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Oracle/Mystifying Oracle Boards
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William Fuld Oracle
1208 Federal Street
1226-1228-1306 North Central Avenue

The Oracle talking boards were William Fuld's insurance policy. He trademarked the word Oracle (No. 37,806) in 1902 following his infamous split from his brother Isaac Fuld. He learned early on how tough the competition to the Ouija board could be, and he thought if he offered a less expensive alternative he could beat the competition at their own game. He was right, and the Oracle talking board began to build its own following. The Oracle board was manufactured with veneer over pine much like its sister the Ouija board and it shared the full face and crescent moon as well as the stars found on the corners. Its layout makes this board unique as well as its dark diamond shaped planchette. (Cllick board for more pictures.) Manufactured circa 1915 - 1920.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

Unofficially, William began calling his Oracle talking board the Mystifying Oracle years earlier and customers took notice. Though William began using this new name on the back of his boards and on planchette boxes in 1915, he didn't trademark the full words Mystifying Oracle (No. 130,142) until April 6, 1920. With its initial success as an alternative to his Ouija board he wanted to make sure it stayed the number two selling talking board on the market, and its name played a major role. This board is identical to the one above except it says Mystifying Oracle on the front. The diamond shaped planchette was made on lighter wood and better matched the color on the board. (Click board to see more pics.) This earlier version of the board had red printing on the bottom that read “U.S. PATENT JAN 15TH 1915” “MADE BY WILLIAM FULD BALTIMORE, MD U.S.A.” “CANADIAN PATENT NOV. 2ND 1915” Manufactured circa 1920s.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

By the mid 1920's production at the Harford Street factory was humming along and the decision was made to streamline the Mystifying Oracle planchettes with those of the Ouija boards. Its diamond shape would be replaced by the Ouija' board's heart planchette though the words Mystifying Oracle would appear on them. (Click the board for more pictures.) The U. S. and Canadian patent dates were removed from the bottom and all that remained was the words “MADE BY WILLIAM FULD BALTIMORE, MD U.S.A.” The back stayed the same and as always it read “To Obtain the Original Genuine OUIJA BOARD AND GET BEST RESULTS SEE THAT THE NAME WILLIAM FULD BALTIMORE, MD. IS PRINTED ACROSS THE BOTTOM OF EACH BOARD”

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle Ouija
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

This board demonstrates a notable design change. Gone is the unique letter layout replaced by the familiar Ouija arc layout. Also missing is the diamond shaped planchette. Construction with veneer over pine remains the same. No longer simply called the Mystifying Oracle the Fulds have added the word Ouija directly underneath. This addition addresses two looming issues. The first is to ensure consumers know that the less expensive Mystifying Oracle is indeed made by the same people who make the Original Ouija board. The second is to solidify the Mystifying Oracle term into pop culture. Many competitors have unsuccessfully used the word Ouija, yet since the term has now entered the vernacular and the dictionary there was a chance the Fulds could lose their Ouija trademark. If they did they were ready with the Mystifying Oracle Ouija. Manufactured circa 1930s.

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William Fuld Electric Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

The Electric Mystifying Oracle held William Andrew Fuld's first talking board patent (No. 1,870,677) and his invention represented an entirely new species of talking boards. Not only did the board sport a new bat-like letter layout, but it was made of metal and the planchette held a battery. The board had raised metal buttons that connected with the metal planchette as it rolled over its surface emitting sparks of light. This board was meant to be played in the dark. This board was ahead of its time and William Andrew trademarked a special version of the Mystifying Oracle (No. 305,398) on August 15th 1933. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn't right for this talking board. It sold for $3.50 over twice as much as the original Ouija and Mystifying Oracle. The Great Depression had gripped the nation, and the cost was just too high. The board didn't sell well and after a few years they were melted down for scrap metal. Not many were sold, and today there are very few survivors. The pamphlet shown in the above popup here is extremely rare and shows Hubert Fuld playing the board with his secretary. Manufactured circa 1933.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

This Mystifying Oracle highlights yet another variation that stuck. The drawings in the lower left and right hand corners on the board are also found on the electric version. They feature people actually playing the board rather than the stars once found in their place. Family stories tell us that these drawings are actually the work of William Andrew. The boards came in both a plywood and veneer versions and some had the red “Made By William Fuld Baltimore MD” on the bottom. This design (No. 114,534) was patented by William Andrew on May 2nd 1939. Manufactured circa 1938.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

Around 1938 the Fuld's began moving from printing directly on wooden boards to printing on paper over a board like material. According to Hubert Fuld, the wood was warping, and the manufacturing costs were growing. The compromise was the boards below. We grouped three boards in this gallery due to their similarities. These boards were octagonal or rectangular in shape, and the paper is faux bird's eye maple. As you can see some of the boards had a border around them and some didn't. The board itself is made of a thick hardboard. The paper face covered both sides of these board, and the planchettes that came with these boards were wooden and they window-hole-in-center kind. Manufactured circa 1938-1950s.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

The graphics on this board are new though the old printing directly on wood was used to make this board. The board has octagon corners and displays a cleaner design of people playing the Ouija board as compared to the boards above. There is now a faced sun replacing the faced full moon and the crescent moon and star now have a face as well. We believe this is the last wooden version the Fuld's offered and might have been sold along side its hardboard versions as a deluxe wooden edition. It came with a wooden windowed planchette. Manufactured circa 1940s.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street

This is the last Mystifying Oracle manufactured with paper over a thick hardboard. The board features the faced sun and moons as well as the drawn people on the corners. This board also came with the last wooden planchette the Fulds sold and was the last Mystifying Oracle made at the Harford, Lamont, and Federal Street factory. Like its predecessors, it came in two sizes large and small. The Fulds were able to cut manufacturing costs by moving to smaller offices and farming the manufacturing out to other places. Manufactured circa 1940s.

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William Fuld Mystifying Oracle
2511 North Charles Street - Warwick

Around 1950 the Fulds sold their factory on Harford Avenue and moved into a smaller 2511 North Central Avenue office. In the mid 1950s, the Fulds moved their offices into rented space on Warwick Avenue until their new office was built. Their Ouija boards were now manufactured offsite in Pennsylvania and shipped back to Baltimore. The cost of production again came into play as the Fulds did away with the thicker hardboard and decided to go with a thin rectangular masonite. The corners were sharp, and the paper covering was only applied to the front. Another change is the planchette is no longer made of wood but of cream colored plastic. The pin in the middle of the plastic window stayed, and the shape of the planchette remained unchanged. This was the last Mystifying Oracle produced as the Ouija board absorbed its sister to be come Ouija the Mystifying Oracle. Manufactured circa 1950s.

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