Mark B. Ledenbach's vintage Halloween collectibles blog.

Old Vintage BEISTLE - HALLOWEEN HATS - Envelope/Wrapper - Halloween Party

Lavishly decorated envelopes like this one was one way that Beistle differentiated themselves from their competitors in the marketplace. Nice as these envelopes were, most end-consumers tossed them after liberating the contents, hence the rarity of finding one for sale. Even though this one survived through the decades, it wasn't like it looked like Dorian Gray after the journey. This one was, as the seller aptly described it, in poor condition and the ending price reflected that. If one in perfect condition was to surface, I have no doubt it would have brought up to 10 times what this one did. 

Vintage German Pumpkin Man Candy Container Halloween

Considering the condition issues, this candy container did well. Made in Germany sometime between 1919-early 1920s, this originally stood on a circular wood base. In fact, you can see a fragment from the now-missing base in one of the listing's photos. It's twine stem at the crown of the head is nearly gone and is seems a little soiled, although that could be just the underlit photos. At ~4.5" high, it seems to be a bit smaller than the one in the collection shown on page 73. German candy containers/nodders/figurals are an increasingly perilous genre for collectors. I don't buy many of these anymore unless I can examine the item in-person or unless I have confidence in the seller. 

Vintage Halloween Lantern 4 Different Sides Cat, Bat, Pumpkin, Owl Unique

This very busy shade was produced by Gibson during the 1920s in two variations. The one up for auction is the later variant. The earlier version has cut-out silhouettes as part of the main frame, rather than having these images printed directly onto the orange paper. These early versions are much rarer and have a value significantly greater than later versions. This item has but one bid at $19.99, so a bargain may be in the offing. 

Gurley Candle, 4" Cat on Fence, Creasent Moon, Exc Cond..

Candles are a genre that hasn't caught fire (bad pun...I know...) over these many years, lagging the overall market like common tin litho noisemakers. This sale price for arguably one of the better Gurley designs is surprising. These typically bring $18-20, so to have one bring in more than double is unusual. I feel that candles, tin litho noisemakers and the more common pulp JOLs are great entry points for new collectors. They are plentiful, cheap and low-risk relative to getting stuck with a fake. (As I point out on page 87, the Gurley name was resurrected in 2006 and the new firm began producing candles using new molds.) Look to pay guide values for items within this genre. This result was great for the seller, but the buyer could have waited and gotten it at half the cost. 

JUMBO 18 1/2" Halloween black cat, embossed die cut w/ easel back, USA - NR

Given the enormity of this diecut and its scalloped edges, the condition issues the seller points out are insignificant. Beistle made a group of five of these large, scalloped-edged diecuts beginning in the early 1930s. (This cat, a broomed witch, an arched-backed cat and an owl all appear on pages 149-150.) Of the five, one design almost never surfaces - the skeleton in the graveyard shown on page 137. Even though all five were marketed for many years, the skeleton is so coveted that the last time one surfaced, in October of 2014, it sold for ~$3500. I have yet to hear a theory as to its rarity that makes sense. 

Vintage Halloween Wooden Handle Ratchet Tin Noisemaker Made In USA

This ratchet was produced by Bugle Toy of Providence, Rhode Island. Item for item, Bugle made the most interesting, avant-garde designs of the major manufacturers. The overall number of their tin designs was small but collectors covet them, so prices have been firm, very different from most tin litho noisemakers that have seen sharp price declines. Sometimes Bugle had the wood handle at the witch's hat, as in this example, and sometimes at the base of the JOL. Placement is not material to value. 


We'll be seeing a fair number of these ~8" Beistle Johnny Pumpkins as there was an auction last week in Twin Falls, Idaho wherein several lots containing multiples - all unused - were sold. The auction house used my site for research but didn't think to alert me to the auction until the day after it ended. What is notable about this Johnny Pumpkin is that it demonstrates how careless Beistle was in their manufacture. As I write on page 122, "Beistle was seemingly not prepared for the success of this line and cranked them out with limited quality control relative to exactly how the designs by size were replicated." So, look at the hand holding the cat's paw. Part of the paw, part of the hand and part of the lace is missing. This isn't a flaw in the condition, but a flaw in the manufacturing. 

Vintage Halloween Pumpkin Head Girl Pressed Paper Pulp Made in Germany 1930's

At this time of the year the listings in the Vintage Halloween category swell dramatically with much of it forgettable, newly made things that should be listed elsewhere. So, it is nice to see some gems scattered amongst the garbage. This "JOL maid with bangs" diecut was made in Germany during the 1920s. Its RSIN is 2 as it doesn't surface much. This looks to be bright overall with a hint of fading only to the extremes of the one side. This ~8.25" beauty makes a statement in a display. I like that the seller started it at a reasonable $20 and trusts in the auction format. Sustainable guide value is $165. 


When I first saw this I thought something about it didn't look right. What threw me is the use of rivets, rarely seen with German diecuts. The only other example I can think of is with the various sized skeleton diecuts the Germans produced. Even though it is probably vintage, I don't like it much. The styling looks stilted and awkward. The upright stance of the cat was rendered far better in the Hobo Cat diecut seen on page 130. It will be interesting to see what this poorly realized diecut fetches. 

Vintage Glass Pumpkin Head Jar - Old Halloween Collectible

SCORE!! Someone, not me, made a very lucky purchase. This poor Kansas seller underestimated the value of this cold-painted glass JOL jar. Even in this typical condition with much missing paint these haul in ten to fifteen times the price they placed on this as a BIN. 


Beistle produced this great table decoration for a single season, 1955, and gave it limited distribution for some reason. They issued two designs, with this one being the more interesting. (Turn to page 233 to see both designs and to see if you agree with my opinion.) I am not keen on the sparse description offered by this seller, nor with their characterization of this one being in "almost perfect" condition. However, this is an item that comes up for sale very rarely, so some collectors may be OK with overlooking condition. Sustainable guide value is $375 for one in better condition. 

09/20 Update: This one fetched $370.77.