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SYFY WIRE Vampires

Just add fresh garlic to this real-life, antique vampire-hunting kit headed for auction

By Jeff Spry
Vamp Hero

While most folks' summer vacation trips have been curtailed due to the ongoing pandemic, those planning on venturing into shadowy territory closer to home might want to inspect this intriguing antique vampire-hunting kit going up for auction from the collectors and historians at Hansons Auctioneers in Staffordshire, England.

“People are fascinated by stories of vampires, hence their continued appearance in films and on TV today," explains Hansons Auctioneers owner, Charles Hanson. "They have been part of popular culture for more than 200 years. The publication of John Polidori’s The Vampyre in 1819 had a major impact and that was followed by Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic Dracula. However, a belief in vampires and strange superstitions goes back even further and persists to this day. The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools."

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Packed with all the desired accoutrements necessary (except raw garlic) to ward off annoying bloodsuckers lurking in the dark, this handsome Nostferatu-slaying box, registered as Lot 3162, has a pre-auction estimate of $2,500-$3700 and is due to be sold to the highest bidder on July 21 in Hansons Antiques and Collectors Auction running July 16-21. 

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Ownership goes back to a West Midlands man wishing to remain anonymous.

“I know very little of its history," he told Hansons. "I have had it in my own collection for three years now. I bought it from a large antiques fair in Newark. I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it. I thought it was so interesting - a great conversation piece.”

Here's the official catalog description:

The lockable, velvet-covered box, lined with crimson silk, contains an oval enamel painting depicting the resurrection of Christ; carved ivory wolf in robes carrying rosary beads; percussion cap pocket pistol; cobalt blue glass phial with white metal lid (contents unknown); three clear and aqua glass bottles; rosary beads; three crucifixes; two sets of pliers; a pocket knife with mother-of-pearl handle and HM silver blade; a bottle containing shark's teeth, and a copy of The New Testament, Cambridge: J. W. Parker, 1842.

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While there's no way to determine with any degree of certainty whether or not these 19th century vampire-vanquishing relics of a more superstitious age were ever put to proper use, they do make fascinating curios that are true antiques carrying an air of Olde World foreboding. 

Many of the kits were marketed by a Boston mail-order firm that sold them to rich American tourists in the late-1800s venturing to Eastern Europe where they might encounter some nefarious supernatural beings with a penchant for fresh blood. This particular lot does have an interesting origin with many period correct items stashed inside its sturdy wooden box.

"The date this box was put together is a mystery, no way of knowing, but the component parts span around 120 years," Jim Spencer, Hansons' Associate Director, Head of Books & Works on Paper tells SYFY WIRE. "The box dates to the late 18th century, the New Testament was published in 1842, some of the bottles are late-Victorian, some are c.1910.

"We have no way of ascertaining when the kit was formed, but it is known that theatrical props were made up in the mid-20th century and even more recently. It would be nice to think of an Edwardian keeping this with a genuine fear of vampires, but we can only wonder! I guess the mystery is part of its charm. It's certainly a very beautiful and intriguing talking point."

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For more information on how to place bids on this ominous vampire-hunting kit, visit Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers HERE.