How Did the Garlic Stay Fresh?

From Rebecca comes this thought provoking link: a Georgian (I think) -era vampire hunting kit sold at auction for $14,850.00 in Natchez, Mississippi. It contained stakes, holy water, Bibles, mirrors, crosses and garlic.

Aside from the question as to whether Colleen Gleason is going to go see it for herself, my query is this: how in the world does 200 year old garlic look that fresh? I mean, I have some garlic that’s past its prime, and it does NOT look like that.

I sense supernatural powers at work.

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  1. 1
    Michele says:

    I thought garlic couldn’t die.

    Way too cool.

    Paging Collen Gleason…

  2. 2
    Bowleserised says:

    But, but, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written in 1897, and I’m pretty sure that all that “Vampire killing” paraphenalia was dreamt up by people who came after Stoker as a result of his novel.
    Some got ripped off big time.

  3. 3
    Erastes says:

    Hmm. Someone saw someone coming, me thinks.

    I think Lovejoy must have been involved somewhere along the line.

  4. 4

    Caveat Emptor.

    I swear I read that the whole silver bullet thing was dreamt up for the Lon Chaney werewolf movies, and didn’t even exist in folklore before that.

    (Silver being the symbolic moon metal, and not a sign of purity).

    One of the popular ways to kill vampires, if you are going back that far, is to stake them, then boil them and eat them.  I am not seeing a cookbook in this kit.

    And it matters which country the vamp came from, because everyone had different rules.

    Not that there couldn’t have been vampire killing kits.  But an early 19th c vampire is chasing you, you want to make really sure that you have authentic weapons and do a little research before you grab a stake.  Ask him where he’s from.  Then go to the library.

  5. 5
    Bowleserised says:

    Here’s someone who knows a little about these “authentic” kits.

  6. 6
    nkkingston says:

    I find myself pretty suspicious, I have to admit. Vampire fiction was up and running then, but it was pretty different to the better known post-Stoker stuff. Most of the best known vampire killing methods come from the later Victorian stuff. 1800 has me thinking more blue-eyed Greeks and vampire pumpkins than stakes and garlic.

  7. 7
    Silver James says:

    I think Lovejoy must have been involved somewhere along the line.

    Erases for the WIN! I really need to pull out my John Grant aka Jonathan Gash books and reread them. I love Lovejoy!

    Bowleserised, that link is totally awesome. I want one of those kits, but not for $14K, or even $7K. I’ll have to start looking for appropriate items to build one. *grin*

  8. 8
    P.N. Elrod says:

    It’s a fake.

    These turn up on Ebay—in much better condition, too—for 2 – 4 grand. The individual bits are real antiques assembled into an old case. It’s not unlike painting over an old canvas to forge an old master.

    Hit an antique store, buy some old bottles, paint milk on some linen paper and bake to reproduce old paper and you’ve got labels to ID your garlic and holy water.

    Collectors look on them as a curiosity, but hardly worth 14K.  It’s scary but they’ve sold for more.

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/b/2003/11/04/
    vampire-killing-kits-get-em-while-theyre-hot.htm

    If anyone has 20 grand to spare, I’ll be glad to put together a custom vampire killing kit AND throw in signed copies of all my books.

    Otherwise, you can do one yourself for a pittance and put IT up on Ebay for the gullible.  All you need do is work “sold as is” & “no provenance” and wait for a fool and his money to come along.

  9. 9
    J.C. Wilder says:

    It just goes to show that people will buy anything.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    my query is this: how in the world does 200 year old garlic look that fresh? I mean, I have some garlic that’s past its prime, and it does NOT look like that.

    Clearly that’s reproduction garlic, being passed off as the genuine article.  Somebody call the auction police.

  11. 11

    More money than sense as my grandmother used to say.

  12. 12
    Shae says:

    I think I’m more amused that the chair set “realized” $18,700.  Is that what antiques do? They sit around pondering their worth, and then all of a sudden realize they are worth 19k?

  13. 13
    clessiesgirl says:

    Gosh.  These inantimate objects have realized, soared, attributed, achieved and coasted.  I watched a football game and a college basketball game.  Talk about an underachiever :-(

    although84 – although the week is young and I’m sure there are 84 things to do on my to do list for Monday a.m. already.  Although I seriously doubt soaring is among them.  Coasting probably is :-)

  14. 14
    Leslie H says:

    Awesome!

    Lovejoy? He would make the stakes look more authentic.

    PN Elrod, if I had the money, I would TOTALLY give it to you!

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Security word Million 54 (I wish!)

  15. 15
    Rebecca says:

    Well, actually, the vampire myth has existed in the world since Roman times in the West and have been thought to exist since the Roman times. But the strain we are most used to is the Slavic Vampire.

    And, the centuries-old methods believed to destroy vampires in Eastern Europe – staking, decapitation (the Kashubs placed the head between the feet), burning, repeating the funeral service, holy water on the grave, exorcism – have been pretty consistent through the ages:

    Romanians (from the 10th century on) believed that a stake was driven through the body followed by decapitation and placing garlic in the mouth. By the 19th century people were shooting a bullet through the coffin. For resistant cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned, mixed with water, and given to family members as a cure.

    Gypsies believed that the following destroyed vampires – hire a dhampire (the son of a vampire and his widow) to detect the vampire. To ward off vampires, gypsies drove steel or iron needles into a corpse’s heart and placed bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial. They also placed hawthorn in the corpse’s sock or drove a hawthorn stake through the legs. Further measures included driving stakes into the grave, pouring boiling water over it, decapitating the corpse, or burning it.

    The vampire myth and the knowledge of how to destroy the creature has been documented through centuries. This knowledge of how to destroy the creatures has been passed through time with little change.

    Given that, why are you all inclined to believe the case is a fake?

  16. 16

    Well, authentic or not… it is pretty cool looking.  However, if I’m plunking down 14k on anything, it better either be able to transport me places, shelter me or prepare all my food with nothing more than a thought.

  17. 17
    Rebecca says:

    As for the garlic, I think they are set dressing.

    I’ve been doing some more research and have found that there is a cottage industry for producing Ernst Blomberg vampire killing kits.

    Spookyland lays arguments for and against these cases. The case from the article above is more intricate than the Blomberg cases.

    I would love for the owner to order a scientific evaluation of the kit and share it with the wider world.

    Oh well.

  18. 18
    JaneyD says:

    Given that, why are you all inclined to believe the case is a fake?

    Despite Edward Van Sloan’s caution at the end of the 1931 Lugosi film, my guess would be that it’s ‘cause there ain’t no such things as vampires.

    The vampire myth is much older than the Romans, but it is just a myth. If people want to believe vamps are real, fine, whatever makes ‘em happy.

    However, it is no myth that there are con-people and forgers more than willing to skin the gullible of their gold with stuff like that case and the other fakes in circulation.

    Hee—my word to type in is “reason33”  Bwah!

  19. 19

    Real or not, I need this!

    Maybe I’ll ask Santa for it this year. I’ve been a really good girl.

    Honest.

  20. 20
    Bowleserised says:

    I think it’s a fake because there’s a known history of people making fake vampire kits. And the silver bullet thing does not occur in any of those accounts. And I thought silver bullets were for werewolves.

  21. 21
    Bowleserised says:

    Or to put it another way, I believe people drove stakes into “vampires” and shot coffins and carried garlic, but I don’t believe they had nice “American Walnut” cases to carry their gear (including a silver bullet-firing pistol) around in. Have a look at the links about the fakes – there are a few giveaways.

  22. 22
    DS says:

    Ok, this should inspire the story of a “fake” vampire hunter in early 19th century US who hires himself or herself out to rid a town of vampires and who carries just such a case.  Will the fake vampire hunter meet a real vampire? 

    Actually suicides were frequently staked and buried face down at a cross roads to prevent them from walking.  There was a fairly recent archaeological finding in a New England graveyard where the body of a male with physical deformities was in a cemetary but had been staked and the head removed and placed between the legs.  I’ve read of bodies found in England on archaeological studies of old graveyards with the same indicia. 

    Not genuine but fun.

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