Witches, black cats, skeletons, jack o’lanterns — these are just a few of the many iconic images that have been vintage Halloween decor staples for as long as anyone can remember. The sight of a witch riding on her broom or a black cat with its back arched and its tail fluffed instantly conjures up nostalgia for crisp fall days, candies and costumes. And these days Halloween isn’t just for kids — people of all ages can get in on the fun.
One of the most surprising yet delightful developments in spooky season lore is the growing popularity and collectibility retro Halloween relics. While the paper cutout of a skeleton or a tin noise-maker that you see at antique stores don’t seem like they’d be worth much, there’s a growing market of collectors who appreciate the quirky charm of old school Halloween goodies…and they are willing to pay more than you might expect for them.
Here’s what you should know about the vintage Halloween trend.
What is vintage Halloween decor?
According to the aptly named site VintageHalloween.com, run by collector Jennifer Fisher, vintage Halloween decor are items made from the 1920s to the 1960s and include noisemakers, postcards, lanterns, party decorations, books, candy containers, figurines, etc. The designs found in vintage Halloween decor are whimsical and often feel more dark and sinister than some of their modern counterparts.
Vintage designs are popular on social media, where they serve as sources of nostalgic escapism, conjuring up simpler times of homemade costumes and the friendly neighborhoods of our childhoods. Vintage Halloween collectables and decor capture a nostalgic version of Halloween that was spooky yet sweet, and not as heavily commercialized as it is today. The adults who buy and sell vintage Halloween decor prize their collections for both feel-good and aesthetic purposes.
Valuable vintage Halloween brands to look out for
Certain designers have long histories, often going back 100+ years and manufacturing within the US. Today, goods from these specific makers are coveted by Halloween collectors.
Vintage Halloween noisemakers
Vintage Halloween postcards
Vintage party decor
Beistle and Dennison are two of the most prized designers of Halloween decor. In a sign of just how popular vintage Halloween has become, Beistle’s classic designs have been widely reproduced.
Which vintage Halloween decor is valuable?
Most Halloween collectibles sell for between $20 and $300, with some items running in the hundreds to thousands that are typically more popular, scarce or rarer items. Noisemakers usually sell for between $15 and $75, postcards usually sell for between $10 and $20, and lanterns usually sell for between $75 and $150.
As with any collectibles, prices may vary greatly depending on condition, rarity, aesthetic and ultimately, how much a potential buyer is willing to pay. It’s important that any Halloween goodies you’re planning to sell are in nice condition, which isn’t guaranteed, given that holiday decor is often relegated to dingy garage piles when it’s not the proper season.
There are certain instances in which Halloween collectibles can sell for three or even four figures. Particularly rare noisemakers and postcards in good condition may sell for hundreds, while some of the rarest collectibles include papier-mâché lanterns made in Germany before World War II. One of these lanterns, depicting a pumpkin man, sold for $1,000.
Mark Ledenbach, who runs the site HalloweenCollector.com and wrote the book Vintage Halloween Collectibles, is an expert on all things vintage Halloween, with a 5,000-item collection to prove it. He told Collectors Journal that vintage German Halloween goods can sell for up to $4,000 and often inspire bidding wars for particularly rare items that were only made for one season.
Vintage US-made items from Beistle may sell for up to $3,500, while ones from Dennison, which are typically smaller, may sell for up to $900. Ledenbach’s collection, which is filled with all kinds of spooky sensations, even includes a rare German pumpkin lantern from 1920 — only three are known to exist — that is valued at $6,000.
Trick or treat!
Halloween decor from after the ’60s isn’t likely to sell for much, but if you happen to have any Halloween items from before that period — maybe they were from your youth, or passed down from a family member — you just might be in luck. Halloween memorabilia may have originally been mass-produced, but over many decades these items have become art objects in their own right.
As Halloween pro Jennifer Fisher told Collectors Journal, “There’s a certain suspense and mystery to vintage images that isn’t present so much in modern designs.” It turns out this suspense and mystery can be worth a spookily high sum.
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