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Friday, 29 October 2010

parker brothers ouija board ad, 1968

It may come as a surprise to learn that Ouija Board is a trademark owned by the Parker Brothers games company. It's not such a surprise that it's been one of their bestsellers for more than 40 years though.

Ouija boards had been the hit byproduct of the mid-1800s taste for the occult, mesmerism, spiritualism and all forms of energy channelling. Patented in 1854, it quickly became a favoured parlor game for any Victorian family, and swiftly outgrew its original patent description of reading the minds of people with "nervous energy" to become a way of contacting the dead.

William Fuld created the 20th century version of these talking boards, and their design was much the same by the time he decided to retire and sold the patent to Parker Brothers in 1966. What had changed was that the occult was having its biggest revival since the Victorian era, and so too did Ouija Boards, becoming part of the paraphernalia of the revolutionary 60s while at the same time accepted into the mainstream as a fun leisure activity.

For those who might denounce them as satanic, adverts like the one pictured, from 1968, returned Ouija boards to their roots as a mind-reader, but who knows whose mind was meant to be telling the user who was taking Debbie to the prom or whether flying saucers were real?

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