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Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Vintage Mid 1900s Halloween Paper Mache Witch

This rare pulp witch candy holder is a challenge to find in collectible condition for reasons that escape me. I added one to the collection during the last year when I saw one in great, although imperfect condition. (I had resisted acquiring one as condition was always problematic.) The seller neglects to mention height. This is impressively sized at ~8.25” high and makes a great display item.

09/08 Update: Glad to see this fine pulp figural brought $321.

Antique Vtg Papier-Mâché Paper Mache Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Halloween RARE

This rare lidded JOL with closed features sold for $1000. (eBay's system shows it sold for $1200 but in checking the actual ending price the figure was $1000.) I wonder if $1000 is the record for this rare and very attractive JOL? At 10" high the piece is a stunner and would easily be a cabinet's centerpiece. Although nearly all of the US pulp JOL output is not uncommon, there are the few strays that either weren't produced in great numbers or didn't tend to survive intact. I believe this item checks both of those boxes. 

04/18 Update: Sadly, the buyer, a stalwart and ethical person, let me know the seller was anything but. The seller cancelled the sale after my friend paid for the item in full. The seller refunded the price saying his wife objected to the sale after the fact. Shouldn't he have just said to her, "Sorry, what's done is done."? Naturally, that assumes the reason given was the truth. Could it have been he simply got a better offer? 

Another 04/18 Update: After scrolling through the eBay listings just now looking for something to comment on, I see this same item has been listed by the same seller for $10,000 OBO. The seller is certainly not someone with whom I'd want to do business! Where is eBay in all this? Shouldn't they step in and stop this listing? 

~ 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. 

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. 

Vintage Halloween OWL CANDY CONTAINER in great condtion. 1940's - 1950's

These small pulp objects that were made in the 1950s are devilishly difficult to find in collectible condition. There were a number of designs, but I'd say this owl and a small, arched-back black cat with yellow eyes are two of the harder ones to find. The owl nearly always has significant ear wear with much paint loss throughout. This looks to be in such good condition that I wonder what it would have brought through a standard auction format. This lasted mere minutes between listing and purchase. 

Vintage Cat halloween paper mache candy container

The seller listed this as a BIN - and did so without knowing or caring what the market price is for this hard-to-find pulp lantern, evidenced by the fact that the listing was live for a scant 21 minutes before some lucky and discerning buyer scooped it up, no doubt with a big smile. 

3 Paper Mache Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins Vintage Halloween ~Tiny~ Candy Containers

Whomever bought this lot bought one truly vintage item, one reproduction and one fantasy item. Can you tell which are which? Let me help...The JOL on the right with the green eyes is the real deal. The middle JOL with the yellow eyes is the reproduction. Notice the differences in the surface texture between this one and the vintage JOL. The white JOL is a fantasy item. Note that the problematic items have bales, an element never present on the pulp nut cup JOLs. Also, the paper nut cup itself is present on the vintage item, whereas the openings on the others seem too big for the crenelated paper cup. The buyer should be unhappy spending what they did on this mixed lot. Buyer, if you are reading this, get your money back. 

Vtg Lot 6 Halloween Tin Noisemakers, Paper Mache & Jack O' Lantern Witches, Cat

This seller is an incredible optimist! They are offering this lot of six items - none even close to perfect - for only $995! The sum of the parts here is maybe $225 on a good day. Each of these items is common, with the best piece of the lot being the "putty knife" clanger showing a broomed witch. That was made by T. Cohn in the 1930s and typically sells for $60. 

Paper Mache Pulp Devil Lantern FN Burt 1930s VF+, Near Mint, Original Insert

This great lantern is being offered by a very knowledgeable collector and a long-time friend, so you can bid with absolute confidence. F.N. Burt Company of Buffalo, NY was a prolific producer of pulp goodies for a wide range of holidays. I feel their Halloween items were some of their best output. This devil head lantern with its original insert is a desirable and eye-catching one to have amidst your displays. Too many sellers these days offer poor photos, then stipulate that said photos are part of the description, so I appreciate Jason's clear pictures. 

07/27 Update: This super devil head lantern brought a very strong $393.89. Kudos!

FN Burt Halloween Witch & Cauldron, AUTHENTIC, RARE!!

This is a spectacular piece offered by a seller I thoroughly trust. This small pulp masterpiece of a witch tending to her cauldron was made by the F.N. Burt Company of Buffalo, New York during the 1930s. These don't surface much, and when they do they are often dirty, scuffed, marred in some way and missing their paper cup. (I've even seen a few painted!) This example has none of those deficiencies - or any other that I can discern. Bottom line - if you don't have one of these small treasures in your collection, you can do no better than buying this item from this super seller. 

Vintage Style 1930s Flaming-Red Devil Halloween Lantern (Composition)

I recently took delivery of this remarkable lantern and wanted to pass along some thoughts. Although the emphasis of this blog is on the truly vintage, on occasion I add newly made pieces to the collection. I am very glad I have one of these. The artist, Timothy Ramzyk, sells a line of five Halloween lanterns both on Ebay and Etsy. This lantern is weighty and has been made with a high level of craftsmanship and care. Tim numbers each one, as they are made in limited quantities. As the years roll on, he intends to retire some designs to make room for others. I am sometimes asked what newly made items might be the collectibles of tomorrow. I am confident that all of these lanterns fit the bill. I spoke with Tim this afternoon to ask why he doesn't charge more for these works of art. For the moment, he feels these are fairly priced. However, buy any one of the lanterns and I dare you to disagree with me - they are worth every penny and then some. Buy any of all of these lanterns while they are available. 

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.