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Vintage German Halloween – Vintage Halloween Memorabilia From Germany
By Emma Martin
For Halloween memorabilia collectors, German vintage Halloween items dating from the period between the two World Wars are the most highly sought after. According to Mark Ledenbach, the author of Vintage Halloween Collectibles, the prime years were 1919 to 1935.
Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated in Germany. The German holiday, Walpurgis, which takes place May 1st is probably the holiday that most closely resembles our Halloween and on the eve of the holiday, Walpurgisnacht, German kids may head out to do some mischief and dress-up in costumes, but with the exception of homes near American military bases, there is no trick-or-treating from house to house.
So all of the paper products and other decorative Halloween items made in Germany were actually manufactured solely for export to the American market, ending up on sale at the discount department stores, Woolworth’s and K-Mart. And this wasn’t a big assembly line production effort either. Halloween manufacturing was a small cottage industry and the majority of German Halloween memorabilia were made by home craft workers or by small craft companies. Virtually all of the items were hand decorated as well and have a clearly homemade look to them.
Some of the highly desirable German vintage Halloween items include German die-cuts, composition candy containers, lanterns and German toys or figures. Many of the German Halloween toys featured brightly painted pumpkins or vegetable people with grimacing features. In addition to the standard pumpkins, witches and black cats, vegetable people were very popular in early Halloween imagery and feature in all kinds of products — from postcards to candles.
If you decide to start collecting German Halloween collectibles, it’s important to keep a few warnings from Mark Ledenbach in mind. He has indicated on his website, HalloweenCollector.com, that items advertised as being “vintage”, but recently brought back on trips from Germany by other collectors, are not likely to be vintage at all. Remember that all of these items were manufactured for export. Since Germany didn’t celebrate Halloween (and still really doesn’t, at least not in the manner in which Americans celebrate it), there was no reason for any of these products to stay in Germany. Also be wary of any claims about vintage Halloween collectibles “found” in the former East Germany, for the same reason. There’s plenty of new Halloween decorations coming out of Germany today, but from a collector’s point of view, they certainly aren’t going to add anything to your vintage collection.
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A plain ruffled dress may be made without a muslin slip foundation. Make plain skirt of amber crepe paper, using 1 1/2yds. for fullness. Add four 4″ wide ruffles*, the upper one about 3″ below waistline. Finish with a narrow band of crepe paper*.
Sew a tight-fitting bodice* of 2 thicknesses to the skirt. Add yellow ribbon shoulder straps. Fasten with snap fasteners.
Make a foundation of brown crepe paper for the butterfly’s body like a slip-over* shaped like Fig. H. The grain should go up and down, so it must be pieced*. Cover with crushed crepe paper*. Turn surplus over and paste to back of foundation. Sew ribbons at waistline to tie in place*.
Make wings of tarlatan with pattern, Fig. J. Fold a 2″ wide strip of brown crepe paper like bias tape to 1/2″ and stitch over outside edges of wings.
Cut spots from Gummed Crepe, Figs. K and L. Stick back to back on wings. Gather wings and sew to back of body in correct position so that wings may be tied to the arms with narrow ribbon.
Cover 1″ wide; 23″ long strip firm wrapping paper on both sides with gold paper. Fasten in correct head size. Wrap a 22″ piece of wire with a very narrow strip of gold paper*. Bend in half and sew to front of band. Bend ends into position illustrated.
* detailed instructions for these processes can be found on pages 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 of
Vintage Halloween Decorations – Hard Plastic Halloween Decorations and Toys
By Emma Martin
One of the most popular categories of collectible vintage Halloween decorations is the hard plastic decorations and toys that were manufactured from the 1940s and onwards. It’s primarily the vintage plastic items that are of interest to collectors, so you will mostly want to take a look at products made in the Forties and Fifties, but some later finds from the Sixties and beyond are certainly interesting as well if you want to put together a fun and whimsical collection.
Some of the brand names to take note of are Irwin, Knickerbocker, Rosen, Rosbro and Union Products, but they aren’t even close to being the only companies making polystyrene and celluloid plastic novelty items for Halloween. They are just some of the most well known companies and therefore quite collectible.
Examples of some of the vintage hard plastic Halloween decorations include items like blow mold pieces in various shapes – Jack O’Lanterns, witches, and black cats are popular (and frequently together in a single piece) and many of the Halloween blow molds light up, glowing orange, especially Jack O’Lanterns, of course, but there are all kinds of shapes that are turned into lanterns as well.
But it isn’t just the larger blow mold pieces that are popular. You’ll also find lots of smaller items in hard plastic that are fun to collect. Look for party decorations such as cake picks, cake toppers and other small decorative pieces made to decorate cakes and cupcakes and other Halloween treats. You can also find Halloween drink stirrers for more adult parties too.
Also, keep on the lookout for hard plastic candy containers. In addition to the large ones designed for kids to take out trick or treating (the large Jack O’Lanterns with straps), there are lots of small candy containers designed for the table. You could arrange a whole collection of them on a shelf together.
In addition to items that are meant to be decorations, there are also lots of hard plastic Halloween toys. You can find lots of little roller toys that are in good condition, so if you’re looking for a witch on roller skates you’ll be sure to find her. Or maybe you want a ghost that pops out of a Jack O’Lantern to scare you.