Monday, May 23, 2016

The Avner Vampire Killing Kit

Over the weekend Kaminski Auctions offered up this vampire hunting kit at an estate sale.
Rare mid 19th century vampire slaying kit, hand made brass inlaid plate inscribed "Nosferatu," includes: two crucifixes, assorted Bibles, hand forged knife with bone handle, wooden mallet with wooden stakes, two sets of rosary beads, pinfire pistol, eight bottles of holy water, garlic, six silver bullets, and mirror, 6" h x 17" w x 11 1/2" d. Provenance: From the personal lifetime collection of Mark Avner of Lake Worth, FL and Buffalo, NY.
Surprisingly, it appears it didn't receive a single bid.  I have a feeling collectors are finally realizing all of these kits are fake.  It's certainly fair that the creators make a reasonable amount of money, but  the days of Blomberg-style kits going for tens of thousands of dollars at auction are over. 


CoastConFan said...

This one’s too easy. Whoever made this one wasn’t trying too hard. Before the components were screwed up by attaching spurious crosses, they had a bit of value. It’s all really a mixture of laziness and the overdone, but so typical of these fantasy kits. On the plus side there are not any of the typical computer generated, laser printed labels on tea stained paper with burnt edges and then varnished into the case. Now for the negative side(s).

This is a nice old cutlery box, rather the worse for wear and still worth $100 if the junk inside was dumped out. The modern square snuff bottles aren’t too bad as the form is fairly old, although these examples are not. As for the brass Nosferatu (1922 movie reference) tag, this is a PG site so I won’t use the language that comes to mind when I see something like that.

The original European circa 1860s boxlock pinfire is in poor condition and even further de-enhanced by a crooked, poorly made and unengraved, possibly silver cross. The gun’s decrepitude belies the near pristine components in the rest of the kit. Before it was further screwed up with the cross (along with a brutal cleaning) this probably had a value of $200 on a good day. The truly embarrassing thing associated with this pistol is the modern spray painted cough drop tin with some lead-headed (not silver) apparently centerfire cartridges, which don’t appear to even be in the caliber of the pistol. Even if they did chamber, they could not fire since they appear to be centerfire not pinfire. There IS a difference.

The really boring black wooden cross stuck in the inside lid of the case shows no attempt to make it match the rest of the set and appears to be an afterthought of an afterthought. As for the bibles, who knows what kind of items they actually are. Rosaries are pretty darn common, even hundred year old sterling ones.

The mirror is a nice touch, but the matched set of stakes with added crosses is just expectoratable. The coffin handled (probably recently made in India) knife isn’t impressive if you know their source. The wooden maul is nice and at least it doesn’t have a ubiquitous cross lurking on its surface.

As for this … uh, offering’s attribution, “mid 19th century … personal lifetime collection” come on, it’s a bloody new assemblage. In the old days, auctioneers were supposed to be experts could be sued for fraud, but apparently no more. So what’s next, a rogue mummy hunting kit?

The modern origin of these kits is known and they can be a lot of fun if they are reasonably priced and not represented as being “original”, whatever that means these days.

For a little extra-credit fun, check out the plagiarism suit Dracula vs Nosferatu on this site. It puts a little extra mirth in the brass Nosferatu plate set into the vampire killing box.

Frankie D. said...

Wait, did they try to claim that was the original garlic?

Alex Renquist said...

A major error for this kit is the use of 'Nosferatu' which first appeared in Dracula. Not a real word for vampires.

Raven said...

@ Alex : See Nosferatu (word) - Origins of the name:

There is no doubt that it achieved popular currency through Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula and its unauthorised cinematic adaptation, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). Stoker identified his source for the term as 19th-century British author and speaker Emily Gerard. It is commonly thought that Gerard introduced the word into print in an 1885 magazine article, "Transylvanian Superstitions", and in her travelogue The Land Beyond the Forest. She merely refers to it as the Romanian word for vampire.... However, the word had already appeared in an 1865 German-language article by Wilhelm Schmidt. ...

[See also discussion of possible etymology.]