Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Dennison 1920s Nut Cup Place Card Jack O'Lanterns unfolded Black & Orange Graph

eBay has been such a wasteland of late that I’ve struggled to find anything to write about, so it refreshing to see this fun and rare Dennison nut cup. They first issued this item in 1928 with a stock number of H566. I’m happy to see such a strong result but not surprised given the paucity of quality items lately and how well respected the seller is in the collecting community.


Although I have never much cared for these kinds of party favors, I do like seeing them in their original C.A. Reed packaging. So few of these still exist intact definitively establishing which firm made these inexpensive 1950s party favors. These nut cups typically sell for less than $15 each, so the seller is putting a great value on the intact packaging. I wouldn’t have made the same decision.

02/19 Update: The seller has listed another of these with the same minimum bid of $79.99. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any bids.

03/01 Update: There was one bid, so the second set also sold for $79.99.

RARE Vintage Halloween BEISTLE Pumpkin Head Scary Black Cat Rat Owl Nut Cup HTF

This is the first time I’ve noticed one of these exceedingly rare “nut or candy trays” offered for sale. Beistle sold these in enveloped packets of four for, I believe, one season only around 1930. Sold with a stock number of 760N, you can see the oh-so-rare complete set on page 221. The seller greatly understates the condition. It has been repeatedly folded and is quite faded. Still, outside of when I acquired the complete set in 2007, I’ve never seen even a single example offered for sale.

10/16 Update: This sold for a strong $171.50.

RARE Vintage Halloween nut cup party decoration

This is a very intriguing item. I have never seen it, or anything similar, before. I am curious as to the purpose of the holes punched in the base. What was this item designed to hold that such venting holes would be required? (If a reader has a theory - like Ross Perot - I’m all ears.) The imagery is super. I especially like the rare graveyard scene. (Graveyard scenes are surprisingly uncommon in the overall iconography of vintage Halloween.) I got a kick out of the directness of the seller when stating, “This is not a grand showpiece, but an interesting piece nonetheless considering it’s a rarity.” AMEN to that! I would love to have this as part of the collection, but the condition is too rough for me.


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. 

Vintage Halloween Nut Cup Rats Black Cat

This fine seller had four different designs, three from the same set and one from another set featuring witches, that all ended today with very strong results, contributing to the data indicating that small paper is one of the hottest sub-genres currently. Whitney made these intelligently designed nut cups during the 1920s. These sets seem to have 6 designs each. I bought all the cat/mice nut cups from the same source about a year ago for an average of $48 each. The four that ended today ranged from $76.85 to $99.99, a steep increase in one year. 

unused Halloween diecut nut cup with BLACK CATS, pumpkins, mice - Whitney??

This pleasing piece of ephemera was produced during the 1920s, almost certainly by Whitney. (Frustratingly, Whitney marked nearly none of their output aside from post cards. One has to look at Whitney's art from that time using post cards and items from their boxed sets to gain insight into their aesthetic. Hallmark produced items with a similar aesthetic at this time so one has to be careful with attribution. Hallmark typically cared about their product enough to mark much of their output.) There are at least six different designs from this set, maybe eight. Small paper is hotter now than at any time since I began collecting in 1988. It will be interesting to see if the BIN option is exercised. 

7 Old 1930's Halloween Party Place Card Candy Nut Cups w Original Box - Whitney

I was fortunate to get mint examples of these superb 1920s Whitney nut cups from this seller a couple of months ago when he was selling individual items for $40 each.(Some also double as place cards.) These are exceedingly rare. I've not seen most of these ever before, so I was thrilled to get them. Whitney designs tend to be rather static overall, so these are a welcome departure from the norm. Whitney was out of business by 1942.