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Communicating with the Dead (Original)

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Author Topic: Communicating with the Dead (Original)  (Read 4218 times)
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« Reply #165 on: January 19, 2008, 03:01:20 pm »

Sandra Taylor

Member # 2492

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   posted 07-17-2005 10:04 PM                       
Photographing the Spirits [top]

Sir Oliver was also unfortunate with his sittings with William Hope (1863-1933), the fraudulent spirit photographer. I caught this man surreptitiously changing my sensitized plates in 1922(Cool and he was later again thoroughly exposed(9) by Mr. Fred Barlow. After my exposure of Hope, Sir Oliver wrote me:(10) 'I don't see how your proofs of Hope's duplicity could be more complete.' And yet we find, in J. Arthur Hill's Letters from Sir Oliver Lodge(11), a reference to Hope in a letter to Hill, dated July 29, 1929, nearly seven years after he wrote to me. Sir Oliver says: 'The probability to my mind is strongly in favour of simplicity and honesty, now that he has been going on so long.' Which is a curious argument.

(Cool Journal, SPR, May, 1922.
(9) Proc., SPR, Part 129, 1933; and Journal, SPR, July, 1933,
(10) April 18, 1922.
(11) London, 1932, p. 231.

The annals of psychical research are full of exposures of 'spirit' photographers. The first, William H. Mumler, of Boston (Mass.), was prosecuted in 1868(12). He was caught out because it was discovered that his photographs of 'spirits' were, in fact, those of persons who were alive. One such 'spirit' testified against him in court. Edouard Buguet, a French imitator, was imprisoned in Paris in 1876(13) for spirit photograph frauds. He made a full confession. He began using living models for his 'extras.' When that became too dangerous, he constructed a lay figure which he could dress up to suit the 'spirit' which he knew his client so longed to see. Flammarion also detected Buguet in fraud.

(12) The Mumler 'Spirit' Photograph Case, New York, 1869.
(13) Revue Spirite, Paris, Nos. 1-12.

Richard Boursnell (1832-1909), an English photographic medium, was caught cheating by Usborne Moore(14). He used the old double exposure and 'substituting the plate' method. George H. Moss, a chauffeur, became a 'spirit photographer,' and once photographed the 'spirit' of my 'mother.' Unfortunately for Moss, Hope had also just recently photographed my 'mother,' too, and there was not the slightest resemblance between the two ladies. Moss was finally caught by Fred Barlow, who discovered that Moss's plates were filed at one end so that, in the dark, he could feel which way up the 'extras' were to be placed. Inverted spirit heads would, of course, look most inartistic in a photograph! Moss finally signed a full confession(15) that his 'spirits,' copied from old illustrated journals and the 'family album,' were produced by normal means.

(14) Glimpses of the Next State, London, 1911.
(15) Psychic Science, Vol. IV, PP. 229-33, London, 1925.

Plate V. Charles Eldred's mechanical chair (with removable back), mask, spirit drapery, wigs, and other 'properties', 1906.

Among the most picturesque of photographic mediums is Mrs. Ada Emma Deane, a former charwoman, whose 'spirit heads,' photographed floating round the Cenotaph on Armistice Day, were declared by the Daily Sketch(16) to be portraits of living footballers, whose pictures had appeared in that paper. After this exposure, no more was heard of the Cenotaph spirits. The London 'Magic Circle' had previously exposed her in 1922(17). Contemporary with Mrs. Deane are two Scotch youths, Craig and George Falconer. One of their 'spirit heads' was found to be identical with Albert Moore's famous study 'Blossoms' in the Tate Gallery. Later, they went on a professional tour to South Africa, were caught by the police (1931), were convicted for producing fraudulent spirit photographs, and each was fined 150 and costs. They appealed and lost, the judge remarking that the brothers 'were encouraged in their fraud by the credulous fools who supported them., Apparently they are still finding 'clients' as I noticed their advertisement in The Greater World as recently as March 26, 1938. It stated that they have 'produced astounding evidence of survival to all investigators;' excepting, of course, the Johannesburg police(18). This was almost the end of the photographic mediums. But in 1932 John Myers appeared, and what happened to him can be read in the contemporary psychic and lay Press(19). The principal American spirit photographer, William M. Keeler, was exposed(20) by the late Dr. Walter F. Prince(21). I will not detail the methods used, as there is a monotony in the modus operandi of producing these 'extras': double exposure; 'switching' the plates or dark slides (or even the camera); the use of lay figures, etc. But there would be no spirit photographs if there were no foolish sitters to pay their guineas for them.

(16) Daily Sketch, London, November 13-22, 1924.
(17) Report of the Occult Committee, London, May, 1922.
(18) For full reports of the trial and conviction of the Falconer brothers, see the complete files of the South African journals in the Univ. of London Library ('Harry Price Library'). See also Light, October 2, 1931.
(19) Sunday Dispatch, October 16, 23, 30, 1932. 'A Charge of Fraud: Accusations against Mr. John Myers,' by J. B. McIndoe, in the Two Worlds, September 6, 1935; also 'Myers Exposed Again?' by Roy Brandon, in the Two Worlds, October it, 1935.
(20) 'Supplementary Report on, the Keeler-Lee Photographs,' Proc., Am. SPR, Vol. XIII, New York, 1919, PP. 529-87.
(21) For the result of the Daily Mail inquiry into spirit photography, see The Times, June 22, 1909.
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