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Halloween dates back 2,500 years to the Celts. Their year ended Oct. 3, and there was a harvest celebration. People dressed in costumes and welcomed back the spirits of dead relatives.

The holiday changed from a pagan celebration to a holiday honoring the saints about 800 AD.

The modern Halloween holiday with ghosts, goblins, witches, black cats and children in costumes became popular in America in the 1880s.

The carved pumpkin jack-o'-lantern was also part of the celebration. The earliest commercial examples that were not homemade carvings were made of pressed paper with cutouts for eyes, nose and mouth. A thin colored paper was pasted behind the holes so that light could shine through.

By the 1930s, papier-mache was used. Plastic became popular in the 1950s.

Collectors search for the old preplastic jack-o'-lanterns and pay hundreds of dollars for rare examples.

Armoire with a brass plate

Q: Can you give me any information on an armoire given to me about 12 years ago by a friend? Inside one of the doors, there's a small brass plate that reads "Lebus HL Furniture." The HL is in an oval in the middle.

A: The HL stands for Harris Lebus, one of the founders of Lebus Furniture, an English furniture company that is still in business. Harris and his partner, Daniel Prentice, founded the company before World War I, and many of its early products are in the Arts & Crafts style.

Ceramic cookie jar

Q: For as long as I can remember, my family has had an 11-inch painted ceramic cookie jar in the shape of a chef. He's wearing a white chef cap and uniform with a blue collar and tie. There's a spoon in his right hand and a dish of food in his left hand. The mark on the bottom says, "RRP Co., No. 411."

A: Your chef cookie jar was made by the Robinson-Ransbottom Pottery of Roseville, Ohio. The company is still in business, making crocks, flowerpots and other garden wares. It made cookie jars from about 1935 through the 1950s. Your cookie jar sells for about $40 up to $175, depending on condition.

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