We thought you might enjoy a free look at a Kovels’ Premium Sales Report on Halloween collectibles. This article originally appeared in Kovels On Antiques & Collectibles Vol. 48 No. 2 Newsletter, the October 2021 issue.
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Today’s Halloween celebrations are rooted in kids trick-or-treating and elaborate or gory decorations and movies. But Halloween at the turn of the 20th century looked very different, with more emphasis on scary and bold expressions than gore. A recent sale at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania, had 30 Halloween themed items, including a vegetable man Halloween candy container that sold for $31,200. The candy container brought a high price because of its rarity and excellent condition.
“Veggie people” were popular—and prized—Halloween collectibles from this era. They combined traditional Halloween figures like the jack-o’-lantern with various vegetable body parts which celebrated the fall harvest season. Another vegetable candy container, made in Germany in the 1920s, had a jack-o’-lantern head with a candle holder and sold for $2,706.
Veggie people are also harder to find than standard pumpkin and jack-o’-lantern candy containers. Also difficult to find are witches, black cats and devil candy containers. Candy containers made in Germany usually bring high prices. A witch candy container made in Germany in the early 1900s, the golden years of Halloween decorations, brought $6,660.
After World War I, many German companies began making Halloween decorations to export to the U.S.A. where the holiday was becoming increasingly popular. Some of the most valuable vintage Halloween collectors’ items were made in Germany from 1920 to the mid-1930s.
Halloween imagery was also found on household items, for example, the chimney cover pictured here. These decorative metal discs were used in the off-season to cover the holes for the vent pipes of wood burning stoves in winter. This chimney cover with a Halloween theme auctioned at Morphy for $150.
Halloween collectors seek out candy containers, noisemakers and postcards since they have a high value, but children’s toys are close behind. Halloween was originally a holiday that adults celebrated with spooky celebrations complete with skeletons, ghosts and costumes. Children’s Halloween toys became more prominent closer to mid-century. A toy car driven by a witch sold for $1,107 (pictured on cover). Character and condition contribute to the value of these toys, but captivating expressions on toys or containers also bring high prices. A toy with two Halloween cats on wheels auctioned for $1,008.
Halloween began to see more trick-or-treating in the 1930s. Sugar rations of the ’40s slowed the holiday’s popularity down a bit before it bounced back after World War II. In the 1950s, the holiday transitioned into a child-oriented holiday, especially after Walt Disney released the short film Trick or Treat in 1952. There were costumes, trick-or-treat bags, papier-mâché jack-o’-lanterns, party favors and house decorations. It can be difficult to find pieces of Halloween memorabilia in mint condition because they were made of paper, cardboard, paper pulp and other lightweight materials. They were meant to be used and then discarded after the Halloween festivities or trick-or-treating ended.
Photos are courtesy Morphy’s Auctions, 2000 North Reading Road, Denver, PA 17517. The June 16 & 17, 2021, Toy, General Collectibles & Sneakers auction catalog can be found at MorphyAuctions.com.
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