Monday, April 7, 2014

Christie's Vampire Killing Kit

Christie's recently sold a vampire hunting kit.  Nothing unusual there, but the "probably late 19th century" description is a nice bit of plausible denial.  Note, if you will, that the kit once again has stakes and implements made from re-profiled furniture legs.  That's something that's only started to show up in the last few years.  I suspect a single artist or group is producing all of these and using a cooperative dealer to front them to auction  houses.

When anyone claims that a vampire kit is an actual antique, rather than an entertaining example of contemporary assemblage art, they're being dishonest.  If they push the point simply ask for documentation of a single period example.


bob_d said...

Wow, €10,000 - that's a pretty good scam they've got going on. I wonder how much the individual parts cost them? Some broken 19th century furniture, a few crucifixes, an antique(?) pistol - even if the pistol's not a repro, I'm guessing that they could manage to get it all for under $1000.

I would have thought that a hammer made from an ornate furniture leg would be a dead giveaway, but...

CoastConFan said...

Once upon a time, a major auction house lent their good name to the sale as a guarantee of originality, authenticity and condition. Highly paid and knowledgeable experts carefully determined if the piece was real, properly represented, and assigned an expected value based on years of experience and expertise. You paid more from a major auction house because it was a virtual guarantee the item had been properly vetted by experts.

No more. Now it is “caveat emptor” to the buyer. If there are misrepresentation, forgery or hidden damage, it’s just “tough crackers” to the buyer. Read the fine print some time to see how far out on a limb a buyer actually sets. I can’t go into the horrors I have seen in major auction houses auction catalogues, but I know that some consignees apparently shop at Marshalls.

I absolutely love a good gaff, a well-made prop, an artfully set up tableau of faux items. I enjoy seeing something made for fun and for the enjoyment of the beholder. Even the ballyhoo and the showmanship involved with the exhibition of such items can be enjoyable, such as the Barnum bunkum and vintage roadside attractions. I take my hat off to the folk’s works that have filled the hallowed halls of Propnomicon’s blog and even more appreciative when they share techniques and ideas.

Now there is very little truth in the rumor that Propnomicon was the secret godson of P.T. Barnum, issue of the Fee Gee Mermaid and the Cardiff Giant, a Siamese twin separated before birth and stolen from gypsies. Lies, all lies and for just one thin dime. So if you will follow the arrows to the EGRESS, even more amazing disclosures will be … uh, disclosed forthwith!

Anonymous said...

Another thing is, besides all the obvious fakery going on (such as the fact no one heard of Professor Blomberg before these things came out--it would have been more believable with a Dudley Wright or Montague Summers label), if these things were real and manufactured for tourists you'd expect to have seen at least two of them being identical by this point.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong... but the pistol at least looks like one that appeared on Pawn Stars, of all places, and was rejected by their expert as a fake.