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Halloween Keeps Getting Bigger and Bigger Yearly

Decorating for Halloween keeps getting bigger and bigger it seems. Just a generation ago, the holiday was mostly for the kids, a chance to trick-or-treat in homemade get-ups or inexpensive boxed costumes sold at the five and dime stores.

Costumes weren’t nearly as scary either, the old ones might be a simple princess or cowboy, ghost or witch. Nowadays, zombies, ghouls and frightening mass murdering monsters are seen at your door with a candy bag.

Adults get into it too, and dress-up in costumes that are trendy, expensive and worn while trick-or-treating with their kids or going to parties — or even the workplace! I’m not at all fond of bloody gore but I do like the return of vintage charm found in many of today’s popular Halloween decorations. For example, if you’re like me you may receive the Vermont Country Store’s catalog.

This catalog and online company sells many traditional items of all sorts but carries a full-line of old school candy and decorations. It’s a perfect place for fans of vintage and antique enthusiasts to browse. (I like the repro-ghost and witch candles and find the ghost holding a bubble light charming.)

Closer to home, Boscov’s has a lot to pick from in retro looking decorations. But if you want the real-deal, visit Antiques on the Market or our other antiques and second hand stores. Looking in these windows the last few weeks, I saw many vintage decorations that were found on our mantle at the holiday.

Another theme that has grown in recent years is the Mexican Day of the Dead decorations. The flowery-skull look of this theme blends Halloween with All Saints and All Souls Day and gives a nod to the origins of Halloween, which was a time to honor the dead.

Day of the Dead items, often found incorporating colorful skeleton couples into the designs, are now very popular in decor and in fashion. It seems to me that the popularity of Frida Kahlo and her colorful Mexican folk art helped this trend along.

Halloween decorations were first made commercially in the late 1800s but it is 1900 to 1920 that is considered the golden era of Halloween memorabilia.

This is when jack’o lanterns, postcards, candy containers, dolls and party items began to be produced. Since many of these items were paper and used by children, early pieces in good condition are rare and can bring big dollars at auction.

There are many reproduction Halloween treasures on the market so this is one area of collecting that needs study if you are really going to bid and buy. As always, the most important quality to look for in these ghoulish collectibles is condition.

German decorations and postcards are valuable, along with rare or like new examples of many decorations and children’s play items made in Germany, Japan, or America.

A fascinating website to explore that offers up-to-date information from a serious collector and expert is simply called halloweencollector.com. Authored by Mark B. Ledenbach, there are many examples of fine Halloween collectibles and information including a book list for those seeking a quality reference. Happy Halloween to all antique enthusiasts! This is definitely our time of year.

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at zambitomaureen@hotmail.com or by writing in care of this newspaper.

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