Ripley's Believe It or Not Vampire Killing Kits
Throughout the country, Ripley's museums seem to consider vampire killing kits important enough to merit global inclusion. In fact, a December 4, 2009 press release from Ripleys asserted that the museum chain owns the world's largest collection of authentic vampire killing kits. They go on to say:
The kits were acquired by people in preparation of possibly meeting a vampire during their international travels to Eastern Europe and their usage dates back to the mid-1800s. Most were created in the Boston area and were available by mail order. They contain a variety of items designed to bring a vampire to its knees. Most contain a wooden stake, Bible, crucifix, pistol with lead bullets, gunpowder, garlic and glass vials that held various concoctions.
The kits were purchased by wealthy Americans headed to Eastern Europe – Transylvania then, Romania now. Travelers brought back terrifying tales of vampires with them from the region – well before Dracula was brought to life by Bram Stoker.
I have seen the kit in Wisconsin (below), and here is collected evidence of kits at their other facilities. Since they are all different, it is clear that they were not assembled en masse just for the museums. I will check into how long Ripleys museums have been around (at least since the media storm of Louis Ripley around the 1950's).
This kit, under closer examination, reveals some odd vials - especially "Daffy's Elixer for Purging" (at far right), which sounds like a subtle gag, but is actually a medieval cure-all. Most of these vials are empty, but with some powdery residue. I am not sure how popular the gothic 'black text' typeface was in the mid-1800s.
The vials read as follows:
A reference to a similarly stocked vampire killing kit auctioned in 2001 suggests that these kits were sold to tourists by hotels in eastern Europe (especially in the Carpathians) in the '18th and 19th centuries.' I suspect that the late 1800s is more likely. These labels are also quite similar to those of this kit auctioned in 2006 in style and content.
Professor Blomberg's New Serum
Emetic Tartar for Putric Fever
Elixir of Vitriol
Daffy's Elixir for Purging
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
New Orleans, Louisiana
San Francisco, California
Los Angeles, California
Niagra Falls, Ontario
Unidentified Ripley's Museum
Additional vampire killing kits are reportedly on display at the Ripley's museums at:
Times Square, New York