I saw that this seller had a number of these scalloped-edged diecuts up for sale and immediately wondered if the ever-so-elusive skeleton in the graveyard might have been one of them. Alas, it wasn't. However, this particular one of the arched-back black cat was in remarkably clean condition, yet sold for only $120. (The listing showed that an offer was accepted on the original BIN price of $150. That offer was $120.) The buyer got a very good deal!
OK, why in tarnation am I profiling a Valentine's Day item on my Halloween blog? The answer, faithful reader, is that I have long been puzzled and bothered about the fantastic and ultra-rare Rosen mechanical "Pops" boxes you can find on pages 116-118. For what purpose were these sold? Because of their rarity and the number of suckers each could hold, I thought they must have been retail countertop displays. However, I suspect now, thanks to this Rosen Valentine Pops box, that reasonable conclusion is wrong.
Some good friends acquired this box. Like virtually all of the Pops boxes I have seen, the graphics are interesting and the mechanical feature fun. One spins the dial at top and possible names of your Valentine appear in the small space at the end of one of the boy's hands. (One of the dog's eyes change, too.) While spinning, instead of the constellation of old-timey names like Ethel, there is one blank space. Now, look at the photo taken of the bottom of the box. You can see that it suggests, "If your pal's name does not appear on Dial, you can print the name in blank space." This instruction would not appear if the Valentine Pops box was meant to be a retail countertop display. Based on this, I think all similarly constructed Rosen mechanical boxes were meant to be sold to the end-consumer, not to be used as a retail countertop display.
Unfortunately, this find sheds little light on when these boxes were produced. I am still assigning a production date of the mid-1930s to the earliest boxes.
Bidding was hot and heavy on this lot. I can somewhat understand why - the invitation is well done, energetic and nicely colored. I think that $29.75 each was a bit much, especially considering that one of the twelve has a serious discoloration to the upper right front. This seller certainly scored some great small paper, selling with overall strong results - results consistent with the trend I've been noticing these past months. When bidding on a lot containing many duplicates, paying top dollar is something to be avoided. It'll be interesting to see if singles begin to appear for sale.
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 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!
This is one from a set of six cats in various poses that Beistle produced during the 1950s. They are not uncommon and I feel the ending price is sustainable. Beistle re-issued the same set in the 1960s and 1970s but with green highlights. These are typically marked Beistle and have a much lesser value.
Many of the ephemeral items produced for Halloween were not marked. Some companies - Dennison comes to mind - were quite disciplined about marking their products, whereas companies like Whitney rarely marked such items, aside from their postcard output. Gibson was a middle of the road firm when it came to marking. One characteristic to look for if you think something might be Gibson is the presence of a slanted exclamation point. Although not a foolproof method of identification, it is a handy one. This particular invitation is one of Gibson's best. The artistry and use of unusual colors make this stand out. These were sold with stock number 1860 during the 1930s.
I was driving with some friends yesterday morning and mentioned that I had seen this listing and felt the candy container was a good one for the price. They logged on to eBay and bought this about three hours after I had seen it. I feel this seller got lucky that I mentioned it. He had only two poor photos and a description only Piet Mondrian would appreciate. I don't think anyone else would have taken the $550 plunge with such scant information.
I haven't seen this invitation offered for quite some time. This was produced by Whitney during the later 1920s. It is one of their stronger designs. Dennison produced many tri-fold designs, but it was atypical for Whitney to do so. The art is compelling and I like the use of color. (The green bat - yes green - is a truly nice touch!) Small paper has been a very hot sub-genre for about 18 months - and I expect it not only to continue to be so but to get even hotter. These small artistic gems are finally getting the recognition due them.
This brought an incredibly strong, albeit unsustainable, $90.15.
Beistle issued several versions of this party staple, Fortune Wheel for Hallowe'en Parties. The one offered here is the third and last iteration, produced from 1932-1935. It differed from its predecessors by lacking a honeycomb base and attached fortune flaps. The first and second iterations were produced from 1928-1931. The first was ~11.75" high whereas the second, smaller one measured ~9" high. In terms of rarity from hardest-to-find to most common, the order would be 2, 1 then 3. The one offered by this seller typically fetches $225 in near-perfect condition, which this is not. The seller dismisses the reproductions issued by Beistle itself as "cheap." I don't agree with that characterization. The reproductions are well made and issued with care shown to the collector's market by having them marked in such a way that it is impossible to confuse old from new. I applaud Beistle's consideration of the secondary markets.
This awesome invitation was issued by Whitney in the early 1920s. I have never seen it before. I love the 3-D effect given by the protruding steps and the open door. The hatch work at the window can be seen in other fantastic Whitney products - namely the highly desirable and oh-so-hard to find "House of Fate" fortune cards. Eight examples of the latter can be found on page 278. Another thing that makes this listing special is the seller. She has long been associated with vintage Halloween items and is very knowledgeable ... friendly and honest too!
02/14 Update: The small paper item sub-genre is on fire! Who would have ever projected this would end up fetching $222.50 with multiple bidders near that level? Maybe it is time I part with my House of Fate cards!
Don't bid too much on this piece. The broom was never an original component of this diecut and is therefore, from a collecting perspective, meaningless. What should be noted is that the diecut is not complete. Most of the lower section of the broom is gone. To see the extent of the missing section, check out the compete diecut shown on page 178.
These fence table decorations, largely made by Whitney, are nearly impossible to find in mint condition. This complete set of four pieces was made during the late 1920s and sold with stock number 2348. This set has the typical weakness to the section hooks, plus appears to have some color toning issues. Still, overall this is a very desirable decoration that has a SGV of $275. What makes it more desirable than some others is that each section is different. To save money, Whitney often produced fences with either identical sides or with only two different designs per four-piece set. The seller has started this low with no reserve. This augurs well for ending at or above SGV.
02/08 Update: The listing ended well below SGV - $209.50.
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?
Be cautious here. These games were made sometime after 1980 and don't have the collectible value of the first iteration version made in the United States. The next iteration was made in Japan. This iteration is one I haven't seen before, and was made in Taiwan. The styrofoam middle is also something new to me. It screams "crap." Unpunched games from the 1920s and 1930s are desirable and hard-to-find. This isn't that.
Although it is a great feeling to expand one's collection of German diecuts by five in one fell swoop, it is important to pay attention to condition in formulating an appropriate bid. Except for the JOL, which doesn't have a great deal of value, the lot is made up of items that have a battered look - lots of wear and tear. Because of the condition, I feel the prevailing bidder overpaid. German diecuts, by and large, are relatively common, so when evaluating condition one should take a very hard stance so as not to do what this bidder did - overpay - only to have to upgrade at a later time.