13 Apr 2021
June 29, 2012 - Filed under: Antique Chests — Harriet

A mahogany antique chest containing a Victorian vampire-killing kit was among the more unusual items at a Yorkshire arms and armour sale; complete with stakes, mallet, crucifix and bottles labelled “Holy Earth” and “Holy Water,” it realised £7,500 against an upper estimate of £2,000.

Leyburn, where the sale was held, is just 64 miles from Whitby, an area where it definitely pays to have a vampire-slaying kit in your antique cabinet. The Ribble Valley achieved fame through its association with the Pendle Witches, but Whitby also has a spooky tale to tell – that of Count Dracula, who landed here in 1897, courtesy of Bram Stoker’s famous novel. Despite containing an 1857 prayer book, it is likely the kit was assembled after the novel was published. While Dracula was not the first literary vampire (John Polidori created his aristocratic “Vampyre” in 1819 while staying with Mary Shelley, authoress of Frankenstein), it is certainly the one which had the most cultural impact, and possibly inspired kits like this one to be made.

The well-stocked antique chest, which also contained rosary beads, a pistol and a steel bullet mould, turned up in a militaria and ethnographica sale on 22nd June. However, it was not the most expensive item sold; this honour was reserved for a Maori whalebone club, which realised £19,000 against an upper estimate of £3,000.

When buying at auction, remember the hammer price won’t reflect the commission and other fees you’ll have to pay. Antique dealers in Lancashire have antique cabinets full of interesting curios, at prices that won’t bleed you white.

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