Spirit Trumpets

Spirit trumpets, like the tin model shown here, were often present at seancess in the heyday of physical mediumship. Typically, the trumpet would "float" about the darkened room (sometimes luminous bands having been affixed to the trumpet so the effect could be visualized), and "spirit" voices would issue from it.

There were many trumpet tricks. If the medium's hands were not controlled (a practice intended to prevent trickery) he or she could simply move the trumpet about, a rubber tube being attached through which the medium spoke. Sometimes, a removable luminous band was employed and moved about at the end of a telescoping rod. In these instances, the whispered voices did not actually emanate from the trumpet; the illusion that they did worked on the ventriloquism principle: it is not easy to locate the source of a sound, especially if misdirection takes place. If controlled, the medium had clever techniques of getting one hand free or could use a secret assistant dressed all in black. (For a discussion of trumpet and other séance trickery, see M. Lamar Keene, Psychic Mafia, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1997; and Walter Gibson, Secrets of Magic, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1967.)

Spirit Trumpets

The spirit trumpet pictured above collapses into five sections and fits into the oil cloth bag pictured next to it. The trumpet has an inscription towards the bottom reading "Anna" with a line drawing of a bell connected to the last letter. This could mean that the medium's name was Annabell, or it could have been the name of the medium's spirit guide.

The trumpet is about 30 1/2 inches high and the outside diameter is about 7 inches. The trumpet has a glow-in-the-dark ring painted on the inside of its mouth so that when it's "floating" during a seance, the sitters can see where it is. The glow-in-the-dark strip was put there to help prove that the trumpet was indeed in mid air.

Pictured below is the spirit trumpet when it's collapsed for travel.  Close-up of embossed spirit trumpet