We love vintage holiday decor here at Firehouse Antiques, and Halloween is no exception. It wasn’t until early in the 20th Century, that Halloween became a cultural occurrence. Americans began to have Halloween-themed parties, and the company Dennison Manufacturing, based in Framingham Massachusetts, took notice. Starting in 1909, Dennison produced some of the rarer items of Halloween ephemera, including invitations, place cards, decorations, and an annual catalog called Bogie Books.
Bogie Books were a how-to on hosting an adult-themed Halloween party, with menu, games, decoration, and costume suggestions, some of which were also sold by Dennison. Bogie Books were published from 1909 to 1940, and they were an annual publication from 1922 to 1940. The books, decorations, and crepe paper products that date from the 1910s can fetch as much $1,000 to the right collector, though most original items are priced right under $100.
Check out this link for a Bogie Book e-book.
Dennison Manufacturing still exists today, but they moved from Massachusetts to Pasadena and function under the name, Avery Dennison, which is a Fortune 500 corporation. They are most famously known as the inventors of the Dennison tag, which are the plastic tags we all cut off new clothes.
In the 1920s, the phenomena of trick-or-treating began, but it really didn’t become what it has become today until the 1950s. This is where we begin to see the famous Beistle items. Beistle was a paper novelty printer based Shippensburg, Pennsylvania who specialized in decorations and designs for holidays, like Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter, and Thanksgiving. It’s thought that the paper items made by this company popularized the act of decorating one’s home for trick-or-treaters.
Beistle was especially known for making die cut cardstock prints with moving arms and legs. Beistle definitely popularized many of the images of Halloween that we think of today: black cats, witches, devils, skeletons, owls, cauldrons, the moon, and pumpkins. The company also made games, catalogs, and masks that vary in price due to rarity, but can sell for as high as $500. Be on the lookout for these items at flea markets, estate sales, and auctions. These items often come from Grammar school paper décor, so be on the lookout for these items at school or church sales.
Most early 20th Century Halloween costumes were handmade, but handmade costumes, if in good to excellent condition have sold for as much as $1,500 on eBay. Dennison began selling costumes in the early 1930s for adults, but the most popular mass produced children’s costumes were made by A. S. Fishbach and Ben Cooper in the mid-1930s. Eventually these two companies merged in the 1940s, and if you’re old enough, you probably wore a Ben Cooper Halloween costume, because they operated until the 1980s.
Prior to Fishbach and Cooper, a child’s costume options were limited to ghost, goblin, witch, werewolf, monster, etc., but both of these companies were quick to have licensing agreements with cartoons and comic books. Check out these images of a circa 1938 A. S. Fishbach Ferdinand the Bull and Donald Duck costumes, both licensed from Disney. Or, I am sure you wore or came into contact with one of these superhero masks from the mid-1960s.
Outside of Ben Cooper, the other two chief children’s costume manufacturers were Halco and Collegeville. Any of these costumes, especially if still in the box, can go for $50 to $200 on eBay. There are collectors who preserve and showcase masks in shadowboxes on their walls. With the popularity of recent Marvel and DC movie productions, the cool factor of these Halloween items only goes up in value.
Believe it or not, the first trick-or-treaters traded songs for homemade treats, coins, toys, and fruit. Candy companies did not begin to directly market their products for Halloween until the 1950s. During this same decade, Atomic Ranch House began mass producing trick-or-treat bags, at the same time, the candy manufacturers began to give away trick-or-treat bags, just to drive the popularity of the holiday. These vintage trick-or-treat bags are worth as much as $50.
Candy containers are probably my favorite item to find. They are typically brightly colored and because of their small size, they are easily displayed with other vintage items. One of my favorite finds was actually brought to me by a friend. These candy containers were her’s as a child and she recently rediscovered them as her parents moved. These are a great example of the colorful plastic candy containers. Vintage Halloween will be hard plastic. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when you start to see softer plastics like they still make today.
If you are able to find candy containers like the ones below, make sure that the small jack-o-lantern is still in the cats hand. This makes it more valuable because usually the jack-o-lantern is missing.
A cool collectible from the 1950s that you may run across are “Name Your Poison” cocktail glasses. Georges Braird and Ceraglass both produced novelty Halloween themed sets, which can go for over $1,000 for a complete set.
Parents of the 1950s probably needed those cocktail glasses after looking at our next set of Halloween collectibles, noisemakers. Vintage pressed steel or tin rattles, squeakers, clangers, clackers, clappers, bells, cranks, and clickers can be big money. Believe it or not, tin litho clickers have sold for over $170 on eBay. Don’t overlook these items when you’re at your next pick.
Vintage postcards are probably the easiest vintage paper product Halloween item to find. The more characters, like a witch holding a jack-o-lantern, riding a bike, the more the post card is worth.
In the 1960s, blow mold decorations became a rage, used as light ups, lawn art, plastic kitsch, and illuminated figures. Empire was a prominent plastics company and their pieces can go for as much as a few hundred to the right collector. These items will be marked japan, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. New items will be made in China, so beware of these. Be sure to check out our Etsy shop for our current selection of blow mold decorations.
Paper Mâché Decor
Last, but not least, probably the hardest to find Halloween items are paper mâché jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and devils. These early pieces were made in Germany. The paper eyes & decorative inserts are usually deteriorated because of their age and the type of paper used. If you are able to find one with the paper insert, it definitely increases the value.
These were manufactured to be used and the discarded. Rarely you can still find these in various conditions, but be extremely careful because with the vintage Halloween trend, reproductions have become popular. If you come across a paper mâché jack-o-lantern for less than $50 and in good condition, I say buy it!
I’m always on the hunt for vintage Halloween and you should be too. Be sure to check out our Pinterest page for more vintage Halloween ideas. Make sure to only store your vintage Halloween in climate controlled room or environment. No damp basements or hot attics. This will keep your collection just as you found it. I recommend placing your collection in a glass cabinet where you can enjoy it. And always remember, if you get too much, start selling it or trading! I’m here for you antique lovers, so please leave a comment or photo of your favorite Halloween find!
Don’t forget to check out our Etsy shop to see all our new Halloween listings and for more ideas like and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
Click here to see our Vintage Halloween YouTube Video.