David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

in case of vampire, break glass

via BoingBoing, I was alerted to the existence of Vampire Hunter Kits. According to Wired's blog (which has a picture of one such kit),

Auction hounds are snapping up "vampire killing kits" and "vampire hunting kits" manufactured by a nineteenth century quack named Ernst Blomberg. The kits, which have been found in Australia and sold by at least two auction houses (including Southebys, reportedly for $12,000), include silver bullets, a wooden stake, holy water, and other important vampire-destroying items.

The contents of the kit also included a pistol, powdered garlic, "flour of brimstone" (powdered sulfur?), an ivory crucifix, and "Professor Blomberg's New Serum."

You may, or may not, have the same gut reaction I did: "Hey, wait a minute." That's what a modern vampire hunter might pack (with the silver bullets in case you run into a werewolf), but it's not what a 19th-century vampire hunter would carry. Dracula met his death by bowie knife, Carmilla was hacked up with an axe (I think), Varney threw himself into Mount Vesuvius, and Lord Ruthven got clean away when Polidori got writer's block. If you go back to the lore (Montague Summers's fascinating THE VAMPIRE IN EUROPE is a wonderful source), you'll see that the way we think of vampires, and killing them, is most strongly based on 1) Stoker's novel and 2) the movies it inspired. My immediate strong suspicion was that the kit was a modern hoax.

WIRED mentioned that a kit had been auctioned on Gunbroker.com a few years ago, and included a link to the Survival Arts thread about it. What they didn't mention was that in that thread, a commenter named Michael de Winter claimed not only that the vampire killing kits were a hoax, but that he'd started the whole thing.

My story starts in or around 1970 when I was employed in the printing industry. My hobby was buying, selling and refurbishing antique guns. I sold mainly at the famous Portobello Market in London. My usual stock of guns for sale was only 10-20 at any one time and these tended to be of superior quality. I had a number of regular clients who arrived every week to see if I had any new stock. One of my regulars wanted a fine flintlock pistol and asked me to take in part exchange a Belgian percussion pocket pistol. I grudgingly agreed and allowed him £15.00 off the price of the flintlock.

So, here it is, a poor quality pocket pistol in mediocre condition! What to do with it? That was my question. Having an extremely fertile imagination and being an avid reader, I was inspired. It occurred to me that I could produce something unique that would be a great advertising gimmick and would attract people to my stall. The Vampire Killing Kit was on its way. . . .
I hand set the label myself and the copy I used was printed on a hand operated press using the fly leaf of a book printed in 1850.

He noted that the other kits out there use the names he invented and much of the text. "What this shows of course, is that they are all copies of my original and that includes the kit which fetched $12,000 at Sothebys and the kit which fetched $21,000 in the States."

Caveat emptor! (But a great story, if true.)
Tags: guns, history

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