I don't know whether the "this-was-taken-home-by-an-employee-unpainted" story is true. It looks too uniform and pristine to me, given that it is ~115 years old. I've had a number of readers contact me to say it looks like a paint removal product was used to give it this look. I can't say anything definitive about it, except that the marketplace had its doubts too, as this fetched only $1136.11. What I did find cool and truly unusual was the base with the impressed information. I don't recall seeing such a base before.
This is an outstanding reference published in 1995. I am surprised yet happy that one in "new" condition is being offered for sale. When I decided to write my own reference guide, the first edition of which was published in 2003, this was a key resource for me. During the intervening years I have come to appreciate it all the more. The vast majority of information conveyed in the book was correct, a true feat given that not much research scholarship had been done on the subject when this was being put together. Dan and Pauline were winging it and got it mostly right. I had the pleasure of written correspondence with Pauline, all of which I retain in my archives. Sadly, she passed away in 2001. Their collection was auctioned by Noel Barrett in 2003.
It is refreshing to see something you never knew existed. A little-known firm, Frank T. Riley Publishing, issued this set of twenty-five fortune cards. The envelope's art work is vaguely interesting and seems to have been replicated on all cards, based on the only two extant with this listing. Normally, I'd be all over this kind of item, given that my far-and-away favorite sub-genre of vintage Halloween memorabilia is paper, but this is too rough and incomplete to tempt me much. It'll be instructive to see what it brings.
This fantastic Dennison diecut has seldom received the love from the secondary market that I feel it deserves. Large and creepy, it would have been the perfect wall decoration for an adult Halloween party. This floating specter first appeared in a 1929 Price List pamphlet. SGV is $275. Be aware that scammers have tried to peddle small versions of this. As I write on page 141, "Small versions measuring 8" h have surfaced recently. This size is not referenced in any extant Dennison publication. These small versions seem to have ragged edges and poor lithography. Given this data, I feel these are fantasy items with no vintage value."
This was one of Dennison's go-to designs, issued in a numbing number of iterations. In 1922, they issued a slide box of twelve of these broomed witch illuminated silhouettes using stock number H-641. In 1926 Dennison issued a closely related variant of gummed silhouettes in a slide box containing six. I suspect this listed set of six was made sometime during 1923 to 1925 based on the reduced number of units per package, the lack of a printed stock number and the monochromatic box. Even with the large form-factor, which typically commands a premium, this design typically doesn't fetch more than about $75.
When I initially saw the end result for this rare diecut I was surprised it garnered so little compared to its SGV of $135. Then I looked at the pictures and thought the market had appropriately discounted it for the problems with the legs.
Chein produced this hard-to-find noisemaker during the 1920s, patterned directly after their party scene tambourine. There are subtle differences between the two aside from coloration. Because blue and yellow are not colors traditionally associated with Halloween, collectors sometime overlook this little gem. This particular one is in rough condition, so hold off for a better one. The seller may have found it in a box with a 1950s date, but this was produced ~25 years earlier.
This uncommon (RSIN = 4) shade was produced by Gibson during the 1930s. SGV is $35, so given the overall condition, the seller simply wants too much for this shade.
Beistle produced what I call their ugly elf roly-poly for a single season, 1930. There were at least three designs comprising a full set of this honeycomb-based roly-poly table decoration size. Two are shown on pages 226 and 227. The third known design is of a sinister clown, which recently entered the collection. This is my least favorite of the three, as it is an acquired taste. SGV is $475 for one in much better condition than this one.
03/23 Update: The seller has an interesting strategy here. The original listing offered this at $129.99 and received zero bids, no doubt to this example's poor condition. Undaunted, the seller has nearly literally doubled down by relisting it for $229.99. I find the stratagem almost quaintly cute. If you do too, resist the temptation to pay anything more than $100 for this staple-ridden ugly-elf.
Given my comment on the importance of condition in the post below, I was surprised to see this tatty old thing actually vacuumed $129 out of someone's pocket. SGV is $95, but this item's condition should have put off collectors at the BIN price level. I feel a value in the $50-65 range would be more understandable. By the way, the JOL policeman drawn on the front cover's lower left corner is one of the most difficult Dennison diecuts to find. I bought the one in the collection decades ago when I didn't quite understand the relative scarcity of things. I've only seen one other ever offrered for sale and that had a date written in ink across the front.
These cold-painted glass JOLs are not particularly rare, but what sets this one apart is the condition of the paint. Made in the teens and into the early 1920s, these typically have severely deteriorated paint. Often they are cracked and missing the threaded top. This seems to be one of the nicest examples I've seen for some time. I think a price up to $200 is reasonable.
03/21 Update: Someone snagged themselves a deal, picking this up for a relative song at $154.63.
The seller must not believe in the power of several clear photos and adequate descriptions. The round clanger is actually missing the front rod and ball. The horn has an unappealing smudge of lipstick. Pretty gross. The only noisemaker that seems OK is the 1930s Kirchhof ratchet, whose SGV is $35.
I sure have received a lot of traffic related to the ending price of this well-designed, colorful and very rare invitation. One long-time reader asked me what I thought. Here was my reply: "The sub-genre of small paper has been on fire for the last year or more. I see the trend continuing and strengthening. The high prices may be drawing forth heretofore unseen examples of the sub-genre. The item you mention is one I had never seen before. The lushness of the design and color evoked great interest. The springboard seems to have been at the $165 level. Three committed pursuers escalated the bids to the final level. Do I think that is a sustainable price? No. If others were to surface, I think the price would settle to $250 then be sustainable at $200."
Thanks to the excellent memory of a long-time reader, I was reminded that two examples of this invitation were sold through Dunbar Gallery in 1997 at the second Hugh Luck auction.
This listing featuring both the 1915 Dennison Bogie Book itself plus the exceedingly rare 1915 enclosure is the third time this has surfaced within about seven months. Guide value for the duo is $775. The duo listed in July 2016 fetched ~$838. The duo listed in August 2016 fetched ~$810. Comparing condition of the two from last year to this one, this is in third place, the least best. Both the envelope and the Bogie Book have much more wear showing. SGV is $775, but the condition here may work against this listing from achieving that sustainable level. It'll be fun to see where this ends.
03/14 Update: As I suspected, this set in fair condition ended well below SGV - at $556.99. Condition is so important that there was almost a 33% decline in the money this brought compared to the only previous two examples sold on eBay.
The seller is offering this not uncommon Beistle game for $149.95. SGV is $60, so I don't feel anyone will be interested at that price. The seller is offering a "make offer" option, so I would advise $45-55 is the right price given its condition. Beistle secured a copyright for this game in 1935, but didn't actually produce for distribution until 1938. Production continued for many seasons thereafter.