As far back as I can remember my mother had always helped us decorate for the xmas holiday by taping up brightly colored art prints known as die cuts on the walls of our house. Images of santa, reindeer, sleighs, snowmen, trees and toys. It was one of the highlights of the season each year for me. As an adult I learned a great deal more about the significance of these kind of decorations. Here is some info I gathered. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I would caution you that this a bit longer than my usual posts as its very detailed. Thanks for reading.
Die cut decorations became popular due to their inexpensive nature and ease of mass production. Many of the paper companies of each era had at least a division dedicated to their production. Sadly many have gone out of business. Here is a selection of some of the largest and most prolific over time.
The George S. Carrington Company
The George S. Carrington Company was in business by at least 1917. They appear listed as an exhibitor at a convention for the drug store industry in American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record Vol 65 Jan-Dec 1917. They published books and games as well as cards. The address for the company noted on their game boxes circa 1950s is 2740 West Fullerton Ave in Chicago, Illinois. In American Stationer Vol 86 of May 8, 1920 their address is listed as 2330 W Van Buren, Chicago, Ill.
Their cards are marked with a logo in the shape of a pine tree outline containing a letter (usually A, H, C, or E) inside the tree. Some early cards are marked with an ‘H’ inside a circle. The letter code in the tree may be an indication of the price, with different prices being indicated by different letters, but this is not known for certain.
Carrington is a division of Fox Valley Corporation (Fox Valley). Although Fox Valley is a Wisconsin corporation, Carrington’s usual place of business is Leominster, Massachusetts. Although more famous for valentines they also had a very robust line of colorful santas and other christmas icons made as die cuts.
The Dennison Manufacturing Co.
The Dennison Manufacturing Co. in Framingham, Mass., for many years churned out crepe paper and cut-outs that collectors go crazy for today. Thousands worked for them, making Halloween costumes, pumpkin-themed party invitations, die-cut ghosts and orange-and-black table decorations and later other holiday items for Christmas and thanksgiving. By the turn of the century, Dennison employed 3,000 people, or about a third of the town’s population. They called its 16-acre campus “the Gold Coast.”
The company got its start in 1844 making paper jewelry boxes. Later it made merchandise tags. But Dennison is really known for producing desirable Halloween party items from 1909 to the 1940s. Dennison also made “Bogie Books”, retro-Halloween versions of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. These showed the reader how to throw a successful Halloween party for adults including menus, ideas for games and many, many suggestions for decorations and costumes. All, of course, supplied by the Dennison Manufacturing Co. Unfortunately for Framingham’s workforce, Dennison merged and moved to Pasadena, Calif. The name changed to Avery Dennison Corp.
The Beistle Company
The Beistle Company was founded in 1900 by Martin Luther Beistle in the basement of his home near Pittsburgh for the production of small imprints and calendars. Eventually business boomed and changed as did the product line and company location. Over time Mr. Beistle moved the company back to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and has since then provided the area with business and jobs. Even during the Great Depression and World Wars the Beistle Company provided work and resources to aid the people and country in times of need. To this day the Beistle Company continues to be run by descendants of ML Beistle.
Over the course of 100 years, the products and catalogs of the Beistle Company have changed dramatically. Originally the company started with calendars, wood children’s toys, and artificial plants but those are not what made the Beistle Company famous. Early on, the Beistle Company partnered with the Paper Novelty Company and soon became a pioneer in honey combed tissue decorations creating a variety of products including bells, balls, toys and Easter bunny nests. Over time the Beistle Company expanded its catalog to cover all the holidays from Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Thanksgiving. But the first seasonal decorations added to the catalog were Halloween. Over 1000 different designs and decorations have been added since 1921 ranging from witches, black cats, bats, owls, spiders and jack o lanterns. The company produced many popular die cut Halloween paper items and helped popularize Halloween decoration in America. The company’s early success was credited to selling inexpensive premade decorations that customers could readily buy from the store.
The Beistle Company has introduced new designs for products over the years. It has always been a company mantra to purchase good quality goods, so the quality of our products don’t suffer; employ and train the best help to have the best quality and keep costs low for the consumer; and create new designs and merchandise so customer interest doesn’t lag. The Beistle Company has decided to bring back select discontinued decorations and sell them under the Vintage Beistle name. Since Halloween was the first seasonal item sold at the Company it is only befitting this line be revived first. Some of the products date back to the 1920’s with designs over 80 years old and originally bared the copyright of Martin Beistle, Henry Luhrs, and other partnerships of the company. It is very hard to come by old party decorations for a true Vintage feel, and we have come to realize that many customers miss these one of a kind decorations. Now through VintageBeiste.com we can sell the same products sold to previous generations and ship them directly to your house, so you are able to add a classic feel to your party and keep a piece of Halloween Americana in your home.
1974 Joseph Robert Ellis founded Eureka Resale, which made a name for itself with the original gold star sticker often used by teachers today! Eureka Resale later became Paper Magic Group. 1983 Eureka entered the greeting card business by acquiring Artist Publishers.