Vintage Halloween Collectibles

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Halloween – a time of celebration and superstition.

 

Halloween  was originally thought to be associated with a Celtic festival with people lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off wandering ghosts. Over time, partly due to the large number of immigrants that came to this country, Halloween has evolved into a fun, family event.

While today’s celebration of Halloween may seem more commercial with many stores and businesses dedicated to selling or renting fancy costumes and party decorations and – of course – the many haunted houses that appear every season, you’ll find during the 1930’s through the 1960’s, Halloween was a more simple celebration with the costumes and other items from this period becoming highly sought after.  And, in some cases quite valuable.

Materials

The most commonly used materials for these vintage, non-costume Halloween items were:

  • Tin Lithograph – Jack-o-lanterns for trick-or-treating, noise makers, i.e., shakers, ratchet style, tin wind-up,  horns, and tambourines
  • Paper – Banners, decorations (center pieces, party favors and invitations) , lamp shades, lanterns, postcards
  • Paper Mache – Jack-o-lanterns (these most often had paper inserts for the eyes, nose, and mouth, however, it is very hard to find a complete one today since the paper was often damaged by the candy), lanterns.  The lanterns manufactured in Germany circa 1920, also had paper inserts. These are highly sought after and valued at upwards of $1,000 (1).
  • Celluloid – due to the fragile nature of celluloid, it was primarily used in making character pieces or decorations. Since it was so fragile, most of the pieces that survived will have a hefty price., i.e., figure of black cat carrying parrot cages, 6″. . . . $465.00 (1)
  • Plastic – candy containers, jack-o’-lanterns, assorted figures, toys

Determining Value

Today many collectors find Halloween collectibles from the 1930’s – 60’s a real find as their values can reach in the hundreds of dollars. As with any collectible value depends on condition, completeness and having the original box (costumes). In the case of Halloween collectibles, value can also depend on material of construction, disposability and country of origin. Regardless of material, the more desirable and more highly valued items were made in either Germany, Japan or the US.

 

Tin Lithograph

Today, some of the more easily found vintage collectibles  are the ones made of tin. These items were typically lithographed with pictures of witches, ghosts, pumpkins, black cats, owls, bats, skeletons and skulls. Tin noise makers are still one of the top Halloween collectibles.  Interestingly, you may find some noise makers manufactured during this period made from recycled tin. The recycled tin used may have been old cans, un-sold toys, or anything else tin that the manufacturer could flatten large enough so as to be reshaped. To see if a noise maker was made from recycled tin look inside the slits for odd words, pictures or designs. Old noise makers can be valued anywhere from $100 – $300(1).

Costumes

Other items like costumes relied  not only on the traditional Halloween characters like witches, ghosts, and monsters for their themes but also characters that were popular in the comics, movies and television. During the 1920’s-30’s Casper and Little Orphan Annie were popular. A complete Little Orphan Annie costume in excellent condition from the 30’s has a value of over $175.00(1).

During 1950′-60’s the popular characters were MAD’s Alfred E. Newman ($175.00), Green Hornet ($200.00), Beatles, Captain America, and Daffy Duck ($40.00), to name a few. The two most noted manufacturers of costumes were Ben Cooper and Collegeville, however, if you can fine a costume handmade and marked ‘Dennison-Made’ you will have found a treasure as these are especially valuable.

Looking for vintage Halloween collectibles, visit our Online Store at this link  for a variety of Halloween items.

Want more information?  Visit this link for a wide variety of reference books and price guides available on Amazon.

 

(1) Some information (values)  for this article was taken from Schroeder’s Collectible Toys Antique to Modern, Price Guide.

 

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