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Old 01-06-2014, 07:52 PM   #1
Steven L. Akins
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Default William Fuld - the Jew who made a fortune off of the Ouija Board

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William Fuld, a man whose name is best known from his involvement in the production and marketing of the Ouija Board was the son of a Jewish German immigrant named Jacob Fuld and his wife Mary Abell. William Fuld was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 24, 1870. His father, an immigrant from Büdingen, Hesse Darmstadt, Germany arrived in the United States on September 7th, 1854 together with with his parents and siblings. William Fuld's mother Mary Abell, a gentile, was born and raised in York, Pennsylvania.

He attended public school and later the Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts / Schools of Art and Design. At the age of 17 he began his career as a painter/varnisher in 1887. This line of work led him to securing a position with the Kennard Novelty Company, which began operation in 1890the same year that Elijah Bond filed the first patent for a talking board. This patent was assigned to William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard, based upon a concept for a new type of oracle that had recently become popular with mediums and spiritualists, first described in a newspaper article published on March 28, 1886, in the Sunday supplement of the New York Tribune.


A Mysterious Talking Board and Table.

"Planchette is simply nowhere," said a Western man at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, "compared with the new scheme for mysterious communication that is being used out in Ohio. I know of whole communities that are wild over the 'talking board,' as some of them call it. I have never heard any name for it. But I have seen and heard some of the most remarkable things about its operations—things that seem to pass all human comprehension or explanation."
"What is the board like?"
"Give me a pencil and I will show you. The first requisite is the operating board. It may be rectangular, about 18 x 20 inches. It is inscribed like this:"The 'yes' and the 'no' are to start and stop the conversation. The 'good-evening' and 'good-night' are for courtesy. Now a little table three or four inches high is prepared with four legs. Any one can make the whole apparatus in fifteen minutes with a jack-knife and a marking brush. 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 of the table resting on the letters one after the other. Sometimes the table will cover two letters with its feet, and then you hang on and ask that the table will be moved from the wrong letter, which is done. Some remarkable conversations have been carried on until men have become in a measure superstitious about it. I know of a gentleman whose family became so interested in playing with the witching thing that he burned it up. The same night he started out of town on a business trip. The members of his family looked for the board and could not find it. They got a servant to make them a new one. Then two of them sat down and asked what had become of the other table. The answer was spelled out, giving a name, 'Jack burned it.' There are, of course, any number of nonsensical and irrelevant answers spelled out, but the workers pay little heed to them. If the answers are relevant they talk them over with a superstitious awe. One gentleman of my acquaintance told me that he got a communication about a title to some property from his dead brother, which was of great value to him. It is curious, according to those who have worked most with the new mystery, that while two persons are holding the table a third person, sitting in the same room some distance away, may ask the questions without even speaking them aloud, and the answers will show they are intended for him. Again, answers will be returned to the inquiries of one of the persons operating when the other can get no answers at all. In Youngstown, Canton, Warren, Tiffin, Mansfield, Akron, Elyria, and a number of other places in Ohio I heard that there was a perfect craze over the new planchette. Its use and operation have taken the place of card parties. Attempts are made to verify statements that are made about living persons, and in some instances they have succeeded so well as to make the inquirers still more awe-stricken."—New York Tribune.

— Carrier Dove (Oakland) July, 1886: 171. Reprinted from the New York Daily Tribune, March 28, 1886: page 9, column 6. "The New 'Planchette.' A Mysterious Talking Board and Table Over Which Northern Ohio Is Agitated."

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In 1891 Charles Kennard left the company after fourteen months to found the Northwestern Toy Company in Chicago, Illinois, and by 1892 Fuld had taken over as supervisor and the company changed its name to The Ouija Novelty Company and moved to a new location in partnership with his older brother Isaac. William Fuld filed for his first talking board patent in the same year. Under the direction of Fuld, the company increased production of Ouija boards to meet the growing demand and thwarted many of Kennard's attempts to manufacture other talking boards. By 1901, the brothers' partnership had ended in a bitter feud. William Fuld changed the name of his company to the William Fuld Manufacturing Company. Going against an injunction, Isaac continued to manufacture talking boards under the name "Oriole" that were exact replicas of the boards that he and his brother had made. William sued his brother in a case that remained open until 1919.

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William Fuld’s first talking board trademark, "Oracle", was filed in 1902. A ruthless businessman, Fuld sued other companies who manufactured similar types of talking boards claiming that they infringed on his trademarks or patents. In order to combat the growing competition for other talking board manufacturers, Fuld knew that if he himself made a cheaper version of his own product he would get more business. In 1919, he introduced the "Mystifying Oracle", an exact replica of his Ouija board that sold for less money. He also launched a line of trademarked Ouija jewelry and Ouija Oil for rheumatism. Fuld also trademarked the names "Egyptian Luck board", "Hindu Luck board" and "WE-JA" as well as a trademark detailing the way the word "Ouija" would be displayed.

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By 1918 Fuld expanded his production facilities for the manufacturing of Ouija Boards by opening a new three-story 36,000 square foot factory. A year later he became the sole owner of the Ouija Board when the last of the company's original founders transferred all rights to Fuld on April 24, 1919. In 1920 Fuld boasted that the Ouija board had made him more than $1 million in profit. The Fuld name became synonymous with the Ouija board, as Fuld rewrote its history, claiming that he himself had invented it. On February 24, 1927, while supervising the installation of a new flagpole on top of his factory, Fuld fell when the rail he was leaning against gave way, sending him tumbling to the ground below. He died while being transported to the hospital when a broken rib pierced his heart. In 1966, Fuld's estate sold the entire business to Parker Brothers, which was in turn sold to Hasbro (another Jewish-owned company) in 1991.

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