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Ringo

I like to not get involved in these matters
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
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MODS, please move if necessary. I wasn't quite sure if it was Esoterica, Ghosts or whatever!

I need help finding a good website that describes and shows how Victorian spiritualists would fool their audiences. I need details and if possible, diagrams of set-up, positioning, lighting etc. I am on short notice here so websites are the order of the day. I don't have time to order any books. I'm looking for parlour games, tests of psychic ability, paranormal manifestations and so forth.

Anyone have any good suggestions?
 
Google for Harry Price - you should get plenty of good websites for research that way

Have fun!
 
you could also Google on Harry Houdini . he spent a fair amount of his life trying to debunk fake mediums too.
 
This catalogue of novelties used in Masonic side-degrees has a lot of information about the kinds of tricks which were available to spiritualists and others.

http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmu ... /index.htm

I see that I found it in 2004 and posted a link but that punychicken had got there first and linked to it in 2002.

Very weird and informative with lots of ways to electrocute your chums or give them a good mechanical spanking! :shock:
 
Affinity by Sarah Waters has a description of how to make luminous powder. its set in victorian times and has a prison visitor bonding with a 'medium' who has been incarcerated for assaulting a client during a seance. the medium using her 'psychic gifts' hoodwinks the prison visitor lady into helping her escape, then ditches her. a good read and more restrained than Water' s other books(Tipping the velvet; Fingersmith).
 
Oops, was going to add that 'Mina Scarletti' manages to expose medium tricks in some detail. Ms Stratmann references -in her endnotes- the work of an organisation called the London Dialectical Society formed in 1867 , who formed a committee in 1869 to 'investigate spiritual phenomena' . Their paper from 1871 titled 'Report on Spiritualism of the Committee of the London Dialectical Society, together with Evidence, oral and written, and Selection from the Correspondence ' was published. I am looking for an accessible on line version and will add to the thread if can find one.

 
One of my favourite audio stories that have been listening to recently is 'In the Seance Room' by Lettice Galbraith

Part of the interest is that little seems known about Lettice Galbraith, and may have been an assumed name. Also her written work appeared in a short time span, 1893-1897.
 
Found this interesting blogpost about the legendary Fox Sisters - who are considered to have been the founders of Spiritualism, and the first celebrity mediums, after their alleged encounters with spirits in 1848.
Some interesting material here about tensions that developed between the elder sister Leah and her two younger siblings, Kate/Catherine and Maggie/Margaretta. Certainly the pressures of fame took their toll upon Kate and Maggie.
https://www.london.ac.uk/senate-hou...piritual-awakening-or-death-blow-spiritualism
 
Have written a blogpost about Linda Stratmann's 'Mina Scarletti' novels, set in Brighton in the 1870's. A major theme of the series is the sceptics v. the mediums ....the lead character is firmly aligned with the former. Quite entertaining to read, and as I live in Brighton, appreciate all the local history thrown in. And the author has researched Victorian Spiritualism in some detail.
https://bleakchesneywold.blogspot.com/2023/03/the-mina-scarletti-mysteries-set-in.html
 
This was a blast from the past. A request from 18 years ago!
Re: the original poster, this site looks to have some mediumship bits for sale in the form of vintage how-to books:
https://quickerthantheeye.com/b/spiritualism

Thanks for that link. I own a lot of them already now but there are a few gems there. Since I asked this question, I have since been involved in this world very heavily and have worked for the past 12 years in the world of spirits and Mentalism, often recreating Victorian seances and manifesting "paranormal" phenomenon. Great fun!

Mr Bleak - thanks for the links. There is some very interesting reading there.
 
My dad used to do 'table rapping' back in the 1930s-1950s as a hobby. According to my mum, he had a repertoire of tricks that could be quite convincing, but it was all a fake.

Apparently he impressed a number of spiritualists with his skills, and they wanted him to join their church, but he didn't believe. After he died my brother burned the table, just in case.
 
My brother passed away a few years ago, but someone else who remembers the story says that he burnt the rapping table because it used to move about at night, so that he would trip over it in the morning. I can't confirm this; it all happened before I was born.
 
Thank you for all the info @Mr Bleak . Much appreciated :twothumbs:
Pleased to share . At present I am looking at the Scottish born medium Daniel Home ( 20 March 1833 – 21 June 1886), who spent his youth in the USA, returned to Britain and became known as Daniel Dunglas Home. He travelled throughout Europe and conducted regular seances which turned into extraordinary happenings.
Home had many detractors including Charles Dickens and Robert Browning, who wrote a rather unkind poem called 'Mr Sludge' about him. He was hit by scandal when a rich widow who adopted and financially supported him demanded her money back, and whole affair ended up in Court.
But Home also had many supporters, who claim that his powers were never sufficiently exposed and disproved.
https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/daniel-dunglas-home
 
Just going to add, the latest biography that I can find about Daniel Dunglas Home is Dr Peter Lamont's 'The First Psychic' , published by Little & Brown in 2005. Dr Lamont was connected to the Koestler Parapsychology Unit of Edinburgh University at the time of writing- he might still be there .

A bit more Charles Dickens can be found in my latest blog post .
https://bleakchesneywold.blogspot.com/2023/03/in-search-of-chesney-wold.html
My thoughts on Chesney Wold, the Lincolnshire home of Lord and Lady Dedlock in 'Bleak House.
 
Just going to add, the latest biography that I can find about Daniel Dunglas Home is Dr Peter Lamont's 'The First Psychic' , published by Little & Brown in 2005. Dr Lamont was connected to the Koestler Parapsychology Unit of Edinburgh University at the time of writing- he might still be there .

A bit more Charles Dickens can be found in my latest blog post .
https://bleakchesneywold.blogspot.com/2023/03/in-search-of-chesney-wold.html
My thoughts on Chesney Wold, the Lincolnshire home of Lord and Lady Dedlock in 'Bleak House.
The name Daniel Dunglas Home rang a bell. I thought he was the bloke who was photographed apparently levitating from a chair at a séance, startling people seated either side of him.

Can't find an image of him doing that so I'm wrong, although he was famous for levitating.

Now I need to know who it was. :chuckle:
 
The name Daniel Dunglas Home rang a bell. I thought he was the bloke who was photographed apparently levitating from a chair at a séance, startling people seated either side of him.

Can't find an image of him doing that so I'm wrong, although he was famous for levitating.

Now I need to know who it was. :chuckle:

Colin Evans, Welsh fake:

ab0a05b4775e11e9c72c39097037a5d6.png


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Evans_(medium)

maximus otter
 
Just going to add, the latest biography that I can find about Daniel Dunglas Home is Dr Peter Lamont's 'The First Psychic' , published by Little & Brown in 2005. Dr Lamont was connected to the Koestler Parapsychology Unit of Edinburgh University at the time of writing- he might still be there

Yes, he is.




















A bit more Charles hire home of Lord and Lady Dedlo 'Bleak House.
 
I have never heard of Colin Evans - fantastic picture. Did a quick search. Yes looks like a faker . His heyday was the 1930's so outside the time period I am researching.
https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/colin-evans-levitation-seance-london-25433683
:hoff:
Yup, that's the chap.
We mercilessly dissected that photo a few years ago on a dedicated thread:

Psychic / Medium Levitation Photos (Colin Evans: London, 1938)

So I misremembered nearly everything about it. :chuckle:
 
D.D. Home was a fascinating character who seems to have not been 100% fake--according to eyewitness accounts he really could do some amazing feats while under the spirits' influence--but like a lot of other Spiritualist-influenced paranormal performers, he wasn't above faking a manifestation when he couldn't work up an actual one. I can kind of understand that, if a medium who was actually in contact with paranormal forces just can't reach the spirits even though they have a paying audience, they wouldn't want to disappoint said paying audience because the spooks pulled a no-show tonight so they work up an impressive fake to show them instead.

That kind of thing (truly "talented" mediums resorting to trickery and getting busted for it, thus forever blotching their names as being phoneys) is of course one of the main reasons Spiritualist mediums aren't taken very seriously by psychic researchers or occultists. I do think there's something to the whole thing, though, for all the fakes and flakes surrounding it.


PS: i just noticed that this is my 100th post to our fine forum. Yay me, i guess.
 
:hoff:
Yup, that's the chap.
We mercilessly dissected that photo a few years ago on a dedicated thread:

Psychic / Medium Levitation Photos (Colin Evans: London, 1938)

So I misremembered nearly everything about it. :chuckle:
Thank you....a fascinating thread. Made me smile to read how the creases in Colin Evans' trousers became significant. One of the sayings of my dear departed mama was that 'You can tell a lot about a man from his trousers'. How right she was.
 
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