Witch figure in Dennison publication Complete Party Guide (inner spread, right) from 1961 is a blog entry extra that was cut from aan article for vintage Halloween collectors in Decrypting Dennison, THR, Vol 2.

Dennison Publications

Logo for Contact page of The Halloween Retrospect.

Early Century Dennison

Following is a quick glance at some vintage items as companions to the article (and poster shown below) discussing Dennison’s vintage Halloween catalogs (and/or various promotional publications). In “Decrypting Dennison: Serial Number Guide Featuring Autumn Publications” of The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 numerous Halloween titles are referenced (starting 1909 to 1910’s and 1920’s ending 1930’s). However, some are notably small in stature, while others are absent (in the process of fitting cover art on an 11″x17″ fold-out poster ).

Bogie Book, Party Magazine, Parties, Halloween Suggestions, The Halloween Book, Halloween Parties, and various price lists and promotional pieces are shown here on this poster for the vintage Halloween collector of Dennison publications.

Above is a slightly earlier version of the 11″x17″ display of vintage Halloween Dennison publications. Read THR, V2 for a full examination of the numeric system on the poster.

The first item is a simple promotional piece (1929). While the front of this item is included on the poster, the piece is shown to scale of those around it; therefore, the flier at 3 7/8″ x 6 1/4″ deserves a better view. What you see is a 2-sided subscription promo for Dennison’s magazine PartiesHalloween Number Vol III No 3. Note the numeric identification for the flier itself as No. 965-3, and for more on such numbers read THR, V2.

A subscription flier (serial number of No. 965-3) for 1929 Parties (of art deco style cover art). Read THR, V2 to find an examination of Dennison’s various numeric systems.

What is interesting to the archivist librarian, (though the flier is data rich and entertaining with characters like Mr. J.O. Lantern and O.A. Ghost) is the presence of cryptic code 965-3. That number is now in a spreadsheet with another ~200 Dennison titles. That collection of nunbers builds a picture of Dennison’s publishing history – and reveals the meaning of such code. The resulting article explains what a collector can learn from hours gathering such numbers – to decode an interesting system used (off an on) by Dennison through the years.

A field study of Dennison publication titles with particular attention for translation of serial number codes that appear through the years (with specific attention on the years 1909-1935).

List above of titles published by Dennison Manufacturing Company. The spreadsheet allows serial numbers, both usual and strange, to recreate a meaningful record of that activity.

The survey (above) aligns too with historic documentation, and in relation to letters found in the Framingham History Center (assisted by Nancy Prince). Verified, this means readers can decipher most Dennison serial numbers (when available) with assurance of the company’s original intentions. The 12-page article provides an explanation for numbers operationally – so that one can interpret the poster (below), or any holiday/non-holiday Dennison titles found in-the-wild.

Vintage Halloween collector book shown here with inserts of poster and timeline cards for focus article Decrypting Dennison: Serial Number Guide with Autumn Publications of The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2.

The full-color 11″x17″ fold-out poster (above) of Dennison Halloween titles. The poster is included with official copies of The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 from THR’s etsy store.

MidCentury Dennison

Dennison MFG Co appears (arguably) to have had greater fervor for the holidays previous to the mid-1930’s (as evidenced by titles in THR’s archive library). It is therefore decided the early years will determine content for the Dennison Halloween poster. This means items created in the late 1930’s, 1940’s, and so on, go unmentioned. But following are a few for the blog space. Note how the vibe is quite different – with the exuberance of earlier annuals replaced by the practicalities of the times.

The first item to note is a 6-page pamphlet (for DIY projects) called Halloween Honeys which honestly feels as if the company lost the entire art and design departments of previous years. Here, the only remnant of the numeric system (as explained in THR, V2.) is a simple HAI 70 that is indeed sparse, and unusual. So, for this item the cat and witch designs likely offer a general timeframe. Any ideas?

Dennison do-it-yourself decor pamphlet (identified as HAI 70) with cat & witch pattern.

Then, the following 4-page brochure appears to hail from the fifties or sixties given the apparel and illustrative style. In this example, there is no code to assist with the date, although perhaps the reduced store locations from six to two (of U.S. and Canada) may indicate the year? In any case, check out that moveable scarecrow figure from the Dennison product line known from the 1966 price list (though appearances may come earlier and/or later). Do you have the definite records for the years of that scarecrow decoration?

Dennison Autumn Platter Party is a four page brochure (front & back sides shown).

The final item is a general all-occasion multi-page booklet that hides some colorful illustration inside. It also has some curiously random numbers appearing such as 10002 (on front) and No. 559 (on back), however it does contain a clear copyright date of 1961. Notice here that moveable skeleton in the background of the Halloween illustration. That figure (at THR) is known to appear in product line catalogs of 1959, 1961, and 1970 (although this is not a complete list of earliest nor latest availability). Do you know the years for that skellie?

Dennison booklet, Complete Party Guide, for all occasions with Halloween shown here.

In conclusion, the above midcentury items are great fun (but unlike publications before the mid 1930’s are in need of better date verifications here at THR). In the meantime, for those who wish to travel further back (to 1935 and earlier), check out the article in THR, V2. Many of those have solid dates (and more) gained from an understanding of the serial number.

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

Dennison Archives

Framingham History Center logo by permission.

While most, if not all, Dennison publications for THR, V2. book and poster come from THR’s archive library – the author once again thanks Framingham History Center, and Dennison collection organizer Nancy Prince (@dennisonarchivist) for creating a discoverable and accessible archive – that verifies conclusions in the new book! For more on those archive see Framingham History Center To Unveil Dennison Manufacturing Company Exhibit (C. Frary, 11- 21-2014). And, if you are a researcher seeking more on Dennison, there are two locations of documentation. First, there is the Dennison Manufacturing Company Archives, 1844-1990 that is composed of 273 archival boxes. Second, there is the Dennison Manufacturing Company records at Harvard Business School created from another 425 boxes (passed on from FHC).

NOTE: please consider a donation or the purchase of a Membership to help support the Framingham History Center. I am sure most of us know the challenges all archives and libraries face to remain discoverable and accessible. If we, as collectors, can spend a bit of money on vintage objects, we can aid the institutions that further our knowledge.

Book Production Notes

The Bookeye 5 Scanner from Image Access.

As this has been discussed in great detail on a previous entry – this is just to note once again that the separate Dennison publications for the poster (and other THR materials) are imported in high-resolution using a Bookeye 5 book scanner by Image Access. Following that, (noting the Bookeye 5 has many image-fixers installed), THR uses post-production tools in Adobe software including Photoshop,. From there, the resulting file is given to a printer, and returned to make up the inserts with an official copy of THR-V2. This is a reason sales are done on an individual basis by the author via etsy – to include the poster (and the timeline cards), but also to examine the quality of each book set, shipped in a sturdy box.

Volume 2, The Halloween Retrospect

Here is a link to more website info about The Halloween Retrospect, Volume 2 and a direct link to The Halloween Retrospect book sales – purchase a copy via Etsy checkout.

Logo for Contact page of The Halloween Retrospect.