(ORDO NEWS) — A set for the destruction of vampires, made in the 19th century by order of a British peer, was sold at Hansons Auctioneers.
A wooden chest with the tools necessary to defeat the undead was originally estimated at two to three thousand pounds (2400-3600 dollars), but eventually sold for 13 thousand pounds (15,700 dollars). Including the buyer’s premium – the extra auction fee that once killed Kisa Vorobyaninov – the final price was £16,900 ($20,200).
Vampire hunter tool cases are not uncommon, but usually their contents are completely junk kits. For example, one of the chests sold two years ago contained a penknife, a bottle with shark teeth, and an ivory figurine of a wolf monk.
It is not entirely clear how these items should help the vampire hunter in his difficult work. But the freshly sold “alarm suitcase” contains by no means a random set of items.
The chest, as well as the things filling it, were made at the end of the 19th century by order of William Malcolm Haley – some items of the set are marked with his initials. Haley was born in 1872, studied at Oxford and at the age of 24 entered the civil service in India.
His career was very successful: he was Governor of the Punjab from 1924 to 1928 and Governor of the United Provinces of India from 1928 to 1934.
In 1921 he was knighted, and 15 years later he was raised to the peerage. Haley later served as director of the Africa Service. Why would such a person – an administrator, a diplomat and a lawyer – need such an unusual set? Let’s look at the vampire’s thunderstorm tools.
The oak case is decorated with two brass crucifixes on the lid, which served as secret locking devices in case the lock and key failed. Inside are a drawer with slots for a couple of small pistols, flasks of gunpowder and bottles of holy water.
Under the tray there are compartments that contain a Gothic Bible, a wooden stake and a mallet decorated with metal elements, a pair of brass candlesticks, another crucifix, a mirror and a rosary. Agree, with such a set, the hunter should feel more confident than with shark teeth.
There is nothing in Malcolm Haley’s career in the Indian Civil Service that would suggest vampire hunting, and there is no personal record that would explain this connection.
But since experts dated it to the end of the 19th century, it can be assumed that the thoughts of vampires sunk into the head of a young Englishman under the gray vaults of Oxford. The blood-sucking undead was a popular topic in popular culture back then. But it was not always so.
Although various kinds of vampires, ghouls and ghouls are widely represented in the folklore of different countries, among educated people, talk about the “horrors of the night” was not particularly accepted. Everything changed at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1819, the novel “The Vampire” by the English writer and physician John Polidori was published. This is the first work in the history of fiction that describes the vampires of the modern image.
The history of the creation of the story is connected with the names of Byron (Polidori was his personal doctor and traveled with the poet), Percy Bishop Shelley and Mary Godwin (future Shelley). It was this close company that inspired the sober-minded physician to write a “completely implausible” story.
The book was popular in society, and Polidori became the first author to turn a vampire from a wild monster from fairy tales into an aristocrat of the upper strata of society. It was nice to talk about such a vampire.
The vampire hunter became not a rude redneck with an aspen stake, but an educated person, skillfully combining proven folk remedies (aspen stake), religious symbols (crucifix, holy water) and achievements of civilization (pistols).
Interest in vampires reached its peak towards the end of the century, after the release of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula in 1897. The future peer of England, Malcolm Haley, was then already serving in India. It is unknown if he had a vampire hunter’s kit with him or if he found targets in Punjab to use items from the chest.
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