VAMPIRE HUNTER KITS
Just as there are legends of vampires dating back to the earliest times there are also legends of the people who hunted and slayed them. Vampires have long been regarded as a menace to society, feeding off of the weak and innocent. It was the vampire hunter's job to rid the world of these blood-sucking creatures. Believe it or not, vampire hunters might have been even more real (if that's possible) than vampires themselves.
A Very Real Belief in Vampires, Spanning Cultures
Many of us today believe that vampires are just a part of fictional imagination. They are a character in a movie...or the plot of another paranormal romance novel. But if we were to travel back in time to ancient parts of the world, we would see that a superstitious belief in vampires was very real (and in some countries still is), and it was not something to be taken lightly. They looked nothing like the romanticized, handsome versions of vampires we have today. In fact, they were monstrous and grotesque in comparison, with glowing red eyes and mangled wings. Your worst nightmare wrapped up into one creature.
Fast forward some ten centuries or so and we see that during the Inquisition, thousands of people were put to death for their supposed involvement in witchcraft. How does this relate to vampires? Well, during the same time the hunt for vampires was at an all-time high in history. There were people out hunting and accusing "witches", and there were real vampire hunters parading around slaying what they claimed to be the undead.
One of the most intriguing mysteries of the 18th century involves the manufacturing and selling of vampire killing kits. Several vampire hunter kits have turned up in recent years, and some have sold for exorbitant amounts of money. The true origin of these vampire kits is shrouded in mystery.
Although it can’t be 100 percent proven, there seems to be historical evidence that vampire hunting kits became popular in western Europe after the release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Superstitious travelers would supposedly purchase these vampire killer kits in preparation for their perilous travels to Eastern Europe.
More likely intended as souvenirs for rich novelty collectors, these kits would typically include garlic, a bible, stakes, crosses, silver bullets, and glass vials that held various concoctions to ward off vampires. Interestingly, a few vampire hunter kits have shown up with artifacts that predate Bram Stoker’s Dracula and other written accounts of vampires, pointing to the strong oral history component of the vampire legacy.
Vampire Hunter Kits
Usually the contents of the kit would be contained in a chest-like box with various compartments. Each kit consisted of the typical anti-vampire tools. Today these vintage vampire slaying kits are being sold for more than six-thousand pounds.
The syringe was used to inject the vampires with liquid garlic or one of the many potions and serums included in the kit.
The wooden hammer included in the kits was used to drive the stakes into the vampires. Some hammers had a crucifix embedded into the head. Roughly six to seven inches long (depending on the kit), the hammer was a vital tool for slaying.
The garlic came in a variety of different consistencies and was often referred to as "Usturoi". Either whole cloves, powder, or liquid, depending on the kit. The cloves were most likely worn by the slayer for protection. The powder was used as a mace-like substance, intended for blinding or disorienting the vampire. The liquid could be put into a syringe and injected into the vampire's blood stream.
The stakes were driven into the hearts of the vampires. Often vampire slaying would consist of digging up the grave of the alleged vampire and driving a stake through the corpse, pinning it to the ground. Some stakes were shaped as crosses, having a crucifix attached to the top and a point at the bottom. Others were cylindrical shaped with a point at one end and the symbol of the cross etched into the top.
Prayer Book and Bible
Mostly used for protecting the slayer, they were also used for performing exorcisms on vampires or demons.
The symbol of god was the slayer's most useful tool. Often attached to a chain for ease of access, the crucifix was used mostly during prayer and exorcisms. The crucifix was usually made out of silver. This material was believed to be a extremely potent and unfavorable for the vampire.
Weapons and Ammunition
Each kit contained ranged and hand-to-hand weapons to battle the beasts.
Knives and Daggers
Various knives were included in different kits. Some were used for throwing while others were specifically used for close combat.
Revolvers and Bullets
Revolvers in the kits came with gunpowder and silver bullets. The silver in the bullets was believed to be what actually harmed the vampire.
Crossbow and Bolts
Crossbows were another useful ranged tool. The bolt's tip was also made of silver.
Bottled Vampire Repellents
The kits also included a variety of different oils, ointments and other holy substances.
Also known as holy soil, pamant was used for ceremonial purposes. Like holy water, it was the blessing of the soil which gave it the holy title. Pamant was either placed on the grave or body of the accused vampire.
Agheazma, better known as Holy Water, was also used in ceremonies. Either sprinkled on the slayer for protective purposes or used to harm the alleged vampire.
Mir is more well known for its reputation of being one of the three gifts given to the son of god. It was an anointing oil which would be placed on either the slayer or vampire.
Tamaie was holy incense. The distinct smell given off by the object was used in ceremony, whether it be used for protection or to ward off the evil spirit which lay in the vampire's body.
Used for ceremonies like exorcisms, prayers, and seeing in the dark.
Metal Teeth Pliers
The metal teeth pliers were used to remove the fangs of vampires. Also known as the Dentol, this tool was between 5-8 inches long were basically a pair of metal pliers.
It is clear that a lot of the old vampire killing kits on the market are attributed to a Professor Ernst Blomberg (with firearms assistance by Nicholas Plomdeur), apparently in the early-to-mid 19th century. By most assessments, these are regarded as tourist vampire killing kits - that is, kits produced for tourist purposes before 1900.
Through research these two people Blomberg and Plomdeur have been proved to be real. Though it is unknown if they tried out any of the kits themselves.
Professor Ernest Freiherr von Blomberg
Ernst Freiherr von Blomberg did indeed exist, and served as a Professor of Zoology at the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences) at Lübeck. The faded yellow picture presented here has also been confirmed as a picture of the historical Professor Blomberg, although it is not clear where the original photo resides.
The photograph was described as 'autographed,' although no indication of a signature is apparent on the front of the picture. If it refers to a hand-written name on the back of the photograph (naming Blomberg), it actually strengthens the claim of authenticity, as such photographs were commonly labelled on the reverse side (often by family members), typically in the flowing cursive script common in those days. Today, this would indeed look like an 'autograph.' Subsequent evidence has largely confirmed that this photograph does indeed represent Ernst Blomberg.
In the library of the Universität zu Lübeck, there are several courses from one Professor Ernest Freiherr von Blomberg, who was a Professor of Zoology from 1856 until 1903, the year he died. The man seems to have had an obsession with shapeshifters and other creatures alike, for he wrote a rather unreadable book on it, "Die Verwandlung im Prinzipus: Tiere une Maenschen und Ihre Gottlose Vereinen", ed. 1869. This book is real, the man is real and his decendents are also real.
There is actually a fair amount of evidence supporting a historic gunmaker named Plomdeur. Nicolas (Vivarro/Vivario) Plomdeur was a gunsmith from Liege (Belgium) between 1836 and 1863, but started to work in Paris around the 1850's. He also participated in London's Great Exhibition of 1851 (lot 146, pair of pistols with ebony stocks), documented in the official catalog of the event (Volume 4, page 1156), by Great Exhibition, Robert Ellis, Great Britain, 1851.
There is no question that people are putting together modern forgery vampire killing kits (and often selling them for thousands), but there are also specific assertions that there were never any authentic antique vampire killing kits.
The Survival Arts website published an extended discussion on the topic beginning in 2005, which continues still. In it, all responsibility for the creation of Ernst Blomberg is claimed by Michael de Winter of Torquay, United Kingdom (December 2004) as a scheme hatched in 1972 to sell a substandard vintage pistol.
Hi there! You should know that all the quotes on your site are a load of codswallop. The reason is this: The whole VAMPIRE KILLING KIT myth is purely the result of my very fertile imagination and I produced "The Original" in 1972. Nicolas Plomdeur the Gunsmith in Liege and Professor Ernst Blomberg are not and have never been real people. I still have an original copy of the label from the box and am astounded to learn how my joke has caused so much interest and "FAKERY"
"My story starts in or around 1970 when I was employed in the printing industry. My hobby was buying, selling and refurbishing antique guns. I sold mainly at the famous Portobello Market in London. My usual stock of guns for sale was only 10-20 at any one time and these tended to be of superior quality. I had a number of regular clients who arrived every week to see if I had any new stock. One of my regulars wanted a fine flintlock pistol and asked me to take in part exchange a Belgian percussion pocket pistol. I grudgingly agreed and allowed him £15.00 off the price of the flintlock.
So, here it is, a poor quality pocket pistol in mediocre condition! What to do with it? That was my question. Having an extremely fertile imagination and being an avid reader, I was inspired. It occurred to me that I could produce something unique that would be a great advertising gimmick and would attract people to my stall. The Vampire Killing Kit was on its way.
I had recently been reading a nineteenth century book on the manufacturing of various types of guns, specifically percussion and the language of the book helped me in my setting up of the label for the kit. I was very careful to produce an item, which as it was unique was also as perfect as I could make it. The type used for the heading of the label was very old and whilst not Victorian, nevertheless was acceptable to that period. I hand set the label myself and the copy I used was printed on a hand operated press using the fly leaf of a book printed in 1850.
Regarding Professor Ernst Blomberg and the Gunmaker of Liege, Nicholas Plomdeur, both these gentlemen were figments of my imagination and I was amazed to find mention on a Website of Nicholas Plomdeur’s early career in Paris.
A breakdown of the kit follows
(1) Good quality Victorian Walnut Box
(2) Unnamed box lock pocket pistol with Liege proof marks
(3) Silver Bullets. These were difficult to produce due to the higher melting point of silver when compared to lead
(4) Powdered flowers of garlic in an original Victorian medicine bottle
(5) A wooden stake with a silver point
(6) Professor Blomberg’s Serum: produced in Harley Street, London, made from mainly fluorescing salts. In an original Victorian medicine bottle
(7) An original ivory crucifix
(8) The pistol accessories, including a solid silver gunpowder flask, an original bullet mould, box of percussion caps, etc.
As can be seen from the above, no expense was spared, enabling me to produce a totally unique item. Can’t possibly be a fake can it! This was not a copy of anything that existed. To encourage interest, I priced the kit at £1000, believing that it would cause some interest, but certainly put anyone off buying it. On the first day at Portobello Road, I loaned the kit to a friend who specialised in the weird and wonderful. A well known Hollywood Star, who was best known for his ‘hammy’ horror roles expressed a lot of interest in it, but said he couldn’t afford it. Well, it soon did sell and it occurred to me that I had really got my horror stories mixed up: wooden stakes and garlic are ok to combat vampires, but silver bullets are for werewolves; aren’t they?
So, that’s how it all started, I seem to have spawned a lovely silly myth and I wonder how many of “Professor Blomberg’s Vampire Killing Kits” are around. It is interesting to note that the majority of kits produced use both of my invented persons, ie Professor Blomberg and Nicholas Plomdeur. Additionally they seem to like my phraseology, ie, use of words such as populace and manifestations of evil. What this shows of course, is that they are all copies of my original and that includes the kit which fetched $12,000 at Sothebys and the kit which fetched $21,000 in the States."
It should be noted that de Winter's long standing claims are partially discredited by the confirmation of an historic vampirist Ernst Blomberg and gunmaker Plomdeur, despite his assertion that "both these gentlemen were figments of my imagination." However, his stated involvement in both printing and antique firearms would make him uniquely qualified to produce a credible fake Blomberg vampire killing kit.
- In 2003, Sotheby’s, the famed New York City auction house, sold a vampire killer kit for $12,000. Several days later, another kit brought a staggering $20,300.
- In 2008, Stevens Auction Company of Aberdeen, Mississippi, offered a vampire killer kit from the Jimmy Pippen estate. The winning bid was $14,850..
- On Halloween, October 31, 2009, Stevens Auction Company offered yet another vampire killer kit, this one from the Port Gibson, Mississippi, estate of the late Miss Isabel Person. Housed in a rosewood case with mother-of-pearl inlay and containing such items as a prayer book, silver occult dagger, pistol, cleaver, wooden stake, crucifix, holy water vials and silver bullets in a coffin-style box, this kit fetched $8,800.