Discover Vintage America - OCTOBER 2016

Campeche chairs were favored for front-porch lounging

Q: While cleaning out my Grandma's house we came across these old looking Halloween decorations. I was going to throw them away but my aunt thought that they might be worth something. Can you please shed some light on what these are worth and an approximate age?

A: The perfect question for the October issue. I am so glad that your aunt stopped you from throwing these away. Without seeing them in person it is difficult to tell if your vintage Halloween decorations are made of papier maché or an "egg crate" pulp paper material, which makes the item thicker than the

papier maché. Most of what you find on the
market today, besides the reproduction and fantasy items, were made in the early 1900s. Unlike Christmas decorations many Halloween items were thrown in the trash after use, due to damage or a lack of storage space. This is what bumps up the value on Halloween items whether they are greeting cards, cardboard and tissue decorations, candy containers or what have you.

The photos that you sent to me are all lanterns that were lit by a candle. Is it no wonder that we see so few of these? The candlelight would shine through the paper inserts in the eyes and mouth. Also, based on the photographs your lanterns look to be from the 1920s-1930s, based on the proper wear and quality in workmanship of the lanterns.

As I stated earlier, Halloween items are heavily reproduced and new fantasy items flood the market. So if you plan on beginning a collection of vintage Halloween items it is imperative that you do your homework. I glanced at a popular online auction site and the number of new items, declared as vintage by the seller, far outweighs the real antique and vintage Halloween decorations.

As for value, the devil face lantern would sell for $125-$175 due to the replaced paper inserts. The Jack-o-lanterns would bring $75 for the one with wear to the face and the other that appears to be in very good condition would sell for $200-$225.

I recommend that if you plan on keeping these lovelies to pack them in tissue and keep them in a climate-controlled environment. Take them out for Halloween and use a battery operated tea light "candle" to show their splendor. Happy Halloween!.

Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one-on-one appraisal.