Vintage Gurley holiday candles on display at Elting Library

Vintage Gurley holiday candles are on display at Elting Library in New Paltz. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Famous confectioner and candle-maker Franklin Gurley specifically designed and manufactured novelty candles in the 1930’s. The W&F Manufacturing Company, owned by Gurley, made and marketed the candles under the name of Tavern Novelty Candles. Originally, the candles were commissioned by the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (now Exxon Mobil) so that they could make use of the excess paraffin that was produced during the oil-refining process. Over time, Gurley’s business went from paraffin confections, such as wax lips and teeth, to almost exclusively candle production. The company was bought out in 1949 and the name was changed to Gurley Novelty. These candles were most commonly sold at discount stores and department stores like Woolworth’s and Macy’s for between 10 and 99 cents. Gurley made candles for all of the major holidays, but the ones most sought after today by collectors are the Halloween and Christmas candles. These candles were never meant to be burned and some of the figures don’t even have a wick. Owned by a private collector, the candles will be on display the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection through the holidays. For more information, call the library at 255-5030.

Post Your Thoughts