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-mache 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.
High and dry
Q: 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. Is it worth anything?
A: 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.
A fair piece
Q: 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.
A: 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.
Q: At a North Carolina antique shop, I bought a spoon that I cannot identify. It is 6 inches long with a wooden handle. The metal bowl is shaped like a shallow ladle with a sieve-covered spout on one side. The mark on the bottom of the ladle says "P & B" within three small hearts. Can you identify the maker? How was the spoon used?
A: Your spoon was made by the Paye & Baker Manufacturing Co. The firm worked in North Attleboro, Mass., from 1901 into the 1960s. Your spoon might be an invalid feeder that could strain foods for patients on a liquid diet.