|How Collier Solved the Puzzle
Moses A. Dow (1810-1886) founded Waverley Magazine in
Boston in 1850. The magazine catered to amateur authors
and reached a circulation of 50,000 copies before the Civil
War. It continued to appear until 1908. Dow published the
works of schoolgirls and other young writers; by one
account he would print nearly anything that was offered to
him free. The tactic made him wealthy, because the friends
and relatives of contributors would all purchase copies.
Mabel Warren was a young protege of Dow. She submitted
her writing to him in 1862, when she was apparently fresh
out of high school. He published her work and hired her as
his assistant, a post she held until her death following a
brief illness in July of 1870.
Dow was led into spiritualism by his housekeeper, who
invited a medium to tea. Barely a week after Mabel's death,
Dow felt his deceased assistant was communicating with
him. In seance after seance, Dow received messages
written mysteriously on slates or in ink on paper.
|Spiritualism in America--and more
specifically, spirit photography--
was taken to court in New York
City in 1869.The case: a
preliminary hearing for William
H. Mumler, who was charged
with fraud for selling
photographs that he claimed
included images of ghosts or
spirits. Testimony and arguments
lasted for seven days. On
Mumler's side, witnesses
included a prominent former
judge who was also a spiritualist.
Among the opposing witnesses
were several photographers who
explained how the same effects
could be achieved by darkroom
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
thrived until he was arrested as part of an elaborate police
sting operation and tried for fraud in 1869.
A photographer who appeared as a witness for the
prosecution astutely pointed out that Mumler’s photos
exhibited one of the telltale signs of a fake-inconsistent
lighting. The shadow of the spirit in one of Mumler’s
photographs was cast in a different direction from the
shadow of his subject. And incidentally, why should a
spirit cast a shadow anyway?
The emotional testimony of the witnesses for the
defense, who firmly believed Mumler had captured
images of their departed loved ones, was too powerful to
overcome the technical explanations offered by the
witnesses for the prosecution. Mumler was acquitted,
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|Answers to Quiz #300
April 9, 2011
|William H. Mumler
Excerpted from Upcoming Article
in GAMES Magazine
by Colleen Fitzpatrick PhD
|1. Who is the woman in the picture?
2. Who took her photograph?
2. What was the photographer's claim to fame?
|Happy 300th Quiz-Birthday Forensic Genealogy!
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We are delighted to say that
many of you have become loyal friends.
We appreciate hearing from all of you.
Never hesitate to contact us anytime with a new quiz idea
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From the earliest days, entrepreneurs saw a great
market for fake photos. One of the most celebrated
of these was William H. Mumler, a jewelry engraver
and amateur photographer from Boston. In 1861,
while developing a self- portrait, Mumler noticed a
ghost-like image of a woman that appeared behind
him, probably originating from a previous exposure
that had been produced using the same photographic
plate. Jokingly, Mumler showed the picture to a friend
who was a spiritualist, claiming it was the first-ever
photograph of a spirit.
The spiritualist took the gag seriously, and what
|Heads Up, Fans!
The write-up about William H. Mumler is excerpted from
an article on "Faux-tography" I wrote for the June issue of GAMES Magazine.
It will appear on newstands on May XXX.
Check it out!
|William H. Mumler
and a friend.
started as a joke became a revelation. As the news spread about Mumler’s ability to
photograph the spiritual world, he developed a thriving business producing photographs
of the dearly departed, charging extravagant fees for his services. Many of his
customers were grief-stricken individuals who had lost family members during the Civil
Mumler eventually lost credibility when prominent spiritualists noticed that many of the
spirits he claimed to have recorded resembled some of his recent clients. Seeing the
writing on the wall, he moved his operation to New York where his practice again
|Mary Todd Lincoln
yet his reputation was severely damaged.
Mumler’s most famous photo was produced in 1871 after his return to Boston. When
a woman who introduced herself as “Mrs. Tundall” had her picture taken, a ghostly
image of Abraham Lincoln appeared standing behind her, his hands on her shoulders.
Mumler claimed that it was only later he was informed that his client was none other
than Mary Todd Lincoln, the President’s widow. It is believed to be the last
photograph of Mrs. Lincoln before she died in 1882. Nevertheless, in spite of her
patronage, Mumler’s fortunes did not improve, and he died penniless in 1884.
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Carl Blessing Margreet Brouwer
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Marilyln Hamill Emma Compton
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Judy Kiss Betty Chambers
Deborah Campisano Margaret Paxton
Stan Read Sharon Taber
Mont Jolley Roberta Martin
Rebecca Bare Donna Jolley
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Evan Hindman Cynthia Coastigan
Collier Smith Mike Dalton
Gary Sterne Sue Edminster
Marilyn Hamill Arthur Hartwell
Nicole Blank Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
Jim Kiser Milene Rawlinson
William H. Mumler (1832–1884) was an
American spirit photographer who worked
in New York and Boston. His first spirit
photograph was a self-portrait which
apparently show his deceased cousin.
Mumler then left his job as a jeweller,
instead opting to work as a full time
photographer, taking advantage of the
large number of people who had lost
relatives in the American Civil War.
Perhaps his two most famous works are
the photograph of Mary Todd Lincoln
with the ghost of her husband Abraham
Lincoln, and his photo of Master Herrod, a
medium, with three spirit
After being accused of various activities,
he was taken to court for fraud, with
|1. Mr. DOBBS, at the request of his Affianced,
sits for his Photograph. Unconsciously happens
in at MUMLER'S.
2. Result--Portrait of DOBBS, with his Five
Deceased Wives in Spirituo!!!
May 8, 1869
noted showman P. T. Barnum testifying against him. Though found not guilty, his
career was over, and he died in poverty. Today, Mumler's photos are considered to be
Before beginning his career as a spirit photographer, Mumler worked as a jewel
engraver in Boston, practicing amateur photography in his spare time. In the early
1860s, he developed a self-portrait that appeared to feature the apparition of his cousin
who had been dead for 12 years. This is widely credited as the first "spirit photograph"
—a photograph of a living subject featuring the likeness of a deceased person (often a
relative) imprinted by the spirit of the deceased. Mumler then became a full-time spirit
photographer, and moved to New York where his work was analyzed by numerous
photography experts, none of whom could find any evidence that they were fraudulent.
Spirit photography is thought to have been a lucrative business thanks to the families of
those killed during the American Civil War seeking reassurance that their relatives lived
Critics of Mumler's work included P. T. Barnum, who claimed Mumler was taking
advantage of people whose judgment was clouded by grief. After the discovery that
some of Mumler's 'ghosts' were in fact living people,
and accusations that he had broken into houses to steal
photos of deceased relatives, Mumler was brought to
trial for fraud in April 1869. Barnum testified against
him, hiring Abraham Bogardus to create a picture that
appeared to show Barnum with the ghost of Abraham
Lincoln to demonstrate the ease with which the photos
could be created. Those testifying in support of
Mumler included Moses A. Dow, a journalist who
Mumler had photographed. Though acquitted of fraud,
Mumler's career was ruined and he died in poverty in
1884. Today, his photos are considered hoaxes.
Ghost of Abraham Lincoln
One of Mumler's most famous photographs apparently
shows Mary Todd Lincoln with the "ghost" of her
|P. T. Barnum with his own
husband, Abraham Lincoln. Paranormal researcher Melvyn Willin, in his book Ghosts
Caught on Film, claims that the photo was taken around 1869, and that Mumler did not
know that his sitter was Lincoln, instead believing her to be a 'Mrs Tundall'. Willin goes
on to say that Mumler did not discover who she was until after the photo was
developed. The College of Psychic Studies, referencing notes belonging to William
Stainton Moses (who has appeared in photographs by other spirit photographers), claim
that the photo was taken in the early 1870s, Lincoln had assumed the name of 'Mrs.
Lindall' and that Lincoln had to be encouraged by Mumler's wife (a medium) to identify
her husband on the photo. Though the image has been dismissed as being accidental
double exposure, it has been widely circulated.
Master Herrod was a young medium from Bridgewater, Massachusetts photographed by
Mumler in about 1872. One photograph, once developed, apparently showed Herrod in a
trance surrounded by the spirits of Europe, Africa and America. The photograph was
advertised for sale in The Religio-Philosophical Journal on August 24, 1872.
Other photographs by Mumler included pictures showing various spirits (including
relatives, fiancés, actresses and spirit guides) with living sitters. Other well known
sitters include Moses A. Dow (editor of The Waverley Magazine) whose photograph
apparently showed the spirit of his assistant Mabel Warren, and Fannie Conant, a well
known medium from Boston, apparently photographed with the ghost of her brother
|"Master Herrod in a
Trance. His Spiritual Body
Withdrawn and Appears
Behind." Albumen print
carte de visite, circa 1868
|Moses A. Dow, Editor of
Waverley Magazine, with
the Spirit of Mabel Warren.
Albumen print carte de
visite, circa 1871
|"Mrs. Conant of Banner
of Light. Her Brother,
Charles H. Crowell"
Albumen print carte de
visite, circa 1868
Ultimately, Mabel's spirit directed Dow to Mumler's studio where she promised to
appear with a wreath of lilies on her head. Dow explains, "The picture was small, but
with the aid of a microscope it was magnified to the natural size of the human face, and
in that face I saw the perfect picture of my friend. I was both surprised and delighted
and wrote to Mr. Mumler and told him I was perfectly satisfied, and gave him my true
|tricks, and P. T. Barnum--who said he purchased some of Mumler's
photographs to exhibit them in his museum as specimens of humbug.
The hearing attracted nationwide attention, including the full cover
page (and back-page cartoon ) of the mass circulation Harper's
In the end, the judge in the case reluctantly decided to drop the charges
against Mumler, citing a lack of evidence. According to The New York
Daily Tribune, the judge explained "however he might believe that trick
and deception had been practiced [by Mumler], yet, as he sat there in
his capacity as magistrate, he was compelled to decide...the
prosecution had failed to prove the case."
Both sides were thus able to declare victory. The prosecution had
exposed Mumler, revealing that the same "ghost" appeared in certain
photographs taken in Boston and New York-- a "spirit" who turned out
to be very much a living mortal.
Mumler went back to spirit photography and gloated a bit in a
pamphlet he published in 1875. But his brush with the law took its toll,
both to his reputation and to his finances. Mumler never recovered
from the $3000 cost of his defense, a staggering sum for its day. He
destroyed all of his negatives shortly before his death in 1884.
|Comments from Our Readers
|That he could photograph spirits? That P.T. Barnum testified against him? Not sure
where you're going with this. That people are gullible? Barnum would have testified to
that! Peter Norton
N.B. All of the above. - Q. Gen.
Creepy! Betty Chambers
I guess con artists have always been with us. Fun quiz- did not use Tin Eye.
Happy 300th-Quiz-Birthday! Deborah Campisano
Congrats on your 300th photo contest. Sharon Martin
I googled Lincoln's ghost and found contest photo on www.hauntedamericatours.
com. Found an explantion on iconicphotos.wordpress.com. Googled spirit
photography and found explanation for that on www.prairieghosts.com. Comments: in
the world of the paranormal, genuine photographs of ghostly apparitions may defy
rational explanations by skeptics and possibilities of hoaxes by the
unscrupulous. Mike Dalton
Brilliant Story ! Alan Cullinan
Googled images for "mary todd lincoln ghost" and found the image at this site.
I noticed the "hands" on Mary's shoulder and then saw the muted picture of Abraham
Lincoln who was standing behind her. The website I looked at said it was the last
known picture of Mary Todd Lincoln. Sue Edminster
Very apropos on the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Marilyn Hamill
This was an interesting quiz and I have purchased both the book about Mumler and
PT Barnum’s book, Humbugs of the World for my Kindle, so I can read more about
him. Milene Rawlinson
The print is from the Lloyd
|This one proved to be pretty simple, once you spot (& recognize) the
faint image of Lincoln in the background. I asked myself "What older
woman was associated with Abe?" His mother, or stepmother, and his
wife are the two leading candidates. Google-image on "abraham
lincoln's mother" gave no joy, so I tried "abraham lincoln's wife" and
on the 2nd page of results was your image (but much clearer or more
contrasty). The caption reads "Lincoln's Ghost?"
|Unidentified man with
|This might be as a self
portrait. Not sure.
|Here is a (undoctored) pic I took of my
son with a cell phone camera at a
restaurant a few years ago. The boy in the
background is real, but the figure along my
son's face we presumed to be a ghost of
some sort. We have had our current house
investigated twice so far by a ghost
|hunting team (with quite a few pics taken and video recorded) and the
kids and I do see and hear things from time to time, so I am definitely
a believer. I dislike when people fake pictures and sightings because it
detracts from those of us who have had legitimate experiences - not
sure if you believe in the spirit world or not but just wanted to share a
pic with you anyway.
|Unidentified Man with Two Spirits
|Gallery of Mumler Photographs
|Unidentified Man with Spirit Companion