How to Tell Vintage from Repro Halloween Decorations

Recently Patrick and I were at one of the antique malls in town and I saw a cute Halloween die-cut of a cat sitting in a moon, excited, I looked closer only to realize it was new. After vocalizing that it was new to Patrick, a woman came up to me and said “Excuse me, but how did you know that was new?” After explaining this, Patrick said it would be a good idea to do a blog post on this! So, here we are. First off, I should mention I am by no means a vintage Halloween decor expert, and not all die-cut Halloween decorations are created equal. Today I just want to highlight the differences between most new and old flat die-cut pieces. I chose two pieces for which I have both old and new versions of, and showcase the differences between them, so you can tell the difference next time you’re out.

First let’s look at this rather dapper black cat. Can you tell which one is new?

If you guessed the one on the right, you’re good! So, how do you tell? Flip over any die cut, and you’ll automatically find out.

You’ll notice the one on the right is double sided, while the one on the left is not. You’ll also spy a price sticker on the back of the vintage one, and it reads 8 cents. Pretty sure you can’t buy anything new for 8 cents anymore. Double sided printing for paper/card stock decorations really didn’t start happening until the 80s or so (I say this based on personal observations. All paper decor that was purchased prior to my birth, including into the 70s when my brother and sister were young, was single sided, and everything purchased after my birth, in 1988, was double sided). Additionally, you can see that the one on the left is embossed, while the new one is not. Take a look at an angle for a better look at the embossing.

Embossing was fairly popular and almost standard on holiday decor until around the 1960s. I have several pieces from 1960s and 70s that are single sided, but not embossed.

So, now that you know those tips, let’s take a look at another pair, shall we? Which one is new?

If you guessed right again, you’re correct!

Once again, you’ll notice the new one is doubled sided and flat, while the older one is single sided, and embossed.

I hope this was helpful, so the next time you’re out at an antique mall and spy a vintage looking piece of Halloween decor, you can tell if it is old or not. Of course there is nothing wrong with new or repro Halloween decor, as you can see, I own a few, which was because vintage Halloween decor tends to be very expensive! My collection has been built up over years of thrift store shopping, many visits to antique malls, and frequenting antique shows and flea markets. But if you don’t have the time or money for vintage decor, know the best in the paper Halloween decoration business, Beistle, is still in business and making the classics, which you can buy on their website! Happy hunting and happy haunting this October!

4 thoughts on “How to Tell Vintage from Repro Halloween Decorations

  1. Excellent advice!!! I have noticed this in many areas of vintage and repro before, but save for a post on some of the differences between 1980s does 40s/50s and true 40s/50s garb (which I love, don’t get me wrong), I haven’t really side-by-sided before like this. Major kudos for covering this subject in the sphere of paper Halloween decorations. This is such an important point for new and veteran vintage fans alike to read (or be reminded of). Thank you!

    Happy countdown to All Hallows’ Eve!

    ♥ Jessica

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