The following is an excerpt of If You Like True Blood… by Dave Thompson, as it was posted on Bookgasm.com. Visit their site to read an excerpt from the same book, this one titled “A Little Gothic Interlude.”

In October 2004, Sotheby’s auction house catalogued, and sold for $26,400, what was described as: “a vampire killing kit circa 1900. The walnut box with brass lock and red plush fitted interior contained a wood stake, a double barrel pistol, nine bullets, six bullet cloths, an ivory-mounted wood crucifix, serum and a lidded tin containing powdered flowers of garlic.”

Seven years later, a similar kit sold at the same house for an almost equally remarkable $25,000, and visitors to the various Ripley’s Believe It or Not “odditoriums” scattered around the world can see up to forty more of these fascinating items on public display.

More lurk on eBay; many more are still being manufactured, or at least fabricated from sundry antique items, today. Vampire killing kits are big business, and have been ever since …

… ever since when? Since Bram Stoker’s Van Helsing first went abroad armed with “something like a cricketing bag,” filled with the many and varied tools of his trade? Before that, in the wilds of the European East, perhaps; after that, in the golden age of manic merchandising, for certain. According to an investigation in the Fortean Times magazine in spring 2012, the earliest printed reference to an actual “real life” vampire killing kit is less than thirty years old, appearing in a House of Swords and Militaria mail-order catalog in the mid-1980s.

This is not to say that people were not making, and using, such kits years, decades, or centuries before then. Just that such specialist tools are probably best regarded as the property of specialist workers. People who really do hunt vampires for a living, people who really do need a monogrammed Gladstone bag. People whose name is Van Helsing.

Or Buffy.

Or even the Fellowship of the Sun.

Read “A Little Gothic Interlude” from the same book on Bookgasm.com!


If You Like True Blood… is a popular history of vampires in classical and popular culture, by an author who has been reading and watching such things since high school, and who seriously believes The Hunger is one of the best things David Bowie has ever done.



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on June 6, 2013, in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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