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March 2nd 1921
The Baltimore Sun

Layer, Appealing For Refund Of Sales Tax, Explains Mystery Of Device

Is the ouija board a game or a scientific invention?

This is the questions put to Judge Rose in the United States District Court today where the Baltimore Talking Board Company is suing Internal Revenue Collector Joshua W. Miles for a refund of taxes levied on the proceeds of sales of the boards.

The company, represented by Assistant Attorney General Allan Fisher – acting in his private capacity and not as a state official – and Col. Washington Bowie made the contention that it was a medium of communication between this world and the next and therefore does not in any sense constitute a game.

On the other hand, Assistant District Attorneys Lindsay and M. George T. Dorolo, in support of the law under which the tax was levied, claim it is just a game. At least they said that some persons manage to get a lot of sport out of it, even though some other folk may take the board seriously.

Name Mean “Yes-Yes.”
“Ouija,” according to a definition read by Mr. Fisher, is derived from a combination of French and German. That is the French “Oui” and the German “Ja,” both of which in common, ordinary, United States lingo mean “Yes.”

“In other words,” said he, “It is a board that answers yes in advance languages.”

“It is entirely different than a game,” he said, “because in a game take a slot machine, for instance, and everybody knows that’s a game. A man puts a nickel in the slot and when the color he plays turns around he either wins or loses. He plays the machine. But in the case of the ouija board you don’t play to win or lose.”

He then referred to eminent scientists whom he said have declared that after departing from the present sphere they would communicate with the living. They haven’t done so yet he said.