Sunday, November 25, 2012

Convinced of Spirits

(Click on image for larger view)

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(Above) Click on image for larger viewAn original glass lantern slide photograph, the same image reproduced in Ghosts in Photographs by Fred Gettings, plate 55, with the caption “Photographic Testimonial of Mr. & Mrs. Gibson with spirit image of their deceased child, taken by the Crewe Circle.” Slide size: 3.25” x 3.25”
(Above) Click on image for larger viewAn original 1930 spirit photo by the Falconer brothers of London. Image size: 2.5” x 2”

(Above) Click on image for larger view
An original circa 1900 photo by Robert Boursnell (1832 -1909) with a spirit resembling Jesus. Image size: 3.75” x 5”


(Above) Click on image for larger viewA glass lantern slide (with a diagonal crack) of a sand sediment face inscribed: “This face was formed in the sediment of sand water, after it had been stirred by a finger of the late Mrs. L. Lanchard of New Ulm Minnesota USA (died in 1873 after evaporation of water).” Slide size: 3.25” x 3.25”


GRIEF AND DESPAIR OVER THE LOST OF A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN AN ENTRY POINT for many an unscrupulous person to take advantage of another. Whether by “automatic spirit-driven” drawings, Ouija boards, tapping, voices, noises, bells, sounds and a host of other things, communicating with the dead continues to fool people and take their money even today.

In England, during the late 19th century, everyday people who had lost loved ones were easily fooled simply by not understanding the new medium of photography. They would sit for a photo in a seance-type setting, being told that if spirits were there they could often be seen by a special film. All you had to do was pay for the seance and the photo—come back the next day and Holy Mother of Mary! look who showed up!

The modern spiritualism movement actually began in March 1848 in Hydesville, NY with the Fox sisters who claimed they could communicate with a spirit inhabiting their house by tapping on the floor. Eventually, news of this made it to the great showman P.T. Barnum, who took the sisters on the road and made their “tapping with the dead” a stage act.


Others got into the act, including the Falconer brothers, a gentleman by the name of Robert Boursnell, and numerous others.

At the top of the post, you’ll see old newspaper and gazette articles from England actually attesting to the believability of these charlatans. It is quite revealing, and I hope that they enlarge well enough for you to read. I guess, even back then, these fakes had a good PR firm.

4 comments:

chiaroscuro said...

I saw similar images in a show held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years ago. Yet you now it's just retouched it was still a little spooky ...

John Foster said...

I know, it's spooky— these retouched, altered or whatever images. It's easy now looking at these pictures, to cry fake. The images are almost quaint. Makes you wonder what new "technology" will emerge today that will suppose to allow us to see the "other" side. There are lots of TV shows about haunted houses—and I have just enough belief of the supernatural to NOT want to go there. I don't even like Ouiji boards.

Maureen said...

I lived in a Civil War era house in Richmond where my rocking chair would move by itself on a regular basis. Called her Grannie.

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