Quick Tips for Collecting Halloween Memorabilia
- Some of the oldest Halloween collectibles sought today date back to the Victorian era.
- Just about anything related to Halloween dating to the 1960s and older is considered collectible, including costumes, metal clickers and paper candy bags.
- Some of the most valuable Halloween collectibles are papier-mÃ¢chÃ© lanterns or candy containers in unusual shapes and German toys featuring grimacing pumpkins.
- Reproductions of Halloween collectibles abound. These are fun to own and display, but caution should be used when purchasing expensive items represented as vintage to make sure theyâre the real deal.
Think back to your childhood for a moment. What do you remember about Halloween? For me, images of a bright orange papier-mÃ¢chÃ© jack-o-lantern my mother would haul out to mark the season and the annual elementary school carnival come to mind.
Boy, how I loved that jack-o-lantern we affectionately called "Jackie" and that carnival, too. They had it all at the elementary school, from fishing games and spook houses to cakewalks and cotton candy treats. That was back in the late '60s and early '70s, although Jackie was a few years older than that.
Running across collectibles from that era trimmed in orange and black featuring ghosts, goblins and assorted spooks keep those holiday memories alive for many folks, including me.
Halloween Goodies of the â60s
Back when I was a kid, I had no clue the paper bags with Happy Halloween emblazoned across the front stuffed with goodies from the carnival would some day be collectible or I would have saved a few. But alas, those bags, and a host of other spooky prizes, now bring in some pretty hefty prices.
In fact, if you can get your hands on one of those papier-mÃ¢chÃ© jack-o-lanterns, do so quickly before the price goes up any higher. The more unusual ones, such as full-bodied jack-o-lanterns can be worth hundreds and perhaps exceed $1,000 in the right market. That's not all. Those metal clickers shaped like owls, witch adorned noise-makers and battery operated lanterns with globes shaped like skeleton heads hold a value much higher now than they did when they were produced as recently as the 1960s. Can you imagine paying $30 or more to own one of those little metal clickers?
Even Older Halloween Collectibles
Items from the '30s, '40s and '50s are often worth even more. Take German toys with grimacing faces from the â30s and â40s, for instance. These collectibles can be worth in excess of a thousand dollars when found complete and in mint condition. Collectors also look for Halloween items dating as far back as the Victorian era, and a varied collection wouldn't be nearly complete without a selection of delightfully embossed vintage postcards.
Many vintage Halloween cards feature lovely witches, vegetable people and frightful devils. But the scariest thing collectors face these days is the price. It's hard to find any type of Halloween card for under $20 and the ones described above can go for two or three times that price depending on rarity and condition.
The colorful Halloween cards made around 1900 or so range from cute to a little frightening, but they're all nothing less than entertaining. Some even feature popular party games of the day as described in HALLOWEEN: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear by Diane C. Arkins for Pelican Publishing.
Reproduction Halloween Collectibles
Fortunately for people who like the look without the price, reproduction Halloween postcards are widely available for a dollar or two each. It's pretty easy to tell new cards from the old versions in person, since the newer cards are often slick and glossy where old ones will be embossed with more of a matte finish. Nevertheless, always be sure you get what you're paying to own. This is doubly true when shopping online. Look for clues words like ânewly printedâ and âreprintâ tacked on to descriptions to avoid getting stuck with a dud.
In fact, reproductions of many older Halloween collectibles can be found in catalogs and in gift shops in great abundance. I purchased an old-fashioned black cat candy container recently that looks remarkably vintage. It would be easy for this item to be roughed up a bit and passed off as old, so staying up on the current reissues in this field is wise when starting or furthering a collection.
Beyond that, the value and age of these items isn't nearly as important as the pleasure they bring to the owners. If you find a reproduction to be appealing like I did, buy one to enjoy this time of year. And remember as you display these items in your home: reminiscing about Halloween traditions of costumed merriment and rousing party games can only make us happy when viewed in the right spirit.