It’s time for a very spooky subject. And no... not the forthcoming election, but Halloween! Today post features a brief history of Halloween and the popular antiques and collectibles the holiday has spawned.
Rooted in an Early Celtic Celebration marking the end of the harvest season, historians believe Our Halloween, the traditional American holiday, began to grip the Nation in the mid to late 19th Century. The Irish are credited with its popularization here nationally. You see, the potato famine, a period of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from approx. 1845 to 1849 brought large waves of the Irish to our wonderful melting pot. All were in search of the American dream. Or just work and food. Well, it seems they brought some of their Celtic traditions and a few Jack-O-Lanterns. And here's a fun fact. Originally jack-o-lanterns were carved from anything and everything. Turnips, Potatoes, Beets, and I even have seen a few Egg Plants! Take that pumpkin latte...
As the Irish assimilated into American Life, their heathen holiday holdover first re-materialized as the classic Halloween party. Complete with costumes, candy.... sweet, sweet candy, and games. Here is where one can really begin to see all things Halloween appearing in American pop culture. It was just around the turn of the 20th Century and the early "pagan" party version became a bit more homogenized or a kind of a Great Gatsby civilized. It wasn't cool to be seen sacrificing goats anymore, and remember, America was busy industrializing. And as we emerged from the Victorian Era, which was a pretty darned uptight period, I am sure to many this holiday was seen as quite scandalous. Plus, it was brought here by the Irish, can you imagine. Probably the Kennedy's fault. Or the McClinton’s. Anyway, there is so much fascinating history here, I am just breezing over it all, cliff notes style, because I got to get to the goods.
So, you have these costume parties lasting for a few decades. Up and thru the roaring 20s. But then there was a great pause, for the most part. The great depression, followed by the 2nd World War, had an impact on most festive activities, as one can imagine. But it all came back with a vengeance in the 1950s. Mad Men Style. This is the period, were most of America now adopted the Norman Rockwell'esque trick-o-treating that we know and love. Parties, dress up and door to door free candy. So, we I guess we have the 50s to thank for those little costumed communist terrorists looking for a free hand out. Not in my neighborhood. You want the Big Snickers Bar. You are lucky you got the minis. Just kidding. I got to calm down. Must be the sugar rush. Anyway, as you know, these traditions have since raged on. Or raved...there have been raves. Okay not this year. Maybe next? Though there are most likely some Zoom Raves here in 2020, not that I would be invited. I have glow stick toxicity.
Okay, focus...Today, Halloween is a monster economy stimulator. Its reported to be a 9 billion dollar a year industry. Capitalism always knows how to fill your wants and needs...and you need Candy, right! And I know this leaves you all wondering, just how does over a century of a love for all things Halloween influence the secondary market...or your basic antique, collectible and resale world? Well...Whenever you have this kind of tradition, history, and passion behind anything, there are going to be a lot of collectibles and the collectors and curators for it. That's Demand People... plus a chance for a few people in the know to make a few bucks! And with this many year of stuff, there is a lot of super cool goodies out there. It's really only 2nd only to Christmas in holiday collectibles. But here I have to tell you, I am still amazed, how many of you out there, do not know there's a crazed collector fan base that will pay really good money for these vintage goodies. Halloween seems like a sleeper.
But no more...There's a lot to show you, but I got you covered. I am going to break it down into a few categories, show you a few visuals, recent sales results and give you a few tips. Plus, some of the real-world general prices. Let's jump in with Tin.
The tin lithographic toys & noisemakers....rattles, tambourines and more...you know, the cling, jangly things....typically these command between 50 to 150 dollars, but as you see....wow, they can bring a chunk. I want to throw in a tip here. As with all holiday collectibles, the closer you get to the specific holidays, prices rise. Demand goes up and so do the prices. So, if you have a few of these or know of a stash at Mom or Grandma’s house.... wait until Sept/October to sell. It matters. Especially when using auction platforms. Also, if you are buyer. Shop for these during the off seasons. Hold, then sell. It works.
I am talking Die cuts, Postcards, Displays at the like....most the vintage, pre-1970 stuff starts around $20 on up but it's nothing for these little babies to bring $50-$100 apiece and then there is....crazy.
THE CANDY RELATED
Containers, Glass, Paper Mache and Hard Plastics....they come in everything...witches, ghosts, goblins, pumpkins, cats, spiders and so on. The German made papier Mache examples are some of the most expensive candy containers. Typically, from the 1930s and 1940s, but do watch out for reproductions. As with all things. Once they start commanding big money, someone will start to knock them off and try to fool you. Although sometimes it is just to pay tribute to the originals because it becomes hard to afford the real thing.
It's typical for the papier Mache pumpkin candy containers to command $250 and up. Also, the shaped or "monstermorphic" chocolate candy molds will bring from 50 to 150 dollars apiece around Halloween.
Did you know the "scary costume" was originally intended to ward off evil spirits. Not become them....okay Jason! Michael! Evil Clown Guy....Sexy Nurse.
Back on track.... I want to talk about the 1950s and 60s classic boxed costumes with plastic masks. You probably remember them, or some variant, as they didn't change much up and thru the 1990s. But the one's to look out for are the early Collegeville, Dessart and Ben Cooper costumes. They were sold everywhere, throughout the United States, so you will find them. I just saw an Under Dog at the Goodwill. I do want to tell you here, that condition matters. To the serious collectors for sure. The costumes must be in good shape...not cracked or damaged from your hot attics or dank basements. The original boxes are also important. Look for Political figures, popular celebrities, monster characters, etc.
THE GAMES AND TOYS
Battery Ops, Motionettes and Board Games. Marx made some cool battery ops in the 60s that today, fetch a pretty good penny.
And Speaking of the games....an Old Ouija board can conjure up quite a few bucks this time of year. And sure, to stir up a few demonic possessions and your basic paranormal activity. A 1938 William Fuld Mystifying Oracle Ouija Board Game just sold for $1000 at an Auction in Ohio.
I love that is it a called a board game, because calling out to the dead and few demons sounds like all sorts of fun and games.
Anyway...even the typical 1950s Parker Bros versions can realize $50+ this time of year and you will find them at your local Thrifts from time to time. The old Paper Party Games and even vintage tarot card sets see an uptick at this time of year as they are a Halloween Cross Collectible.
And just to show you a great example that this has been around for quite a while, here's the 1901 McLoughlin Bros Hand of Fate Board Game.
This is typically a $400+ Game these days if you find one.
Enjoy These Other Spooky Game finds in the genre...
The 1960s Ideal Haunted House Game $400
1970 MB Which Witch Board Game $250
1965 Tranogram GREEN GHOST Game $325
1972 SEANCE Milton Bradley's Talking 3-D Board Game $250
And let’s throw in the 1976 Weebles Haunted House $450…because I can Heather….
You see how running across these at the local Thrift Store for $5 would be a nice little investment. I might make a video or blog, just out of cool board games next. Anyway, feel free to send me any and all questions or comments. I love feedback, almost as I love New Subscribers....and Monsters!
Don’t Forget, Season 3 of LAST WEEK AT THE AUCTION is coming to YouTube, October 29th….
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