It feels like the world is on fire a lot of the time, more so in the last few years what with the climate crisis, global pandemics, and unthinkable human rights being rolled back. But do we need to start preparing for the vampire apocalypse? Someone clearly thinks so.
A mysterious “vampire-slaying kit” went up for auction at British auctioneers Hansons last week and after a fierce bidding war from international would-be buyers, it sold for nearly $16,000, six times the estimated price.
Why so determined, guys?
According to Charles Hanson, the owner of the auctioneers, the kit originally belonged to a British peer, Lord William Malcolm Hailey, 1st Baron Hailey (1872-1969). Oxford-educated and a Peer of the Realm, was Lord Hailey in a position to know things ordinary folks did not? More likely the popularity of John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), which in turn inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), sparked an interest, but we can respect hedging your bets.
So what comes in a 19th-century vampire-slaying kit?
“The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious and historical accounts suggested the need for particular methods and tools,” Hanson said. “Items of religious significance, such as crucifixes and Bibles, were said to repel these monsters, hence their presence in the kit.”
Inside the heavy wooden box, which has two crucifixes on the outside, is a set of pistols, a bottle for holy water, a Bible, a wooden stake plus a handy mallet to make sure it goes in, more crucifixes, a brass powder flask, and some rosary prayer beads.
There are many theories for where the ideas of vampirism come from. After all, it occurs in nature often enough. There are conditions that make people allergic to sunlight or water, blood disorders, and both pellagra and rabies have been put forward as contributing to the "vampiric hysteria" of the 1700s.
These days the modern vampire is all about being safety conscious, though we should probably point out that sharing blood is how you can pass on or receive a multitude of blood-borne diseases – primarily HIV and Hepatitis A, B, and C – and is not recommended by anyone.
If you are proud of your rate of surviving apocalypses so far and want to see what your chances are with various fictional blood-suckers (Bill Compton, pretty good; Lestat not so great) check out the Vampire Apocalypse Calculator. Yes, it exists.