Saturday, October 24, 2015

Vampire Killing Kit Auction

Jackson's auction house in Cedar Falls is offering up this vampire hunting kit on November 18th.

AN INTERESTING VAMPIRE KILLING KIT. Over 20 various weapons and related tools and accessories including stakes, carved mallet, black powder pistol, powder horn, spy glass, crucifixes and other items contained in a distressed fitted wooden case. Length 17.5 inches (42 cm), height 7.5 inches (19 cm), depth 11.75 inches (30 cm).

Estimate $800 – $1,200
Starting Bid $600

Notice what's missing from the item description? No claims of authoritative dating or provenance. They're to be commended for acting ethically and responsibly. Vampire killing kits are wonderful collectibles, but any assertions that they're "authentic" or have a documented date of manufacture are deceptive at best.

On a related note, "Antiques Roadshow" regular Ken Farmer is retiring from the auctions business. An interview in "Antiques and the Arts" includes this tidbit:

Q: Any interesting anecdotes from your Antiques Roadshow appearances?

A: One of the funniest things happened during my first or second season working in decorative arts, where a lady brought in a fitted mahogany case, describing it as a “vampire killing kit.” I had never seen one, so I went around to the various tables asking for opinions. She followed me around and ended up cussing a blue streak when one of the manuscript guys pointed out that the label on the box was laser-printed. We ended up not filming that segment.


CoastConFan said...

Yup, another sad fake of an item that never existed. I guess that really puts it into the fantasy category. This one doesn’t even try very hard as the pseudo aging is way overboard. Thanks to Propnomicon for bringing this up as an example. BTW, I thought that eBay had a ban on firearms. If you are interested, here is the “vampire kit” origin revealed

The only item of interest in this mess is what appears to be an original period derringer from the 1830s to 1868. If it would prove to be an original Henry Deringer product, the value in this degraded condition would be about $300 or less, but only to a collector. Now if it had an interesting retailer marking, especially a California or southern dealer, it might be worth restoring with original parts. A period knock off, foreign or domestic (e.g. a derringer or other spurious marked item), would be about half that and not worth restoring. A number of copycat manufactures banking on Mr. Deringer’s good manufacturing name marked their diminutive barkers with two r’s to fool unobservant customers.

Alysson Rowan said...

I think the best one of these that I have seen was intended for a period LARP.

The box was new-ish, having been used for holding garage junk in for a few years. It contained all of the usual stuff including a period replica blank-firer (we're not allowed the real thing in the UK). One nice touch was a small hand-saw and a bill-hook for making your own stakes. The hammer was the right weight, too - with a cast steel head (just right for driving those stakes with only a single blow).

All of the other paraphenalia was 'new', and the labels, maps, notebook etc were hand written. Ten mass produced, identical crucifixes in a period appropriate supplier's box (of a dozen) rounded it out rather nicely

Rattling around in the bottom of the box were some odds & ends - appropriate period coins, bits of dirt, leaf debris, ink-dip pen and a bottle of ink - and a few spare (and broken) nibs.

The whole was appropriate for an 1850's London setting.

The best thing was that it never pretended to be old, just a well-used kit of tools.

I find these poor reproductions (and even some of the better ones) to be a little sad, to be honest. The way individual items are fitted is often rather too neat. Stakes and religious icons are, surely, consumables, and would be kept in loose compartments rather than custom clips.

The "holy mallet" is often too lightweight to drive the usual blunt stake through a sheet of card, let alone skin and muscle as would be required for a session in the stake-out.

The bottles of 'holy water' are often far too small, and bottles are usually poorly protected in any case - wrap'em in wool and waxed cloth for Heaven's sakes!

Unless it is a display case, then you need a way of carrying it - it is a tool box, after all.