From the 1930s to the '50s, pumpkin lanterns made of molded paper or paper mache were a hot item made in Germany and sold to the U.S.
Reproductions came onto the market and soon slowed down those coming from Germany. Various U.S. companies started to make lanterns with pulp similar to egg cartons that featured a paper inner mask with eyes, nose and mouth. And a candle could be placed inside, though many did go up in flames.
An excellent reference guide for vintage Halloween collectors looking for accurate information on each Halloween piece, as well as Halloween graphics, is the book, “Timeless Halloween Collectibles: 1920 to 1949," with a price guide by Claire M. Lavin. Also check out the 2014 “Vintage Halloween Collectibles” Third Edition by Mark B. Ledenbach. His first and second editions are worth seeing as well.
Halloween folk art
Halloween is probably the best time of the year to find folk art from the past and present on display. Folk art is primitive and irregular and as you look at the pieces it doesn’t matter how old the object is. It could be from America’s past or present, which is sometimes even better made as a reproduction. The originals are more valuable.
Keep in mind that collecting folk art takes a little bit of, “I don’t care what anybody says, I like this.” Some are mass-produced and some are made one at a time by the artists.
One artist that we have visited with before is Cindy Habermann, of Rochester, who continues to make new items and has reconditioned a few. Habermann says, “My passion is creating whimsical figures out of paper mache. Many of my creations incorporate antiquities that I have discovered at many locations through out the United States and parts of Europe and each of my designs is one of a kind, never to be reproduced. I call it whimsical folk art or whimsical seasonal paper-mache folk art.
"My work is created with paper-mache, a paper pulp," Habermann said. "It is messy and has many steps to the process. Over the years I have perfected all that goes into creating, there really are no short cuts. It is very time consuming and makes pricing my finished pieces difficult. Each piece is done by me from start to finish, not only painting, but gluing, antiquing, sealing, vintage glass glitter, etc. I also use paper clay, which air dries and is very light weight.
"I work just by trial and error," she said. "I can zero in on the things that appeal to me. Sometimes what I first envision turns out to be something totally different. Even though I have made similar pieces, since they are hand made, each one is individual. I have a nice collection of vintage Halloween, it has inspired me to create the whimsical faces on some of the paper-pulp jack-o-lanterns I have. Of recent I have used with the black chimney a real dried gourd as a head. I also replaced paper pulp and put faces on some vintage jack-o-lanterns that were in really bad shape. I found a cool orange tractor and designed a pumpkin guy riding on it and I took a little witch made with paper clay and put her sitting on an old block. Customers interested can contact me at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Spooky pumpkins and more
Nestled among oak and pine trees on a large residential lot lies the stone cottage that is the Chickadee Boutique, 207 St. Marie, Shoreview, Minn., owned by Jacci and Mike Krebsbach. Unique to the Twin Cities, the Chickadee Boutique has maintained its dedication to artists who design and handcraft original works that includes pumpkins, pottery and more.
“We have about 160 vendors this year with some really amazing pumpkin items ranging from $10-$50," Jacci said. The boutique is open through Dec. 8. Find it on Facebook or go to www.chickadeeboutique.com.
Penny Bracken, of Kismet in Rochester, said, “We have some great Halloween stuff coming through at this time. This is always a fun time of year. Luv the pumpkin man originated from a very high-end boutique and stands about 3-1/2 feet tall, priced at $148 and is really quite the character. If you like it, buy it, as items go in and out of the stores so quick sometimes I don’t get a chance to document things.”
Joan Thilges, owner, of New Generations of Harmony, said, “Halloween is among the largest holidays for spending in the U.S. We encourage our vendors to add lots of fun Halloween items to their booths. From a sweet little black cat circa 1930 that is only $12.50 to vintage Halloween pieces from Rosbro Plastics and a larger pumpkin that's battery operated. All selling around $45 to $55 each.”