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  • John Farkas: Fire Boy! April 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    John Farkas: Fire Boy!

    John Farkas’ name seems to have flared up very briefly in history and then to have died down again just as quickly. Many of the things associated with John (Janos?) were, let’s say, poltergeist tricks and not that remarkable. But what about the fire? Note that this newsreport dates to 1921 and appeared in the […]

    Spirit Photo Fakes September 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Spirit Photo Fakes

    Beach has been enjoying, thanks to the Count (a longstanding friend of this blog), some fabulous spirit pictures, from the golden age of spiritualist shysterism. These were spirit sittings where men and women were photographed and spirits were invited into their presence. The spirits were then, if we are to believe the skeptics, as in […]

    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census July 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census

    Spent the night and early morning looking for a much loved missing tortoise: mission accomplished at 6.42 amdist tears and recriminations. How do you punish a tortoise? This morning trying to come down from too much chocolate and coca cola. Took to racing through the 1881 census looking for unusual jobs and strange households: winding […]

    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances June 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances

    Beach has stumbled again into the world of nineteenth-century séances in search of fun. And he’s awfully glad he ended up there. What mummery! What hoaxing! What extraordinary imbecility on the part of intelligent men and women! He brings together here a selection of his favourites. First let’s get into the mood. We could detect […]

    Hebrew Invasion of Bedroom April 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hebrew Invasion of Bedroom

    There follows a curious little piece that came out of the early spiritualist movement in the US, but that bears some resemblance to modern freakery about UFOs landing on the front lawn and greys appearing at the bottom of people’s beds with equipment far beyond the sleeper’s ken. On the night of the 21st of […]

    Edwin Drood and Spirit Resolution January 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Edwin Drood and Spirit Resolution

    The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Dickens’ unfinished novel. Half way written when the author died in 1870, it has long offered an opportunity to pot boilers to finish off the novel for themselves – it is essentially a murder mystery – something many have tried, impossible as it is to judge Dickens’ plans for […]

    Transit of Venus October 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transit of Venus

    Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’.  Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own […]

    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid September 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid

    ***And so it begins… first class today: unpleasant warm fuzzy feeling in stomach, awareness that no more proper research for six months*** Beach just stumbled across this curious account of a sighting of little people in Madrid in the 1860s. The witness was a nineteenth-century spiritualist: the account begins with her own curious take on […]

    The Glut of Celebrity in Seances August 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Glut of Celebrity in Seances

    Beach is a complete tyro in seances and spiritualism. But one thing he has always been struck by is the great fortune that spiritualists seem to have in getting hold of really important people. Take the following remarkable list of personalities from a nineteenth-century séance in Naples. Of the spirits who manifested three were in […]

    Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery August 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery

       ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the first paragraph and wrote the second*** The camera never lies, a picture is worth a thousand words, the architecture of light and shadows: photography in short. Enjoy this little extract from an Arthur Conan Doyle biography. During Conan Doyle’s last lecture in Nairobi…he showed a photograph taken of […]

    They Do It With Drawers You Know July 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    They Do It With Drawers You Know

    To a twenty-first century reader one of the strangest things about nineteenth century séances were the materialisation of physical objects at the hand of talented mediums aka conjurers. What seems to be just absurd to us was actually taken as a proof of the genuine nature of the swindlers, because they were typically searched before […]

    Crowds #4: Religion July 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #4: Religion

    Beach has so far offered up three crowd photo collections: August 1914, Speaking to Crowds and Crowds as Art. Today he thought he’d move in a little deeper with religious crowds from a small file he’s been building up over the last couple of years. The picture that head’s this post is one of his […]

    Flying In and Out of Windows July 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying In and Out of Windows

    Forget Padre Pio fighting allied bombers and St Joseph of Cupertino who allegedly flew from the middle of a church to the high altar. The man that really stands out as the great modern levitator is the remarkable Daniel Dunglas Home playing peekaboo at a third floor window in London in 1868. Here is a […]

    Archangel Steals Money in Naples! July 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Archangel Steals Money in Naples!

    Beachcombing has recently been getting into the world of nineteenth-century seances and mediums. You know, those men with walrus moustaches (for hiding mono-tone mouth accordions) and a hot line to the ‘other side’. These shysters could make even the fairies seem humdrum. Here is one of Beach’s favourite accounts that has everything: sex, money, a […]

    Deciding Canadian Policy with Seances? March 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Deciding Canadian Policy with Seances?

    Numerous politicians have dabbled in spiritualism in and out of office. There are claims, for example, that Lincoln in the US, Arthur Balfour and possibly Gladstone in the UK, not to mention Alfred Deakin in Australia all went to mediums and possibly were influenced in their decisions by séances. However, in this catalogue none come […]