Gurley and Tavern Candles Collectibles Guide

14 May
I bet many of you remember your mom or grandmother having these cute little candles when you were young right? Well, I know that these are pretty collectible so I have created this helpful guide to Gurley and Tavern candles.

Gurley Candles

What are Gurley candles? 
  • Gurley candles were produced by Gurley Novelty which began in Buffalo, New York in 1939.
  • Gurley Novelty was part of W&F Manufacturing Company, owned by candle maker Franklin Gurley.
  • The Gurley line of candles was first commissioned by a company called Socony Vacuum Oil Company (now ExxonMobil).
  • They were first created as a way to recycle and reuse the excess paraffin that was a by-product of the oil refinery process (they were ahead of their time with this recycling effort weren’t they?!) 
Gurley had candles for many holidays. I'm including a few examples throughout the guide along with my opinion of their value.


Easter Bunny, Value = $12 to $14.

Source: Undone Eclectic on Etsy
Adorable chicks, Value $6 to $8 each.

Source: Tinsel and Trinkets on Etsy


A little pilgrim couple, Value = $10 to $15 for the pair.

pilgrim candles
Source: Little Vintage Cottage on Etsy
These turkeys would be cute with the Pilgrims! Value = $5 to $6 each

Source: Little Vintage Cottage on Etsy
Little Indian couples like these are a little more rare. Value = $25 to $30 for the pair

Source: Inc50 on eBay
 Gurley and Tavern, what's the difference?
  • The very first products created to use up this excess paraffin were marketed under the name “Tavern”.
  • They consisted of wax lips and teeth as well as small candle figures in fun holiday shapes like ghosts, pilgrims, and Santa Claus'.
  • In 1949 the Tavern brand was purchased by Mr. Gurley who then changed the name to the Gurley Novelty Company.
Fun Facts
  • Most of the candles were made for specific holidays and even though they have wicks they were not really intended to burn but instead just to collect for fun holiday displays.
  • The smaller candles were sold individually out of a shallow, cardboard display box. The sets and larger candles were sold in sealed paper boxes.
  • Most had round, paper Gurley labels attached to the bottoms.
  • These cute candles were inexpensive
    • Small 3 1/2" figures were .10 cents each
    • Packs of two were .29 cents
    • Packs of threes were .49 cents
    • The larger candles rarely went above .99 cents.
Source: Cottage Prims on Etsy

Care and Cleaning
  • Clean them by wrapping a piece of panty hose around your finger and gently buffing in a circular motion. Don’t rub too hard though or the color may come off the wax. You can practice by doing a small area on the back.
  • Small crevices can be done with a Q-tip dipped in soapy water.
Here are some more adorable candles that I found from some fellow Etsy sellers:


Santa Claus, Value = $12 to $14.

Christmas Carolers, Value = $10 to $12 each.

Source: Vintage Coco By The Lake
There were buildings too, like these cute little curches! Value = $8 to $10 each.

Source: Source: RSW Vintage - Etsy
Snowman, Value = $10 - $12.

Source: Source: Vintage Jewels and More - Etsy 


Dancing Scarecrow Jack-o-lanterns, Value = $10 to $12 each.

Ghoul or Grim Reaper, Value = $18 - $20.

Source: Treasured Debris on Etsy

Display Ideas

I found some fun ways that people have displayed their candle collections. I just love these first two displays of Halloween candles!


And old pans as display shelves?! Genius!!

 Source: Country Living

Displaying some under a cloche is such a great idea! I can see a whole little village under a very large cloche!

 Source: Every Day Vintage

Aren't they adorable? Do you have any vintage Gurley candles?

There are so many more examples too, here are a couple of Pinterest boards dedicated to them!



Martha (n.d.). Festive Candles. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from, (2013). Gurley Novelty. Retrieved October 17, 2013 from,


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  1. They're adorable! I have a couple tucked away in my Christmas decorations, I think. Interesting info!

  2. You had me interested at the first picture because of the Thanksgiving memories they evoked. My mother had multiple sets of the candles - both turkeys and pilgrims and it was my job to set them out on the table in the dining room.

    Thanks for a trip down Memory Lane.

  3. Such a fun post! My Mom had a group of choir boys. I found the pilgrims for 50 cents at a yard sale last year, but other than that never see them in the wild. Fun to look on Etsy for them. Thanks for the great info! :)

  4. Fascinating info Tania! I do remember seeing those around the house in the past...had no idea they were collectible. So do you collect them now?

    1. Thanks Florence :o) Yes, I do have a small (but growing) collection! So far I have a couple of trees, Santa Claus, deer, group of choir boys and girls, and a church!


  5. I remember these from my childhood. What sweet memories these bring!!

  6. I'm glad you had some memories from this post! :o)



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