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March 18th 1865 - November 18th 1939
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Isaac Fuld, the first born son of Jacob Fuld and Mary Abell, was born in the District of Columbia on March 18th 1865. His father, Jacob Fuld, a Jewish German immigrant, left Büdingen, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany with his parents and siblings and arrived in the United States on September 7th, 1854. His mother Mary Abell was born and raised in York, Pennsylvania. Jacob and Mary were married on September 12, 1863 in Reading Pennsylvania. Though Jacob was raised in a Jewish home, it appears he eventually left his faith. From all accounts and church records Jacob joined the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church on December 31st, 1885 which his wife Mary had joined some five years earlier. Prior to that Isaac joined the same church on March 30, 1883, at the age of 18. Questions still surround whether Isaac and his siblings were raised in a Jewish or Christian household. Likely Jacob married outside his faith and eventually decided to join a Christian church. Jacob did not become a church member until after his father's death. Whichever household Isaac was raised in it was a large one.
Isaac Fuld was one of ten children, four boys, and six girls. Listed from oldest to youngest; Mary, Isaac, William, Lillie, Henrietta, Raymond, Meyer, Sylvia, Violet, and Flora. According to family stories at an early age Isaac, like his brothers and sisters, had a wild imagination and made up many games to amuse himself and others. He attended public school and at the age of 16 his first documented job was as a clerk in 1879 and then a bookkeeper in 1885 for F.X. Ganter in Baltimore, Maryland. This talent would make him the perfect business partner.
Isaac Fuld & Brother began with a verbal agreement in November of 1897 between his brother William Fuld and himself. On July 18th 1898 the Ouija Novelty Company signed an agreement with William and Isaac, trading as Isaac Fuld and Brother, to manufacture and sell Ouija boards for the term of three years. William and Isaac used this agreement to make Ouija boards and other novelties. In 1899 the two expanded their agreement to include payments to Isaac for extra labor. They recorded their partnership on March 28th 1900. It stated:
“This is to certify that Wm. Fuld and Isaac Fuld (Both of Baltimore City) have this day entered into a partnership, in the manufacture and sale of games etc. known as Ouija, U.C. Billies Return Pool & U.C. Billies Calculator etc. That they have agreed to do business on equal profits except that in addition to the above, Wm. Fuld shall receive ten cents per Dozen royalty on the Return Pool & ten cents per dozen on the Calculator. And for this consideration he shall let remain in the business the sum of five hundred dollars, to be used in defraying expenses for the material, in the manufacture of the said games.”
Less than a year later their partnership and relationship were over. On July 18th 1901 William and the Ouija Novelty Company exercised their option not to continue their agreement allowing Isaac Fuld & Brother to manufacture and sell Ouija boards. The Ouija Novelty Company then signed a new agreement exclusively with William Fuld. Whether or not William and Isaac had a falling out that led to this decision, or that act itself caused their bad feelings it would result in a family feud that would last almost a century. It would take their grandchildren Kathy & Stuart Fuld to bury the hatchet in 1997 and reunite the Fuld family.
For twenty years, the brothers would battle in court over who had the right to manufacture the Ouija board. Immediately after the split Isaac continued making Ouija boards and put his name and address on its box as well as on the back of the board itself. William founded his own company named the William Fuld Manufacturing Company and went to court and received an injunction against Isaac prohibiting him from making Ouija boards and any other patented game William owned.
|Isaac Fuld's Belongings
In 1904 Isaac sent out the first samples of his new Oriole talking board. Isaac then founded the Southern Toy Company in 1919 and officially manufactured his talking board. The Oriole board was an exact replica of the Ouija boards the brothers sold together and those made by William and the Ouija and Kennard Novelty Companies before that. Isaac's descendants still posses the stencils the brothers used to make Ouija boards which Isaac altered to make his Oriole boards. Isaac Fuld registered the Oriole trademark (No. 132,378) on June 22nd 1920 after it was discovered in court his initial trademark did not cover talking boards. In 1920 a judge decided William Fuld had the sole right to manufacture Ouija boards and Isaac gave up the talking board business. Isaac continued selling toys until the death of his brother in 1927. In all Isaac had two trademarks on the word “Oriole” and one patent on a pool table.
In 1928 Isaac took a position as a life insurance agent for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of Baltimore, Maryland.
Isaac Fuld married Elizabeth Gruner on January 10th 1886. They had seven children, two boys, and five girls. Listed from oldest to youngest; Evelyn, Florence, Edith M., Edwin J., Helen G., Grace G., and Stuart G.
Isaac continued to make toys and small pieces of furniture until his death on November 18th 1939. Isaac Fuld died of acute bronchitis. You can view his cemetery marker by clicking here.
(While photographing Isaac Fuld’s belongings, Patsy Magsamen, Isaac’s granddaughter, told Kathy Fuld, her husband Jack, and Robert Murch the story about how Isaac’s personal safe, pictured above, hadn’t been opened since his death in 1939. The family had thought the combination was the letter I followed by the letter F, but it never worked, and she wasn’t sure if the safe had been damaged. As they sat and talked Robert turned the dial on the safe until he had what he thought the combination might be. As the dial passed the last letter there was a loud clunk, and the door creaked as it swung open and everyone just stared in amazement. Patsy finally broke the silence by laughing saying “Isn’t it fitting that you would be the person to open the safe!” )