Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mysterious Planchette

MRG Automatic Writing Planchette Kit, 1970s
MRG Automatic Writing Planchette Kit, 1970s

The "Modern Research Planchette" was sold in the 1970s by the Metaphysical Research Group, the mail-order business branch of Britain's Society of Metaphysicians, founded in 1944 by John J. Williams. A radio instructor for the Royal Air Force during WWII, Williams got his start in the world of metaphysics while stationed in Cranwell, where he lectured his beliefs in psychic and mystical forces to his colleagues. These nascent beliefs-later published as "The Cranwell Lectures"-formed the foundation of the Society of Metaphysicians, who within three years had established a small community of believers at Archers' Court, Sussex.
MRG Aura Goggles late 1960s
MRG "Aura Goggles" late 1960s

Firmly established, the society generated income by running their headquarters as a boarding house for those seeking metaphysical knowledge in a wide range of subjects, from aura reading, automatic writing, dowsing, channeling, and mediumship. As the years progressed, the society established a productive publishing house that offered an amazing array of books on diverse metaphysical subjects.
 MRG Planchette, 1970
Crystal Gazing Research Kit, 1970s

The MRG also produced a line of tools for the psychic practitioner in the late 1960s and early 70s, including, among other items, aura goggles, beechwood pendulums, crystal balls, and, of course, ouija boards and writing planchettes. Their planchettes are fine boards, a British analog of Venture Bookshop's planks of the same period. Just as the Venture board is classically American-shaped, so too is the MRG plank classically British, with a Jaques-like rounded nose and flat back. It also sports brass ball-bearing castors-pentagraphs that once supplied wheels are antique tools by this era-though quite large and squat compared to others. The plank is possibly beechwood, like their pendulums, and finely finished on both sides in a nice brown shade, though it may remind some of 70s-era wall paneling wood tones. The pencil aperture is a spun aluminum sleeve that holds a regular #2 pencil, held in place with a long retaining screw with a corrugated plastic knob.
MRG Planchette, 1970

The Metaphysical Research Group also produced a traditional talking board, called the "Ouija Table: The Psychic Investigator's Research Instrument." It is of the traditional arched-alphabet style, and cream-colored with interesting woodcuts of candles, open tomes, and holy symbols printed in red ink in each corner. Like most boards of the era, it is printed paper on cardboard, but with a protective heavy plastic film coating. Brass corner-edges further protect the board. Interestingly, the board has several punctuation marks-an exclamation mark for when the spirits get particularly excited, and a question mark, for those creepy times when they pose questions of their own...
The Society of Metaphysicians still exists. They know you are reading this.

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