This seller realized bafflingly high prices for nearly all seven of the skittle pieces they listed, with this one ending at the most baffling amount. (As this is being written, the same seller has listed an additional five skittles.) These items are quite common, surface regularly and typically fetch between $65-85. As a shout out to a long-time collector who chafes at these items being described as skittles, it is quite possible they were meant to be table decorations only. When I first began collecting, I had several (even then) long-time collectors and dealers advise me as to what I was seeing. (Remember that back in 1988 there were no references solely devoted to our fine hobby.) Paul Schofield and Mary Lou Holt described this set to me as skittles and described how they were used. I accepted the conveyed information and never thought too much more about it. However, I accept that they may have been incorrect.
I'm glad to see these items selling so well even though they come up for sale often. I recently had an exchange with a long-time collector as to whether these items are really skittle game pieces or are simply decorative elements for a table. When I first began exploring the fun world of vintage Halloween collecting in 1988, I took my cues from dealers and collectors active in the hobby for many years preceding my involvement. Two of these folks, Paul Schofield and Mary Lou Holt, described these items the same way - as skittles. (No one ever described them differently.) Over the years, I've seen a few boxes surface for these items. These boxes do not describe them as anything other than Hallowe'en Figures. So, what is the real answer?
09/01 Update: I've received a number of meaty replies. Here is the one I like best: "The pumpkin head skittle you commented on presents another clue. The base on all three that are for sale on eBay currently have a bigger base than the usual. It has a double slot which would be for a place or name card in front I believe. That would lend credence to the table favor use. However I think this base is rather rare as I've usually seen only the narrow base with slanted sides. The narrow ones would be usable in a bowling type game. Skittles was a very popular game during this time so you can't totally discard that idea. Perhaps multiple sales ideas for the same product? Crazy how variations keep being unearthed in many of the German products. THANKS so much for your work!! It's means a lot to dealers and collectors to get this information."
The prevailing bidder grossly overpaid for this rather common item.
The photos below came from a long-time collector (He has been collecting almost as long as me!) who likes to keep a low profile.Thanks, GS! He is lucky enough to own the Hallowe'en Figures boxed set shown immediately below. This is one of at least two variants of the boxed set, the other showing all 10 of the figures. I have long called these skittles, as they were meant to be used in a game wherein a player would win by knocking down as many as possible in one release of a marble, say.
Now, on page 26, I show these skittles plus one from a previously unknown set owned by Barry and Tammy. GS contacted me to ask if I had seen others from the second, mysterious set. He stated that has only been able to find one - the broomed witch shown in the fourth photo below. He has collected the other images as these exceptionally rare skittles surfaced here and there, sometimes after the fact, but owns none of the others.
I asked him if I could share this information with my readers. He kindly assented and now feast your eyes. If you see these, snap them up. Whereas the more common set pieces measure ~2.75" high, the rarer set pieces measure ~3.75". The more common set was made in Germany during the 1920s. My guess is that the rarer set was made in Germany for a single season sometime between 1930 and 1935. They may have been released only in Canada like all of the very rare German diecuts, but this is only speculation.
Does anyone have photos of any others from this set? I suspect there are two more, to make an even 10. (One of the rare skittles shown is a duplicate. Coincidentally, it is the one shown on page 26.)
During this time of the year there are few worthwhile listings, and even then many items go for significantly less than they should (or would go for later in the year). This is just such an example. These common skittle game pieces typically bring from $45-65 each, so the buyer got a steal grabbing them for ~$26 each.
Given that these are easily found and nearly always trade in the up-to-$75 range, this result makes no sense to me. As I've said many times, Ebay is a strange place.
This is one of ten pieces made for a boxed skittles game imported from Germany in the early 1920s. Each is made from lightly embossed heavy cardboard slotted into a wood base. An entire set can be seen on page 26 of my new third edition.
The wood block is not original to this skittle piece. Typical wood blocks are much smaller as shown on page 253. This fact probably accounts for the low BIN price and that the listing is still active.