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Vampire killing kit

Vampire killing kit at the Royal Armouries

A vampire killing kit is a box containing various items commonly associated with killing vampires.[1] While often presented as 19th-century items, they are believed to date to the second half of the 20th century at the earliest.[1][2]

Dating

The earliest known documentation of a kit is as a prop in the 1985 film Fright Night.[1] A kit appeared for sale at auction in the United States the following year.[3] Essentially, Ferguson determined, these kits were compiled in response to a mid-20th-century craze for the Hammer horror movies.[4]

A different kit was donated to the Mercer Museum in the 1980s.[5] One kit was sold in 2022 that was attributed to Malcolm Hailey, 1st Baron Hailey, who died in 1969, with the auction house stating that they received it from one of his descendants.[1] There is, however, no period documentation supporting his ownership of this kit.[1]

The presence of claimed silver bullets in a number of the kits makes them unlikely to be pre-20th century since silver bullets were not associated with vampire killing before that point.[6] Jonathan Ferguson, Keeper of Firearms and Artillery at the Royal Armouries Museum, has argued that the contents of the kits are not consistent with the popular perception of vampire killing prior to the 1970s.[7]

Contents

The items within vampire killing kits often date to the 19th century, although they may be combined with items such as paper labels that are significantly more recent.[1][8]

The kit in the collection of the Royal Armouries contains a pocket pistol dating from around the middle of the 19th century, wooden stakes with a mallet, a crucifix, jars for holy water, soil and garlic, a rosary, and an 1851 Book of Common Prayer.[3] The case has been assessed as dating to around 1920, although the full kit was likely assembled circa 1970 or later.[9]

The kit in the collection of the Mercer Museum was subject to analysis by X-ray fluorescence, which revealed the kit's silver bullets were made from pewter with no silver content.[8] In addition to the pewter bullets, this kit contained a more conventional lead bullet, a gun, a bullet mold, a powder horn, an ivory cross, magnifying glass, a glass vial, and a glass syringe.[8]

Sales at auction

Kits have sold for prices in the thousands with one in 2010 selling at auction for £6,000 and another in 2012 for £7,500.[10] The kit linked to Baron Hailey sold for £19,600.[1] Many of the so-called vampire slaying kits that turn up at auction or even in museum collections are attributed to a “Professor Ernst Blomberg” and the gunmaker “Nicholas Plomdeur.” An article by Vamped[11] discovered message board posts by a man who confessed to have invented both men to provide a convincing historical background for the vampire killing kits he began putting together in 1979.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kindy, Dave (30 October 2023). "Antique vampire-killing kits sell big at auction. They're mostly fake". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 October 2023. 
  2. ^ Ferguson, Jonathan (14 November 2014). "History at Stake! The Story Behind Vampire Slaying Kits". blogs.bl.uk. British Library. Archived from the original on 30 October 2023. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Cased set - Vampire killing kit - 20th Century". royalarmouries.org. Royal Armouries. Archived from the original on 30 October 2023. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  4. ^ a b Cascone, Sarah (2022-07-15). "A Vampire-Hunting Kit Purportedly From the 19th Century Sells for $20,000 in the U.K., Exploding Its Meager $2,400 Estimate". Artnet News. Retrieved 2023-11-29.
  5. ^ Ortiz, Aimee (18 July 2020). "How to Kill a Vampire: Not With This Kit, Apparently". New York Times. Archived from the original on 4 November 2023. Retrieved 4 November 2023. 
  6. ^ Ferguson, Jonathan. "Silver Bullets and Vampires". basc.org.uk. British Association for Shooting and Conservation. Archived from the original on 31 October 2023. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  7. ^ Jonathan Ferguson. Behold, the Vampire-Killing Kit | Object of Intrigue | Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura. Event occurs at 3:00-3:35. Archived from the original on 5 November 2023. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  8. ^ a b c "Vampire Killing Kit". treasuresontrial.winterthur.org. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. Archived from the original on 31 October 2023. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  9. ^ Jonathan Ferguson. Behold, the Vampire-Killing Kit | Object of Intrigue | Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura. Event occurs at 2:45-3:00. Archived from the original on 5 November 2023. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  10. ^ Honey, Luke (6 October 2023). "What are vampire slaying kits and how to collect them". Homes & Antiques. Archived from the original on 5 November 2023. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  11. ^ "Another 'Blomberg' Sold: Business as Usual in the 'Antique' Vampire Killing Kit Trade – Vamped". 2014-11-22. Retrieved 2023-11-29.
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Vampire killing kit
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