The origin of the Ouija Board can be traced to America’s obsession with Spiritualism in the mid-nineteenth century. This is directly linked to Mysticism that blossomed in the Monarchy’s across Europe. Kings, Queens and the nobles buzzing around their courts, went gaga for mediums and Spiritualists. These individuals held the palaces in awe with predictions of the future. They organized seances, where the Prince’s Dukes and Baronesses communicated with dead monarchs.
Over here in America the Fox Sisters, Kate and Margaret evoked an immediate response by holding a demonstration of Spiritual Rapping at the Corinthian Hall in Rochester New York. This occasion would mark the beginning of mediums performing before a paying audience. After that event, news spread around the globe It was possible now, for believers to seek proof of the after-life. Or paranormal proof,(if you will). Christians could go to a Séance on a Friday and attend church on Sunday with no misgivings. Spiritualism, did not clash with Christian dogma.
A sponsor would hold seances at their homes or rent a hall for table turning parties. The participants placed their hands on top of an 18×18 inch table, which sat on a regular size table. In response to a series of questions, the small table would shake and rock, while everyone swore they were not responsible for the movement.
These gatherings gained popularity in the latter part of the 19th century. Men lived into their mid-fifties. Women routinely died from childbirth and wars decimated the male population. Sons never returned from the battlefield and newborn babies perished from disease. So, trying to make contact with spirits during that era was not deemed wrong or dangerous.
When the Kennard Novelty company marketed their mysterious board, they were cashing in on an easier way to contact the other-side. Up until then communication between the two realms involved a tedious process of calling out each letter of the alphabet and interpreting the knocks that followed. This boring regiment took hours to decipher a legible response.
The Kennard Novelty Company quickly became an American success story. The stockholders reaped millions from the new found niche. By 1892 the company went from one factory in Baltimore to two. Another two in New York a couple in Chicago and one in London.
A few years later, an employee and ground floor investor named William Fuld took over the daily running of the company. He was instrumental in enhancing the profit margin by gaining world-wide recognition of the brand. A year later he fell to his death from the roof of a new factory. The roof of a building the Ouija Board instructed him to build.
A hundred and twenty years later the board is still selling well. Even in the age of electronic stimuli, people turn to alternative methods for explanations during troubling times End Part 2