Save some of this year’s unusual Halloween items

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Halloweeniana is now one of the major holiday collecting categories, second only to Christmas. Jack-o’-lanterns, figural candy containers of papier-mache, and crepe paper black cats and skeletons are the oldest. Scarecrows, witches, bats, spiders, spider webs, trick-or-treat bags and zombies are more recent and easier to find. An old orange paper dress with black cats and political symbols from a 1980s presidential election year is one of the more unusual collectibles. Another is a 15-year-old dangling rhinestone skeleton pin to wear to parties. A rare vintage Halloween clockwork figure sold for $4,575 at a Morphy auction in July 2016. The 16-inch-high black cat made of cloth-covered papier-mache is holding a jack-o’-lantern. Its head nods and its eyes move from side to side. Look for bargain Halloween decorations at house sales and flea markets, and vintage rarities at auctions and shops.

Q I have my grandfather’s black hat. The name in the hat is “Sheldon & Co., London.” It was in a hat box that says “Mallory Hats, Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.” I think he had the hat when he was a member of the Shriners. Can you give me any information?

A Both Sheldon & Co. and Mallory were hat makers listed in the 1908 “American Hatter.” G.W. Sheldon & Co. was a maker of felt in 1823. It was the first hat maker in the U.S. and was one of the largest by the early 1900s. The name became E.A. Mallory & Sons after his son joined the firm. It became a division of the John B. Stetson Hat Co. in 1946. Production of Mallory hats ceased by 1965. Maybe Mallory sold hats by other makers, or maybe the hat was put in the wrong box by the owner. Vintage top hats in great shape sell for about $100. Twentieth-century hat boxes with good names or graphics are $50 to $75 retail.

Q I have a vintage toilet tissue roll, Waldorf brand, in its original wrapping paper, in excellent condition. It was put in storage along with the whole household in 1943 when the family moved out of state. I purchased the estate many years ago. I gave one to our local historical society to be displayed in the museum. Does it have much value?

A Toilet tissue was first made in China for the Emperor’s use in the 1391. It was first made in the United States in 1857 and sold in packs of single sheets. The first toilet paper rolls were made by Scott Paper Co. in 1890. Waldorf toilet tissue was made in 1902 for the Waldorf Hotel. It was the world’s best-selling brand in the early 1900s. Scott continued to produce Waldorf toilet paper for several years. We found it pictured in a 1930s ad. Scott Paper Co. was bought by Kimberly-Clark in 1995. The value of a vintage roll of Waldorf toilet tissue, about $35-$40.

Q I have been collecting bookmarks since I was in high school. I have some from the Australian Olympics, picture bookmarks of woven ribbon from the 1890s, and 50 or more that are wood, plastic, metal, knit, silver, ivory, celluloid, magnetized, gripping, clip on, advertising etc. With e-books on the rise, I am afraid bookmark collecting will disappear. What do you think?

A Bookmarks are flat, lightweight, easy to pack and ship and inexpensive. They are also little pieces of history and handcraft. Although there is little written about them, collectors like them. Many from the 1800s are still available and the size and price make them easy to sell online. Many groups interested in bookmarks are online and so are listings for bookmark sales. There are plenty to be found for your collection and they can be framed in groups to make interesting pictures on a wall.

Q My inherited plate has a picture of Robinson Crusoe sitting in a chair with a dog and cat nearby. He’s holding a parrot. It reads “Crusoe and his pets” underneath the picture, and the letters of the alphabet are around the rim. It’s marked “B.P. Co.” on the back. What can you tell me about this plate?

A Plates like yours with a central picture surrounded by the alphabet are called ABC plates. They were used during Victorian times to teach children the alphabet while they were eating. Now they are popular collectors’ items. ABC plates have been made in porcelain, glass and metal. Your plate is part of a series of Robinson Crusoe plates made by Brownhills Pottery Co. It was in business in Tunstall, Staffordshire, England, from 1872 to 1896. Plates from this popular series sell for $50 to $150 each.

Q I would like to know the worth of a McCoy planter I have. It’s a spinning wheel with a cat sitting on a locked box which has the letters “R S” on it. The planter is 6 1/2 high and 7 inches wide and has two holes for plants. It’s orange in color.

A McCoy pottery was made in Roseville, Ohio, from the early 1900s until 1990. Spinning wheel planters were first made in 1953. The complete planter has a dog, standing on his hind legs and straining at his leash to get at the cat. The dog’s leash is fastened to a loophole near the left side of the planter. We’ve seen a version with a black Scottie dog and white cat, but usually the dog is white with a brown spot on his back and the cat is the same orange-brown color as the spinning wheel. Your planter seems to be missing the dog and leash, so the value is less than $20.

Tip: Don’t store costume jewelry in the bathroom. The moisture will damage the plating. Keep jewelry in another room in cloth bags or a plastic bag with a piece of cloth.

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