Thayer Spirit Hand

18 January 2022

Spiritualism, which involves allegedly making contact with those who have departed, began in the 1850s and is still attempted, whether through mediums or a Ouija board, to this day. One rather crude means of communicating popularised in the Victorian era was through rappings or knockings, with one tap for ‘yes’ and two for ‘no’ in answer to questions sent to the ‘other side’. This carved hand, from the early 20th century, was made for magicians to ‘recreate’ or expose the method of spiritualists  – rather than pretending to be able to speak to the dead themselves. Many magicians, including Harry Houdini and, more recently, James Randi, devoted themselves to exposing charlatan spiritualists. Thayer, based in Los Angeles, were considered the Rolls-Royce of magic prop makers.

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