Antique vampire-killing kit up for sale in SA
Are you having a problem with pesky vampires? Finally, there is a solution.
An antique vampire killing kit is up for sale in Johannesburg and it could be yours for about R170,000. The kit is available via private antiques dealer Matthew Parsons, who said the owner of the piece wanted to remain anonymous — but is a well known fine antiques collector in Johannesburg.
According to Parsons, the owner bought the kit off a Christies auction in 2010 for £6,000 (R122,000). But they now expect the kit to sell for R170,000 and upwards.
There is a market for original antique kits such as this one, especially in the US and Canada where they sell on auction for up to $26,000 (R380,000).
This, according to Parsons, is the only original kit in SA. It is listed as “used but in good condition”.
Prop kits became popular after the publication of John William Polidori's 1819 book The Vampyre and Bram Stoker’s 1897's Dracula. These kits, said Parsons, can be found abundantly online.
According to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, in 2011 a kit, including a map of Transylvania, fetched $25,000 (R369,000) at Sotheby’s. Another a year later sold for $13,750 (R203,000). In the latter case, the catalogue described it as “Continental, circa 1900 and later” and had no comment on whether it was made as a prop or not.
The museum also displays a vampire kit which is said to have been created as late as the 1950s.
But there is written evidence of these kits in the 1700s and originating in Eastern Europe where the vampire myth originated.
The Johannesburg kit is an original and the collection of items were once owned by a priest in Europe who's photograph comes in the mahogany box.
The kit contains a crucifix (to keep the undead away), daggers in the shape of the cross (a dagger to the heart will kill a vampire), a pistol and a clamp to make silver bullets (silver will kill the vampire). There is also a King James Bible from 1873 and four vials from 1875, and this is where the “used” comes in. The vials still contain terra sancta (holy ground), aqua sancta (holy water), garlic powder (vampires hate garlic) and serum, which is the blood of a dead person.
These are used with the glass syringe to inject a vampire. Parsons said the injector needle looks as if it has blood in it.
So far the kit has received 15 serious enquiries from buyers, mostly from Canada and the US. There were two people interested from SA.
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vampires are mythological creatures with large fangs and live off the blood of people. The encyclopedia says the exact time and origin of the myth cannot be pinpointed but that there are common traits besides the fangs which include the beasts being undead, or people who have died and somehow are alive again. They come out at night after resting in a coffin.
Many myths include that they do not have shadows and cannot be photographed or seen in mirrors.
Unfortunately for vampires — in modern times we do not use silver backings on mirrors and silver is no longer used in film, so we are able to see them in the mirror and photograph them. As for shadows — sunlight kills them so that shouldn't be an issue.
Back to the science.
According to the Britannica, monsters with vampiric characteristics appeared in ancient Greece but were most popular in Eastern Europe.
The encyclopedia says the tales of the walking corpses flourished in medieval Europe especially in times of disease. Researchers, it says, found that the characteristics of vampires could coincide with diseases at the time. Diseases like porphyria — which makes the sufferer sensitive to sunlight; TB, which causes wasting; pellagra which thins the skin; and rabies which can cause the sufferer to bite and be sensitive to strong scents — like garlic, and to sunlight.
Some believe that decomposition could have further enhanced these myths because during this time gums recede making the incisors look longer, and skin recedes from the head and fingers making it look like nails and hair have continued to grow. This could make people believe that the body is still alive despite the person being dead.
• If you are interested in owning this kit contact Matthew Parsons at [email protected]