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Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2001

Halloween objects haunt collectors

October 28, 2001

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Halloween is second only to Christmas among collectors. The shows are now filled with jack-o'-lanterns, costumes and paper cutouts of witches and goblins. Even candy containers and trick-or-treat bags are in demand.

Halloween was an ancient festival that marked the final harvest days. The ancient festival was changed as Christianity replaced the early pagan religions. It is claimed that Queen Victoria reintroduced Halloween, and with it the jack-o'-lantern and parties.

The early festival had jack-o'-lanterns of carved vegetables, turnips or squash not pumpkins, which were American plants. The collector today might find some early German-made jack-o'-lanterns constructed of pressed cardboard that was stapled, glued and painted. They were often in a pumpkin shape because most were made for sale in America.

The German jack-o'-lanterns were replaced by papier-mch pieces made by U.S. companies. Most were orange pumpkins painted with green or yellow features. Each had a printed transparent paper behind the eyes and mouth.

By the 1950s jack-o'-lanterns were being made of hard plastic. Soft, spongelike pumpkins appeared in the 1990s. Today any of the pre-plastic jack-o'-lanterns cost more than $85. Unusual ones are even more expensive. Beware some excellent modern copies are being made.

For years I have been trying to find information on a camera my mother received when she was a child. It is a Model 80A Polaroid Land camera with a flash attachment. The camera has been packed away for years in its original leather case. It seems to be in great condition. Is it worth anything?

The Polaroid Model 95, first sold in 1948, was the company's first instant-print camera. In 1954, Polaroid introduced its Highlander model, the Model 80, which made slightly smaller photos than the Model 95 series.

Your Model 80A was made from 1957 through 1959. It was used with Polaroid's type 32 or 37 film, neither of which is made today. Your camera originally sold for $72. A collector would pay less than $50 for it today.

Could you please tell me something about my plate? It is a deep blue with gold decorations. The decorations are in the form of a double-Y with another line through the middle of the top of each Y. There are eight of these double-Y gold symbols around the plate. "Canada 1967" is on the back of the plate.

Your plate is a souvenir from Expo '67, Montreal's 1967 World's Fair. The design you describe was one of the fair's official logos. The theme of the fair was "Man and His World." The logo was an artistic representation of world harmony.

Where did they get the string to make wicks for early whale oil lamps?

The wicks were made from natural materials, usually plants, like "cotton grass."

The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for its use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, Lawrence Journal-World, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, N.Y. 10019.

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