The real history of the Ouija board is just about as mysterious as to how the “game” works.
The Ouija board, in fact, came straight out of the American 19th-century obsession with spiritualism, the belief that the dead are able to communicate with the living. Spiritualism, which had been around for years in Europe, hit America hard in 1848 with the sudden prominence of the Fox sisters of upstate New York; the Foxes claimed to receive messages from spirits who rapped on the walls in answer to questions, recreating this feat of channelling in parlours across the state.
Spiritualism worked for Americans: it was compatible with Christian dogma, meaning one could hold a séance on Saturday night and have no qualms about going to church the next day. It was an acceptable, even wholesome activity to contact spirits at séances, through automatic writing, or table-turning parties.
This board features a stunning curio forest scene, engraved into plywood with a matching planchette.