Vampire-Killing Kit Up for Auction - Antique Trader

Vampire Problem? Mysterious Kit Has Everything You Need to Slay 'Em

The kit includes a pistol, crucifixes, a bible and shark's teeth.
Author:
Publish date:
It's not clear how old this kit is, but Hanson Auctioneers said it has everything needed to slay vampires.

It's not clear how old this kit is, but Hansons Auctioneers said it has everything needed to slay vampires.

This year has been so crazy thus far, would anyone bat an eye if vampires suddenly appeared? Well, OK - vampires may not actually exist, but vampire-hunting kits do.

One is in fact going up for bid at Hansons Auctioneers in the UK as part of its Antiques and Collectors Auction July 16-21, and will be sold on the last day of the auction. The vampire-slaying kit is complete with a pistol, crucifix, a 178-year-old Bible and various other talismans to fight the mythical monsters, including a bottle of shark's teeth. Encased in an ornate wooden box with brass ornaments and a crimson silk lining, the Derbyshire auction house has estimated its worth between $2,500 to $3,700.

The chest’s previous owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said in a statement on the auctioneer's website that he knows little of its history. “I have had it in my own collection for three years now. I bought it from a large antiques fair in Newark. I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it. I thought it was so interesting — a great conversation piece,” he said.

The lid’s interior is affixed with enamel artwork depicting Christ’s resurrection, as well as an ivory carving of a wolf wearing a hooded cloak and carrying rosary beads in its anthropomorphized hands. The box has eight compartments that fit a copy of the New Testament from 1842, a pocketknife with a mother-of-pearl handle and blade made of hallmarked silver, a pocket pistol, pliers, crucifixes, rosary beads, and a few bottles, one containing shark’s teeth and another with “contents unknown.”

The lid of the kit has an enamel painting of the resurrection of Christ.

The lid of the kit has an enamel painting of the resurrection of Christ.

“The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools. Items of religious significance, such as crucifixes and Bibles, were said to repel these monsters, hence their strong presence in the kit we have found," said Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons. “A belief in vampires and strange superstitions goes back even further and persists to this day."

Dracula (Bela Lugosi) prepares to feast on Mina (Helen Chandler) in this publicity still for Dracula (1931). Charles Hanson said slaying vampires used to be an "extremely serious" business.

Dracula (Bela Lugosi) prepares to feast on Mina (Helen Chandler) in this publicity still for Dracula (1931). Charles Hanson said that slaying vampires used to be an "extremely serious" business.

People are fascinated by stories of vampires, hence their continued appearance in films and on TV today. They have been part of popular culture for more than 200 years. The publication of John Polidori’s The Vampyre in 1819 had a major impact, as did Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic, Dracula, followed by numerous modern movies and TV shows including the current FX comedy, "What We Do in the Shadows."

The kit is contained in an ornate box.

The kit is contained in an ornate box.

The question remains whether the slaying kit is bona fide or pricey kitsch, but vampire-killing kits are not uncommon. Although purposely aged vampire-hunting tools became a popular merchandising scheme in the 1970s by those who wanted to cash in on a trend of vampire-themed movies and television, Jonathan Ferguson, the curator of firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum, one of the oldest museums in the world, wrote that the first such kit was not documented for sale until 1986. He described his investigation into the authenticity of these kits, and why he chose to put one on permanent display at the museum. Although he also explained how he proved them to be fakes, he said they're nonetheless still valuable.

The vampire killing kit at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

The vampire-killing kit at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

There has been debate regarding the origin of these objects. While some vampirists claim such kits were common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, others believe that they were more likely assembled following the publication of Stoker's Dracula and marketed to travelers to eastern Europe. And though the kits are now widely considered by historians to be novelty curios, they come up for bid periodically at auctions and some have gone on to sell for thousands over the past 10 years, including several at Sotheby’s. One of these, attributed to a master craftsman, Professor Ernst Blomberg of Germany, sold for $26,400, although Sotheby's cautioned in its auction catalog that the existence of Professor Blomberg couldn’t be confirmed. “Also open to question is whether these kits were ever employed successfully in the killing of vampires,” Sotheby’s said. 

In 2011, an unsigned vampire-killing kit, with 32 components including a map of Transylvania and no less than two crucifixes, brought $25,000 at the auction house. For a Blomberg kit that came up at Sotheby’s in 2012 and sold for $13,750, the catalog described it as “Continental, circa 1900 and later” and had no comment on whether the makers were fictional.

Sotheby’s sold this extensive vampire killing kit in 2011 for $25,000: Continental, circa 1900s and later, including 32 articles, some associated, a carved ivory and black forest lindenwood crucifix, vials with garlic, salt and "holy water," a bible, a gun with a leather powder flask and silver bullets, a dagger, four stakes and a mallet, a molded glass cross-shaped candlestick, and an English map of Galizia, Eastern Hungary and Transylvania.

Sotheby’s sold this extensive vampire-killing kit in 2011 for $25,000: Continental, circa 1900s and later, including a carved ivory and black forest lindenwood crucifix, vials with garlic, salt and "holy water," a bible, a gun with a leather powder flask and silver bullets, a dagger, four stakes and a mallet, a molded glass cross-shaped candlestick, and an English map of Galizia, Eastern Hungary and Transylvania.

In 2019, a kit that appeared on History Channel’s "Pawn Stars" and is associated with a British artist who moved in the same circles as the creators of Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, was sold by New Jersey-based International Military Antiques for $24,995. That Vampire Defense Set includes everything from a matched set of pistols with silver bullets to wooden stakes and a mallet to drive said stakes through the heart of a blood-sucker.  

International Military Antiques sold this Victorian-era cased vampire defense set of Sir Philip Burne-Jones, circa 1890, for $24,995 in 2019.

International Military Antiques sold this Victorian-era cased vampire-defense set of Sir Philip Burne-Jones, circa 1890, for $24,995 in 2019.

Besides the vampire kit, Hansons online auction of antiques and collectibles also includes 19th-century silver tableware, trays and cups; compacts and snuff boxes; and jewelry such as brooches, lockets and rings — though only the vampire box is described as an object of "supernatural interest," according to the auction website.

For more information about the vampire kit and auction, visit www.hansonslive.co.uk or email service@hansonsauctioners.co.uk.

This vampire kit was sold by Sotheby’s in 2012 for $13,750: Continental, circa 1900 and later, comprising a rosewood, ivory and silver gun in the form of a crucifix engraved I.H.S, a silver gun-powder flask, a glass vial, an ebonized wood and silver stake, an ivory ramrod, shells and two silver bullets in a green-felt-lined stained oak box.

This vampire kit was sold by Sotheby’s in 2012 for $13,750: Continental, circa 1900 and later, comprising a rosewood, ivory and silver gun in the form of a crucifix engraved I.H.S, a silver gun-powder flask, a glass vial, an ebonized wood and silver stake, an ivory ramrod, shells and two silver bullets in a green-felt-lined stained oak box.

In 2011, Sotheby sold this kit for $17,500: a satiné wood, mahogany, ebony and ivory inlay kit, Continental, second half 19th century, containing an ivory and ebony inlay gun shaped crucifix, five silver bullets with struck hallmarks, a brass and patinated copper gun-powder flask, a sealed glass bottle, a bullet mold and a later colt's caps box by Eley Bro-London, the pistol-shaped crucifix with an engraved monogram BMG in cursive capital letters.

In 2011, Sotheby sold this kit for $17,500: a satiné wood, mahogany, ebony and ivory inlay kit, Continental, second half 19th century, containing an ivory and ebony inlay gun shaped crucifix, five silver bullets with struck hallmarks, a brass and patinated copper gun-powder flask, a sealed glass bottle, a bullet mold and a later colt's caps box by Eley Bro-London, the pistol-shaped crucifix with an engraved monogram BMG in cursive capital letters.

Applied Auctions sold this kit in 2019 for $2,600. The lid holds a book of psalms and proverbs in German a small hand-held mirror, cross inscribed with another cross in the middle, glass bottles, small knife, four glass vials, two small wooden jars, two candles and garlic, a mallet, and stakes. Bottles hold nails, garlic, holy water, matches and other unidentified items.

Applied Auctions sold this kit in 2019 for $2,600. The lid holds a book of psalms and proverbs in German a small hand-held mirror, cross inscribed with another cross in the middle, glass bottles, small knife, four glass vials, two small wooden jars, two candles, a mallet, and stakes. Bottles hold nails, garlic, holy water, matches and other unidentified items.