The best selling board game in history, many people believe that the Ouija Board is an ancient tool used to contact the spirit world. Some even claim that the board dates back to 540 BC.
However, while similar devices have been used since ancient times, the Ouija Board was actually patented on February 10, 1891. But, to this day, who actually invented the Ouija Board is still a subject of debate.
Some historians claim that the board was invented by E.C. Reiche, a coffin and cabinet maker. In 1886, Reiche sold his rights to the spirit board to the Kennard Novelty Company owned by Charles Kennard and several associates. But, many believe that the board was invented by Elijah Bond since his name is listed under “inventor” on the original patent documents.
Regardless of who really invented the board, Kennard began producing them in 1890 and sold them for $1.50.
Charles Kennard once stated that he got the name Ouija from a spirit board session with Elijah Bond’s sister-in-law, Miss Peters. He said that he had told her that they still hadn’t decided on a name and that since the board had been very helpful in the past perhaps they should ask the board to propose a name. The board then spelled out Ouija and when asked what the word meant, it said “Good Luck.”
After only a year, Kennard was forced out in a hostile takeover and an employee, William Fuld took over. Fuld and his brother Isaac changed the name of the business to the Ouija Novelty Company.
Before long, Fuld fired his brother and the name of the company was changed to the William Fuld Company. For over 100 years, Fuld’s name appeared on all genuine Ouija Board’s.
Fuld’s heirs continued to run the business until they retired in 1966 and sold the company to Parker Brothers.
With Fuld at the helm of the company, the Ouija Board quickly became the company’s most popular product.
Along with the promise that the board was “mysterious and entertaining,” Fuld told reporters that his most successful ideas had came to him while using the board. In fact, they were so popular that many other companies began trying to cash in with their own versions of the board by 1900.
Fuld filed lawsuits against some of the companies for trademark and patent infringements which included his brother Isaac and former company owner Charles Kennard.
Spiritualism – Kate and Margaret Fox
In 1948, sisters Kate and Margaret Fox claimed that they had made contact with the spirit of a peddler. They said that they regularly communicated with spirits and had developed a system by which spirits could knock to convey messages.
The two became instant celebrities and started an obsession known as Spiritualism.
Spiritualist churches began to appear and people claiming to have special powers to communicate with the dead were in great demand.
Known as mediums, they were intermediaries between the human world and the spirit world.
While almost every culture in the world believes in the existence of spirits and demons, Spiritualism provided a hope that one could actually communicate with the spirit world. It sparked a widely accepted belief that there is life beyond the grave.
Although many used mediums as a means to try to contact a departed loved one, some sought out their services for advice on love, wealth and even to answer questions about things like their health.
One of the first games on the market to cater to anyone wishing to communicate with a spirit was the Planchette.
A French word meaning “Little Board,” the Planchette consisted of a wooden board, an attached pencil and two wheels. The user would place their fingers on the board and allow the spirits to write messages using their hands.
Other techniques for receiving messages from the spirit world includes swinging a pendulum over a plate that had the alphabet painted around the edge.
Harry Houdini and the Ouija Board
Considered a fun parlor game in the Victorian Era, a dark shadow was cast on the Ouija Board in the early 1920′s.
Harry Houdini, the famous magician wrote that at least five people he knew had been driven insane by using the board.
After Houdini’s revelation, doctors reportedly began to notice patients that constantly used the boards had an altered state of mind and in some cases, had to be committed to an asylum.
A former medical director of the State of New Jersey claimed the board was a major factor in mental issues and that asylums would be full if the boards popularity continued.
The Exorcist and the Ouija Board
In 1973 the Ouija Board was once again touted as a dark source of evil and black magic.
The movie, “The Exorcist depicted a young girl that had became possessed by a demon she had came into contact with through a Ouija Board. With the board already associated with the dark side, it was easy for the public to believe that one could become possessed, or worse, by using the board.
After the release of the movie many people burned their boards out of fear and the Ouija Board never fully regained it’s immense popularity.
Written by Connie Corder, Copyright 2012 TrueGhostTales.com
Very interesting indeed!!! Thanks for the history, I had no idea where it had come from and until seeing the title of your hub had not even thought of it. I could see how if you became obsessed by the answers to every little thing, that you could drive yourself crazy. We all want answers and advice to what we should do next and what the future holds, don’t we?
Very interesting article. I don’t know about the validity of the board being evil or not, but I do believe that if you ope your mind to suggestion, is inviting evil in. WOW..it sold for $1.50 in 1890, that seems expensive for the time. Greta article. Keep up the good work.
Yeah! I would imagine a buck and a half to be a luxury item price. I bet they were made of much higher quality stuff than processed cardboard though. My guess (just a guess) is that 1.50 would have been about like 40 or 50 bucks to us today.
I didn’t realize that the Ouija board was such a recent discovery. It does make sense, however, that the development of it at the close of the 19th century was so popular.
Many spiritualists, theologians and religions were looking elsewhere for entertainment…as the Victorian age was a rather dull period of puritanical existence…and the spurious nature of talking to spirits would certainly lead simple folk to wild conclusions.
Personally, I think that simply making a decision no matter which board of instruction you use–leads to an outcome. Indecision, or failure of action, is the great destroyer of progress–and the Ouija board’s advice would at least give people a course of action.
my grandmother was adamant that my sister and I not use it…course we had to have one, it was the 60′s after all..but we only used it a short while…its still in the attic at my mothers!
grandmother barden just chuckled and said “I told you when you open a door it may be hard to close it!”
nuff said for me dude!
I have an irrational fear of ouija boards. I blame The Exorcist. That said, I found this article to be extremely interesting. I never thought about the ouija board’s history before. I always assumed they were around for centuries. Like tarot cards. Voted up & interesting.
Hooray! A lucid, reasonable article about the Ouija� Board – without using the word “portal.” Now THAT’S an achievement!
That was a great article! I read Lon’s articles on Phantoms and Monsters and in it was a forward to this very article. All my girlfriends back in the day were horrified by the Quija board. But of course my cousin and I tried it long long ago and I swear that thing moved on its own! Neither my cousin or I touched it again. What can I say I’m a semi believer in the Quiji board.
It figures that eventually something that relates to spirits will be demonized just because things like movies, of course with that in mind I guess the growing fad or belief over the years stayed…Although I’m kinda surprised that no one so fas as I read in the whole site never tried 100 candles or have a story about it. Caretaker if you don’t mind can you please find information on “100 Candle game”? I’ve tried to search so far about it but nothing significant as to date.