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February 10th 1922
The Baltimore Sun
OUIJA BOARD IS TAXABLE APPELLATE COURT SAYS
Judge Woods, In Richmond, Hands Down Opinion Affirming Baltimore Judgement
KNAPP TAKES OPPOSITE VIEW
Contends Device Is Not To Be Considered A Game, Being In Class By Itself
Richmond, Va., Feb 9 (Special) - The ouija board is a game and subject to Government revenue tax, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals held today in and opinion written by Judge Charles A. Woods affirming the judgement of the District Court of Baltimore, in the case of Joshua W. Miles, Collector of Internal Revenue, against the Baltimore Talking Board Company, Inc.
Appellate Judge Martin A. Knapp presented a dissenting opinion, in which he stated that he was not convinced that the ouija board is a game within the meaning of the revenue act or otherwise.
Discusses Physical Feature.
The court, in its majority opinion said:
“It seems safe to say that psychologists recognize the ouija board as a real means of expression of automatism.
“But the court cannot pretend to be ignorant that it is very largely sold with the expectation that it is to be used merely as a means of social amusement or play and is actually so used. It is true that automatism is the basis of its use, but phenomena of physical as well as of physical nature may be the basis of amusement and games.”
Gives Dissenting View.
Judge Knapp in his dissenting opinion said:
“The general clause of the section ‘games and parts of games’ must be construed under the familiar doctrine of ejustem generis as embracing only articles of some similarity to those mentioned specifically. But the ouija board has no real likeness in construction or use to any of the specified articles. It is unique, in a class by itself, plainly different and distinguishable from any of the enumerated games.”
The case first landed in court when the Talking Board Company protested a tax assessment of $202.81, representing 10 per cent of its sales of ouija boards, its contention being that such devices are not games within the meaning of the statute.