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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.
For more information about Mark Ledenbach’s book, Vintage Halloween Collectibles, visit http://www.squidoo.com/vintagehalloweencollectibles/