Vampire hunting kits, allegedly from the nineteenth century, have done the rounds in auctions, fetching high prices. But there's questions surrounding their authenticity. Are they legit?
I first read about these things in J. Gordon Melton's The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead (Detroit: Visible Ink, 1994). Here's what he had to say about 'em:
No discussion of vampire products would be complete without mentioning the several anti-vampire kits. The first such kit was alleged to have been produced by Nicolas Plomdeur, a gunmaker in Leige, Belgium, in the mid-nineteenth century. His kit included a real pistol made in the shape of a latin cross, a silver bullet, a wooden spike, powder flask, and a clove of garlic. The only known surviving example of the Plomdeur kit is owned by Val Forgett of the Navy Arms Co. A similar kit can be found in the Mercer Museum at Doylestown, Pennsylvania. This kit's wooden box contains a pistol, two silver bullets, a cross attached to a wooden stake, a magnifying glass, some garlic, and several "serums" especially formulated by the kit's manufacturer, reputedly a Dr. Ernst Blomberg. The kit was reportedly designed for nineteenth-century English-speaking travelers going to Eastern Europe (458).Melton's used two magazine articles as his source for this info:
But I was still somewhat skeptical of the authenticity of such kits. After all, where were the contemporary references to their usage? The items, themselves, seem seem suspicious. As The Concrete Tomb of Hradzka notes:
You may, or may not, have the same gut reaction I did: "Hey, wait a minute." That's what a modern vampire hunter might pack (with the silver bullets in case you run into a werewolf), but it's not what a 19th-century vampire hunter would carry. Dracula met his death by bowie knife, Carmilla was hacked up with an axe (I think), Varney threw himself into Mount Vesuvius, and Lord Ruthven got clean away when Polidori got writer's block. If you go back to the lore (Montague Summers's fascinating THE VAMPIRE IN EUROPE is a wonderful source), you'll see that the way we think of vampires, and killing them, is most strongly based on 1) Stoker's novel and 2) the movies it inspired.A startling answer to that quandary might've come in 2005, from a firearms hobbyist named Michael de Winter:
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.Then how does one account for the Belgian gunmaker, Nicolas Plomdeur, and Dr. Ernst Blomberg?:
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.
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.Nonetheless, some express doubt with de Winter's confession. A thorough investigation of the claims about various Blomberg (and Plomdeur) kits can be read at Spooky Land. However, general consensus holds that the kits are fake, even if some possibly preclude de Winter.
There are too many anachronistic and urban legend-like elements in the stories behind the kits. Cited documents associated with their makers can not be traced, while others are revealed as outright frauds. If that doesn't attest to the fakeness of these things, I dunno what will.