Vintage Halloween collectibles: so popular, it’s scary

A 1980s Remco action figure of the Phantom of the Opera brought $814 plus the buyer’s premium in March 2020. Image courtesy of Hake’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — Halloween ranks among the biggest holidays in the vintage collectibles market, second only to Christmas. Halloween-themed offerings range from the whimsical to the downright scary. Movie monster figures, dolls and build-your-own-creature model kits have long been popular with Halloween-focused collectors. The material has evolved from toys built by and played with by children to purpose-made holiday keepsakes that can bring hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars at auction.

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A Mason’s Improved half-gallon fruit jar sold for $550 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2022. Image courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers.

The radiant, humble beauty of glass fruit jars

An amber Beaver quart fruit jar made $1,648 plus the buyer’s premium in June 2021. Image courtesy of Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. and LiveAuctioneers.

A Mason’s Improved half-gallon fruit jar sold for $550 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2022. Image courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — In 1858, New Jersey tinsmith John Landis Mason revolutionized the home kitchen when he invented and patented a glass jar with a lid that used a screw thread. His invention became known as the Mason jar, and it has since been manufactured in endless quantities. Today, many home pantries contain at least one Mason jar, if not an entire case set aside for canning fruits and vegetables.

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Collectors are hooked on Canadian Grenfell mats

A Grenfell Labrador hooked mat showing a common Northern motif of a dog sled team achieved $2,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2021. Image courtesy of William Smith Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

A Grenfell Labrador hooked mat showing a common Northern motif of a dog sled team achieved $2,000 plus the buyer’s premium in November 2021. Image courtesy of William Smith Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — Evocative of an age when handmade items were created by many households, hooked rugs allowed the frugal to avoid wasting leftover materials and the diligent to avoid wasting time in less purposeful pursuits. Made by hand, they were highly personal and perfectly suitable gifts for a new bride or for family members. Among all hooked rugs, one niche genre remains especially desirable and gave rise to a cottage industry in rural Canada: Grenfell mats.

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The BBC celebrates 100 years of shaping pop culture

This collection of more than 400 ‘Doctor Who’ trading cards brought $361 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2022. Image courtesy of Chaucer Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

A collection of more than 400 ‘Doctor Who’ trading cards brought $361 plus the buyer’s premium in October 2022. Image courtesy of Chaucer Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — In the century since its official founding on October 18, 1922, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has documented scores of historical moments, from the 1982 Falklands war to the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey. There have been royal weddings that riveted audiences locally and around the world as well as news stories on the changing face of Ireland and Scotland. Along the way, the BBC moved from exclusively broadcasting via radio to the world of television and, later, online entertainment. It has helped shape the culture with important early appearances by The Beatles and The Who to popular TV shows such as Fawlty Towers (which served as this writer’s introduction to BBC programming while growing up in New Jersey) and Doctor Who, which debuted more than 60 years ago and is going strong in its second incarnation.

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Ethan Miller: champion for Canada’s art and antiques

Ethan Miller poses with the 7¼-in gauge steam locomotive model that brought $15,340 plus the buyer’s premium at Miller & Miller's September 2021 auction. Image courtesy of Miller & Miller and LiveAuctioneers. Price converted to US dollars.

Ethan Miller poses with the 7¼-in gauge steam locomotive model that brought CA$13,000 plus the buyer’s premium at Miller & Miller’s September 2021 auction. Image courtesy of Miller & Miller and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW HAMBURG, Canada – Ethan Miller, co-owner of Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. in New Hamburg, Canada, credits his late father, Jim, a longtime antiques dealer, for giving him a front-seat view to the antiques world and the details of collecting and selling. Ethan and his brother Justin began selling on eBay back in 2006 and, 10 years later, transitioned to an auction house model. Today, the firm is known for high-value goods and collections, particularly those significant to Canada’s cultural heritage.

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Spice up your fall wardrobe with vintage fashion

This Chanel vintage caviar gold logo leather handbag is the perfect color for accessorizing fall fashions. It sold for $1,200 plus buyer’s premium at Eros Auctions Inc. Image courtesy of Eros Auctions Inc., and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK — Well-designed, well-constructed vintage clothing never goes out of style. If anything, it can set you apart as someone who is fashion forward. If you’re wearing a Mondrian-inspired 1960s mini dress or a vibrant 1980s Pucci shift to a party or dinner at a local bistro, you won’t see anyone else dressed the same way. If that were not enough to plead the case for vintage, recycled garments and accessories are eco-friendly and sustainable, unlike “fast fashion” from chain stores.

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Celebrating the rise of Hispanic contemporary artists

Enrique Chagoya’s ‘Homage to the Un-Square’ sold for $2,800 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2021 at Rago Arts and Auction Center. Image courtesy of Rago Arts and Auction Center and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK— The Latin-American and Hispanic art traditions are rich, incorporating some styles from Europe and the United States but largely calling upon the influences of their own cultures. Artists living in, or with a heritage linked to Cuba, Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, Central or South America have made huge contributions to the art world. There are quite a few whose works are avidly collected by museums and bring five and six-figure sums at auction.

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A miniature Sefer Torah created in Poland in the early 19th century made $9,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2017. Image courtesy of Kedem Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

Miniature torahs: Tiny miracles, inspired by faith

A miniature Sefer Torah created in Poland in the early 19th century made $9,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2017. Image courtesy of Kedem Auctions and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — Bigger is not always better when it comes to antiques. Elegant smalls can bring big prices, and this is certainly true when it comes to miniature Torahs.

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Robert Davidson’s (Haida), S’gan mask (Killer Whale mask), carved and painted red cedar, cedar bark, feathers and operculum shells, attained $54,458 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2021. Image courtesy of First Arts Premiers Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

Indigenous Northwest Coast art speaks to collectors everywhere

Robert Davidson’s (Haida), S’gan mask (Killer Whale mask), carved and painted red cedar, cedar bark, feathers and operculum shells, attained $54,458 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2021. Image courtesy of First Arts Premiers Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

Robert Davidson’s S’gan mask (Killer Whale mask), fashioned from carved and painted red cedar, cedar bark, feathers and operculum shells, attained $54,458 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2021. Image courtesy of First Arts Premiers Inc. and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — The arts and objects made by native and indigenous peoples in North America have long been of interest, not just in region where they were made but by collectors and admirers everywhere. This is no less true for the works of the Native American communities of the Northwest Coast of the continent.

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The upright piano: the original home entertainment center

A circa-1800 satinwood and mahogany upright square piano by Irish artisan William Southwell achieved £16,000 (about $18,200) plus the buyer’s premium in May 2016. Image courtesy of Dreweatts Donnington Priory and LiveAuctioneers

A circa-1800 satinwood and mahogany upright square piano by Irish artisan William Southwell achieved £16,000 (about $18,200) plus the buyer’s premium in May 2016. Image courtesy of Dreweatts Donnington Priory and LiveAuctioneers

NEW YORK – The upright piano was the original home entertainment center. Before the rise of the television, the hi-fi stereo and the radio, family and friends gathered around a piano to while the evening away. The upright, or vertical design, which arrived in the early 1800s, effectively democratized the piano; it was more compact and less expensive than a grand piano, the case for which concealed a horizontally-oriented arrangement of strings that demanded far more floor space than most middle-class people could provide in their homes.

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