‘Antique’ Vampire-Hunting Kits Sell for Thousands—but Most Are Pure ‘Gothic Fiction’

Spooky season is here—but for some people, spooky season is a year-round affair.

“In the absence of real artifacts, people made these kits that embody all the legends and things like silver bullets and essence of garlic,” Joel Kolander, who works at Rock Island Auction, told the Post. “They may not be authentic vampire-killing kits from the Victorian era, but they are still fascinating artifacts of this gothic fiction that people have loved for hundreds of years.”

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Last year, for example, Rock Island sold a kit with a cross-shaped pistol for $4,000. However, the company is careful to make sure that potential buyers know the truth about the collections, and that they’re usually part of that gothic fiction. In the description for the vampire-hunting kit sold in 2022, Rock Island wrote that “these kits were assembled in the 20th century using a mix of original, modified, and modern components.”

That sort of transparency is welcomed by people like the historian Jonathan Ferguson, who decided to start researching vampire-killing kits and their lore several years ago. While many people link the collections to the Victorian era—when Americans and Brits experienced something of a vampire panic—Ferguson found no actual link between that time period and the kits. Rather, the first evidence for one that he discovered was in the 1985 film Fright Night. He told The Washington Post that he thinks the movie inspired amateurs to put together their own collections.

Despite these facts, some vampire-killing sets are fetching top dollar at auction houses. Also last year, Hansons Auctioneers sold what it called a “late 19th century vampire slaying kit” for $20,000. Ferguson took a look at the collection before it was sold and has some doubts about its authenticity, but the auction house maintains that it really is of the period.

Whether it was actually used to kill any vampires? That’s up for debate, too.

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