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A Brief History of the Ouija Board

A Brief History of the Ouija Board

As a method of supposed communication with the spirit world, the Ouija board has terrified countless slumber partying children and served as a plot vehicle in a number of Hollywood films. Here’s where it came from.

Spiritualism and Pre-Ouija Methods

Ouija boards have their roots in Spiritualism, which began in the United States in the late 1840s. (Claims that ancient Ouija boards existed are unfounded.) The new movement was led by mediums, who claimed to be intermediaries between the living and the dead.

There were a number of ways mediums made followers believe that they were communicating messages from those who had passed. One, table turning, involved the table moving or knocking on the floor in response to letters called out from the alphabet. Another method used planchettes, heart-shaped devices with two wheels at one end and a pencil at the point; users would place their fingers on the device, which would then be guided by spirits who would “write” messages.

Both methods were problematic. Table turning took too long, and planchette writing was hard to decipher. According to the Museum of Talking Boards, some mediums got rid of these methods altogether, preferring to channel while in a trance, while others built complicated tablesdials, and tables painted with letters that required people to use a planchette as a pointer. This method became the most popular—and paved the way for the Ouija board.

Rise of The Talking Board

In 1886, the New York Daily Tribune reported on a new talking board being used in Ohio. It was 18 by 20 inches and featured the alphabet, numbers, and the words yes, no, good evening, and goodnight; the only other necessary object was a “little table three or four inches high … with four legs” that the spirits could use to identify letters. The brilliance of the board was that anyone could make it—the tools suggested in the article are “a jack-knife and a marking brush.”

Operating the board was similarly easy:

You take the board in your lap, another person sitting down with you. You each grasp the little table with the thumb and forefinger at each corner next to you. Then the question is asked, ‘Are there any communications?’ Pretty soon you think the other person is pushing the table. He thinks you are doing the same. But the table moves around to ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Then you go on asking questions and the answers are spelled out by the legs on the table resting on the letters one after the other.

(Of course, any messages generated probably weren’t from spirits; instead, they were likely a result of the Ideomotor effect. This psychological phenomenon was first described in 1852 by William Benjamin Carpenter who, in a scientific paper analyzing how talking boards worked, theorized that muscular movement can be independent of conscious desires.)

Ouija: The Game

These types of talking boards became very popular, and in 1890, Elijah Bond, Charles Kennard and William H.A. Maupin had the idea to turn the board into a toy. They filed the first patent for a game they called the Ouija board, which looked and operated much like the talking boards in Ohio; the patent was granted in 1891. The name, according to Kennard, came from using the board, and was an ancient Egyptian word meaning “good luck.” The Kennard Novelty Company manufactured the boards, which were made of five pieces of wood across the face braced by two vertical slats on the back; they retailed for $1.50.


Downtown Mesa An Antique Lover’s Paradise

In Downtown Mesa Arizona you will find  8 unique Antique and Vintage Shops. From  a 25,000 sq ft two story antique mall to a once a month vintage market place filled with vintage home decor.

There’s something for everyone, from Rustic Primitive to Victorian Style. You will find mid century furniture, antique and vintage home decor, vintage linens, books, military, jewelry and so much more.  You are sure to find what you are looking for or maybe just a little treasures that makes you happy. The shops are all  located along the tree lined Main Street  in the heart of downtown Mesa Az.

Michelle’s Antiques  10 N. Macdonald

( corner of Main St and Macdonald )

An Eclectic shop filled with Antiques, and Vintage Collectibles.  You will find everything from Victorian  to Mid Century Modern. Vintage Jewelry, Art Glass, Primitives, Books, Art & more

Estate Sales Services Available Member of VSADA  antiquesinphoenix

Antique Plaza Antique Mall 114 W. Main St. 

The oldest antique mall in Mesa, the Antique Plaza is over 20,000 sq feet and two stories filled with   items from over 150 dealers  they have antiques, collectibles, southwestern jewelry , art, furniture and clothing and so much more. Member of VSADA antiquesinphoenix

PAST Vintage Shop 120 W. Main St

A new vintage shop concept in downtown Mesa.  PAST is a shop filled with  vintage style  for your home, at  affordable prices. Their relentless quest to find the finest pieces from the past ensures you’ll have the most beautiful present. Member VSADA antiquesinphoenix

The Glass Urn Antiques In Michelle’s Antiques 10 N Macdonald

Specializing in antique glass and crystal. This shop is also filled with antique and home decor, gorgeous antique lamps, furniture, and antique linens. You can find everything from a giant mounted sword fish to fine French crystal. A member of the VSADA antiquesinphoenix

History by George 129 West Main St

Specializing in militaria and historical antiques. Antiques, collectibles, jewelry, books, prints, swords, political, sports, tokens, US & foreign coins. Everything from World War collectibles to Civil War antiques and military collectibles. Member VSADA antiquesinphoenix

Old Brick House Vintage Market 202 West Main St.

This is a fun vintage market  held the 2nd Weekend of each month. Enjoy one of kind vintage finds beautifully displayed throughout their market. They  now have a delectable bakery and are open late on 2nd Friday Night Out in Mesa. 

 Buckhorn Vintage 138 West Main St 

 A curated vintage boutique specializing in unique and eclectic home furnishings and accessories.

Moon Dust Farms  58 West Main St.

This shop is jam packed handmade custom furniture, repurpoesed vintage and rusty décor. New arrivals weekly.

Atomic Age Modern 140 West Main St.

Authentic mid century modern furniture, vintage and eclectic home decor. Professional furniture repair and restoration. Perfectly curated in downtown Mesa.

2nd Friday Night Out in Downtown Mesa

Things have been popping in downtown Mesa Arizona, an Antique and Vintage Shoppers Paradise !

Mesa Arizona  2nd Friday Night Out a Family Friendly Event that features 50+ artists showcasing original artwork, live bands, food vendors, entertainment, galleries, contests with prizes, shops and restaurants are open, and much more!

 Mesa downtown businesses, galleries, shops, and restaurants have joined together to create an exciting, friendly and free way to spend a Friday evening. Every month you will find a new theme for the event.  Come and enjoy an art walk featuring local artists, dine in one of the many Restaurants & Coffee Houses, enjoy a cold brew at one of the local breweries,  visit and shop at  local Antiques and Vintage Shops open late, enjoy activities, entertainment, and fun every 2nd Friday of the month. The event is located on  Main Street between Center and Country Club.

Stroll along Historic Downtown Main Street and find a host of Antique and Vintage Shops open late on 2nd Friday Night Out;

Old Brick House Vintage Market 202 West Main St.

This is a fun vintage market  held the 2nd Weekend of each month. They  now have a delectable bakery.

Buckhorn Vintage 138 West Main St 

 A curated vintage boutique specializing in unique and eclectic home furnishings and accessories.

Moon Dust Farms

Michelle’s Antiques  10 N. Macdonald

( corner of Main St and Macdonald )

An Eclectic shop filled with Antiques, and Vintage Collectibles.   Estate Sales Services Available.

Moon Dust Farms  58 West Main St.  

This shop is jam packed with handmade custom furniture, repurpoesed vintage and rusty décor. New arrivals weekly.

Jarrod’s Coffee, Tea & Gallery   154 West Main St.  

A hidden Gem in Downtown Mesa. A great place to buy vintage Turquoise Jewelry, and Art while sipping an iced latte and listening to music.




When it comes to antique home decor Everyone has different tastes and budgets.


items3With the proper help, you can easily stay within your small or large budget, and get that high style that you desire for your home. Michelle’s Antiques and Vintage Marketplace, located in the charming downtown Mesa AZ, has all the tools and knowledge to aid you in your decorating pursuits. We have a wide array of styles, textures, sizes, colors, and designs to fit with any style of room.
At Michelle’s Antiques and Vintage Marketplace, we take pride in the variety and uniqueness of our antique pieces displayed in antiquesmesaour 2,000 square foot shop, six rooms filled with curated vintage and antique wares.
Are you searching for that big centerpiece, or unique style for you little girls bedroom? Perhaps you’re looking for a chic vintage table providing the perfect space for entertaining guests or an Antique to add to your collection? You will not be disappointed with our unique stock, so come visit us to find your perfect antique decor!