Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park.
Allan Blackburn, Owner of GB Antiques Centre and Lancaster Leisure Park.
Share this article

With only a week to go until Halloween I thought I would give it a mention as it’s a strange time for us at the centre.

Although we’re probably not the first place you would think of for Halloween toys, treats and memorabilia, we do get quite a lot of people browsing the stands for vintage clothing and accessories to complete a fancy dress outfit, ornaments (of things like black cats etc) and lanterns and lamps.

There’s even rumblings amongst the cuddly toys with customers looking for black cats, spiders and bats.

The word Halloween dates to about 1745, is of Christian origin and is a shortening of All Hallows’ Evening also known as Hallowe’en or All Hallows’ Eve.

The traditional activities of trick or treating, costume parties, carving pumpkins, apple bobbing and playing pranks came to light here in England in the late 20th century.

A big part of the tradition is dressing up in costumes of witches, ghosts and monsters.

The practice of dressing up and begging door to door for treats goes back to the Middle Ages. Trick-or-treating as we now know it resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2).

When we think of Halloween antiques, vintage items or collectables, one name comes up time and time again, Beistle.

The Beistle Company has been the largest producer of Halloween decorations since the 1920s.

The company was founded by Martin Luther Beistle in 1900 from his home near Pittsburgh. Over 1000 different designs and decorations have been added since 1921 ranging from witches, black cats, bats, owls, spiders and pumpkin lanterns.

They are world renowned and the oldest and largest manufacturer in the Party Goods industry and still make decorations for all themes: Christmas/Easter etc.

Personally Halloween is not a festival I like. Yes, I would help Jimmy and Dawn get into their costumes and take them out trick or treating when they were children, but I can’t say I miss that particular activity, now that they are older.