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Examiner

Calling all Ouija board fans to Salem

The old game with New England ties is having a moment.

October 22 at 7 p.m.

Date that Danvers-based game company Winning Moves is holding the free first-come, first-served event Ouija: The Mystery Behind the Game at the Salem Waterfront Hotel, with Ouija historian Robert Murch of Boston and paranormal researcher Jeff Belanger of Massachusetts

Ali Cotton

October 24

Date the horror movie Ouija hits US theaters

540 BC

Year the Greek philosopher Pythagoras supposedly used a Ouija-like device during seances according to a 1920 book on the occult; other sources dispute this.

Getty Images/Getty

1848

Year that spiritualism, long a fad in Europe, came to America in the form of the Fox sisters from upstate New York who claimed they could talk to the dead; the practice really took off during the Civil War

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1886

Year the “talking board” craze started among the general public, in Ohio — previously the boards had been used exclusively by spiritualists; that same year, the W.S. Reed Toy Co. in Leominster made a “witch board” and reportedly sent it to President Grover Cleveland as a wedding gift

1891

Year the Ouija was patented

$1.50

Price of the game in 1891

2,000 a week

Number of Ouija boards sold in 1891

1966

Year that Parker Bros., based in Salem, buys Ouija from the original manufacturer; Parker Bros. makes the boards until 1991, when the company is sold to Hasbro, headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

planchette (noun)

A small triangular or heart-shaped board supported on casters at two points and a vertical pencil at a third and believed to produce automatic writing when lightly touched by the fingers (Merriam-Webster)

Sources: Winning Moves; Robert Murch

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