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The Weird Vampiric Relic That Sold For More Than You'd Think On Pawn Stars

When you run a pawn shop, there's absolutely no telling who might walk through your door or with what. For every engagement ring hocked, there's just as likely a chance that something truly awe-inspiring might appear as well. And that's no more true than on the long-running TV series Pawn Stars.

If you don't know, Pawn Stars is a History Channel series focused on the Wold Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas run by the Harrison family. In each episode, the shop haggles with people over the often unique curiosities that walk through the door — and they've gotten all sorts from the unbelievable but true, like the first contract signed by the original The Beatles lineup to the item we're talking about today — a Vampire Defense Kit.

Now anyone can put together a wooden stake and some holy water and call it a day. There was a tie-in licensed vampire defense kit produced for Joss Whedon's classic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day. But the kit we're talking about now is about as real and as historical as it gets!

A vampire kit sells for how much?!

Bram Stoker's Dracula was first published in 1897 at the height of a spiritualist movement. In that same year, painter Philip Burne-Jones unleashed his painting "The Vampire" into the world. And, according to the Bram Stoker Estate's website, Burne-Jones and Stoker actually knew one another.

The reason why we bring up Burne-Jones is because his name is engraved on the box of the Vampire Defense Kit that shows up on Pawn Stars. The kit contains a number of items you'd expect to find in a kit for fighting vamps: wooden stakes, a hammer for those stakes, guns with silver bullets, a cross, a rosary, and a mirror. Every part in the kit looks like it was crafted as though vampires were absolutely real and in need of being defended against.

Before we go into further detail on the history of the kit itself, let's talk about the story of how it wound up on Pawn Stars. The man who brought in the kit got it from his grandfather, who found it at an estate sale back in the 1960s. It's worth noting that, by the 1960s, vampire lore was absolutely everywhere. The Universal Dracula movie starring Bela Lugosi from 1931 repopularized the vampire legend, and the subsequent Christopher Lee, Hammer House Dracula movies, which spanned from the late '50s through to the mid '70s, kept blood-suckers at the front of our minds for decades after.

Even though the owner of the kit first offers $6,000 for the whole thing, the kindly guys from Pawn Stars wound up buying it at a massive $16,000. And it was worth it, too, because it was sold again on IMA's website for a whopping $24,995. It doesn't hurt that the guns work.

But there's one other element to this story that's historically interesting, which is the letter the kit contains.

Bram Stoker and his circle of spiritualist friends

When we talk about celebrities knowing or communicating with one another in the modern age, it can be tantalizing, but it's not a big deal. Celebrities tweet at each other all the time! But it's a lot more interesting when you look back a century or two and discover how small a world it was even back in the late 19th century. We've already mentioned that Bram Stoker and Philip Burne-Jones were at least somewhat familiar with one another, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Both Stoker and Burne-Jones were friends with tons of interesting people during their lifetimes, and there's an interesting letter in the vampire kit that seems to confirm it.

The letter in the vampire kit is written, presumably to Burne-Jones, by someone named "Arthur," which makes reference to someone else named "Pixie." Now those names may not mean anything to a layman, but they become a lot more interesting when you start to fill in the potential blanks.

For example, "Pixie" was the nickname for an artist named Pamela Coleman Smith, who, among other things, was an illustrator. One of the books she provided illustration for was one about actress Ellen Terry — written by none other than Bram Stoker.

Even more interesting still is the potential "Arthur," who the letter was written by. Among Stoker's circle of friends was Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. It's possible that the Conan-Doyle is the author of the letter.

It's well known that Conan-Doyle was an enormous proponent of Spiritualism. Pamela Colman-Smith was similarly into the occult. Put it all together, and it becomes more and more likely that the two combined with Burne-Jones could have spent many a late night contemplating the existence of vampires enough to justify the creation of the Vampire Defense Kit that found its way, over a century later, to Pawn Stars.