Oracles have been revered in our cultures since the beginning of time; we are curious by nature as humans, and the thirst for knowledge of the unknown exists within us all. The gifts of an Oracle, or at the very least, being able to transverse this physical realm on our own, is a quest that many of us would greatly welcome. The very nature of the universe and all of its mystical properties are out there, waiting for us to understand and connect with it.
Our desire to seek truths, no matter where those truths may take us, is an inherently human trait. And perhaps one of the most accessible ways for us to connect with these powers are through Oracle Boards. What’s even more interesting, are how these boards were created in the first place and how they began to take root in our popular culture, allowing us to bridge the gap between the known and unknown worlds from the comfort of our own parlours.
The Ouija Board
Ever heard of the Ouija board? The Ouija board that originated in the 1890s and was prominently known for being a device that people used to communicate with spirits. Spiritualists had begun to use talking boards in the late 1880s, and these boards formed the basis of the original Ouija board. Interestingly, the Ouija board was not invented by spiritualists at all, but by people in business who seized the opportunity to capitalize on these boards by mass production. After the production of the first Ouija board, several more came after it.
Some of the oldest boards include the following:
- Oriole board (1904-1920)
- Igili board (1897-1899)
- Volo board (1892)
- Espirito board (1891)
After the production of the first Ouija board, the market had several rivals and knock-offs and was saturated with competition and imitations. However, many of them never rose to the iconic status of the Ouija board.
How the Mystifying Oracle Came To Be
Problems were brewing between the original founders of the Ouija board. In 1901, William Fuld had a falling out with his brother, Isaac Fuld, and the following year, he left their business. Deciding to create his own board without his brother, be patented the word Oracle and began the production of the Mystifying Oracle board. Knowing how challenging and stiff the competition was in the talking board market, he decided to use a different approach to sell; he sold his talking board at a lower price when he launched it in 1915, and his strategy paid off for him because it gained popularity and following.
The Mystifying Oracle board is similar to the Ouija board; it was manufactured with veneer over pine and had a crescent moon, full face, and stars on the corners. However, the layout of the letters and numbers is a bit different from the Ouija board. The planchette of the Ouija board is heart-shaped, while that of the Oracle board is a black diamond-shaped one.
The Mystifying Oracle Board
The name Mystifying Oracle was what William unofficially began calling his talking board in earlier years, and his customers noticed this. He used this name on planchette boxes and the back of his boards beginning in 1915 and only trademarked it on April 6th, 1920. The name played an essential role in ensuring that this talking board beat its competitors and stayed at the top of its game. There was a slight difference in how the original Oracle taking board looked in 1915 and how it looked in 1920. The board in 1920 had the name Mystifying Oracle on the front in contrast to the earlier one that had the words “U.S. PATENT JAN 15TH 1915, MADE BY WILLIAM FULD BALTIMORE, MD U.S.A.” written in red and, the diamond-shaped planchette matched the color of the board better and was of lighter wood.
The Oracle and the Ouija Boards: Manufacturing Similarities
There was a decision in the mid-1920s at the Harford Street factory to streamline the production of Ouija planchettes with those of the Mystifying Oracle. The decision was that the words Mystifying Oracle would appear on the planchettes that would no longer be diamond-shaped but heart-shaped. Additionally, at the bottom of the board, the Canadian and U.S. patent dates that were initially there were removed. The words, “MADE BY WILLIAM FULD BALTIMORE, MD U.S.A.” There was also another noticeable difference, which was in the board’s design. The unique letter layout there before was replaced by what was originally on the Ouija board, the arc layout.
Directly underneath the name Mystifying Oracle, William Fuld added the word Ouija. The addition of the word Ouija killed two birds with one addressing two issues; to solidify the term Mystifying Oracle in the pop culture and to give assurance to the talking board consumers that even the Mystifying Oracle that is less expensive than the Ouija board, is still made by the same people making the Ouija talking board. Additionally, the veneer over pine construction remained just as it was before.
The Competition for the Most Popular Board
To keep up with the competition and lure many customers, many competitors and rivals in the talking board industry were using the name Ouija. However, this was unsuccessful because the name is in the dictionary, which could threaten William Fuld losing the Ouija trademark; luckily for them, they were still ready with Mystifying Oracle Ouija.
William Fuld’s first talking board patent was held in the Electric Mystifying Oracle, which started a new era for taking boards. Unlike its predecessors, the Electric Mystifying Oracle had a bat-like letter layout, the planchette had a battery, and the board was not made of veneer over pine but metal. The planchette was made of metal and was connected to raised metal buttons on the board. As the planchette rolled over the surface, it emitted sparks of light. William Andrew Fuld trademarked this particular version of the Mystifying Oracle on August 15th, 1933. This electric Mystifying Oracle was meant to be played in the dark and sold for more than two times what the Ouija and the original Mystifying Oracle cost.
Bad Timing: The Great Depression
However, the timing for this specific board wasn’t right. It did not do so well because of the Great Depression that had taken the nation by storm, the cost was too high for many to purchase, and after a few years of meager purchases, the electric mystifying oracle boards that did not sell were melted to scrap metal; today, there are very few left.
Another design that William Andrew Fuld patented on May 2nd, 1939, was a design that had some similarity to the electric Mystifying oracle. The drawings on the board’s lower corners differ from those found on the original mystifying oracle, which had stars, a full face, and a crescent moon. This version of the Mystifying Oracle and the electric version featured people playing the board. William Fuld made the drawings. For this version of the Mystifying Oracle, the boards were veneer and plywood and had the same red writings as the version in production in the mid-1920s.
According to William’s secretary, Hubert Fuld, the reason was that the manufacturing cost was increasing and wood was warping. Initially, Fuld printed directly on wooden boards; however, in 1938, he began printing on paper over a board-like material. The boards used were either rectangular or octagonal, made of thick hardboard, and the paper was faux bird’s eye maple. The paper covered both sides of the board, and the planchettes for this version of Mystifying Oracle were wooden and had a windowed hole in the center.
The last Mystifying Oracle made at the Harford Street factory was a thick hardboard version with paper over it. After this version, there was a board with octagonal corners with printing directly on what would be the last wooden board. The design of people playing at the bottom of the board was cleaner than in the previous versions. The full moon was replaced with a faced sun, and the crescent moon and star had a face. It was sold as a deluxe wooden edition alongside the hardboard versions and came with a windowed planchette made of wood. It came in two sizes, small and large, and had a wooden planchette.
The Rise of the Ouija Board
After this, around 1950, William and Hubert Fuld were able to cut manufacturing costs and move to smaller offices. In the mid-1950s, they moved their offices to a rental space on Warwick Avenue. Manufacturing now happened in Pennsylvania and was shipped back to Baltimore; they replaced thick hardboard for thin rectangular masonite with sharp corners and paper only at the front. Additionally, the planchette was made of cream-colored plastic.
After this version, the Ouija board absorbed the Mystifying Oracle to become Ouija the Mystifying Oracle board, the board so many of us are familiar with today.
Putting The Ouija Board To Good Use
Whichever oracle board that you use, practicing divination with an open heart will help you on your spiritual journey. These tools are meant to help us see the bigger picture and embrace the teachings of the universe, letting us grow and develop into the enlightened beings that we are all capable of. Look within-and beyond-to help you on your path in this world!
The Shankara Experience and Shri Krishna
The Shankara Experience is the world’s most advanced divination system, combining several ancient oracle tools and sacred processes. A session or reading with Shankara is a profound, layered conversation with your vast inner Self, The Divine, or The Universe. Visit TheShankaraExperience.com.
Shri Krishna is a loving spiritual master, teacher, personal guide, clairvoyant, empath, and mystic. He has served thousands of earnest seekers by providing profound answers to their challenges and actionable guidance toward their Self-mastery. He helps spiritually-minded souls connect with their vast, expanded inner Selves to navigate any situation, transcend any circumstance, and liberate in every moment.
Shri Krishna’s mission is to help others source their boundless creativity and joy, embody virtue, heal the depths of their Beings, find the most resounding clarity, and master their lives. He created the divine portal Shankara as a living, relatable oracle to help humanity build inner pathways to The Unlimited, All-Knowing, All-Conscious Universe.
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