since 1876, always based in St. Joseph, Missouri. (Their best known product is the Cherry Mash.) Given the simplicity of the design I feel $595 is on the high side. However, the seller is open to offers, so if you have room this may be a good acquisition. 

11/10 Update: This sold for $545 to a very good home in Pennsylvania. 

Beistles Halloween Party Helps 3 Novelty Place Cards In Envelope Witch/Cat/Ghost

Beistle issued these in at least three packaging variants. One was under their "Party Helps" line with an envelope containing the three place cards shown in this listing. The stock number was 527. The second variant was for an envelope containing four place cards (still just the same three designs...) with the stock number of 757. In the envelope of four in the collection, the fourth is a duplicate of the owl. The third variant was an envelope with a plastic front containing six place cards with a stock number of 657. Interestingly, there are not two of each design but two ghosts, one witch and three owls. One could surmise then that the owl is the most common of the three designs and the witch the least common. I don't know if that is correct, but if you happen to have either of the final two variants, please check the contents and let me know the design distribution. 


This very odd mechanical decoration was made by a company whose mark is so miniature on the piece that it cannot be discerned. The vampire clown pushing a JOL in a wheelbarrow is such a weird combo that this particular diecut hasn't received the collector "love" it deserves. This particular item shouldn't bring much because of the extensive damage. Not only is the tip of the hat missing, the item is soiled and the "foot wheel" at the front shouldn't be there. If you look on page 284 you can see the original wheelbarrow's wheel has been clumsily replaced with the damaged "foot wheel." This is one of a set of four designs this unknown company produced - and definitely the most bizarre. You can see the others on page 284. 

11/01 Update: This Frankensteined item brought $101.01. 


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.