“You think I don’t watch your movies? You always come back.”

I was disappointed to see this ‘vampire killing kit’ surface again, not because it’s back on the market (previously sold by LiveAuctioneers.com on 9.6.2012), but because Christie’s Paris have either failed to do the proper research or are ignoring the work that I and others (see also Joe Nickell’s chapter in his ‘Man-Beasts’ book) have done in the last few years to expose these kits as modern novelties.

Google Translate makes this of Christie’s auction notes;

‘Witty (s), this singular set is an invitation to travel that immerses us in the Carpathians at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

It reminds us in particular to the publication in 1897 by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The whole of Europe is so passionate about the fantasy world of vampires. Very quickly, creating Stoker transcends and creates a real fascination. This is particularly important in the Carpathian Mountains, considered the territory of vampires.

Professor Ernst Bloomberg, with the support of Nicholas Plomdeur a gunsmith Liege, then creates a business of destroying vampires. A destination for travelers to Eastern Europe, they produce kits containing the necessary equipment to protect themselves from these evil creatures.

Examples of such boxes that have survived are rare, it is nevertheless one of Sotheby’s New York, 16 November 2011, lot 112.’

Blomberg (not Bloomberg guys) is fake, Plomdeur was nothing to do with kits, and they can’t seem to make up their minds whether the kits were produced for those genuinely afeared of vampires, or if they are ‘witty’ flights of fancy. Added to which, the kit appears in the Decorative Arts department! Which is it guys? Real? Vintage novelty? Modern art? Arguably the latter of those, but in reality there’s just no evidence for these things prior to 1986, and I generously push the possible date back to c1970 in my Fortean Times article and the above-linked blog entries.

Ah well, maybe I have more work ahead of me!



8 thoughts on ““You think I don’t watch your movies? You always come back.”

  1. A young person of my acquaintance recently revealed to me some of the more accessible mysteries of ‘Steam Punk’. I see from that impeccable source (hmm), Wikipaedia, that the term was first used in the 1980s. Your vampire kits seem to have substantial common ground with this cultural phenomenon: a cod Victorianism; a preoccupation with rather whimsical ‘technology’; a vague Gothicism. Do you think that there might be a connection?

    1. Definitely in the spirit of steampunk i.e. creative anachronism and literary inspiration, but lacking the crucial science fiction influence I think.

  2. I have a friend who makes these for Steampunks. The kit includes a faux provenance. If these can fool Christies valuers then it doesn’t say very much about them.

    He and his wife also make other costumes and props for aficionados.

    1. Those sold at auction by the big houses are VERY convincing, in fact impossible to discern from a real kit (if one ever existed) without x-ray, dye analysis etc, and even then some would still leave room for doubt. That’s partly why I took the folkore/fiction survey approach to see what other evidence for their existence there might be.

      1. My friend does use components he finds in antique shops etc. So they are genuine in that respect.

        One thing that gets me about the set in the link above is that they say the kit dates from late 19th/ early 20th century, which would make the pistol included an odd choice.

        It is clearly a muzzle loader with percussion cap. Metallic cartridges were well established in military and civilian use by this time. Metallic cartridges would be more reliable, a key factor if you are going up against the supernateral surely.

        Where is the powder flask? There is a bullet mould, but there doesn’t appear to be a full cleaning kit for the pistol, ie brushes and a spanner.

      2. Hi Nash,

        An excellent point, and one I don’t think I’ve explicitly made myself. As much as the auctioneers emphasise Dracula as the likely impetus for the creation of these kits, various things are at odds with this date and that version of the mythos – the tiny stakes, the silver bullets, or the inclusion of a pistol at all, for that matter. And yes, the fact that the pistol is a muzzleloader. These pistols are likely chosen for several reasons – 1) They’re cheaper and more easily obtained than most cartridge pistols, 2) The depiction of a silver bullet being cast for a small pistol in ‘The Satanic Rites of Dracula’ (1973 – for me a pivotal point in vampire slaying tech!) probably led people to assume that the Deringer used must be a muzzleloader, and 3) the fact that in most countries, metallic cartridge firearms require a licence, making a kit with a muzzleloader much more widely saleable.

        There is, however, a flask in the kit. Zoom in, pan right – it’s there, lying on its narrow side, a Sheffield-style copper flask, mid-C19th. There may even be some other accoutrements, though most kits don’t bother – another sign that they are novelty items. Your mention of a spanner is important here though – these pistols, as you clearly know, were loaded by removing the barrels using a wrench/spanner, not from the actual muzzle. For there to be no means of achieving this, nor even a space for this tool in any of the kits (that I can recall) suggests once again that they are novelty items, and ones likely put together outside the useful period of muzzleloading weapons. I.e. anyone building a kit even in the late C19th ought to have known about the spanner, and any gunmaker supplying components to a putative kit maker, would have supplied all the necessary accoutrements.

        Just one more reason why these are second half of the C20th. Still wonderful, though.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s