2003 Issue

Compiled by
Bruce Gventer

 The editorial staff at the Journal of Antiques and Collectibles would like to welcome our new Website-ings contributor, Mike McLeod. Mike McLeod is a writer living outside Atlanta who is too old to surf the internet, but enjoys taking a walk on the web.

This shade from the 1930s was made in Germany, It is made with lithographed cardboard with pinholes that emit light and is valued between $150 and $200.

The Mark Ledenbach Halloween Collection

             This website was designed for “the serious collector of vintage Halloween memorabilia” and is a good place to start for those who want to learn more. The site provides a photo gallery of some wonderful and unusual items from Mark Ledenbach’s personal collection, and each entry includes detailed information. Mark also offers his own insights about the current state of the vintage Halloween collecting market, and he answers commonly asked questions. The value of some of the early pieces is quite shocking. The website is updated frequently, so new information is available year round.              

            Mark became a serious Halloween collector after helping a local shopkeeper get rid of some old seasonal displays. He ended up purchasing a few items that later became valuable.

            “I was fortunate to have started collecting Halloween when I did,” he said. “This ‘Golden Age’ of relative plenty, coupled with low prices and quizzical looks from shopkeepers when asked about the availability of vintage Halloween in months other than October, lasted until about 1995. Then, two solid reference books devoted solely to Halloween collectibles were published: Halloween in America by Stuart Schneider and Halloween Collectibles by Dan and Pauline Campanelli. Once these were published, prices — already on a fairly steep trajectory since 1991 — truly exploded.” Mark is also the author of the recently released book, Vintage Halloween Collectibles: An Identification Guide, published by Krause, which profiles much of his extensive collection. More information about the book is on the site.

            Mark tells us that Halloween did not catch on in America until the early 1920s. After WWI, Germany was a major producer of Halloween decorations and items, and later, American firms jumped in. Mark gives a great collecting tip on his website: “Since Halloween items are notoriously hard to accurately date, one rule of thumb I use is this: the scarier the imagery, the older the item!” 



Lion hunter bank.


Mechanical Bank Collectors of America

This website features an “Animations” button. Once clicked, a variety of banks are shown in animation so that viewers can see how they work: the Lion Hunter bank shoots a coin from the top of a rifle, the lion raises up as if shot, and the coin goes into the slot under it. Other featured banks are of a girl skipping rope and an eagle feeding a coin in its beak to its young.

            The Mechanical Bank Collectors of America is a non-profit organization with more than 450 members from the U.S. and other countries. Organized in 1958, it is dedicated to expand the knowledge and availability of antique mechanical banks. The site offers a forum for discussion and a listing of auction prices for banks sold by Bertoia Auctions of Vineland, New Jersey. The scrapbook pages feature tons of articles, ads, ephemera, and J.E. Steven Co. information (a listing of the 84 banks it made, a price list, and even an 1883 catalog). This is a great website if you love mechanical banks.

Photos courtesy of Keith Shinberg.

Marilyn Monroe Fan Clubs and Memorials

             Marilyn Monroe is a source of constant fascination for many collectors. A childhood photo of her, taken in the 1930s, was recently sold by Christie’s for $31,070, and that is just the tip of the Monroe iceberg. Collectors are not alone in admiring the great beauty: her famous fans include Madonna, singer Debra Harry of Blondie, and Bridgette Bardot. One look at the Internet, and it seems all the world still loves Marilyn Monroe. Most of the websites listed here are from the United Kingdom and Canada. There are dozens of American websites extolling Norma Jean, but I found it amazing that so many fan sites are outside the States.

            Most MM websites feature photos (candids and PR stills), magazine covers, and movie listings, but others go far beyond that. The Marilyn Lives Society ( publishes a 12-page newsletter on her every month. If you would like to see many photos inside Marilyn’s New York apartment, where she lived with husband Arthur Miller, visit To read the listing of Christie’s auction of her personal effects in 1999, visit

            Some rarely seen photos of Marilyn are posted on The images were taken in Canada while she was filming River of No Return with Robert Mitchum. In the photos, she is standing between a couple of very happy Mounties, having fun in a canoe and running outside a lodge.

            The official Marilyn Monroe website is based here in the United States ( It has her biography, facts, her television appearances, photos, and screensavers and wallpaper you can download to your computer. The website can also be viewed in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and German — again attesting to her international popularity. If you are a Marilyn fan, it is easy to find plenty of like-minded people on the Internet.


This very rare middle-size skull poison bottle comes in three sizes. Embossed “POISON” on the forehead, it is cobalt blue.

Poison Bottle Collecting

            Poison bottle collecting is a devilishly interesting hobby. In the days before electricity, people would often grab the wrong bottle from the medicine cabinet in the middle of the night. Instead of getting something for an upset stomach, many people poisoned themselves. Illiteracy was high in those days, too, which also added to accidental poisoning.

            To save their customers and their livelihood, poison manufacturers voluntarily began creating bottles in unique shapes and colors as a warning. Consequently, poison bottles can be found in the shape of coffins, skulls, and submarines, or in odd shapes, such as the Martin bottle, which lies on its side. (The bottle also had a unique indentation near the neck so the liquid would not spill out while uncapped.) Bold colors like cobalt blue, golden amber, and emerald green were also used as warnings. It is these bold colors and odd shapes—in addition to the inherent danger in the product—that make poison bottle collecting so attractive.

            Reggie Lynch has an excellent website with examples of poison bottles . He also lists a wealth of information, including a link to a list of common bottles. You can also email him at  for help with a free appraisal. Be careful when you visit Reggie’s site — you just might get hooked on poison bottle collecting!

            The Antique Poison Bottle Collector Association (APBCA) also has a website . They promote the hobby and encourage the exchange of information between members. The cost to become a member is $10.


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