Vintage Inspirations

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Vintage Inspirations

Developing cover art for The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2, I remember much of the inspiration came by way of vintage textures, colors, and sales copy found in vendor catalogs – with the cheeky idea that one would view the front or back sides of a vintage collectible dependent on the book’s front or back. The choice for double-sided objects seemed only natural — imported German standees (appearing with wide-ranging availability circa late 1920’s to early 1950’s – as seen in THR’s archive library of catalogs). This in turn leads to a short article “Skittle or Decor: The New Identity Crisis for Vintage Figures” (pg. 24). And see THR, V2 for that research which includes clippings from vendor catalogs (in a timeline) as well as an introduction to questions about the consumer side of the market.

A vintage Halloween collector will enjoy this vendor catalog clipping circa 1948 from General Merchandise Company promoting these German embossed standees as table decorations - but what if their actual intended use is game skittles?

Halloween standees (above) in a General Merchandise Co. catalog (p. 330) circa 1948 with a known presence (by THR) as late as 1952.

The goal then for the THR, Volume 2‘s cover (below) is to mimic appearance of old catalog pages using actual THR collection items. Therefore, the photographs of vintage pieces are changed visually to appear more like rough illustrations (as in the catalog excerpts of this entry). The aged background comes from a combination of old papers (including some fascinating on-hand books from China that look much like these). And the subsequent blocky layout resembles those of vendor catalogs like that of General Merchandise (circa 1948, shown above)

Note: when it comes to past market availability of these items – the two catalog samples mentioned in this blog entry are a a small portion of the catalog pages discussed in the book (below), THR, V2.

Vintage Halloween collectibles guidebook cover of Volume 2, The Halloween Retrospect book series for collectors, researchers, and historians - with this edition featuring articles about Dennison's, Shackman, Rosen, and the German import characters seen here.

The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 (above) is available on THR’s bookstore via Etsy.

Foxfire 2

As the cover for THR’s new volume takes shape, a book from the past begins to haunt the project. Am I inadvertently putting together some of the bits and pieces previously chosen – like font (begun initially with THR, Volume 1) and color (based on the tones of old paper) -to recall something else? I perform a bit of searching, and am not too surprised to find the following book as subconscious vintage inspiration. Did anyone else encounter the Foxfire book series during the 1970’s?

Vintage cover art for Foxfire 2 with Coopman font on a simple brown cover together with a practically quick list of contents including ghost stories.

Vintage cover of Foxfire 2 in THR”s personal collection. For more see What is Foxfire?

I remember thunderstorms in the South with their awesome severity, and the frequent side effects of electrical outage. It is rather hoped-for back then! This means gathering about the dim flame of an old hurricane lamp while the storm blusters outside, and getting purposefully spooked listening to ghost stories as the shadows shifted around you. Turns out those stories are read from Foxfire 2, and while I admit unawareness for series content as a whole, I do recall that back in the day, this particular volume was a favorite.

While writing this article, I did intend to find a list of those ghost stories in Foxfire 2, but did instead locate an introduction in their own words: FRIGHTENING FOXFIRE FOLKLORE: TALES FOR A HAUNTED HALLOWEEN. Thus, for those interested, there is still a strong presence of the organization that, accompanying current magazine and book sales, includes a museum and heritage center. You can read more about them on their website: What is Foxfire? telling of their 1966 beginnings (focused on personal histories and traditions of southern Appalachia) and how the magic of a glow-in-the-dark fungus becomes a meaningful title.

Volume 2, THe Halloween Retrospect

Well that, like the cover above, keeps this particular blog entry plain and simple… but this in no way reflects the hours that went into The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 and please see the sample gallery below:

To recap THR, V2, the first article fills the majority of the book with a deep look at Dennison’s publication history (via help from the archives at Framingham History Center) and digs deeply into an explanation and translation of Dennison serial numbers. The full-color fold-out poster directly relates, providing an all-in-one (non-exhaustive) visual survey of Halloween-themed titles for Dennison 1909-1935 (as pulled from holdings of THR’s archive library). Additional content includes a second article discussing B. Shackman & Co. catalogs (and pertinent data), with a third article researching the German imports (as mentioned in this blog entry), ending on a fourth article reviewing midcentury midseason catalogs by Sears with their availability of Halloween candy cards by E. Rosen and Company.

Here is a link to more website info about The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 (a new research-based guide on the vintage market of for Halloween collectors) and here is a direct link to The Halloween Retrospect book sales to purchase a copy via Etsy checkout.

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