Saturday, June 9, 2012

Vampire Slaying Kit Up for Auction

Andrew James was kind enough to send me this article from the Daily Mail about an "authentic" vampire slaying kit going up for auction.

They say you can never be too prepared... but even for the most superstitious person this may be overkill.

A 19th century Vampire slaying kit, which includes a wooden mallet and four oak stakes, glass vials of holy water and garlic paste is expected to fetch up £2,000 when auctioned later this month.

The macabre artefact also has a percussion cap pistol - invented in the 1830 - and a steel bullet mold, all carefully crafted to offer the best protection against any creatures of the night.

Here's an excellent photograph of the kit and it's contents.

The case contains 1) a rosary 2) crucifix 3) a handwritten psalm (Luke 20:27) 4) a pistol 5) four oak stakes 6) a bottle of consecrated earth 7) a common prayer book 8) a wooden mallet 9) silver bullet mold 10) a cloth 11) two glass bottles containing garlic paste and holy water.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to track down a tea chest, a Victorian crucifix, a wooden mallet, and some vintage apothecary bottles on Ebay. Sadly, I'll have to go to a gun trading site to get a percussion cap pistol. A man's gotta eat. Heh.

Update: The website for Tennants Auctioneers describes the upcoming auction thus:

This thrilling sale has already attracted media attention due to the eclectic mix of exceptionally rare and wonderful lots that will be included. One piece in particular, (drawing attention from both the UK and America) is an unusual 19th century vampire slaying kit, which almost complete and in good condition, can be dated to after Bram Stoker wrote the famous Dracula novel, which popularised the vampire character and possibly started the trend of vampire slaying kits. The mahogany casket, complete with percussion cap pistol, steel bullet mould, mallet and stakes, Rosary beads, glass bottles, prayer book dated 1857 and crucifix, which was found in the cellar of the vendors deceased uncle, is in good condition and expected to make £1500-2000. It will certainly be exciting to see where the casket ends up; perhaps with many scenes of Bram Stokers novel being set in the Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby, the vampire slaying kit might only make a short journey after the sale. With live internet bidding on the day however, and already genuine international interest, it could end up overseas!.

I know I'm taking this far too seriously, but I think authenticity actually matters when you start talking about a fake being sold for £2,000 ($3100). Yes, the individual items in this kit almost certainly date back to the appropriate time period. As I jokingly pointed out above, obtaining them individually and then assembling a kit is relatively easy.

One simple test as to the actual age of the case would be to shine a pocket long wave UV light on it's contents. I can almost guarantee the labels on the bottles and the psalm pasted to the cover would glow a bright bluish white. Authentic paper and parchment from before the 1930's glows a faint yellow or off white color. The creator may have taken the time to use a natural fiber velvet for the lining, but not many source the paper and inks for labels.


Rhissanna said...

Thank you for posting this. Clearly, I can't afford an old one; I'd best get on and finish mine. There is an article from a London gun dealer, who made a kit with a gun he took in part exchange during a sale. He is the origin of the use of the name 'Blomberg' on some of the items, as he made the whole thing up as he went along. The reason the box passed as genuine, was that the items in the box actually were 19th century. I'm still hoping to find corroboration of this story. He was surprised to sell it and admits that he got his horror stories mixed up, which is why kits contain silver bullets.
Article is here

(Please forgive me if you already knew this. I'm a geek. We can't help giving out information)

Propnomicon said...

@ Rhissanna

Don't apologize at all. I first ran across that article during my own research into the subject. It should be required reading for anyone interested in vampire killing kits.

I don't have a problem with anyone making or selling said kits. It's just the claim to being "authentic" I object to. An artist that really pays attention to detail *deserves* thousands of dollars for a well done one. As Mr. de Winter demonstrates a great deal of effort goes into a quality fake.

But it's still a fake.

CoastConFan said...

A diligent collector can, over time, amass enough period items to produce such a kit. The most expensive is the 1840s – 1850s boxlock pistol, which sells in the US for about $375-$450. The mallet is probably one of the hardest to find, if you are looking for a verifiable period one. The bottles are not too hard or expensive to locate, but you need to know what you are looking at for dating purposes. A mid Victorian tea caddy box, stripped of its metal canisters will run about $100 with no key and in fair condition. A period crucifix is a bit easier to find in Europe rather than the US. If you are careful and judicious, with a year, you might find enough to make a kit for about $500 to $900 for the components, if want original and authentic items. The added cost of manpower to set up the kit and do all the hand work makes $1,500 not unreasonable for a top-notch kit with nearly all original components.

CoastConFan said...

@ Propnomicon Deception takes many levels in the business: (1) Misattribution, misinformation, folk tales and “grandpa told me so”, (2) Repaired but not reported, after several sales, the repair is forgotten, to lies about condition (3) Marriages and Frankensteins, pieces and part of original and near original parts assembled – the vampire set for one, (4) Outright forgery, where the attempt is to defraud from inception, (5) Pitiful Fakes, repros that are clearly such, passed as original, sometimes dolled up a bit, often offered just as they are. It’s an ugly business; try reading the Lovejoy books by John Grant/Jonathan Gash (Wikipedia has an article) for the ins and outs of the antique trade. You must arm yourself with knowledge, know experts, view originals as well as exposed fakes, look for clues, understand construction, manufacture, context, history, double check facts, verify, learn the enemy’s tricks, get taken a few times, study and know you will never know it all, see it all, anticipate it all – but most of all, follow your educated gut feeling.