David Duguid,

 Medium David Duguid

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 David  Duguid Medium


Scottish Medium, chiefly famous for his automatic and direct drawings. Duguid was born in Glasgow and became a cabinetmaker by trade.

His two brothers, Robert, of Glasgow, and Alexander, of Kirkcaldy, also claimed psychic powers, but David eclipsed them both with phenomena comprising the whole scale of seance-room manifestations. Above and beyond the more common raps, he supposedly moved objects without contact; heavy music boxes sailed about in the room in the dark and invisible hands wound them up when they ran down. Sitters reported hearing direct voices, usually in husky whispers but sometimes in thunderous tones. Reportedly on one occasion, the Medium was levitated, placed on the table in his chair, to which he was bound, and a coat was put on him without disturbing the knots. Often objects were brought out from closed rooms, psychic lights were seen, phantom hands touched the sitters, redolent perfumes were produced, and, according to the testimony of Thomas S. Garriock, as quoted in E. T. Bennett's Direct Phenomena of Spiritualism (1908), "On one occasion Mr. Duguid put his hand into the blazing stove, took out a large piece of coal and walked round the room with it for five minutes."

The beginnings of all these marvels dated from 1865, when, out of curiosity, he took part in table-sitting experiments at the house of H. Nisbet, a publisher of Glasgow. At one of these sittings he felt his arm shake and a cold current ran down his spine. When Nisbet's daughter, who was an automatic writer, placed her right hand on his left it at once began to move and drew rough sketches of vases and flowers, and then the section of an archway. Duguid began to sit in his home for automatic painting. The influence that manifested claimed to feel Duguid hampered by absolute lack of artistic education. On his suggestion Duguid took lessons at a government school of arts for four months.

Later the influence suggested that after his usual work on large pictures Duguid should draw or paint on little cards in the presence of onlookers. In eight to ten minutes he turned out complete pictures. Working in total darkness, sitters reported that the "Spirits" would arrive in less than a minute and, independently of the Medium's hands, produce a new picture in as short a time as 35 seconds. They were tiny and sometimes so fine in execution that their merit was enhanced if viewed under a magnifying glass. Now and then, many of these little oil paintings were found on a single card. The noise of the brushes and paper, prepared in light, would be heard by those present as coming from well above the table. When the paintings were completed, everything was dropped. Invariably the paper would be found with painted side up, wet and sticky. As a rule these little paintings were then freely distributed among the sitters.

To ensure control, Duguid allowed himself to be held or tied. When the light was put on, the bindings were often found exchanged. If the medium was too tightly bound he was liberated in a few seconds in the darkness and the ligatures were quietly dropped into the lap of one of the sitters. On several occasions the little cards were found missing. As soon as the darkness was restored they were heard to drop onto the table from above.

To prevent substitution, the cards were usually signed at the back with the initials of the sitters. Later, a better method of identification was employed. A corner of the card was torn off and handed to a sitter before the painting began. For several years, Duguid took no fee for his seances.

In August 1878 Frank Podmore attended a sitting at which this method of control was already employed and discerned the method of its subversion. Describing how he placed the fragments of the cards securely in his pocket and how the medium was fastened with silk handkerchiefs, with adhesive paper on the ends, he writes in Modern Spiritualism (2 vols., 1902): "After a quarter of an hour the lights were turned up and two small oil paintings, one circular, about the size of a penny, the other oval and slightly larger, were found on the two cards. The colours were still moist and the fragments in my pocket fitted the torn corners of the cards. The two pictures, which lie before me as I write, represent respectively a small upland stream dashing over rocks, and a mountain lake with its shores bathed in a sunset glow. The paintings, though obviously executed with some haste, were hardly such as one can imagine to have been done in such a short interval and in almost complete darkness. For many years I was quite at a loss to understand how the feat could have been accomplished by normal means. The explanation, which I have now no doubt to be correct, is an extremely simple one. Duguid, it has been seen, would not suffer profane hands to touch the cards; and, when he had torn off the corner of a card, he no doubt dropped into the sitter's hand not the piece torn from the blank card on the table, but a piece previously torn from a card on which a picture had already been painted."

Podmore's explanation also suggests other methods that could have been employed in the dark and often were employed by Mediums such as Duguid.

The first extended publicity to David Duguid's mediumship was given by the North British Daily Mail in 1873 in a series of articles entitled A Few Nights with the Glasgow Spiritualists. It was later followed by the report of a subcommittee of the Psychological Society of Edinburgh. They claimed to witness 11 distinctly different forms of manifestation that they could not explain as normal. Direct writing that began to alternate with direct painting and drawing was among the phenomena observed. Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and German scripts were produced, sometimes on a folded sheet of paper enclosed in a sealed envelope.

(It was by this method that the frontispieces of three volumes of William Oxley's Angelic Revelations were allegedly illustrated.) Thomas Power was quoted by Bennett as saying: "The plain paper was put into an envelope. The three gentlemen placed their fingers on the sealed envelope and turned off the gas. In three minutes the gas was turned on, the envelope cut open and the drawing was found in its complete state."

The control who worked through Duguid did not disclose his identity for a long time. He called himself "Marcus Baker." Eventually he promised a copy of one of his masterpieces. The Medium worked for four days, four hours at a time, on a large painting. It was initialed "J.R.," and from Cassell's Art Treasures Exhibition it was recognized as "The Waterfall," by Jakob Ruysdael. The copy was not exact, however; some figures were omitted. The control, when questioned, said those figures were added later by Bergheim. When they consulted Ruysdael's biography this was found to be true.

The second of Duguid's painting controls also claimed a famous name, that of Jan van Steen. Apparently neither of them had taken the trouble to always produce original compositions. Great inconvenience arose from this for the Medium after the arrival on the scene, in August 1869, of "Hafed," the third of Duguid's famous Guides.

From the book that he dictated in 46 sittings between 1870 and 1871 it appears that Hafed lived nearly 2,000 years ago as a warrior-prince of Persia. At an early age he fought against an invading Arabian army, was later admitted to the order of the Magi, and was ultimately chosen arch magus. He described the creeds and social life of ancient Persia, Tyre, Greece, Egypt, Judea, Babylon, and many other long perished civilizations that he studied in travels.

The climax of his story was reached when he revealed that he conducted the expedition of the Three Wise Men to Judea to the cradle of Jesus. He was summoned by his Guardian Spirit to go on the journey with two brother magi and take rich gifts to the babe. He described the youthful years of Jesus that are not chronicled in the Gospels. According to his story, he traveled with Jesus in Persia, India, and many other countries and marveled at the miracles the young child performed. After the martyrdom of Jesus he became a Christian himself, met Paul in Athens, preached the gospel in Venice and Alexandria, and finally perished at age 100 in the arena at Rome.

The book, as taken down in notes by Hay Nisbet, was published in 1876 under the title Hafed, Prince of Persia: His Experiences in Earth Life, being Spirit Communications Received Through Mr. David Duguid, the Glasgow Trance Speaking Medium, with an Appendix, containing Communications from the Spirit Artists Ruisdael and Steen, illustrated by Facsimiles of Forty-Five Drawings and Writings, the Direct Work of the Spirits. Reportedly the book was produced in trance. Trouble arose, however, over the illustrations, and the first edition of the book had to be withdrawn as some of the sketches were discovered to be copies from Cassell's Family Bible. In the second edition, published in the same year, eight full-page plates had been withdrawn, although Cassell's protest only applied to three full-page and one half-page plates.

Suspicion of the rest of the expunged drawings appears to be justified. E. T. Bennett submitted an Arabic doorway inscription that supposedly came in direct writing but is also visible in an illustration in the Family Bible according to the expert examination of Stanley Lane-Pool. He found the text to read, "There is no conqueror but God," the characteristic motto of the Moorish kings of Granada, which occurs on all their coins and all over the Alhambra. "But the writer of the direct card," he says, "evidently had not the Alhambra nor the Syrian Gateway in his mind, but Cassell's Family Bible. The engraver of the cut in the Bible, which you sent me, made a muddle of the lower line of inscription under the lintel, not knowing Arabic, and the direct card exactly reproduces the engraver's blunders."

There was a sequel to Hafed, titled Hermes, a Disciple of Jesus: His Life and Missionary Work; also the Evangelistic Travels of Anah and Zitha, two Persian Evangelists, sent out by Hafed; together with Incidents in the Life of Jesus given by a Disciple through Hafed(1887). Thomas Garrioch, a member of Duguid's Circle, acted as recorder. According to Hay Nisbet's preface, this book was only one-third finished by 1887. The remainder was composed of the life and missionary work of a Brahmin priest who was raised from the dead by Jesus, the autobiographies of an ancient Mexican priest and a red Indian chief, and various other Spirit autobiographies, tales, addresses, and answers to questions.

Hermes; after the lesson learned from the publication of Hafed; was not illustrated. Supposedly, the misadventure of the Hafed illustrations was brought to the attention of the controls. They defended themselves by saying that the memory of these pictures was retained in Duguid's subconscious mind. If so, these impressions were apparently subject to elaboration in the reproduction as, for instance, a ruined church nave of the Family Bible appears in a restored condition in Duguid's book. A similar incident occurred in Duguid's demonstrations of Spirit photography. His Cyprian priestess, a recurring spirit photograph, was found to be the exact copy of a German picture, Night.


The source is from Answers.

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David Duguid, a psychic artist under the control of Jan Steen his Spirit Guide. (Jan 1895). David brought his paints with him in a long tin box that had seen long service; it was untidy and unclean inside as if it belonged to a professional artist. There was also a piece of cardboard of thirty or forty square inches, which was dirty to start with, and very dirty before the painting began. I wanted to examine this but was solemnly warned by one of the party who had undergone this experience, to let alone. “If you touch it, Jan will be at you for certain; and if his brushes are meddled with, I won’t answer for the consequences.” In the meantime, as our Scottish friend himself would have put it, Jan Steen has taken possession, and was opening the box and arranging the brushes and tubes, but never a word was spoken. Duguid’s eyes were closed fast, but his right hand readily found each article as wanted. Presently he withdrew his fingers from the box and looked at them with closely sealed eyes, but, nevertheless, looked at them. The tips were decorated with daubs of dark paint. He took his rag and wiped them. The rag was full of paint too, and made matters worse. Both hands were now covered. He gazed at them with comical consternation, rubbed them well together to distribute the mixture, and let them go as they were. Then he took up the card, examined it critically, transferred a good deal of paint to it from his fingers, mad a few rapid strokes with a pencil stump, and prepared for execution. The white lead he laid on with a knife, just as you might spread bread and butter, and, as he did it, smiled amiably on the lady at his left, as if he would say, “you think that funny? It is.” And all the while too, with closed lids. Next he dipped his brush in the oil and applied it to the white on the card. I don’t know if that is the way of artists in oil, but Jan mixed his colours
so, on the card. It was as if he was adding Jam to the Butter. In a very few moments half the white part became sky, with flecks of
blue and rosy tipped clouds, and half, the surface of a lake, with lights and shadows, ripples and reflections. A few more rapid touches, and there grew under the brush, grey and Blue Mountains, with dark woods and a somber ruined castle to the fore. The painting was done, and very well done for one who was working with shut eyes during the whole of the thirty minutes or so that the operation covered. “Loch Katrine,” said those who knew, as the picture passed around the admiring Circle. The Medium now brought forth from a little pocket-case two cards of the size used for carte-de-vista portrait’s, and tore a small corner from each, which he presented respectively to the lady at his side and to a gentleman selected for special favour, care being taken to observe that the pieces so given were really the pieces that had been torn from the cards which were retained by the medium. He took up a wet brush by the business end, held up to view the painted fingers with a humorously mournful expression, had recourse to the rag and made them worse again, and then mixed all the paint on his palate well together into one unlovely mess, placed the slab on the top of the box, with a single brush
by the side, and two cards close at hand. By dumb show he indicated a wish to have his hands tied together; and much amusement was occasioned by the demonstration of how knot to do it afforded by the sitter who essayed the operation. At length Jan tired of showing how easily the mediums hands could be withdrawn from the knotted handkerchief. For the first time Jan broke his silence, mumbling, “Let me show you”, and in a few moments the tying was satisfactorily effected. The gas was then turned out. A minute or two passed in silence, and Jan was heard to mutter that he feared the experiment would result in failure. Happily, however, the apprehension proved unfounded. And after less than five minutes of darkness we lighted up, and found every article exactly as left, but a pretty little picture, glistening with wet paint, on each of the two cards. Jan after obtaining release from the handkerchief, handed the cards to the respective holders of the torn corners, who fitted these to the cards, and announced them to be the same. One of the pictures represented
Loch Lomond, and the other was a replica in miniature of the larger picture of Loch Katrine. A few questions to Steen elicited the information that a hand was materialized for this work, that one brush only was used, and that the messy mixture was all the colouring it employed, the paint flowing from the point of the brush and separating when it touched the paper. All this, he said, could be easily observed by a clairvoyant, and often has been. Having no clairvoyant among ourselves, we, of course, had no conformation of this statement, but what we were able to observe was, in the first place, a very plausible picture produced by his hand while the Medium’s eyes were to appearance, closed fast all the while, and in the second place, a couple of very passable little pictures produced in the dark in three of four minutes whilst the Mediums hands were ties. The curious fact was noticeable during the painting of the earlier picture that, although his eyes were closed, the Medium followed with his face every movement that was made in the operation, even holding up a tube and seeming to closely observe the quantity of colour squeezed out, and every now and again stopping, as artist usually do, to examine and consider the progress of his work. He always readily found what was wanted, and never made a mistake with the colours, but contrived once to pick up a brush by the wrong end, just as one with eyes open might absently do. The moral of all which is, I suppose, that eyes are not always necessary to sight.

Source from The Light” A journal of Physical, Occult and Mystical Research dated 12th January 1895.


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Mr. David Duguid was a trance painting Medium from Glasgow, Scotland. He was born in 1832 and died in 1907. Duguid was primarily known for his Spirit drawings although he also produced a wide array of psychic photographs, and automatic writings.

David Duguid’s first experience with Spiritualism came in 1865 when he attended a seance at the house of H. Nisbet, a publisher from Glasgow. During the seance Nisbet’s daughter, who was an automatic writer, placed one hand on Duguid and her other hand than began to produce a Spirit drawing of vases and flowers. He was immediately interested and proceeded to develop his own mediumship at home.

Later Duguid took his mediumship public, holding seances for individuals and small groups. At the beginning of his career, Duguid did not charge a fee for his seances. He carried his paints and other supplies with him in a long tin box. To eliminate the suspicion of fraud, he allowed himself to be held or tied with rope.

The drawings were made on a small card which would have been used for a CDV portrait. A corner was torn off each card and handed to the sitter to prevent substitution. Sitters reported that the “Spirits” would arrive in under a minute and produce a complete drawing in as little as 35 seconds.

Duguid was a member of the “Hafed Circle”, a group of Spiritualists formed with the secret London photographer “Mr. Z.”. The circle would hold their meetings at Mr. Duguid’s house on a weekly basis. Since Duguid was there primary Medium, his Spirit Control would answer any difficult questions for the Circle.

Throughout his life, Duguid was predominantly led by three Spirit Controls, Marcus Baker, Jan van Steen, and “Hafed”. Controversy commonly arose, and Duguid’s authenticity was questioned when the three Spirit Controls produced similar work. He also had a reoccurring Spirit in his photographs who he called the Cyprian priestess.

Between 1870 and 1871 Duguid dictated a book in trance. It was published in 1876 under the title Hafed, Prince of Persia: His Experiences in Earth Life, being Spirit Communications Received Through Mr. David Duguid, the Glasgow Trance Speaking Medium, with an Appendix, containing Communications from the Spirit Artists Ruisdael and Steen, illustrated by Facsimiles of Forty-Five Drawings and Writings, the Direct Work of the Spirits.

Duguid had many accusations of fraud throughout his career, but the most damaging incident came on April 1, 1905. After nearly 2000 seances, at age 73 David Duguid was caught in fraud in Manchester, England. Reportedly he had brought pre-painted Spirit paintings to the seance room and attempted to switch them with the blank cards provided by the sitters. He was noticed and forcibly searched, upon which the original cards were found in his trousers. He died 2 years later. Not long after his death, Duguid’s Spirit had become the trance control to Mrs. Roberts Johnson, a direct voice Medium. Sadly this is what can happen when the Mediums power wanes in old age.

Source from Museum of the Macabre


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