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Friday, October 8, 2021

Early Fuld Ouija Board

The History of the Ouija Board (Part 1)

Most people think of the Ouija board as a Victorian séance tool or just a Parker Brothers game board. They see them used in the movies and have a good scare fest as the board summons demons and evil spirits that try to take over the people using the board.

But there is much more to this device than most know. Its origins reach back into history -- diving deep into man's desire to reach loved ones who have died or his desire to know what happens when we die.

First, let's take a look at the most recent history of the Ouija Board -- how it became a popular game/psychic tool in the United States. 

In 1886 the Associated Press printed a report about a new Phenomenon being used in spiritualists' camps in Ohio. They called it "the Talking Board". It was described as having the letters of the alphabet and numbers on it. A planchette-like device was used to point at the desired letters or numbers.

However, it wasn't until 1890 that someone was able to act on this popularity. Charles Kennard started his own company to make this talking board. He enlisted 4 others to join him in this enterprise; two of which were Elijah Bond, a local Baltimore attorney, and Col. Washington Bowie, a surveyor.

A story tells us that Bond's sister-in-law, Helen Peters [described as a "strong medium"], was sitting with others around the table. She asked the board what they should call it. The word "Ouija" is alleged to have come through. When she asked what that meant, the board was said to have replied "Good Luck".

An interesting note is that Peters acknowledged that she was wearing a locket that had the picture of a woman in it with the name "Ouija" above the head. It is conjectured that the woman in the locket was the famous author and popular woman's rights activist Ouida and that "Ouija" was an error.

Robert Murch [Ouija historian] interviewed some of the descendants of the founders and how the board came about. Murch claims that in order for them to get a patent they were asked to prove that the board actually worked. So a demonstration was set up for the Chief Patent Officer. He said that if the board could accurately spell out his name he would allow the application to proceed. So they all sat down around the board and the planchette proceeded to spell out his name.

While this all sounds "spooky", although the claim is made that Bond and Peters did not know his name, it is entirely possible that Bond did indeed know the man. How? Because Bond was a patent attorney and probably worked with the man many times.

The patent was awarded on February 10, 1891. By 1892 the Kennard Novelty Company went from one factory in Baltimore to 2 in Baltimore, 2 in New York, 2 in Chicago, and 1 in London. By 1893, Kennard and Bond left the company owing to some internal pressures and "money changing everything".

William Fuld, who joined the company on the ground floor as both an employee and stockholder, now ran the company. In 1898, with blessings from Col. Bowie, the majority stockholder, Fuld became the licensed holder for exclusive rights to make the Ouija Board. In 1919, Bowie sold the remaining business interest in the Ouija Board to Fuld for $1.

The Fuld Company enjoyed many "boom" years and caused many frustrations for those who had also been in on the ground floor. Public fighting started over who really invented it. Some say Fuld never claimed to be the inventor of the Ouija Board although his obituary in the New York Times stated he was. Fuld died in 1927 from a freak fall from the roof of his new facility -- which was the factory the Ouija Board is said to have told him to build. These 'rivals' tried to launch their own versions of the Ouija Board, but all failed.

In 1966, Parker Brothers bought the rights to the Ouija Board from the Fuld Company. The next year they sold 2 million of them, outselling Monopoly. 

Part two will talk about possible ancient origins of from where it came.



"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."

This Post is By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of War, has been met with great reviews.

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