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Eduard Isidore Buguet
Auto-portrait of the photographer with the Spirit of a lady, c. 1875

Buguet produced between 1873 and 1875 Spirit photographs, mainly in his studio at the, Boulevard Montmatre in Paris, but also during a stay in June 1874 in London.   Among others the scientist William Crookes went to Buguet and received his portrait surrounded by a Spirit form.

In April 1875 Buguet was arrested for fraud and later sentenced, with his own confession, to imprisonment for a year and a fine of 500 francs. He stated that the Spirit photographs were frauds, simply produced by double exposure. Either he dressed up his assistants to play the part of the ghost (after he learned form the sitters what they were expected to see on the plate) or he used a doll for this purpose. This figure was seized by the police in his studio.

In spite of the disclosures a lot of his clients remained convinced that Buguet had produced genuine Spirit portraits. They believed that he was the victim of an organized conspiracy and forced to make a false confession. Anyway, after the trial (Buguet escaped for some time to Belgium) the photographer started to make "photographies anti-spirite". He now arranged openly photographs showing Spirit forms or phenomena like telekinesis for the amusement of the public.

 
 
When William Mumler was a accused of fraud, a hoax photograph was paid for by P. T. Barnum [in the picture] the showman and committed Christian, it was produced by his hired professional photographer, Abraham Bogardus. Barnum paid for the best legal minds available as he had the money to do so and made sure he was there at the trail of William Mumler and produced himself, the photographer and the photograph, to bring him popularity and publicity, using it all to the best of his ability at the trail of William Mumler April 1869 to discredit him, Barnum NEVER attended any sittings at which Mumler produced his Spirit extras on the photographic plates. [William Mumler was not a wealthy man by any means, he was doomed from the start].
 
In 1891 Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-developer of the theory of evolution, threw his hat into the ring by declaring that Spirit Photography should be studied more closely and done so scientifically, as he had been studying it over a number of years, and had come to the conclusion that not all his finding could be put down as hoaxes. Just because some were, did not mean that they all were and his findings could not be dismissed.
Despite of his open comments the Spiritualist community kept their Spirit Photography away from the public gaze for many years. But during that time different photographs of some note crept out into the public arena, some of them could not be explained away even by the skeptics.

Is this a hoax? To me is certainly looks like one that is stage managed by Eugine Thiebault of France. Notice the theatrical act or stance he is in, and the alleged Spirit or spook who is in a skeletal mask, the alleged ectoplasm has folds in it consistent with a person being under the cloth of the Spirit form and their arms being held up and wrapped around the fightened person; to me a case of double exposure.

French Spirit photographer Edouard Isidore Buguet (1840-1901) demonstrates telekinesis in this 1875 photograph titled Fluidic Effect. Buguet was arrested the same year for faking his ghost photographs and he served a year in prison.

 

 

Please remember that many of these researchers in the past, if they could not prove that the Medium was fraudulent they would put it around that they thought they were. It is that word thought that makes all the difference. Yes, there were some tricksters BUT NOT as many as the Christian and religious community would like to make out. Look at the finding of the Church of England and their findings that was hushed up. BUT there again some genuine Mediums did cheat when their energies waned.

 

 

Mr. Feilding graphically describes what took place at this seance in a letter to Miss Johnson. These are his words:
August 12th, 1909

We had a seance last night. The results were sensational to a degree, also exasperating. Unfortunately we had not got our luminous patches nor the network screen; nor were Baggally and I controlling, also it was exceedingly dark. I had every reason to believe that the control was well carried out. The controllers constantly reported that they had the band firmly by the thumb and their legs were right round the Medium's legs. In these conditions we had a large number of pinches and touches and transportations of objects. Some of the manifestations were rather violent and the ladies screamed.

[Our hostess], who sat number two from the Medium, had the shoulder of her dress pulled right down, a handkerchief was wiped all over her face, thrust down the front of her dress inside, and then pulled out again right across her husband, who was controlling.

Miss X., who was controlling on the right (and although very nervous appears to have frozen on like grim death), was seized by the leg and nearly pulled out of her chair, and subsided in shrieks upon the floor, still grasping the Medium's hand when the light was turned up. Objects at a distance of more than a foot from my extended hand, when sitting in the Medium's position, were moved, one of them being transported to a second table, added at the further end of the Medium's table, in order to accommodate the large Circle. A hand felt about all over Miss X. and Miss W., who was, holding her in her arms to give her courage.
Further, a dinner bell placed on a chair in the cabinet fell to the ground with a loud crash.

At last, we thought, the phenomena are genuine. Mr. Feilding and I therefore decided to use extra precautions and to control the Medium ourselves. We did so the following evening, Mr. Feilding controlling on the right and I on the left.

At this sitting Miss X. occupied a seat next to me on my left.

Shortly after the light was extinguished the usual raps were heard, apparently on the floor behind the Medium, but what surprised me was that they were accompanied by loud raps under Miss X.'s chair. I very gradually lowered my left hand, which I had free, and placed it under the chair of this lady, till I could feel the heels of her feet. I then detected Miss X. striking the floor with the point of one of her boots, thus producing the loud raps that were heard under her.

This discovery immediately gave rise in my mind to the suspicion that some of the phenomena of the previous seance had been produced by her. I also could no longer feel sure that she had continuously held the Medium's hand while she was controlling him. The evidence for the genuineness of the manifestation was further vitiated by Mr. Feilding and my detecting the Medium, shortly after, in the fraudulent production of phenomena by means of his right hand, which he had liberated after resorting to the trick of substitution of hands. Owing to the luminous patches on his sleeves the first substitution was immediately detected. After this the control of his hands was conducted with deliberate carelessness and the substitution was repeated four or five times. It was carried out with extreme caution. We could see the Medium's right hand being retired, at a snail's pace, from contact with Mr. Feilding's hand while he substituted his left hand for it. After this Carancini passed his free hand under the table, touched us, and pulled our coats. It should be noted that at the time of the substitutions the Medium purported to be in a state of trance and under control of Giuseppe. I am unable to say whether this was really the case. If it was, Giuseppe must have been the guilty party who perpetrated the frauds, and he must have practised them for a long time previously to this series of sittings. I sometimes think that, with Physical Mediums, the alleged control serves as a very convenient scapegoat, ever ready to hand to bear the blame which otherwise would have attached to the Mediums when they are found out in trickery.

Only three phenomena now remain to be described, i.e. the movement of a pencil, the touches on the shoulders of two sitters at the third sitting at our friend's house, and the luminous appearances at the fourth sitting. A pencil and paper had been placed on the seance table at a distance of about 3 feet in front of the Medium. This pencil was heard, in total darkness, to move apparently independently two or three times. I must observe that previous to the first movement Carancini had leaned his head on his outstretched arms on the table. By this action his hands, which were tied to the hands of our host and myself, were brought close to the pencil, and it was not impossible for him to have taken hold of it with the tips of two of his fingers and, after he sat back in his chair and raised his hands, to have let the pencil drop on the table and thus produce the sound. When the pencil was heard to move a second time 'Giuseppe' said, "I did not do that." I have a strong suspicion that Miss X., who was seated opposite to where the pencil was, produced this phenomenon. I permit myself to say this as Miss X. has since admitted to our host her offences in respect to these sittings.

Carancini at this seance not only had his hands held by the controllers but his wrists were tied to theirs. It was not possible for him to effect a substitution of hands, nevertheless our host and I, who were controlling, felt light touches on our shoulders on the sides next to the Medium. When I received a touch I previously felt a movement of the Medium's arm which gave me the impression that he was leaning his body towards me. The touch felt as if he were pressing my shoulder gently with his nose.

The only manifestation at the last seance, held in our friend's house, was the appearance of a few lights, one at a time, in or near the cabinet, after Carancini had entered it by himself uncontrolled. Each light resembled a phosphorus match head when rubbed between the fingers. After the sitting was over the Medium was insistent about my searching him. He possibly may have had in his mind the fact that I had found a box of matches on him on a previous occasion. I searched him, but found no matches this time. A single phosphorus match, however, would have sufficed for the production of the lights, for it is so small an object that it could have been easily concealed about his person after the lights were seen.

I have said enough to show that all the phenomena that we obtained with Carancini were of an unsatisfactory nature. With the exception of the raps they all took place in absolute darkness.

The Medium, or 'Giuseppe,' was detected several times carrying out the trick of substitution of hands, after which the sitters got touches. When he was not able to effect a substitution, owing to his hands being tied, there were indications that he then made use of his head to touch the sitters.

It is by the above methods that be, in my opinion, produced the touches which were felt at the John Street sittings.

The only touch that could not have been produced by either of the above methods was the one felt, in the dim light, by Mrs. Sidgwick at the first seance. I understood Mrs. Sidgwick to say, however, just after she reported the touch, that she came to the conclusion that she was mistaken in the cause of her sensation, which she found was really due to the pressure of the bottom bar of her chair against her back.

Great importance is attached, by believers in Carancini's phenomena, to the flash-light photographs which were taken at his sťances. Let us, for a moment, consider what their value is for evidential purposes. Being instantaneous photographs, they can, by their very nature, only show the levitated object for a moment. They do not show the events that cause the object to be in the position in which it is seen.

We read in Dr. Lancellotti's paper that Carancini's control, 'Giuseppe,' indicates the exact moment the photographs can be taken by calling out the word Fuoco.

Now, what is to prevent a fraudulent Medium, - just at the moment that he throws a small object into the air, or after he has pinned or booked it to the cabinet curtain, or after he has placed a heavier object on his shoulders, or on another point of support, - from calling out the word Fuoco, or any other word as a signal for the photograph to be taken at that convenient moment? It will be noted that in the photographs only small objects appear to be floating in the air. All the heavier ones have a point of support. Carancini himself at the moment of his alleged levitation, appears to be standing on his own chair.

It may be said that the Medium could not have produced the phenomena fraudulently, as the photographs show that his hands were controlled at the time. To this I reply that although both Carancini's hands were in contact with those of the controllers at the instant that the photographs were taken, yet it was quite possible that one of his hands was free just before he called out the word Fuoco. I have ample grounds for making this assertion. These grounds are based on the careful observations that Mr. Feilding and I were able to make of the process that Carancini or 'Giuseppe' resorted to when he carried out the substitutions of hands at the time that we were controlling him. It was very interesting to watch the rapidity with which he replaced his right hand on Mr. Feilding's immediately after he had brought about a phenomenon. He would touch us or pull our coats with his free right hand and immediately afterwards lift his left hand from the back of Mr. Feilding's and replace it by his right hand, the action being accompanied by a strong convulsive movement of his body, by his then violently pulling our hands, in contact with his own, up into the air, and by the uttering of a loud groan.

Flash-light photographs do not prove the genuineness of a phenomenon. They merely give us a picture of what is actually happening at any one time without showing us the preceding actions of the Medium leading up to the event.

In regard to the substitution of hands that was detected at one of our sittings when the medium professed to be in a trance, if it be asserted that this may have been an action for which the Medium was not responsible, I may repeat that it was performed at the time with great deliberation and apparent care to avoid detection, and also that such a trick, to be carried out with success, requires previous training, which it is difficult to suppose could have been effected in a trance state.

In conclusion, I would point out that the phenomena obtained at these seances differed fundamentally from those we witnessed with Eusapia Palladino at Naples, not only in that Carancini's phenomena (with the exception of the raps) occurred in complete darkness, whereas with Eusapia Palladino many of the phenomena took place in light when her hands and her whole body were in full view, a condition which is of course essential for any good evidence for supernormality; but also in that there was definite positive evidence of fraud in Carancini's case.


Note: 
The article above was taken from "Sittings with Eusapia Palladino and Other Studies" (New York: University Books, 1963).

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