Chances are good that if you are a member of the World War II generation, the Silent Generation, the Baby Boom, or Generation X, you remember the paper decorations popular with schools and homes for most of the 20th Century. There were jointed skeletons, jointed black cats, napkins, signs, and many others. During the 20th Century chances were good that those decorations were made by the Beistle Company, the top manufacturer of seasonal paper goods.
While it would become a major company in paper goods for holidays, the Beistle Company had very humble origins. It was founded by Martin Luther Beistle in the basement of his Pittsburgh home in 1900. Mr. Beistle originally planned to manufacture calendars and various items for the home made from wood and other goods. As the company grew it expanded into seasonal goods such as napkins and invitations. It was in 1920 that the Beistle Company first started making Halloween decorations. These paper decorations not only helped make decorating for Halloween popular in the Twenties, but helped increase the popularity of the holiday itself. Starting in 1928 the Beistle Company would even manufacture games for the holiday, such as those that involved fortune telling.
So successful was the Beistle Company with its decorations that it was able to survive the Great Depression with little trouble. In fact, it was in the Thirties that the Beistle Company began making one of their all time most popular decorations: a jointed skeleton. The Beistle Company is still making Halloween decorations and is still owned by the Beistle family. In 2012 they opened Vintage Beistle, which is dedicated to selling many of the classic Beistle Company designs from the decades between the 1920s and 1950s. As the largest producer of Halloween decorations for much of the 20th Century, one has to suspect they will be open for many years to come.