Have you ever had that feeling when you look around and think, you know what would look good with that coffee table – my very own vampire slaying kit? No, I can’t say we have it either, but one lucky person in Derbyshire, UK, acquired just that, after paying £16,900 (€19,900) at auction.
Originally listed for sale with an estimate of £2,000-3,000 (€2,300-3,500), the late 19th-century kit – which belonged to Lord Hailey, a British peer – went over six times the price of its estimate at Hansons Auctioneers a few weeks ago.
It can be fascinating to see what sorts of things go under the hammer at auction. And a vampire slayer kit seems positively tame compared to some of the more eccentric things people have bid on in the past:
Wicked and Lean Vampire Killing Machine
First, a bit more about this kit. Sold to an anonymous private buyer, it consists of a lockable box containing tools and sacred objects to ward off vampires.
Two brass crucifixes on the lid act as a sliding secret locking device, while inside there are more crucifixes, a pair of matching pistols, a flask of brass powder, holy water, a Gothic Bible, a wooden mallet, a stake, brass candlesticks, a beads rosary and Metropolitan Police papers of the time.
“The task of killing a vampire was extremely serious, and historical accounts suggested the necessity of special methods and tools,” said Charles Hanson, the owner of Hansons Auctioneers, in a statement. “Items of religious significance such as crucifixes and Bibles were meant to repel these monsters, hence their presence in the kit.”
Bids for the vampire slaying kit came from all over the world, Hanson said, including France, America and Canada.
“Items like this fascinate both collectors and people in general – and this vampire kit had a particularly interesting provenance,” he added. “Whether out of fear or fascination, it is interesting to know that a member of the highest aristocratic social order, a man with a place in the House of Lords, acquired this item.”
“It reminds us that the vampire myth touches people from all walks of life.”
A lock of Elvis Presley’s hair
From vampires to the king of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley fans certainly seem all rocked by the singer’s hair, whose locks are often auctioned off.
In 2009, a pile of hair from The King sold for $18,300 (€18,000) in the United States, beating the expected price between $8,000 and $12,000 (€7,800-€11,700), Reuters reported.
The locks are believed to date from when Presley had his hair cut to join the US Army in 1958.
Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers said the hair was originally given to the late Gary Pepper, president of the Tankers Fan Club, to send to fans, Reuters reported.
Likewise, in 2020, more of the singer’s hair has been auctioned off, with a lock auctioned in the UK at an indicative price of £4,000-£6,000 (€4,700-€7,000).
The hair was collected by one of the star’s hairstylists, Homer Gilleland, according to Auctioneers Hansonsthe auction house overseeing the sale.
According to a provenance letter with the hair, Gilleland first met Elvis in the early 1950s while cutting his mother Gladys Presley’s hair at Goldsmith’s department store in Memphis.
“Hair has always been a wonderful memory because it lasts forever,” said Claire Howell, Hansons Musical Memorabilia Appraiser.
“Elvis was the king of rock and roll,” Howel said. “But her hair also had an impact on the world.”
“In a time when men didn’t dye their hair, he used gel, hairspray, color – whatever it took – to achieve his rockabilly look. The girls swooned and, thanks to Elvis , a men’s barbershop opened in Hollywood, unheard of at the time, and was a pioneer in more ways than one.
John Lennon’s molar
Sticking to celebrity body parts, a tooth of Beatles member John Lennon sold for £19,500 (€23,000) to a Canadian dentist in 2011.
The Beatles star had given the tooth to his former governess Dot Jarlett to give to her daughter who was a huge Beatles fan, the Independent reported at the time, adding that the tooth was sold with a sworn affidavit signed by Jarlett to prove its provenance.
“This is by far the strangest and most wonderful item we have ever submitted. It was a very tense bid towards the end and a huge cheer rang out when the final bid was made,” reported Paul Fairweather, an auctioneer. at Omega Auctions in Stockport who sold the dent, as said.
World’s Largest Cat Painting
Fine art is no stranger to auction houses, but this particular painting up for auction by Sotheby’s has drawn attention as much for its artistic merits as for its enormous size and subject matter.
Measuring 1.9 by 2.6 meters, Austrian artist Carl Kahler’s painting ‘My Wife’s Lovers’ is considered the world’s largest painting of cats.
The piece was commissioned by cat enthusiast and millionaire Kate Birdsall Johnson of San Francisco in the early 1890s, according to Sotheby’s catalog. Johnson loved cats and housed 350 cats at his 3,000-acre summer home in California, the catalog says. There, his pets were cared for by a troop of specially hired servants.
The canvas, which depicts 42 cats of different breeds, sold for around $826,000 (€808,000) in 2015, the Canadian public broadcaster reported. Radio Canada.
It was so big and heavy that Sotheby’s had to build a special wall to display it, the outlet reported, adding that when hung on a normal wall, the painting ripped out nails.
Kahler is believed to have drawn each cat individually, with Sotheby’s Polly Sartori telling CBC, “There was no way 42 cats would sit around and have a portrait painted.”
The very first SMS (sort of)
And from the hugely physical to the dubious – the first text message ever sent to a mobile phone made headlines after it was auctioned off last year as an NFT.
The unique digital replica of the SMS, sent in 1992, brought in €107,000.
The SMS was a 15-character message sent to Vodafone employee Richard Jarvis wishing him “Merry Christmas”.
The buyer, whose identity has not been disclosed, is a Canadian involved in the technology sector.
Mobile network operator Vodafone said it planned to donate the proceeds from the sale to the UN refugee agency.