The Paranormal ( Paranormal Phenomenon/Phenomena)
Why "Paranormal?"
Paranormal means something ( unusual experiences, mysterious occurrences, abilities, sightings, objects, encounters, ..)
that is beyond the range of scientific explanation.
Paranormal Phenomena - Extraterrestrial life
Paranormal Phenomena - Unexplained disappearances.
Paranormal Phenomena - Appearance of the spirits of dead persons

"Spirit" Photographs and "Spirit" Photographing (1800's - 1900's)         Main Page         Home


An interesting account of "spirit photographs" has been given by M. Fourtler ln a French scientific journal. The discoverer, it
seems, was an American engraver named Mumler, employed by Mr. Bigelow, a jeweler of Boston. His hobby was photography,
and one day in 1861, while developing a plate, he was surprised to see a faint head beside that of the model. He announced. the fact in the journals, a "sensation" was tbe result, he gave up the graver and took to the trade Of "spirit photography" in New York.
The deception flourished and in 1874 a new edition of the Bible, wiih authentic photographs of Abraham. Moses David and others was announced. The method was introduced into France and a trade in spirit photographs established. The person desiring a photograph of some friend "gone before" had only to unite himself in thought with a "medium in Parts, and in a few days received
the photograph. Several misadventures, however, set the police on the alert. In one case a merchant of Montreuil wished a photograph of his daughter, who was 3 years old wnen she died, and received a photograph of a woman of 50. The police finally exposed the fraud on April 22, 1875, by discovering a dark chamber containing a lay figure draped in bluish tulle, with numerous photographic heads which could be added to it, and other devices. Particulars of the appearance of the person whose "spirit photograph" was required having been ingeniously gathered, the lay figure was adjusted and rapidly photographed; then the medium, or sometimes the client; was photographed on the same plate with a longer exposure, and both objects were develo-
ped together. The "spirit photographers" were tried and condemned to a year's imprisonment and a fine of 5000 Francs. "Spirit photography" never raised its head again In France, but, strange to say, it continued to flourish, aud still flourishes, in England. Even eminent British men of science have been fascinated by it. In America it thrives still more vigorously. M. Fourtler gives directions for obtaining spirit photographs, as follows: First place the specter before a dark background and photograph it decentrlne the negative to make it float in air. The drapery should be a bluish white and the exposuie very short. Next photograph the living subject on the somber background, such as a library or a wall hung with ancient armour. The exposure should be long,
so as to give strong definition. When the head of the specter is also the head ot the subject an "astral photograph" Is obtained.
Source. San Francisco Call, 7 April 1894


"The cleverest of those pictures are made by copying a number of faces and grouping them together. Then a negative is made
of the group and from this negative is printed the group until the fates show only in the hazy way in which you see them in this photograph— that is, only partly print the picture. Then take the same piece of paper and upon It print a distinct picture of the
living person you want on the photograph. The faces can be grouped about the distinct face in any way that you choose. While
the distinct face is being printed the hazy faces must be covered by cotton to keep them from printing up distinctly. Or the faces could be put in one at a time, several prints being made on the same piece of sensitized paper. To do this a hole is cut in a piece
of cardboard, through which light passes, while the rest of the plate is covered by the cardboard. This work is called vignetting
or blending, and any competent photographer can do it If he cares to take the time."
Los Angeles Herald, 18 April 1906

Among the famous "spirit" photographers and mediums were William Hope; Mrs. Buxton of the Crewe Circle in England; Mr.
Vearncombe, Somersetshire, England; Mrs.Dean, London; Mr. Edward Wylie of Los Angeles, California; and Rev. Clarence
M. Britton, Seattle, Washington.
Probably the known photographic word was accomplished by William Hope. He was a member of the well known spiritualists group, the Crewe Circle.

Spirit Photographs created by William Hope

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken in 1919, this picture supposedly depicts Mr and Mrs Gibson and the spirit of their deceased son.

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken in 1922, this picture depicts paranormal investigator Harry Price and a supposed spirit. It was later shown that Hope had substituted the photographic plates that he was given for ones that had been tampered with to create the illusion of the second figure in this picture.

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken between world war I and II, this picture purportedly shows Reverend Charles L Tweedale, his wife, and the spirit of her deceased father. 5 September 1919

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken in 1931, this picture shows purportedly shows Mrs Hortense Leverson and the spirit of her deceased husband Major Leverson.

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken in 1922, this picture purportedly a spirit emerging in front of a group at the annual meeting of the" Society for the Study
of Supernormal Pictures". Picutre in the center is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his wife is to the left.

A "Spirit photograph" taken by the Crewe Circle, and the known paranormal hoaxer William Hope.
Taken in sometime between WWI and WWII, this picture purportedly depicts Mrs Longcake and the spirit of her deceased
sister-in-law