Vampire killing kits from the 19th Century

Vampire-hunting gear

By Mark Frauenfelder


Deanna of Collector's Quest wrote about 19th Century vampire killing kits.

These are expensive kits, made for the wealthy; not some cheap and cheesy plastic novelty items. Such luxury concedes a seriousness -- a deadly seriousness. These items were made to address deep, dark, primal fears. And then, like our fears often are, they were not thrown away but stored in equally dark and out of the way places... Antique wooden killing kits in the attics of old houses, just waiting for the day when the creatures creep from the attics of our minds.

Fascinated, I spoke with Dwight Stevens, of Stevens Auction Company, on the phone yesterday about the antique piece of vampire history.

"I don't believe in vampires -- I've never met one. But somebody believed in them, something drove people to believe... From New Orleans to Vicksburg, these old boxes remain." Stevens has sold four vampire killing kits in his 27 years as an auctioneer, most recently selling one a year ago, in Natchez, Mississippi, for $1485.

Antique Vampire Killing Kits

Published 11:30 am Thu, Oct 15, 2009

About the Author

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the founding editor-in-chief of MAKE. He is editor-in-chief of Cool Tools and co-founder of Wink Books. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects

19 Responses to “Vampire killing kits from the 19th Century”

  1. demidan says:

    I have ran into a couple of vampire kits in the antique shops along Royal st. in New Orleans, both were about $15,000. Each time the high price was explained away because of rarity, rarity and quality. I would have loved to pick one up, but,,,.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that the vast majority of “Vampire killing kits” are decidedly fake. Buyer beware!

  3. Matt Staggs says:

    I’m deeply skeptical of these vampire killing kits. I suspect that at least some of them were assembled out of individual items of comparatively little value by contemporary antiques dealers. Also, I’m no historian, but I’ve lived down south all of my life and I’ve never ran across any authentic vampire legends, yet these kits keep turning up here.

  4. Antinous / Moderator says:

    It’s fake. That case was obviously made to hold quidditch balls.

  5. Brainspore says:

    “Dracula” was cobbled together from various folklore in 1897, so any kit that looks like Dr. Van Helsing’s personal attaché case should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Take a look at the auction company’s web site- it’s not exactly something that communicates rigorous authenticity and professionalism.

  6. Lobster says:

    What’s the tiny little coffin for?

    • Anonymous says:

      The little coffin was used to hold the Silver Bullets also supplied in the kit.I was the under bidder on this kit and did buy the 3rd one that Stevens has auctioned in the March 28,2009 Auction.

  7. Spookyland says:

    Now, now. Let’s not go calling this a fake without a close inspection. The fact that it is not an Ernst Blomberg Vampire Kit makes authenticity slightly more likely. However, I can’t really imagine this kit pre-dating the publication of Dracula (1897) by 40 years, since vampires had not achieved their peak notoriety until then.

    The inclusion of a heavy cleaver and cudgel suggests they were serious about decapitating the undead at least….

    Mr. Spooky

  8. LuckyFink says:

    Though I’m unable to site it at the moment, it is said that the first “vampire hunting kit” was actually assembled by a particular man (whose name I forget) who dealt in antique arms in the early 20th century. He had a small pepperbox derringer that he couldn’t get rid of, and so he threw together a few antiques with it, and wrote a fake how to to go with the kit. Every kit since then is just another forgery of the original kit.
    Hell, even I’ve got a few vampire hunting kits (I own a sideshow, and mine are all modern fabrication). It’s not hard to find antiques of that period and throw them together.
    I’ll search later today to find something to site.

  9. cinemajay says:

    Maybe that headline should have quotes around “from”.

  10. Grant says:

    I know someone that makes similar Vampire kits. Here is his website:

    One of his boxes is for sale at an art show in DC this weekend:

  11. Anonymous says:

    If these kits are real, they are clearly ineffective. If they worked, vampires would have been eliminated a century ago, instead of the current epidemic cluttering up our televisions and bookstores.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Totally fake. My mother has that same EXACT crucifix, it’s from the 50s, not the 1800s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then the crucifix your mother has is not from the 1950’s, but the 1800’s. I deal in religious antiques and the fact that the crucifix has the skull of Adam dates it into the 19th century.

  13. Chelvis says:

    vampire vampire, fookin vampire!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another collection of antique objects thrown in a box and sold for 4-5 times what they would be worth on their own…

    Depending on the brand and condition, that pistol might be had for $125 or less at a gun show

    Is there any period literature on these things? NO. One would think that some victorian journalist somewhhere, desperate for copy would have written an article about these ofr the people who made them?

    My guess is that any genuinely old ones were put together around the time of the Dracula stage production with Bela Lugosi, just before the film came out in 1931

  15. ChrisPFlorida says:

    A colleague of mine has been building Vampire Killing Kits as props for stage, movies and collectors since the 1950s. He apparently got the idea from one he saw at a Ripley’s museum 50+ years ago. That pretty much blows the DeWinter assertion out of the water. He sells his kits as replicas and props – never tries to mislead anyone as to their authenticity. Photos of his art can be seen at

  16. Anonymous says:

    Just saw one of these on an antique auction show. I cannot believe anyone would think these things are real.

    Now…I CAN believe that in 19th century Romania, there would be people who’d be making and purchasing these.

    If I saw one with the regional language on the labels instead of ENGLISH, I might be persuaded to think it an original.

    I think these are creative souvenirs put together by creative people who currently are banking on the new vampire popularity brought about by Anne Rice.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know how authentic these are, but I can tell you two museum that have them in their collections, if you want to go and see one. I assume they date to at least the early 20th century.

    I seen the kit at the Ripley’s museum down in St. Augustine FL about 5 years ago. I know there is also on display at the Mercer museum in Bucks County, PA.

    Anybody know of one held else where?