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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

planchette The heart-shaped pointer device often said to have been invented in 1852 by a man named Planchette, but this seems highly unlikely, given that the French word planche means “board,” and thus planchette means “small board.”
      This device is usually used with a Ouija board, the point of the heart moving over the board to indicate the letters or numbers. It is supported above the board or paper on three short legs equipped with tiny casters or other bearings. If equipped with a pencil at the pointed end as a support, it can be used over a piece of paper in automatic writing.

The planchette used as an automatic writing device.

      The Daily News of London in 1896, describing in an obituary the life and work of a hare-brained socialite of the day, was well aware of the real value of the device:  

      For nine years, he toyed with the planchette, the turned tables, in short used the familiar, hanky-panky means of communication with the unseen world.

      See also Ouija board.

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