What do you do if a black cat crosses the sidewalk in front of you? Why, you pick up the poor thing (actually, it’s safer to use a trap), take it to the vet to be examined and given all its shots, and then take it home to keep all your other rescued felines company.
OR, you could assume it already has a home, and collect black-cat themed items, instead.
And there are a lot of black-cat collectibles littering global markets. It’s not just that cats outnumber dogs in some parts of the world (including the U.S.) or that videos on YouTube of cats doing cute cat things are more numerous than videos of dogs doing cute dog things. Cats possess an aura of mystery, and black cats, especially, have long been associated with witchcraft and the occult, which explains their prominence as Halloween symbols, one of the largest areas of interest to collectors.
Halloween is second only to Christmas in the amount of money spent on decorations, and black cats appear as everything from 11-foot tall inflatables and tarot cards to mechanical lawn ornaments and small earrings. Of course, the hottest action in the secondary markets is for vintage specimens, such as candy containers, pressed cardboard standups, noisemakers, lanterns, and 1930s German die-cuts like the tiara featuring a white-eyed black cat that recently fetched $2182.12 at auction.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of items in this category that are intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented, so it would behoove potential buyers to perform due diligence and check out the sections on fakes at sites such as HalloweenCollector.com or Halloween Reproductions at RealorRepro.com.
Felix the Cat is another niche market popular among collectors. The character made his first film appearance in 1919, quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s silent-film stars. He remained popular throughout the 1920s, but the introduction of sound put a dent in his popularity when his creators failed to adapt to the new technology. Felix’s star never faded completely though, and he has continued to appear in various media to this day. Of course, vintage items in this category generate the most interest among collectors, and composition dolls and wind-up tin toys from the 1920s and 30s regularly fetch in the low to mid hundreds.
Not all cats are of the four-footed variety. The Black Cat persona has also been adopted by a number of fictional action heroes/villains, both male (Train Heartnet, manga/anime 2000-2006) and female (Linda Turner, Harvey Comics 1941-1951; Catwoman Selina Kyle, DC Comics 1940-present; Felicia Hardy, Marvel Comics 1979-present).
First comic book appearances usually garner the greatest interest among collectors, and these are no exception. Recent bidding on a Harvey with a CGC rating of 6.0 ended at $799, while Marvel’s Black Cat (Spider-Man #194) fetched $2499.95. But DC’s Catwoman was best in show with several examples of average condition ranging from $3500 to $5700. (Not surprising considering their age.)
Finally, just in case you’re not entirely convinced that there’s something special about black cats, consider that they have not one, but TWO national days in their honor: Black Cat Appreciation Day falls on August 17th each year, while Black Cat Day is celebrated every October 27th.
And don’t forget your black-cat costume this Halloween!
Black Cats & Evil Eyes (A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions), by Chloe Rhodes
Black Cats Tell All (True Tales and Inspiring Images), by Layla Morgan Wilde
All Black Cats are Not Alike, by Amy Goldwasser and Peter Arkle
The Golden Age Black Cat (Volume 1: Gwandanaland Comics #1055), by Harvey Comics
Vintage Halloween Collectibles (Third Edition), by Mark B. Ledenbach