Tonight is the Night When Dead Leaves Fly…

Like witches on switches across the sky…

Collectors used to say that you could collect an item cheaply until some fool writes a book about it.  That’s what happened to me with Halloween and Christmas collectibles.  Back in the Golden Age of Collecting (for me, the 1980s) these Halloween noisemakers could be found in thrifts and flea markets for $1 or even less.  I bought all of them I ran across, and used them to decorate for the un-holy-day.  Then a book came out and that ended that.  Today they start at around $20 each.

That’s okay, because I have enough to do me.  I enjoy getting them out once a year and raising the roof.  I used to take them to school with me to show the kids.  They were pretty much amazed to hear the stories of how we as kids went though the neighborhood ALONE making a little noise, collecting candy, and generally having a fun time.  It sort of punctuates how much the celebration of Halloween has changed.

But these tin noisemakers predate my own childhood.  By the 60s we were into plastics, and you can see two of these 60s era decorations in one of my photos.  The images are really great with everything from a sexy witch popping out of a pumpkin to a downright scary devil.

I think the devil images are the most interesting.  Karen at Small Earth Vintage posted some family photos showing a kid wearing a costume with a very scary devil on the front.  She was right when she pointed out that you’d not see a kid wearing Satan’s image today!   Isn’t the whole point to poke fun at the things that are scary?  Instead of today’s thinking – that to wear the devil on your costume means you are a satanist – wasn’t it a lot cooler when it meant you were thumbing your nose at him?

Poem by Harry Behn.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities, Holidays

14 responses to “Tonight is the Night When Dead Leaves Fly…

  1. Yes, being PC had taken the fun out of many things.


  2. I adore vintage Halloween, but like you said, it has become extremely pricey. I have a handful of paper hang up pieces that I was able to score at some thrift stores for about a dollar a piece.

    I really admire your collection!


  3. Em

    I noticed the prices went up too when Martha Stewart started showing an interest and it was repeatedly featured in her magazine. I was skimming the vintage sections in some old copies that belong to a friend of mine, and her interest in old Halloween goes back to the start of that periodical. Your collection is amazing–the graphics are stunning.


  4. Gah. We had noisemakers like these when I was little, passed down from my grandparents. But my opposite-of-hoarder parents have long since gotten rid of them.


  5. What a fabulous collection Lizzie. I was really interested to see these items since we didn’t do the ‘Halloween thing’ in the UK – until quite recently. I’ve never come across anything like your collection before. When I was a kid, during the 1970s, all we had on Halloween was a turnip that would take the best part of a day to scrape out!! Then we’d dunk for apples and get our hair wet. That was about it! Never went trick or treating either.


  6. The noismakers with the devil imagery are fantastic. I know too what you mean about pricing. We were at one place on Route 8 in PA here that was asking $275.00 for a wax witch! I almost fell over.


  7. Thanks for the nice words about this collection. I bought all these, pretending that they were for my husband, but in reality they are MINE.


  8. Pingback: Vintage Halloween Costumes | The Vintage Traveler

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