The accoutrement for the destruction of the Vampire
Wow, did they make me look scary? .. they tried! I remember this day so clearly, we were having an auction in the historic town of Grants Pass, Oregon. We spent an entire year preparing for this event. It was the day before Halloween I decided to put my fears and shyness aside and I marched into the local paper and asked if they would like to do a story about this unusual Vampire Killing Kit. I held it in my hands and I described to them the rarity of this item; the editor said ‘they had other stories planned and thanked me for bringing it in.
My response was, What? You’ve got to be kidding me. Those exact words formed over and over in my head. I stormed out of there and drove 30 miles to the next city. I pushed the buzzer to tell my story and said, “Look I’ve just come from the Grants Pass Courier and I have this Vampire Killing Kit from the 1800’s, it’s almost Halloween and the Courier had no interest so I am coming to you!” The buzzer sounded off and they replied with, “Come on up!” They put me on the front page of the Tribune, it went associated press and I even went on television! I guess the point is when the little voice goes off in your head, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” just keep knocking, there are definitely more doors to be opened!
Then there is item No. 282 which has created somewhat of a ruckus in the past few weeks. “Unusual Vampire Killing Kit”, circa 1880″ reads the official description. Unusual, yes and disconcerting too. The elegant wooden box holds hair-raising contents, including a pistol built within an 8-inch-long ivory crucifix, silver bullets and powder flask, a sharpened wooden stake, garlic flowers, and “Professor Blomberg’s new serum.” Professor Blomberg, it seemed, cornered the vampire-kit market last century. His written instructions assure that the accouterments within, protect against the “particular manifestation of evil known as Vampires” and that the purchaser is equipped to deal with them efficiently.” “We got a ton of phone calls about the kit. Just a ton,” said organizer, Chris Fain. “A couple of really strange calls, too. Somebody repeating the same phrase over and over, that sort of thing. Heck, we think our wristwatches and guns are the most interesting things on the lot.” Mr. Fain bought the vampire kit from a dealer in Portland who in turn found it in New York City. To date, only three others are known to exist. Two were in Rippley’s ‘Believe It or Not museums- one was stolen last year by thieves who also tore apart a display coffin. The other-called a “Vampire dispatching kit” – fetched $21,000 in a California auction a year ago. “Rumors that the buyer lived in Transylvania are unsubstantiated,” quipped America Collector magazine. The kits surface every so often. In 1989, ‘Guns and Ammo magazine ran an article called “Vampire Guns,” Which “bears no resemblance to any firearm design normally encountered.” The magazine verified that the kits, gunsmith, Nicolas Plomdeur crafted firearms in the mid-19th century Belgium. “I haven’t seen any of these kits myself,” said New York -based antiques maven, Terry Kovel. “But people collect everything you can imagine. Some are typical, some not. There are those who favor old medical items, or vintage drug paraphernalia like opium vials. Their taste is quite specific and they love the hunt, it’s a part of the collectible allure.”
The culture, Mr. Fain and Mrs. Kovel agree is almost tribal in nature. “Collectors happily build social lives around their beloved stuff,” said Mrs. Kovel. “I devoted 10 years of my life putting this sale together,” Mr. Fain said. “We’ve had inquires from all over the world that auction fever is going.” And the Vampire kit? “Maybe we’ll start the bidding around $10,000,” Mr Fain speculated. Maybe not. Its true value won’t be known until the auctions’ end.
A big thank you to Jenifer Harper – The Washinton Times.