A mysterious vampire box containing objects reputed to ward off the monsters enshrined in European folklore attracted huge interest when it went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers. (July 21)
Global media coverage sparked numerous enquiries and advance bids flooded in from across the world ahead of the auction. The hammer finally fell at £2,500 and the item was urchased by a private UK buyer.
The lockable, velvet-covered box, lined with crimson silk, contained an oval enamel painting depicting the resurrection of Christ; carved ivory wolf in robes carrying rosary beads; percussion cap pocket pistol; cobalt blue glass phial with white metal lid (contents unknown); three clear and aqua glass bottles; rosary beads; three crucifixes; two sets of pliers; a pocket knife with mother-of-pearl handle and HM silver blade; a bottle containing shark's teeth, and a copy of The New Testament, Cambridge: J. W. Parker, 1842.
Auctioneer Rik Alexander said: “Objects like this will always fascinate the world. We have witnessed media coverage as far afield as Russia, America and China and we’re delighted the item has found a new home.
“These types of boxes originated in the 1800s. They were serious kits in that period as superstition and fear were part of everyday life. All items were made with intent and every metal element had to be silver. However, this was not one of those kits.
“The next period of production was prompted by Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel, released in 1897 which added to the allure of the vampire myth. Boxes like this have been made privately and commercially ever since.
“Though our kit had an early Bible and the box is earlier, it appears to have been assembled around the Edwardian period in England. By this point the Dracula novel was having a big impact. Many of its items are from this period. For example, its silver knife is dated 1906.
“Ultimately this box is a fun, aesthetic collection. It may have been personalised with symbolic items with spiritual links and held in personal reverence by the owner. For example, the fox priest has supernatural protection connections but it’s Japanese in origin.”
Belief in vampires, an undead creature said to need human blood to survive, goes back hundreds of years and persists in some parts of the world today.
Its West Midlands owner, who did not wish to be named said, said: “I know very little of its history. I have had it in my own collection for three years now. I bought it from a large antiques fair in Newark. I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it. I thought it was so interesting - a great conversation piece.”
The vampire box sold on July 21 at Hansons Auctioneers, Etwall, Derbyshire. To find out more, email [email protected]