Vampires Rising From The Dead

Vampires Rising From The Dead  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Garth’s Auctions.

I can’t say I ever knowingly met a vampire but who knows I could be frequenting the wrong places. 

I read where Ripley’s Museum has the largest collection of authentic vampire killing kits. 

Supposedly these vampire kits were assembled for wealthy folks in the mid-19th and early-20th century who were getting ready to visit Europe, specifically Eastern Europe and Transylvania.

Authentic?  As compared to what?  This makes me nervous. 

Supposedly these vampire kits were assembled for wealthy folks in the mid-19th and early-20th century who were getting ready to visit Europe, specifically Eastern Europe and Transylvania. 

Maybe the place was crawling with gruesome ghouls.  Who knows?  How many of us ever talked to anybody who was there? 

Now it’s starting to make sense.  Some of these vampire killing kits look pretty darn real too.  Hardly toys.   

I saw my share of Count Dracula movies as a kid and still have a vision of the eyes blazing,  bloodthirsty, bloodsucking, Bela Lugosi embossed in my psyche.  I decided right then and there—I wasn’t taking any chances.

If I could have mustered up the cash to buy my own vampire killing kit after viewing him as Count Dracula it would have been stashed right under my bed next to my tennis shoes. Just in case.

Talk about the stuff of nightmares.  After his death, visitors to the funeral home where Bela Lugosi’s body was on view were surprised to find his corpse in full Dracula attire, complete with cape, tuxedo and medallion.  Lugosi’s eyebrows were darkened and his hair was dyed and slimmed with that same black sheen.   

I blame it all on Bram Stoker and his 1897 “Dracula” book.  He fed the beast.  It wasn’t an instant bestseller, the book sort of crept into people’s radar the way Lugosi’s vision crept into mine.  What was Stoker thinking?

The whole mess supposedly started in 1725 a few weeks after Peter Plogojowitz died.  He supposedly lived in the Serbian village of Kisilova.  It seems nine of Plogojowitz”s fellow villagers died of some mysterious illness after claiming he visited them during the night and tried to kill them. That was all the remaining villagers had to hear. 

They dug up his body, jammed a sharpened stake through his heart and burned his corpse.  Just in case.

Nobody needs to have their neck drained. 

And who gave vampires those weird powers of being able to transform themselves into bats at the blink of an eye?  

What about the whole sunlight thing?  The movie industry, not Stoker, decided Dracula had to be in his coffin at the first hint of the sun’s rays or he’d melt or something.  There was always that last minute rush to hop back into the coffin. 

And how many of us really know how to protect ourselves against these unwanted bloodsuckers?  Or, better yet, destroy one? 

I’d wager not many. 

That being said, maybe these vampire killing kits with their wooden stakes, Bibles, crucifixes, pistols, silver bullets, gunpowder, garlic and glass vials aren’t someone’s idea of a practical joke.

On Nov. 27 Garth’s Auctioneers offered a vampire killing kit in its auction.  

The fitted oak box had a label in the lid for Professor Blomberg’s kit and lists a  percussion pistol with accouterments, wooden stake, cross and several vials with labels including “Holy Water.”  The kit sold for $999.

The auction catalog states these vampire killing kits were possibly novelty kits sold in European hotels and exhibitions to tourists and curiosity seekers.  Almost all of these examples, they say, have labels by the fabricated “Professor Ernst Blomberg.” 

A hoax?  Notice they said possibly?  There’s wiggle room here.

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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