October 14, 2013

Case File #013.10.14: OUIJA

A Ouija is a small table or lapboard marked with the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and a few words—usually yes, no, good-bye, and hello —and used, with the aid of a planchette, to receive and spell out messages or warnings that are supposedly sent from the spirit world or the realm of the dead. The device was conceived and patented in 1890 by American businessman Elijah Bond, who considered it a harmless parlor game rather than the occult paraphernalia it is often regarded as today, and he coined Ouija (pronounced /wee -jə/ or /wee -jee/) by combining the French and German words for yes: oui and ja, respectively. Although the name Ouija is often bandied about today as if it were a generic term, it is actually a trademark that was owned first by Baltimore's Kennard Novelty Company, to which Bond originally sold his patent rights, and later by the US toy company Hasbro, Inc., which still retains the rights.

©2013 Michael R. Gates

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