The Halloween Collection of Sarah Hill

Categories: Random Ephemera

Model Sarah Hill is a former member of Houston Press's Gothic Council that we have previously described as Mary Poppins as imagined by Quentin Tarantino. She maintains an amazing collection of vintage Halloween memorabilia and spooky knickknacks. Thousands of items are carefully arranged all around her home, with hundreds more awaiting display space in her attic and office.

"I've loved Halloween since I was a kid, but not for the typical reason of getting to dress up," said Hill. "I'm attracted to things aesthetically. I find a lot of comfort in certain colors and visual aesthetics you see in a lot of Halloween stuff. Christmas stuff too, actually. I like to surround myself with these objects and just look at them. I don't know what it's like to be a drug addict, but this is my addiction. It makes me happy."

With the Halloween season in full bloom, we asked Hill to take us on a little tour of her collection, and found five of her most interesting items to feature.

The first exhibit was a vintage candy container from the 1960s that is a jack o' lantern on top of a clear black cat in which candy corn is stored. The candy in the container is actually the original candy corn that was packaged with the novelty. Jokingly, we asked Hill if she'd ever been tempted to try the ancient confections. She said no, one of the reasons being that when she received the item from eBay, the hollow base had been full of dead beetles who had become trapped while trying to get to the candy corn and died.

The candy should be perfectly safe regardless. The sugar acts as a preservative in most treats, ensuring that they never really spoil. We actually developed a taste for expired chocolate thanks to a disreputable vending machine supplier. Still, it almost certainly tastes terrible since it was manufactured half a century ago. Well, more terrible than candy corn usually tastes, anyway.

Hill's favorite things in her collection are Union Products blow moulds, the light-up plastic yard decorations that were popular until Walmart put the company out of business in 2006. They were the creation of Donald Featherstone, an Ig Noble Award-winning artist who was also the designer of the pink flamingo yard ornament. There are more than 100 of these rare and hard to find items in her collection, though she says her hoard is only an eighth of the size of a friend with similar tastes.

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Hill is sensitive to the way light affects her moods, and particularly enjoys the illumination from the moulds. The prize in her house is an extremely rare mould of Bela Lugosi.

"I'd love to go up one day and put all of the blow moulds on my roof," she said. "It would really perk up the day of the people on the planes that are always overhead."

She next drew our attention to a liquor serving set from 1950s Japan meant to look like a poison decanter. Made of porcelain, there's a tremendous market for these items on eBay. They're a perfect companion to the Michter's Whiskey bottle shaped and painted like a witch riding a broomstick. Michter's Distillery was founded by Mennonite famers in the 18th century and produced a variety of liquors until it closed in 1989. They were famous for the variety of special liquor bottles including the witch on the next page, a football and the death mask of King Tuthankhamun.

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