What was the Ouija board originally used for?

Commonly seen in horror movies, the Ouija – or spirit board – is a flat board covered with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9 and words such as ‘yes’, ‘no’, ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ It also features a planchette which is a small piece of plastic or wood. The belief held by many mystics today is that during a séance if all participants place their hands on the planchette it will move and spell out messages from the dead.


Although it has strong association with the occult and paranormal today, that was not its original intention at all. It was originally created in 1894 by a businessman called Elijah Bond as a kind of a board game. There is speculation the name was ‘chosen’ by the board itself, but it’s more likely that it comes from the combination of the German and French words for ‘yes.’ The boards soared in popularity from the 1920s all the way through to the 1960s, and today the trademarks and patents to the famous Ouija board are owned by the US toy company Hasbro. Even in 1966 the boards were marketed as a fun leisure activity, and were more likely to be posed the question “Which college will accept me?’ rather than asking spirits “What is your name?”


The original Ouija board created in 1894


An ad created by the Parkers Brothers in 1968


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