55 Catalogs from the Golden Age of Halloween

By Ben Truwe

Prepared for the lover of Halloween and Halloween memorabilia, this collector's guide is the first ever to reprint actual hard data about the marketing of classic Halloween goods, along with eyewitness accounts of how the American celebration of the holiday has changed over the decades.

The book is introduced by a foreword and discussion of the Halloween collectibles market by Mark B. Ledenbach, author of Vintage Halloween Collectibles: An Identification and Price Guide (Krause, 2003). Mr. Ledenbach writes of the book: "This new work by Ben Truwe will further expand the frontiers of knowledge available to the collector, shedding light on the nether world of the wholesale Halloween goods dealers. This is not only a compilation of catalog pages but includes some ground-breaking research on the history of Halloween as observed in the United States, as well as the practices of Halloween wholesalers."

Within the pages of The Halloween Catalog Collection you'll find:

  • 164 pages reproduced from 55 vintage Halloween catalogs, 1919-1971
  • New information about how wholesalers marketed Halloween merchandise
  • The first new history of Halloween in America in 50 years, including:
  • Where trick-or-treating really came from--right here in America!
  • Proof the jack-o'-lantern was invented right here--before Halloween came to the U.S.
  • How Halloween died and was reborn and almost died again
  • And much more!

Every catalog page of Halloween collectibles is solidly dated and referenced, printed in full and in chronological order. For the first time, you'll be able to assign hard dates to your Halloween collectibles--when they were introduced to the market and when they faded from view. The Halloween Catalog Collection will help you uncover your collection's historical significance as you view each item in context with other Halloween items offered the same season.

Due to limited interest, almost all mask and costume listings have been omitted. The remaining pages are packed with the vintage Halloween novelties, games, toys, decorations and noisemakers that are so familiar from the collector's guides--but which never before have been accurately dated.

The book is introduced by a meticulously researched, groundbreaking Halloween history that authoritatively shatters many long-held assumptions about where our Halloween traditions come from and how they developed. Like the catalog pages, the history is also solidly dated and referenced, supported by ten to twenty footnotes per page.

The history is packed with evocative, never-before-seen accounts like this one from 1925:

"Youth and Elders Celebrate Night of Ghosts
"Small Boy Uses Soap and Horrid Faces; Spirits Do No Material Property Damage.

"Old folks, young folks and little folks all took occasion to celebrate Halloween last night in various ways.

"In keeping with one of the important dates on the social calendar, the old folks held masquerade dances, card parties, taffy pulls and what not.

"The young folks made merry by motoring to dances, the boys especially worrying the city police and the populace in general. As in years gone by, the little ones wearing false faces and carrying hideous Jack-o-lanterns and draped in flowing white sheets stalked the streets in search of the innocent and the timid.

"Far into the night, candle-light flickering through grotesque openings painstakingly cut into large yellow pumpkins, flitted from street to street and from window to window as groups of little ones wandered mysteriously about. Some of the more daring traveled in couples and others alone, emitting at intervals blood-curdling screams and groans to throw into the unsuspecting the fears of the unknown. As the hours advanced they disappeared, as one by one they trekked homeward. Some were afraid, their candles having burned into nothingness. They ran, fell and stumbled homeward, leaving older ones to do that which they had not dared.

"Police had issued a warning that merry-makers must be in by 12 o'clock, but challenging the word of law, boisterous youths continued on the streets, alleys and side streets to do their worst. It is not strange to say that many windows were soaped, paint was applied in places where it should not be, furniture removed to far places, and confusion caused in general.

"Up to midnight no material damage had been reported to police, who seemed to have the situation well in hand, as several special motorcycle officers were on duty to prevent maudlin depredations. Until midnight the steady purr of their engines could be heard in varous and scattered portions of the city [as] they surreptitiously rushed about.

"Although the curfew bell rang as usual at 9 o'clock, no one heard it, all of the kids of the city, carried away by the spirit of the occasion, being exceptionally hard of hearing. However the police and parents heard the bell ring, and only smiled."

Just click on the link at left to order.

© Talky Tina Press, Medford, Oregon