While there are many collector's of fabulous vintage Halloween items, I am not one of them. I see certain collections and covet the pieces but my main focus has always been Christmas and so that is where I concentrate my collecting efforts. It has taken great restraint on my part to not begin with an extensive Halloween collection....That being said, as a collector, you tend to accumulate things in your travels which are outside your focus. That, inheritance and being gifted are all ways in which a new collection can begin. My first pulp jack-o-lantern was a gift from my mother.
While in high school, she and I attended a public auction on the town square which featured the contents of the now defunct hardware store. On the top floor of that wonderful old building was an attic space just chock full of decades of old merchandise. In a corner, piled, were a dozen or so pulp pumpkin and cat lanterns. This was long before vintage Halloween even came onto my radar but we were both enamored and so the bidding began. I cannot remember the exact amount paid but it was most likely equivalent to a single pulp lantern in today's market. The lantern which I inherited is the large one to the left on the mantel in the photo.
While antique and vintage Christmas items can bring large sums in today's world, Halloween items can, in many cases, trump those of Christmas. The main reason is the scarcity of really good quality old Halloween items. Unlike Christmas, where the decorations were cherished year to year and became part of our holiday history, Halloween items were produced mainly for use on one night or for a party and then meant to be discarded. As with Christmas items, the highest quality items came out of Germany but many charming pieces were produced in Japan as well. As with all collections, scarcity and condition are the defining factors for price.
As with Christmas, there are still amazing finds to be had in the world of vintage Halloween. Persistence and awareness are the collector's best tools. Keep an eye out for holiday items throughout the year and not just at the given holiday times. You will often find items overlooked by other collectors and can snag a good price in the meantime. Happy hunting (or should that be haunting?)!