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'' The Spiritualistic Seance.''


SPIRIT SLATE WRITING AND

/ KINDRED PHENOMENA BY WILLIAM

E.

ROBINSON

Assistant to the late Herrmann

SIXTY-SIX

ILL

US TRA

T/ONS

MUNN & COMPANY SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN OFFICE NEW

YORK

1898

\

CITY


.COPYRIGHTED, 1898,

BY M U N N & COMPANY,

AL.I. RIGHTS KKSEKVBD,


PREFACE.

T H E author of the present volume is not an opponent of spiritualism—on the contrary, he was brought up from childhood in this belief; and though, at the present writing, he does not acknowledge the truth of its teachings, nevertheless he respects the feelings of those who are honest in their convictions. At the same time he confidently believes that all rational persons, spiritualists as well as others, will heartily indorse this endeavor to explain the methods of those who, under the mask of mediumship, and possessing all the artifices of the charlatan, victimize those seeking knowledge of their loved ones who have passed away. As a great New York lawyer once said, it was not spiritualism he'was fighting, but fraud under the guise of spiritualism. Owing to the fact that the author has for many years been engaged in the practice of the profession of magic, both as a prestidigitateur and designer of stage illusions for the late Alexander Herrmann, and has also been associated with Prof. Kellar, he feels


IV

PREFACE.

that he is fitted to treat of clever tricks used by mediums. He has attended hundreds of seances both at home and abroad, and the present volume is the fruit of his studies. Some of the means of working these slate tests may appear simple and impossible of deceiving, but in the hands of the medium they are entirely successful. It should be remembered it is not so much t h e apparatus employed as it is the shrewd, cunning, ever-observing sharper using it. T h e devices and methods employed by slate writing frauds seem innumerable. No sooner are they caught and exposed while employing one system than they immediately set their wits to work and evolve an entirely different idea. It is almost impossible at the first sitting with a slate writing medium to know what method he will employ, and should you, after the sitting, go away with the idea that you have discovered his method of operation and come a second time ready to expose him, you may be sadly disappointed, for the medium will undoubtedly lead you to believe he is going to use his former method, and so mislead you. H e accomplishes his test by another method, while you are on the lookout for something entirely different. T h e great success of the medium is in disarming the suspicions of the skeptic, and at that very moment the trick is done. Slate writing is of course the great standby of


PREFACE.

V

mediums, but there are many other tricks which they employ which are described in the present volume. T h e publishers have added a chapter on " Miscellaneous T r i c k s " which may serve as a supplement to their " Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, Including Trick Photography," which has already obtained an enviable position in the literature of magic, and has been even translated into Swedish. These tricks are by Mr. W. IB. Caulk and the author. N E W Y O R K , November,

1898.


TABLE OF CONTENTS. CHAPTER

I. PACK

T h e Single Slate

3 CHAPTER

II.

T h e Double Slate

' CHAPTER

III.

Miscellaneous Slate Tests CHAPTER

41 IV.

Mind Reading and Kindred Phenomena CHAPTER

51

V.

Table Lifting and Spirit Rapping CHAPTER

32

71

VI.

Spiritualistic Ties

82 CHAPTER

VII.

Post Tests, Handcuffs, Spirit Collars, etc CHAPTER

VIII.

Seances and Miscellaneous Spirit Tricks CHAPTER

Miscellaneous Tricks

93

101

IX.

115


SPIRIT SLATE WRITING AND

KINDRED PHENOMENA.

CHAPTER THE

SINGLE

I. SLATE.

There has probably been nothing that has made more converts to spiritualism than the much talked of " Slate W r i t i n g Test," and if we are to believe some of the stories told of the writings mysteriously obtained on slates, under what is known as " severe test conditions," that preclude, beyond any possible doubt, any form of deception or trickery, one would think that the day of miracles had certainly r e t u r n e d ; but we must not believe half we hear nor all that we see, for the chances are that just as you are about to attribute some unaccountable spirit phenomena to an unseen power, something turns up to show that you have been tricked by a clever device which is absurd in its simplicity. There are a large number of methods of producing slate writing, but the writer will describe a few which will be sufficient to give an idea of the working of slate tests in general. First we have the ordinary one in which the writing is placed on the slate beforehand, and then hidden from view by a


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