Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Kith, kin and dust jacket
The image on your left is a very rare one, indeed: Montague Summers' The vampire: his kith and kin (1928), dust jacket intact.

I own a first edition copy of the book, meself. Unfortunately, without its wrapping. Bought it a few years ago for about a hundred bucks. As naive as it might sound, I didn't even realise the original had a dust jacket.

To give you an idea of how rare it is to find one with dust jacket intact, the one you see on your left was sold in 2005 for US$380. I've seen another on sale for £575. Yikes.

The squatting image on the cover's 'a reproduction from the Revue d' Assyriologie, vol. VII [1909], and represents a Babylonian vampire.'1 A bit of a stretch, as Summers' 'evidence' for this claim was speculation from R. Campbell-Thompson: 'The idea is, I presume, to keep off the nocturnal visits of Lilith and her sisters' and by process of sympathetic magic, 'the man troubled by nightly emissions attributed to Lilith, depict on his amulet the terrors which are in store for these malignants.'2 

Summers' subsequent coverage did not directly ascribe vampiric qualities to Lilith (a Hebrew, not Babylonian name), but tried to weave her origins with the Greek lamia and Roman strix.

1. M Summers, The vampire: his kith and kin, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., London, 1928, p. xiii.

2. ibid., p. 226.

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