Starting with the automatic writing method planchette, we begin a series about Ouija boards. We’ll dig into the strange history of the much admired and maligned method of communicating with spirits and/or having fun at parties.

Before Ouija, there was planchette. Invented in Paris in the 1850s, planchette was a method of automatic writing. Much like the planchette we recognize from today’s Ouija boards, it was a heart-shaped plank of wood. But it was much larger than today’s planchettes, rested on wheels or casters, and had a slot to put a pencil through. One or several people would rest their hands on the planchette, and see what messages come through.

Highlights include: The Spiritualist movement, weird personifications of “Planchette,” plenty of alarmist rhetoric about this popular parlor game/occult technique, and the story of a young woman in New Orleans who supposedly died as a result of her obsession with planchette

This is the first of ?? episodes about Ouija boards. We’ll be back next week to talk about the invention of Ouija boards and spirit boards!


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Planchette and Automatic Writing Sources

Books mentioning planchette

Where to buy planchette


Historical Articles and advertisements about planchette

  • The Confessions of Reformed Planchettist from Harper’s Monthly Magazine
  • Planchette. The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York) · Sat, Jul 11, 1868 · Page 2
  • Planchette. Burlington Times (Burlington, Vermont) · Sat, Apr 4, 1868 · Page 2
  • Planchette. Daily Press and Herald (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Wed, Jul 29, 1868 · Page 4
  • Planchette. Gold Hill Daily News (Gold Hill, Nevada) · Tue, Jul 14, 1868 · Page 2
  • Planchette. New Orleans Republican (New Orleans, Louisiana) · Thu, Jul 2, 1868 · Page 2
  • Ad Planchette Quad City Times Sat Jul 25 1868
  • Ad Planchette The Daily Milwaukee News Wed Jul 15 1868
  • Ad Planchette The Buffalo Commercial Sat Jul 11 1868
  • Mr Home The Pall Mall Gazette Fri May 15 1868
  • My Acquaintance With Planchette The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer Sat Jul 25 1868
  • Planchette Star Tribune Fri Jul 3 1868
  • Planchette The Daily Evening Express Sat Jul 11 1868
  • Planchette The Native Virginian Fri Jul 24 1868
  • Planchette The Scranton Republican Sat Aug 8 1868
  • Planchette The Times Democrat Wed Jul 1 1868
  • Planchette The Times Picayune Tue Sep 15 1868
  • Planchette The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer Wed Jul 8 1868
  • Planchette Is Simply Nowhere. Herald and Tribune Thu Apr 29 1886


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