Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Stairway to the Halloween Stars

I found this in the basement of an estate sale quite a few years ago.  I've always called it a "moon shelf".  It looked homemade from plywood, and as it turns out, it was.  My daughter hung it in her room and put knick-knacks on it.  She's recently (and quickly) grown up.  A whole 13 years old and wants to distance herself from the things of her childhood. Sigh.

I thought it would make a great display piece for some of my plastic Halloween pieces, Rosbro, Wilton and other.

As I said, I've always called this a "moon shelf", but I recently learned these were actually called "Stairway to the Stars" shelves and were normally accompanied by a wooden star.  Their original intended use was as plant holders.

The original pattern was created by craftsman and entrepreneur Albert Neely Hall. Hall graduated from the Chicago School of Architecture in 1902.  He wrote syndicated news columns with such names as "Handicraft for Boys and Girls" and "Christmas Presents Any Boy Can Make" that appeared in newspapers throughout the country from the 19-teens to the 1950's.  

From the December 10th, 1915 Logan County News (Crescent, Oklahoma)

In 1914, along with his brother Norman P. Hall who had illustrated one of L. Frank Baum's earliest books, he published his own Oz knockoff book called "The Wonder Hill or The Marvelous Rescue of Prince Iota".

Though the book was well received, Albert and his brother decided to pursue a different path. Together they founded the Tribune Craft Pattern Company, selling wood shop patterns through newspapers.  In 1949, he created plans for "Stairway to the Stars" and it was a hit with post-war hobbyists.

Seeing this ad now, I realize I saw another one of his executed plans, the pig breadboard, just a couple weekends ago.  I almost picked it up because, hey, pig breadboard, but I ultimately passed. I kind of wish I had bought it now.

Albert Neely Hall passed away in 1959, just 10 years after what you might say was his pièce de résistance.  His family continued the business until 1986.


  1. wow, what a great find. i'm surprised it comes from a kit, but i guess it makes sense, since those curved rails would be hard to make by hand. it looks great as a display for smaller things. too bad the star is missing, but that could be easily remedied.

  2. It sure looks cute with all your fun little Halloween knicks on it. You have quite the collection.

    1. Thanks, Lady M. They're small, but yes, some of my favorite pieces.

  3. I would have scooped this up, too! Very cool, and would look good year round, but also with Halloween and then Christmas items on display.

    1. You're right, that's a good idea. I can just change out my witches for Santas.


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