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Talking Board Illustration 1886

April 9th 1886
Atchison Daily Globe

The Mysterious Amusement Which is Fascinating Ohio People

Many of our readers will still remember planchette, the strange little heart-shaped board with a pencil at its point which used to walk over yards of paper and write no end of sense and nonsense if the finger tips of two persons touched the upper surface of the board.

Planchette had its day, and mostly died out. But the same mysterious force which used to impel it is moving now another kind of little board, and setting whole communities of eminently sober and respectable Ohio people on their heads.

You see how it is made. A bit of board, say 18x20 inches, is lettered, rather large, with the alphabet, A, B, C, D, etc. The letters are put a small distance apart. At the upper corners of the board are written the words “yes” and “no,” the “yes” on the left, the “no” on the right. on the left and right hand lower corners respectively are written “good evening” and “good night.” Underneath the letters of the alphabet are the figures in a row, the whole arranged like this:

Then a tiny table is made with four legs. It is three or four inches high and very and very thin and light. Two persons sit opposite each other and take the board upon their knees as in the picture. The little four-legged table is placed upon the board. The two person grasp lightly with the thumb and forefinger the corners of the table that is next to them.

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Talking Board Illustration 1886

The two sit down and become quiet, asking the question: “Are there any communications?” After a few minutes the little table begins to move over the board. It is an intelligent, or at least, semi-intelligent force that guides the table, for it answers questions. Sometimes it talks utter nonsense and again it will write real information. The table spells out sentences in this way. When a question is asked, the table moves towards the letters, and the foot stops upon the first one of the sentence to be written out. Then it passes to the next one and the next one and so on, with more or less rapidity. A gentleman, who has experimented with the thing says: “Sometimes the table will cover two letters with its feet and then you hang on and ask that the foot be moved from the wrong letter, which will be done.”

One man who thought his family was spending too much time over the talking machine burned it up. Then he left home on a journey. When the talking board could not be found someone made another, and the amusement went on as before. To the question what had become of the other board the answer was given, “Jack burned it up,” which somewhat astonished Jack on his return.

The questions may be asked mentally, even by persons sitting in the room several feet away from the operators, and the answers are given just as readily. In some cases remarkable and truthful revelations are said to have been given about living persons. But it is not well to give too much heed to these revelations.