Since December 2014, I've been posting articles on the Talking Board Historical Society Facebook page. Several viewers suggested that I make a blog with those posts to share with others who might not be on social networking for whatever reason. So here they are. Expect to find random bits of information plus a few thinly disguised rants. All talking board related, of course. Newest first.


Hasbro Gaming has just released a limited edition Stranger Things Ouija Board in time for the Netflix season 2 premiere and for Halloween. Special edition themed Ouija boards are always novel, so let's have a look.

A lot of thought went into this board set and the artwork is very nice appealing to fans of the hit show and collectors who will rightfully see it as a collectible that is going to have future value and charm. The box, front and back of the board, plus the insert, all depict attractive scenes and fun references to the show. Instructions are included and warnings guard you against the Upside Down if you know what that means and you certainly do if you watch the series. The letters are well placed for the planchette but the numbers, being close to the edge, are hard to hit without twisting the planchette sideways. Still, that doesn't detract from what is otherwise a delightful TV show theme set. The board is made in the United States and recommended for 14+, in keeping with Netflix's guidelines.

What's not to like? This is not the sturdiest of board games. Six out of six of the boxes on the shelf at the local Target store showed signs of crush damage. The boards are barely thicker than the boxes and two of the boards inspected were visibly warped. Take special care when you store the box and be careful not to stack anything on top. And no, the board doesn't light up like in the show. Here's an idea: maybe you can hack one. Just be careful of creatures coming through the walls. –October 17, 2017


"An investigation into the aesthetic history of the talking board in terms of its typography and its graphic design fits squarely within the nascent field of ethnobibliography." So says Jesse Ryan Erickson in his "An Aesthetic History of the Ouija Board." If this catches your attention as something a little different you're in for a treat. Erickson's typographic review of the talking board wonderfully blends the history of the talking board, early spiritualism, occultism, and its relationship to graphic design and printing. No matter how much you think you know, prepare to be surprised. His discussions of typefaces, stencils, plus deeper connections to our collective notions of race and ethnicity are surprising and sure to get you thinking. This one will go on your bookshelf. Issue #22 Printing History, The Journal of the American Printing History Association. Available at printinghistory.org. -October 8, 2017


Just got my official TBHS talking board and thought I'd do a review. The first thing I liked was the simple yet competent design reminiscent of the older William Fuld Ouija boards. At a nice manageable size (10 1/2" x 15 3/4"), the Baltic Birch wood ply is exactly as thick as the 1940s boards, putting it right in the heavy weight category. You aren't going to be warping this thing unless you leave it out in the rain for an entire season. The pretty, light honey colored finish is wonderfully smooth to the touch and just makes you want to admire it. Say what you will but there is something really special about nicely finished wood boards. For those of you who have been complaining about those thin, cardboard ones, here you go. But how does it work? Since it doesn't yet come with a planchette, you need to provide your own. You can easily shape one out of any lightweight material or use an inverted shot glass, which, I discovered, is about the perfect size to hit all the letters and numbers. For my planchette, I enlisted the help of my former familiar Fluffy who is always happy to help for a photo op. Her first message? "Meow!" What else would you expect from a kitty? Want one of these boards? Help support the Talking Board Historical Society and keep it in production. Log into PayPal and send $45 to payment@tbhs.org. -September 27, 2017


Alcohol intoxication brought a group of North Attleboro friends to the next level of stupid when they set an abandoned building ablaze after attempting to burn a Ouija board. One of them was frightened by "ZOZO the Ouija Board demon," according to The Sun Chronicle news report. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the fire was quickly extinguished by local firefighters. Because the young people had no prior records they avoided charges of arson and trespassing but were sentenced to probation for vandalism and breaking and entering.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: mind altering chemicals and the Ouija board don't mix. It may end badly so just don't do it because obviously your judgment is going to be impaired. Even if you manage to avoid burning yourself alive you might try to drive home afterwards and that could be just as disastrous. Maybe we need a new slogan: "Friends don't allow friends to Ouija drunk" or "Only you can prevent Ouija fires." Ok, pretty bad, I know. Feel free to leap in with your own slogans. Maybe we'll make a T-shirt. –September 6, 2017


September is quick upon us and you know what that means: stores are gearing up for Halloween. That's good news for you Ouija maniacs because there is more Ouija merchandise than you can shake a planchette at. Just a few items from the Spirit stores include a Ouija doormat, Ouija mug and tumbler, Ouija lip gloss, bottle opener, dish cloth, scarf, and matching salt and pepper shakers. Target and Ross Dress for Less will be rolling out their own Ouija related merchandise also. This can be an awful lot of fun unless you are one of those sourpusses who abhors mass merchandising, which we can totally understand, by the way. We have purists aboard too. Perhaps the take away from all this is the amazing popularity that the Ouija board has seen in recent years. So, if you like it maybe we'll take a little credit. If not, hey — don't look at us! August 30, 2017


When Drueke Carrom ordered a limited production run (2255) of their 1940s Mystic Soothsayer for a Restoration Hardware Halloween special in 2001 it was almost an exact replica of the earlier board. Almost. Compare the two side by side and notice that the board is the same but the newer planchette has an entirely different design. An examination of the 40s version reveals why although it might be a bit of a Rorschach test. Whether the decision was Restoration Hardware's or Drueke's is unknown but there is no doubt that one or both wanted to minimize controversy. "Um, yeah. Let's change that message indicator." -August 23, 2017


Q: My Ouija board is really freaking me out. Can I donate it to you guys?
A: Yes. One of the services we provide at the Talking Board Historical

Society is to take your "troublesome" talking board. We do it as a public service.

Q: Can I have it back after I send it to you? I may want to use it again even though it is supremely evil.
A: No. We cannot return it. Once you send it to us it is gone from you forever.

Q: What will happen to my Ouija board?
A: We will re-gift it to someone who wants it.

Q: Do I have to pay for shipping?
A: I'm afraid you do. Yes.

Q: Should I cleanse, smudge, perfume, or decontaminate the board first?
A: No. Please do not tamper with it in any way.

Q. ZOZO is stuck on my board. Will you be able to get him off?
A. We doubt that will be a problem. Wait. What exactly did you mean by that?

Q: Will all my problems go away after I send you my board?
A: It depends. If the board concerns you for religious reasons or just makes you uneasy then yes, most likely. If your world is in a tailspin with a constellation of personal problems and challenges then no, you'll wake up tomorrow morning same as today.

Q: I sent you my board and now you won't talk to me. I emailed you thirty times.
A: Sorry. We can take your board and find it a good home but that is the extent of our service. We lack the qualifications to tackle the other challenges you are facing.

Q: I broke my board in seven pieces, buried it in the yard for a month and had a priest bless my house. I just dug it up because my animals were acting strange and urinating on it. Can I send the pieces to you? I'll wrap them in plastic.
A: No you can't. Sorry.

Q: Child Protective Services came and took my younger children away because of my son's actions. He is now hiding in his room whispering to himself in low tones and carving strange symbols into the furniture. I've included a recording.
A: Whoa! This is way beyond us. We wish you the best of luck. -August 16, 2017


Matched accessories to go along with your talking board session? And why not? Portals to the Beyond made this nice ceramic coaster set to compliment their Isaac's Legend talking board set in 2001. A wood container held them nicely. You could use them for drinks (no alcohol during a session, please) or for candles if you didn't mind wax droppings. Portals was one of the first to market accessories with their talking boards on eBay. Now, the list is endless. Accessorize yourself, your room, or entire house. It's completely up to you and the decorating tastes of your significant companions. The spirits may or may not care one way or the other. -August 2, 2017


Haskelite Corporation's pretty Mystic Boards and Mystic Trays dominated the 1940s talking board market thanks to Walter Gibian, head of Hasko's Specialty Division. Center in this photo is the Egyptian Mystic Board flanked on the left by the green zodiac Hasko Mystic Board and on the right by the blue zodiac Hasko Mystic Board. On the top is Hasko's Mystic Tray and on the bottom is the black zodiac Hasko Mystic Board. All were available in small and large versions except for the Egyptian Mystic Board. Today, the Mystic Tray is the most commonly found thanks to its sturdy construction. The others show up on ebay regularly too, and make a nice starter wall collection for someone interested in talking boards. If the witch on the black zodiac board looks familiar that's because Disney Studios licensed images to Haskelite for use on other trays where you will see Goofy, Pluto and Mickey Mouse. -July 26, 2017


You're into Ouija boards but they won't work for you without a partner. What to do? First, let me say that you're not alone. This is a common complaint not only from those new to the board but also experienced collectors as well. It's a shame too, because you're really missing out. Sidestepping the question of who you are contacting when you are using the Ouija, the fact is, it's someone and they often have interesting, sometimes insightful information to share. Interpreting messages can be tremendously rewarding or at the very least, an amusing way to spend some free time instead of mindless television. Problem is, you've got those letters and spelling words takes time. If the planchette is sitting there like a stone, not much is going to happen.

In the early 1970s, Jacob Burke and Ziva Rosen tackled this problem with an entirely new talking board design. Initially called "Ziriya, the Human Battery Circuit Talking board," it used a word salad approach. That is, you select words, rather than letters then string them together to form sentences. This results in a quick and easy way to obtain messages with minimal thinking and effort. But what if your planchette won't move? Well, you push it, of course! You start by moving it around the board and you look to see what comes up. Oh, but you're saying: "it's supposed to move by itself!" The Truth is, the planchette never "moves by itself" because if it did you wouldn't have to touch it, right? With a little help from you, that planchette is going to be making you believe it's moving by itself soon enough. You're just giving it a boost to get it started because that's what it requires. And if you think that unknown entities are guiding your hands, that's sorta the point and fine by me. I don't judge. So guide that indicator around the board and be a spectator as that "other feeling" kicks in and the messages start to come. It's simple and it works. Ziriya boards are still available on eBay sometimes but failing that you can make your own version with a sharpie and a regular Ouija board. It will take time but be well worth it since many users report superior results with personalized boards. In the picture above: a close up of a Ziriya board with an acrylic magnifier (available at most office supplies) message indicator. Google "Ziriya" for more pictures and information. -July 19, 2017


Is that one half of a paddle ball set? A ping pong paddle with legs perhaps? If you know about talking boards, you recognize this as the first Ouija board planchette from 1890. But why the odd paddle shape and not the more familiar heart shape of the popular, at the time, writing planchette? Indeed, spiritualists had been using the writing planchette with letter and number boards for many years already as a natural pointer. Elijah Bond's original patent offers little help simply describing it as ''a peculiarly-shaped table having legs and a pointer," and "a table consisting of a disk supported, on four legs, one of which is arranged on an elongated projection, serving as an index." The original illustration looks much like the finished product except that it has a much sharper "elongated projection." Why it was rounded off is as much a mystery as the odd table itself. Were the originators trying to introduce something innovative with the paddle or perhaps did they just not think to use the heart shaped message indicator in the first place? We may never know. In any event, the paddle was not to last. Within a very few years, it was replaced by the more familiar heart shape that we all know today. -July 12, 2017


Are you one of the frightened? You are if you message us with a tale of complete disaster after you, your family, friend, or significant other used a Ouija board and now your life is an utter wreck. You want our advice, so here it is: Breathe. Now listen carefully: 1. it wasn't the Ouija board, so cheer up. 2. If tragedy isn't a pattern for you, life will get better. If it is a pattern for you, a good rule to live by is to never ride a bicycle when your balance is off. That goes for the Ouija board too. - July 5, 2017


So, what about that evil Ouija demon ZOZO we've been hearing about? Those of you who know might blame ZOZO evangelist Darren Evans for his meme the "Zozo Phenomenon" and you would be almost entirely right. As we look back historically, we find no ZOZO episodes before his creation no matter how deeply we dig. Actually, that isn't entirely true and I'll explain. There is a well-known reason as to why new sitters sometimes get ZOZO or, more frequently, the less intimidating MAMA. As a user passes the planchette over the letters of the board, it's normal to follow the curve of the alphabet. The lowest letter set is the easiest. You start at one end and stop at the other, The Z and 0 are at the opposite ends of the lower letters. Since we, as English readers, use vowels in our words we typically form ZOZO not ZNZN. It's also easy to pick MAMA from the upper letters and newbies sometimes get stuck thinking that they are talking to their mothers. If it's ZOZO, an Internet search, which used to return nothing, now reveals an evil entity that has purportedly been haunting Ouija users for centuries. This is entirely fictitious, of course, although not without some charm. A shared experience with other sitters is what we are looking for. So to your question, "is ZOZO real or fake," now you know the answer and can answer responsibly when your friends are freaking out. Ever onward Ouija fans. - June 21, 2017


Fox pulled the 2005 TV soap drama Point Pleasant after only three months and it's no wonder. The Devil's daughter washes up on the shore of Point Pleasant, New Jersey and wreaks havoc with the townsfolk. How real or entertaining is that? Not very, according to viewers who tuned right out. One good thing was this cool promo talking board with veiled planchette. That's the Devil's daughter staring skyward if you were wondering. A true factoid tidbit for talking board collectors only, because no one else will find it interesting, is that the very first Nirvana board that we ever saw surfaced from Point Pleasant, New Jersey. We're not drawing any parallels. It's just interesting, that's all. The Nirvana, for those of you who don't know, was Ouija patentee Elijah Bond's "other" talking board. -June 14, 2017


In recent years there has been much confusion over the words "GOOD BYE" on the Ouija board. Add New Age influence, which likes to ritualize everything with superstitions warning that horrible things will happen if you don't "close the board" and there is a new reality for users. The Ouija board is now a computer where participants "force quit" a scary session by moving the planchette to GOOD BYE. But what does GOOD BYE really mean? While we can't go back 130 years to ask the creators, we can look at how it's been used traditionally through time. GOOD BYE, like the words YES and NO, mean exactly what they say. When the planchette moves to any of these words, it's a reply from the spirits - or your inner mind, depending on which way you swing in the matter. When the planchette moves to GOOD BYE it means the session is over. The entity you are communicating with has ended the session. Stop and try again later. To end it yourself, simply put away the board. You need no closing ritual and no entity will remain behind any more than a caller does when you hang up your phone. Your connection is effectively broken. Regardless of popular thinking, the board is only a tool and can't capture or "hold" spirits. If that were true, there would be haunted Ouija boards for sale on eBay. Oh, there are! Maybe you shouldn't believe those either. -June 7, 2017


Talking boards come in all kinds of weird configurations. Take this Metacom Psychic Communicator (Metcom Products, 1947) with the strange wooden apparatus that hovers above the board to spell out messages. Participating in the séance are creators Eddy and Leopold Fuchs and Nat Liebler who made their living in the diamond business. Helping is Liebler's sister Mrs. Steven Reinhold. In 1947, women were named after their husbands. Standing is an investigator of psychic phenomena, Dr. Thomas L. Garrett. There is no mention of what kind of doctor he is but he looks very important with his stethoscope and bow tie. Presumably he could jump in during a medical emergency if needed. In the background is some kind of peculiar equipment presumably related to the diamond trade but that is only a wild guess. -May 31, 2017


Is it it safe to summon Cthulhu? This might sound like an odd question since many Ouija board users go to extreme measures to protect themselves from the baddies. This may include complex rituals, crystals, silver coins, "cleansing" the board, or "smudging" which will stink things up just like you prefer. Of course, there are others who do none of these things preferring instead to wing it. But there are small subsets of users who want the thrill of summoning Cthulhu, Lucifer, or whoever sounds most menacing and most likely to eat you. That's the way it is. They are likely to ask in an online group if this is OK and this is sure to be followed by opinions of all sorts ranging from dire warnings to people egging them on, presumably, to help clear the gene pool for a better future.

So, how much danger are they in really? We're glad you asked. In most cases, Lucifer, Cthulhu, or Scooby-Doo's evil twin fails to make an appearance regardless of what you see on YouTube. There are exceptions when sitters overdose on hallucinogens and have to be carried away on stretchers, so we recommend that you don't combine Ouija with drugs. Drugs will win every time, unfortunately. Occasionally, even the best- intentioned have what they interpret as bad experiences with the Ouija board. These are rarely serious given the fact that they can't wait to get back to it. Our sage advice is: if something about the Ouija bothers you, stop. That works with other things also. Other than that - go for it. Let Cthulhu (un)float your boat. –May 24, 2017


Here's a nice quartet of "Ouija girls" from different years past. Upper left: Emily the Strange ODD.I.SEE-Dark Horse (2009), upper right: Ouija-Canada Games (1994), lower left: Mystic Answer Board-Remington Morse (1944), lower right: We-ja Girl-A Barrel of Fun (1940). We're betting one speaks to you. Which one? -May 17, 2017


Is that the wicked queen from Disney's Snow White on that Ouija board and if so, what's she doing there? The old hag certainly looks out of place on this pretty 1940s Hasko Mystic Board with the Middle East theme. Maybe they thought she put the witch back in the witch board. Haskelite Corporation's popular Mystic Boards and Mystic Trays were stiff competition for William Fuld's Ouija and Mystifying Oracles during and after the Second World War. Aside from talking boards, Hasko also manufactured cartoon themed trays using characters licensed from Walt Disney Studios, which is why we see Peter Pan, the Seven Dwarfs, Goofy and other cartoon characters on many. Fortunately for us, only the Old Hag made it to the Mystic Boards. Goofy and Pluto wearing turbans might have been interesting but also would have ruined any sense of solemnity. After all, how can you have a talking board séance with dogs? Please. Don't answer that. -May 10, 2017


A visitor asks: "Is it OK to use the Ouija board at the beach?" We would answer: "Only if the spirit is willing." -May 3, 2017


Did you get dragged off a plane after refusing to give up your overbooked seat? Or maybe you were booted after your baby stroller caused a crewmember meltdown. Maybe your yoga pants didn't meet the airlines' dress requirements. No matter: if you're at San Francisco International, we agree with Heather Kelley. The Mysterious Talking Board: Ouija and Beyond is worth missing your flight for. It's there for only a few more weeks so do something ludicrous soon - or not and get to your destination in time. Terminal 2 through May 7th. -April 26, 2017


We usually think of the Ouija board as being American and forget its influence in other countries and what's going on there. Take a look at this Spanish board made in the late 1980s by Ediciones lberoamericanas Quorum and sold as part of their Enciclopedia Practica De Las Ciencias Prohibidas (Encyclopedia of Forbidden Practices). Artist Victoriano Briasco really captured the essence of how we view the Ouija with both dark and light sides fully represented although you might not see them at first since your focus is drawn immediately to the center of the board by the strange sun and moon. On the left border there are hellish demons and creepy slimy snake like creatures. The right has angels and a medieval army marching (presumably) to victory. It all blends together in a wonderfully disturbing and mysterious way. -April 19, 2017


MSN Lifestyle's "The Weirdest Facts About All 50 States" recently reported: "Maryland: The first Ouija board was invented in Baltimore by Elijah Bond, who proudly selected its design for his tombstone." Except for one thing he didn't. OK, two things: Bond was the original patentee, not the inventor. The stone was our esteemed Chairman (of the board) Robert Murch's idea when he located Bond's unmarked grave in Green Mount Cemetery ten years ago and wanted to memorialize it. When he told me he was planning a Ouija themed tombstone for Bond, I replied "you're going to do what?" in that voice I use when I hear something questionable. Seemed to me a better use for the money. As it turns out, it was a brilliant idea. With help from donors, the beautiful stone now honors Bond, the Ouija board, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the historic Maryland cemetery. -April 12, 2017


A few years ago, Hasbro changed the design of their Ouija board and added an interesting innovation: an electric, light up planchette. Some of us liked it, some not so much as it was finicky electronically and a little hard to move on the board's rough surface. Hasbro fixed these problems by shifting back to their previous standard plastic message indicator. But did you know that the William Fuld Company produced and sold an electric planchette as early as the 1930s? Here it is (right) under the Mystifying Oracle name. No plastic here. This is a massively large sheet metal monster that works amazingly well. A battery lights a bulb when a switch activates as you roll over bumps on the metal board. As forward thinking as William Andrew Fuld was, this beautiful Art Deco board combination sold poorly due to the Great Depression. The story has it that most were recalled and scrapped for metal. Today only a few survive. -April 5, 2015


Today we're looking at interesting talking boards from the past. Magician and TV personality Tony Binarelli's "Quinta Dimensione" (Fifth Dimension) talking board (1979) was notable for the dual use of Ouija and ESP cards to capitalize on the pop-occult explosion of the 70s. The special message indicator, as you can see, was specifically designed to respond to evil spirits. April 1, 2017 (April Fool's post)


So you're on the fence about wanting to try a Ouija board. You've heard stories but can't bring yourself to buy one because of all those "things" you've read about on the Internet. Now's your chance to be daring without spending a single penny. Make an impromptu Ouija board using letter and number cards of your own creation with an inverted wine glass as a message indicator. Add candles or whatever other articles seem appropriate to your séance. You, a friend or significant other put your fingertips lightly on the glass and ask, "Is anyone there?" It may help to slide the glass around to get things rolling but let it take over when it feels right. Then ask any other questions that come to mind. Remember: always be respectful because otherwise your session may not go so well. Known as "Ask the Glass," this Ouija board variation has been around forever and works as satisfactorily as anything bought from the store or gifted from your grandmother. When you are through, toss the cards away with not a care in the world that you are violating some ancient rule. You'll probably be just fine. After all, it's only a game - isn't it? - March 22, 2017


Recently, Milwaukee Public Schools officials removed a kindergarten teacher pending an investigation after she used a Ouija board during story time in her classroom. "The kids have been asking for a scary story and I got the board and moved the paper clip to answer some of their questions," the teacher wrote the mom in an email (WISN 12 News). "They asked about scary characters in movies. I did not say there were spirits. It was all done in fun. I understand your concern. It was silly and I'm sorry. I will take the board home and this won't happen again." The Ouija board had been in the school since Halloween. The child's mother said that the 5 year old was having nightmares and demanded the teacher be fired.

A few comments are in order. To Zablocki Elementary: welcome to the new dark age of zero tolerance for common sense. How often do we have to read stories where police are called to schools because two seven year olds are kissing or a student is arrested for bomb making after bringing an electric clock to science or a teen is suspended for sharing her asthma inhaler during a friend's medical breathing emergency? You booted a teacher for using a Ouija board to illustrate a scary story? Seriously? You did that? To the teacher who had the misfortune to use the Ouija board: You are obviously new and haven't been a teacher very long or you would know how the system rolls. Sometimes the hardest lessons are the best. Don't let this disillusion you. Move on and best of luck.

To the mom who wants the teacher sacked: As parents, we all wish that our children grow up smarter and better educated than we are. I sincerely hope that this turns out to be true in your case. To the five year old with nightmares: It's Ok. Really it is. There is nothing under your bed and scary stories are just scary stories. Your friends will tell you that they can even be fun sometimes. Be strong and stare down scary things. Excel in science and learn to question everything. Go out and solve our energy problem. Peace. -March 15, 2017


Cemetery art seems to be a natural choice for talking boards and we do see it occasionally. A nice example is this exquisite Celtic, grieving angels, broken roses design from artist Luna Lakota distributed as the Forever Spirit Board (Nemesis Now 2009). Small at thirteen inches across, the heavy resin board weighs in at about ten pounds with the glass top (removed for photo) making it a chunky, tombstone heavyweight. It's also a great conversation piece since it's a departure (pun intended) from the usual wooden boards. -March 8, 2017


Ok, so first let's gingerly sidestep the question about whether we're contacting the dead when using a Ouija board. Why? Because the Ouija has a reputation to maintain and that's why I like it, same as most of you probably. Instead, let's talk about this ideomotor thing that you may have heard about. The term is "ideomotor response" coined by William Benjamin Carpenter in the early 1850s. The word "ideomotor" derives from "ideo" or "idea" and "motor" or "movement." You pronounce it "eye-dee-a-motor" not "id-ee-o-motor" since it has nothing to do with the Freudian "id" unless you think deeply about it and we don't want to go deeply today. Point is, social scientists and skeptics like to use "ideomotor response" to explain what happens when you push the Ouija pointer without knowing you are doing it. You heard that right. Assuming the spirits aren't doing it, who else is left? It's just you and your partner pushing it around the board oblivious to the fact that you're really responsible. That may sound fantastic so let's take a closer look.

The theory is that these messages come from you, your "higher mind" or "lower mind" or somewhere in between - whatever you want to call it and that you are accessing them in an unconscious way through the board. Can there be an advantage to that other than the scare factor because as we all know, we harbor some pretty scary thoughts in our heads, don't we. Actually, with a little practice, the Ouija board is a wonderful way to retrieve inner feelings and thoughts and concerns that are important to us in this unconventional and often revealing way. That the messages seem to come from somewhere else makes them all the more interesting and as funny as it sounds, that inner mind of yours is smarter than you think. So, got a question about your love life, work, your health or anything else pertinent? Ask the Ouija and prepare to be amazed. Just remember: the Ouija doesn't always tell the truth (and neither do you) so do interpret your responses sensibly. -March 1, 2017


-Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
-February 22, 2017


Want to have an interesting dining and, ah, bathroom experience?
Old Devil Moon
3472 Mission St. San Francisco
Craft beer - cocktails - po boys - patio
Mischief made and spirits raised -February 15, 2017


Here's a challenge for you talking board enthusiasts and anyone else with sharp eyes who wants to try to identify a fake Witch-E (1920s) planchette. Examine the pictures closely and before you scroll down for the answer, pick one or more of the numbered planchettes that might seem a little suspicious then we'll see how you did. Look closely!

Ouija and talking boards were once relatively safe from counterfeiters. It simply wasn't worth the time and effort for boards that sold in the $50-$100 range. With prices north of $1000 now for the rarer ones, that's no longer the case and new collectors particularly need to be aware. Ready? Let's take a look.

1. Number 1 belongs to TBHS Chairman Robert Murch. It's a beautiful example of the authentic item and one that you may want to use to judge the others if you haven't already.

2. You look at number 2 and immediately identify a counterfeit. Sloppy and drawn freehand, you know by comparing it to the others that it's a fake. It appears that the witch is holding a leaf blower rather than the business end of a broom. Question is, if you'd never seen it before and didn't what to look for would you be so certain? This sold for big money not too long ago.

3. Darker and not as detailed as number 1, you may jump to the conclusion that number 3, owned by TBHS director John Kozik is a fake. You might be mistaken. This is what we call a "variation." A variation is something that occurs when there is a change in design, however small, from one production run to another. We see this often and it always raises interesting challenges. Normally, I'd question this one myself and not offer a verdict until I had a chance to examine it in real life. Fortunately, that's already been done and the verdict is in. It's real.

4. Compare number 4 to number 1 and you know its simply too nice to be counterfeit. If you think that you'd be wrong because that's a fake planchette I made earlier in the week as an example for this article. I think it's safe to say that it would pass muster in any eBay auction. Yikes! So what can we take from all this? With the availability of modern printers and equipment if someone wants to fool you they can. They might even do that with a little ink, plywood, and a backyard shed too, so it's important for you as a buyer to do your homework before you purchase. Know your talking boards. Google your item and you'll quickly pull up some fine examples for comparison. If you have any doubts, ask an expert. We're not always right but we're getting better. -February 8, 2017


Question of the day: "How do I prepare for a Ouija session?" Well, you could always do as I did and load up your board with a totem gargoyle, candles, crystals, a spirit hand and a not-so-authentic six pound Tibetan spirit dagger just in case of trouble. But the reality is, while many like to adorn their sessions with all kinds of stuff, it's also permissible just to use your board alone with nothing else. There are no hard and fast rules except for one: you want to personalize your session to best suit your individual tastes. A totem gargoyle is not for everyone unless you happened to buy it from a street vendor near Notre Dame like I did. For that reason, I always start and end my session with him standing guard. I'm kidding. While that may sound absurd, what doesn't these days? Enjoy your sessions any way you like and make the most of the time you spend with the Wonderful Talking Board. Please report back your results. We'd love to hear them. –February 1, 2017


Ouija facts: 1920, the J.M. Simmons factory in Chicago measured 44,000 square feet and manufactured over a million Ouija boards. The plant used one million feet of specially selected timber for the boards and 200,000 feet for the planchettes. The planchette legs took an additional 25,000 feet. Although we usually think of William Fuld as the "father of the Ouija board," J.M Simmons was a worthy competitor taking on the moniker of "The Ouija King." -January 18, 2017


As you might guess, we talking board collectors usually place higher value on older collectible boards because they are rarer and harder to find. Age makes a board valuable but problem is, many of us are getting priced out of the market. When an expensive one slips by, we imagine how wonderful it would be to go back in time and buy for $1.50 what's selling on eBay now for $500. We overlook what is under our noses forgetting that the new always becomes the old eventually. Given that, let's examine four very collectible recently manufactured boards that could be fetching high prices in the coming years and discuss why they should be in your collections.

Hasbro's Ouija (2013) was a huge departure from the earlier William Fuld series. Gone was the familiar design and in its place was something new, original and mysteriously edgy. An electronic planchette lit the letters through the window with an eerie ultraviolet effect and if you were observant enough you could discover hidden messages and mysterious numbers. How did it work? Ah, not so well unfortunately. The rough texture of the board prevented the planchette from moving smoothly and lighting was iffy because of less than perfect electronics. Hasbro solved these problems by reissuing a smoother board and going back to the standard white plastic planchette. Regardless of the improvements, you may want to pick up an original while they are still available. You don't see this kind of major innovation often.

The pink Ouija (2008) for girls was sheer marketing genius coupled with masterful execution. Packaged in a pink purse, this board came with a set of egocentric question cards and was sure to appeal if you were 12 and female. Was there controversy from moralists and the religious right? Oh, you know it. Did that sell Ouija boards? It did and very successfully. Do you need one for your collection? Of course you do. The pink Ouija will be raising eyebrows for years to come. That I can guarantee.

Ouija (2011) Ozzy Osborne Collector's Edition. If you don't know why this board belongs in your collection, I don't even know why I'm talking to you. Look at that thing! Was there ever a crazier looking Ouija board? Maybe, but I can't remember when right now. You could explode just looking at it. Point is, once these are gone, they are really gone. Don't let that happen to you. No complaining in 20 years when you had your chance and there it is on eBay for $500. Don't even laugh because it could happen. Yes, it might.

Ouija Supernatural Join the Hunt (2014) was a theme board made to capitalize on the popular TV series "Supernatural" and it's pretty cool looking. Where's the "Z" you ask? Oh, you didn't ask because you didn't notice and neither did anyone at Hasbro or USAopoly before this went on public sale. Oops! And that oops is why you better get one as a collectible. How often does that happen? Maybe once in a blue moon and that is also why you are going to be impressing viewers of your collection years from now after asking "what is missing" and getting blank stares. Just don't make the mistake of trying to use the board because it's too small for the planchette, another oops. Clearly the product testers were on break for Halloween with the designers - something you can gleefully speculate about. A fail for Hasbro can be a win for you. -January 11, 2017


"Dear TBHS, Is it OK to burn my Ouija board?" No people, it is NOT OK to burn your Ouija boards and here's why:

1. Your Ouija board does not make a good fire starter. Try dryer lint instead.

2. If you want to burn your Ouija, we think it's because you've read somewhere (on the Internet) that it will solve a problem of yours. It will not. You are doomed either way. Sorry to tell you this.

3. Let's face it. You're not going to do it right. Instead of a fireplace, you're going to burn it outside next to your house. Bad idea. Really bad idea.

4. Your Ouija board will not scream if you burn it. Waiting for that to happen is really, really pointless.

5. Please don't use accelerants like gasoline when you decide to completely disregard what we are saying. And whatever you do, don't light a match after you've spilled it all over yourself.

6. Your church group decided to spend parishioners' contributions on Harry Potter books, astrology texts and a few Ouija boards to burn to make a statement against demonic forces. How did that work out for you this election year? Just wondering.

7. Don't attempt to burn your Ouija board, fail, then expect us to take it because it's "now safe" that you've hosed it down. We won't do it. Don't even ask.

8. You've burned your Ouija board, thought it was gone, yet there it is, back in your closet or under your bed and now you are really freaked out. Sorry, we have no explanation for that. Not a polite one, anyway.

Now, I know what you are thinking: "are those answers in response to real life situations?" Yes, they are and thank you for asking. You may send any problematic Ouija boards to us and we will re-gift them responsibly. Next week: "Is it OK to sprinkle my Ouija board with holy water, break it into seven pieces and bury it?" -January 4, 2017

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