Tin Halloween parade torches are rare collectibles

Terry Kovel
This tin 1910 Halloween parade torch sold for $1,888 at a Hess Auction Group auction a few year ago. It is 27 inches high. Halloween memorabilia is fourth in popularity with collectors, behind Christmas, Fourth of July and Easter. 

In ancient times, the Celts dressed in strange costumes to scare the spirits that were killing the crops in the fall. That was a forerunner of Allhallows Eve, when people asked for food in exchange for prayers for a good year.

Halloween was celebrated in the United States by the 19th century, brought by the Irish. They carved scary turnips, but learned that the pumpkin was easier to use. The Halloween parade didn't start until the 1900s.

Allentown and Newtown, both in Pennsylvania, claim the first known parade. There were costumed people, bands and parade torches. Some of the metal torches were shaped like jack-o-lanterns and today those are rare Halloween collectibles.

Today's parade in New York City started in 1973. With costumes and huge puppets, it gets national coverage, smaller parades are found in most cities. The vintage jack-o'-lanterns are made of papier-mache. Newer ones are plastic foam or hard plastic.
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Q: I bought a china set from a charity shop and can't find the name of the maker anywhere. The pieces are marked with a crown, the initials "TK" and "Thun, Czechoslovakia." I'd like to complete the set. Does the mark tell something about it? 
A: Your china was made by Count Thun Porcelain Factory in (then) Klosterle, Bohemia, Austria (now Klasterec, Czech Republic). The factory was founded in 1794 by Franz Joseph Thun and J.N. Weber. It was nationalized after World War II, and several changes in ownership followed. This mark was used from 1918 until at least the 1980s. It's not possible to date your china exactly, but it is earlier than 1993, when the country became the Czech Republic. The company is still in business, now known as Thun 1794 a.s. and claims to be the largest producer of Czech porcelain. You may be able to complete your set through the company or through a matching service.
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Q: I have many Hot Wheels vehicles from the 1970s. I have noticed that the Red Baron car with a white interior is worth a lot of money. I have a Red Baron car with a black interior. Can you give me more information about these cars? Is the one with the black interior worth anything?
A: In 1968, Monogram, a company that made model kits, introduced a hot rod kit that had a World War I German helmet and an Iron Cross motif on the radiator. A Hot Wheels die-cast metal version called the Red Baron was made in 1970 and became popular, probably due to the "Peanuts" cartoon character Snoopy and his imaginary battles with the Red Baron. Red Baron cars with a white interior are rare -- fewer than 10 are known to exist, and none have ever been seen in original packaging. It may have been a prototype or a very small production run, but Hot Wheels price guides list them as worth $3,000. Repo Red Barons with white interiors were made in the 1990s and have little value. Most "redline" (red stripe around the tires) Red Baron vehicles made from 1970 to 1979 were made with a black interior, and those sell for about $20 to $40. The vehicle has been redesigned many times since. 
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Q: I have the L.G. Wright Paneled Grape Ruby punch bowl, underplate and 12 cups. They aren't marked. Did they ever not mark their items? It's gorgeous, but I don't know if it's a repo. Can I ask close to the price you have it listed for in 2008? 
A: L.G. Wright Glass Company of New Martinsville, West Virginia, was founded in 1937. The company reproduced pressed glassware made by other manufacturers, used molds from other glassmakers, and made some of its own designs. Most L.G. Wright glassware is not marked. Some is marked with an underlined "W" in a circle. Pieces made from old Northwood molds are marked with an altered Northwood mark that makes the "N" look like a wobbly "W." The factory closed in 1999. Hundreds of its molds were sold to other companies and are still being used. The prices since 2008 have gone up and down. A Paneled Grape Ruby punch bowl, underplate and 12 punch cups were listed online at $150. Another site listed the punch bowl alone for $120. 
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Q: McDonald's sold Happy Meals in plastic pumpkin pails that could be used for trick-or-treating probably 30 years ago. Are they worth anything? 
A: McDonald's Happy Meals -- kids' meals with a small toy included -- were first sold in 1979. McDonald's Halloween pails were first issued in 1986 and included three orange pails: McBoo, McGoblin and McPunk'n. They were issued again in 1987. Similar plastic pails were offered for several years in different colors. In 1989, the pails were three characters: McGoblin (orange), McGhost (white), and McWitch (green). In 1990, the colors were neon and glow-in-the-dark; in 1992, they came with cookie-cutter lids. In 1994, the witch was purple instead of green. The pails, in good condition, sell online for about $5 each.
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Tip: Old papier-mache jack-o'-lanterns originally had a thin piece of paper in the eyes. The light from the candle showed through the paper. You can make a replacement with tracing paper and watercolor paint.
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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.
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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions. 
Backgammon game, Bakelite, yellow chips, cups, dice, cork playing surface, flowered case, 19 x 14 inches, $90.
Chinese export, tray, kidney shaped, birds, butterflies, multicolor, 1790, 10 1/4 inches, $230.
Andirons, cherub, architectural pediment, wheat, flower spray, fruit, 21 x 14 1/4 inches, $300.
Sign, Maserati, logo, round, red, white, blue, porcelain, 12 inches, $345.
Hawkes pitcher, pressed irises, silver stopper, repousse, monogram, 8 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches, $570.
Windsor chair, maple, pine, triple comb, continuous arm, ring-turned legs, 40 x 25 inches, $1,080.
Singing Bird music box, silver, shaped, filigree, red bird, footed, 4 1/4 x 3 inches, $1,450.
Humidor, cranberry glass, lobed, sterling overlay, swags, flowers, Whiting, 9 inches, $3,120.
Quan Yin figurine, standing, holding foo dog, wave base, foo dog fish, porcelain, 1900s, 14 inches, $3,480.
Virginia map of English plantations, North and South America, multicolor, Morden, 1673, 17 x 20 3/4 inches, $13,200.
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