Our Unique Collection of Weird Edwardian Spirit Photographs
These images were printed from a series of glass photographic plates that were recently found and now are being discussed within spiritualism. You can click the ghostly images for larger prints from these photographic glass plates. Please share your thoughts at the bottom of the page.
My friend Violet Kipling has written the commentary below that was used for a lecture. She is not suggesting that all of them are real ghost pictures but some may make you stop and think. I have only included what I think are the best 12 Ghost Pictures we have on file and the ones that I feel appear to be the most real. The Spiritualist commentary makes a number of assumptions and in particular that in these early days of photography it was much harder to use photographic camera tricks or special effects.
The argument says that glass plates could not be tampered with and the miraculous appearance of the spirit person’s signatures gives weight to the fact that these are real ghost pictures. Having written a column in Fate and Fortune magazine now for many years and studied the thousands of ways that cameras can produce apparently real ghost pictures I am not convinced by these pictures. Some of the ways I feel trickery has been used is by scratching directly on to the silver photographic chemicals on the class – this would create the ‘ectoplasm’ we see in some images. It would also account for the alleged signatures from the spirit people including that of the dead Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who was a famous advocate of Spiritualism.
Real Ghost Pictures can also be faked up by rubbing away an area of the glass plate and then putting the plates on top of one another. This would account for the strange mists and with faces in them. You will note also that many of the ‘real ghosts’ have different lighting to the main pictures which suggests to me that the images were taken at different times.
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A Spiritualist’s Commentary
The slides we are going to look at today are taken from a collection of some 500 original glass slides which a Spiritualist Minister, Mr Alan Millichamp, holds in trust. The ones we are looking at today are all those where the spirit extras have been positively identified and are not “just somebody who appeared on the print”.
Whilst the original slides have been copied to use in our modern projectors, you will be able to see from the quality of the photographs on the slides, just how very old some of them are. Many were taken in the early days of photography when it was necessary to sit for five minutes because the camera lens was left open for this period of time in order for the image to be imprinted on the photograph plate. It was vital that the sitters did not move during this period of time and it can be seen on one or two of the slides where the sitters did actually move – perhaps they sneezed?? It was not unknown for sitters’ heads to be placed between unobtrusive wooden clamps which would hold them still without too much undue distress to the sitter.
When Spiritualism came to England there were many forms of psychic phenomena manifesting and with the advent of cameras spirit extras were only too happy to use all available energy to impress their images upon the photographic plate as a message to their loved one of their continuing existence.
It was found that some people had the appropriate energies for the world of spirit to use them as photographic mediums and it was possible to actually book a Photographic Sitting and know that the chances of a friend, or loved one, appearing on the photograph were very high indeed.
Psychic Photography is a phenomenon which requires a physical medium for its production. In physical mediumship everyone is able to witness the phenomena produced and in the case of spirit photography, we can all, even today, witness the phenomena produced by these mediums.
Even though it was known that it was possible for a spirit extra to be found upon the photograph at a Photographic Sitting it was still very necessary to preclude all possibility of fraud and people used to take their own photographic plates to the medium, and after signing it, they would place it in the camera and remove it once the photograph had been taken, in order to prevent the medium from ever actually touching the plate.
There were many circles set up in which to develop photographic mediumship and one of the most well known is probably the circle in Crewe in which the medium William Hope sat and he was responsible for the production of many of the photographs we are going to look at today.
Ectoplasm Head Materialises?
William Hope was the medium referred to who had a circle in Crewe and he became famous for the spirit extras which appeared when he took the photographs, or was in the room.
A lot of psychic photographs can be identified as to their origin by the style as it were and the majority of William Hope’s photographs showed the spirit extra with an ectoplasmic surround.
Ghost Picture of Murderer
This picture was taken in Brazil. Whilst the photographer taking this photograph, which was a time exposures where the sitters had to sit for quite a while, was not a Spiritualist he actually saw, through his camera lens, the lady who has transposed herself onto this photograph.
Two weeks after the photograph was taken the man confessed to the spirit extra’s murder. (Be sure your sins will find you out!)
Real Spirit Faces?
The principal chemist from Stanton Stavely Ironworks, a non Spiritualist, took the photographs and developed the plates himself.
Can you see where the two at the front have moved – again, it is a time exposure.
Graveyard Spirit of Dead Baby
A private sitting was arranged and all the medium could get for him was “go and photograph the grave”.
He did so and this is the result. The medium was not aware, of course, that his wife and baby had died. The sitter did not in fact know his wife was pregnant.
Photo of Spirit Ectoplasm Face
The spirit extra on the photograph is a relative.
This photograph is part of the history of the SNU and it is vital that this, and others like it, are not lost.
Another circle photograph.
How many faces?
There are definitely two, maybe 3, or more
Spirit Writing Photograph
Spirit writing is usually done by a medium who is in trace in which messages are given by spirit while the medium’s hand writes the messages on its own accord.
Shown here is a different phenomena in that the spirit writing has miraculously appeared on the glass photographic plates.
This photograph was not taken with a film in a camera. Someone held the plate in its lightproof paper in his or her hand during a circle and then it was developed and the result was? – J F Smedley.
This photograph brings into sharp focus the actual meaning of the words ‘overshadowing’. This beautiful guide is just one of many such people who work with us within our circles and development groups. The lady sitter was a medium and she did know the helper who showed herself and also the Indian guide.
The writing on this photograph reads: “Dear friends, we shall do our best to prove to your satisfaction that we are still able and eager to interest ourselves in your welfare and all that we ask is a fair and honest judgment.” Needless to say, these aims of the spirit world continue to this day.
This photograph shows examples of psychic energy that is around when we have a sitting with a medium.
A little girl was asked by spirit helpers to hold out her hands. She asked if she was to be given something and received a rose.
REAL GHOST PHOTOGRAPHS – commentary continued
It can be seen from the foregoing photographs how eager and willing the spirit people are to work with us; to allow us to carry out experiments with them and they will continue to amaze us with the manner in which they continue to get across their message of eternal life and unconditional love.
It is now, therefore, incumbent upon each one of us to give them the opportunity to send us photographs of themselves, as they were when we knew them, or as they are now. I really don’t mind. A bouquet of flowers, a piece of writing, the spirit world standing on its head, as in the Armistice Parade photograph, would be a wonderful manifestation of their love and I know that we would all be overjoyed to receive such evidence from them.
Communication of any description, however, is two-way and it is up to us to meet the spirit world halfway and provide them with the instruments for producing such phenomena. We must leave cameras in the circle or unopened film. We must ask permission to take photographs in the circle, perhaps with infra-red film, which our pioneers did not have access to. We must organise Psychic, or Spirit Sittings, and take photographs of each other in an effort to establish who are photographic mediums and one thing we must insist upon is that EVERY photograph is printed, even the so-called spoiled ones – they could be the interesting ones.
Do not let the Photographic Department of your local Pharmacy, consign Grandmother to the waste film bin; she has taken too much time and effort to be with us and deserves every opportunity to be photographed in all her finery. We may pay for much wasted paper but at least we won’t have lost something we will treasure throughout our earthly lives.
So now tell us YOUR opinion in the comments section. Are these Phantoms or Fakes?
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