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What I Learned About Collecting Ouija Boards for the 125-Year Anniversary

The patent for the Ouija Board was filed 125 years ago…and it’s been terrifying people ever since. To celebrate, I decided to start collecting them.
Vintage Ouija board

125 years ago today, on May 28th, 1890, a business man named Elijah Bond filed the original patent for the Ouija Board. To celebrate, I decided it was time to finally add a talking board to the collection. I tend to favor science over superstition, but the Ouija is fun because no other board game has the ability to make so many people uneasy.

I mean, people don’t generally get sweaty palms and heart palpitations over Monopoly.

So it was only a matter of time before I found an excuse to own one.

I don’t actually have any money though, so at this point any of the rare and valuable boards are completely out of my reach. Which I’m okay with, because the more common and affordable vintage Ouija boards have that iconic design everyone is afraid of.

Regan plays with the Ouija board in The Exorcist
Regan (Linda Blair) examines the planchette in this scene from The Exorcist, 1973.

The Exorcist was inspired by the true story of Roland Doe, a boy who underwent a series of exorcisms in his Missouri home in 1949 after using his aunt’s Ouija board.

Ouija Board Collectors Corner

Before making the purchase, I consulted the Museum of Talking Boards Collector’s Corner to make sure I knew what I was looking at.

Some of the most sought after boards seem to be:

  • Made of wood
  • Original Kennard Novelty Company boards from 1891
  • Completely out of my price range

The board I ended up buying is the William Fuld design on paper hardboard. According to this page, this design was first introduced in 1944. The planchette that came with this board is plastic, which replaced the original wood pointer that was packaged with boards until 1946.

Also, this board came in the original box featuring the Blue Ghost. In his article about coming face-to-face with the potential inspiration for this design in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery, Ouija authority Robert Murch states that the ominous character was used on William Fuld and Parker Bros. boxes from 1941-1972.

I don’t know enough yet to pinpoint a more exact production date, but at least I can tell my particular mystifying oracle hit the shelves sometime between 1946 and 1972.

OuijaCon 2015 – Talking Board Museum Walkthrough

The Talking Board Historical Society held the first ever OuijaCon in Baltimore last month. It included a traveling museum of historic talking boards, which you can see in the video below.

On a side note, nothing more “paranormal” than usual has happened at Cult of Weird HQ since I bought the Ouija board. But in the event that a portal to Hell opens up in my living room, you’re all invited to the party.

Elijah Bond’s Memorial Ouija Board Gravestone in Baltimore

The memorial gravestone of Ouija Board inventor Elijah Bond was erected in 2008 by the Talking Board Historical Society in Baltimore, Maryland’s Green Mount Cemetery.
Ouija board gravestone of Elijah Bond in Baltimore, Maryland
Ouija board gravestone of Elijah Bond in Baltimore, Maryland

It took 15 years, but eventually Ouija board historian and Talking Board Historical Society founder Robert Murch managed to track down the unmarked grave of Elijah Bond, inventor of the infamous board game that has spawned more nightmares than any other toy.

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Bond was a lawyer and inventor. He filed the patent for what would become known as the Ouija Board on May 28th, 1890. The first talking board was produced by his friends at the Kennard Novelty Company.

Murch found the grave in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery in 2007. With permission from the cemetery and the blessings of Bond’s descendents, he raised donations from Ouija enthusiasts to get a memorial gravestone erected a year later. The new stone features the iconic Ouija design from the original patent.

More info here: Elijah Bond Memorial Gravestone

Going to OuijaCon this weekend? Share your photos with the Cult of Weird community on Instagram by tagging #cultofweird

Talking Board Historical Society Launches

The Talking Board Historical Society
Talking Board Historical Society logo by Calvin Von Crush

The Talking Board Historical Society, formed by Ouija historians Robert Murch and Brandon Hodge, launched it’s new Facebook page this week. They are already posting fascinating content, such as a spotlight on Rick “Ormortis” Schreck, who attempted to make his New Jersey home haunted by filling it with talking boards.

Though the group has just become official, they have been acting to preserve Ouija history since 2008. They erected a Ouija gravestone at the unmarked grave of original patentee Elijah Bond in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery. They also successfully petitioned the city to recognize William Fuld’s factory on Hartford Ave, which Fuld claimed the Ouija board told him to build in 1919, as a historical landmark.

The Talking Board Historical Society is raising it’s profile in advance of OuijaCon, happening in Baltimore on April 23-25, 2015.

Follow the group on Facebook right here.

via Paranormal Pop Culture

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Ouija: Mystifying History of the Dreaded Talking Board Game

It began as a harmless game. How did the Ouija board get such a fearful reputation?
The strange history of the Ouija Board

The Ouija board is a simple board with letters and numbers, and a planchette to point to them. It was invented by an attorney who marketed it commercially to turn a profit. I’m pretty sure the patent did not include portals to Hell.

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Nevertheless, Ouija Boards have always been a source of scorn for religious fundamentalists, who believe they are tools of Satan. Ouija burnings and pleas to end their production still happen here in the digital age, when science and technology is supposed to have evolved us beyond those archaic belief systems conceived by early civilizations to explain the natural world.

So how did a toy manage to get such a fearful reputation?

A Brief History of the Ouija Board

A vintage William Fuld Ouija Board

The Ouija Board has a long and unusually sordid history for a board game. It was first brought to the commercial market by business man Elijah Bond in 1890 as nothing more than a parlor game. The “wonderful talking board” promised “never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes.”

It became hopelessly entangled in the occult years later when Spiritualists adopted it as a tool for divining.

William Fuld took over production of the game in 1901 and named it Ouija, claiming the board itself gave him the name. Fuld skyrocketed the Ouija into popularity in the 1920s. He had often consulted the Ouija on matters of business. At one point the Ouija told him to “prepare for big business.” Fuld took the advice, building the large new factory which he would eventually fall from and die in 1927.

Fuld’s family carried on the business until 1966, when they retired and sold it to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers was sold to Hasbro in 1991. Since then, Hasbro has released many different versions of the Ouija, including glow in the dark boards and pink boards for girls.

Though it has often been described as a hoax and a con, the Ouija has no shortage of people terrified to use it. There is always someone with sweaty palms and heart palpitations when the board comes out.

Of course, any harmless children’s game that summons the dead and inadvertently causes demonic possession is bound to get a little flack, right?

Except, historically speaking, there doesn’t seem to be any documented incidents of Ouija Board happenings that should make anyone uneasy. The closest is the story of Pearl Curran.

The Writings of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth

Pearl Curran communicates with Patience Worth through a ouija board
Over the years, strange stories of the Ouija have certainly managed to evoke a general sense of dread. The very first was that of St. Louis housewife and spiritualist Pearl Curran, who claimed that she began channeling a spirit calling itself Patience Worth in 1913. The spirit claimed to be from the 17th century and “across the sea.”

Curran wrote a series of novels, short stories and poems that she said Patience dictated to her through the board. This continued on until 1937, when Patience predicted Curran’s unexpected death by pneumonia on December 3rd of that year.

Hasbro’s Latest Ouija Board

Hasbro's latest edition of the Ouija board talking board game
Hasbro’s latest edition of the talking board (available here) harkens back to the original allure of the mystifying oracle.

Collectors and aspiring occultists ages 8+ will love the faux patina of Hasbro’s latest Ouija Board. The board itself is textured to get that real wood feel, and the planchette has an LED black light that lights up when you touch it, causing the white letters and numbers to glow as it passes over them.

The next time you need to invoke a demonic entity, do it in style.

For more information on the history of the Ouija Board check out Ouija historian Robert Murch’s website www.williamfuld.com

Have you had a strange experience with a Ouija board?
Share it in the comments below.