This always fascinated me as a kid and still does knowing that the Ouija board was made as a 'Toy' or 'Parlour Game'. I cannot find much info on the well known Waddingtons or Parker versions but never realised how far back these went regarding selling them as 'games'. I know the Victorians went through a Spiritualism movement and that table tipping, séances and the like were very popular.

During the late 19th century, planchettes were widely sold as a novelty. The businessmen Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard had the idea to patent a planchette sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed. The patentees filed on May 28, 1890 for patent protection and thus had invented the first Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891. They received U.S. Patent 446,054. Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device.



The Parker Brothers Ouija Board.


An employee of Kennard, William Fuld took over the talking board production and in 1901, he started production of his own boards under the name "Ouija". Kennard claimed he learned the name "Ouija" from using the board and that it was an ancient Egyptian word meaning "good luck." When Fuld took over production of the boards, he popularized the more widely accepted etymology, that the name came from a combination of the French and German words for "yes".



The John Waddington's Ouija Board.


The Fuld name would become synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld reinvented its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. The strange talk about the boards from Fuld's competitors flooded the market, and all these boards enjoyed a heyday from the 1920s through the 1960s. Fuld sued many companies over the "Ouija" name and concept right up until his death in 1927. In 1966, Fuld's estate sold the entire business to Parker Brothers, which was sold to Hasbro in 1991, and which continues to hold all trademarks and patents. About ten brands of talking boards are sold today under various names.

There are a few listed on eBay going for a few hundred pounds, so definitely a collectors item, although would you like to own a pre-owned one not knowing what might have been summoned through it?