Parker Brothers

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Parker Brothers

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

George Parker was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1867. He was the youngest of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. George Parker. He wanted to become a journalist, but as an avid game player, he invented a game called Banking, and—at sixteen years of age—published it, made a profit, and founded his own game publishing company. His older brother Charles encouraged George and, some years later, Charles and the third brother Edward joined together with their young sibling. By the late 1880s, the Parker Brothers’ catalog featured twenty-nine games, most of which had been invented by George. With the introduction of Monopoly® in 1935, Parker Brothers’ place as a game giant was assured. By the time he died in 1953, George had invented more than 100 games.

The first commercially produced talking board was manufactured by Elijah J. Bond, in the 1800s. Bond sold the patent to William Fuld in 1892 and Fuld founded the Southern Novelty Company in Maryland, which later changed its name to the Baltimore Talking Board Company. They produced the “Oriole Talking Board” which later was renamed “Ouija®, the Mystifying Oracle.” In 1966, Parker Brothers bought the rights to the Ouija® board.

Under Parker Brothers, the Ouija® board sold millions of copies, even outselling the game of Monopoly®, which up until then had been the biggest selling board game ever. In its first year with Parker, more than two million Ouija® boards were sold.

The marketing of the talking board by a toy and game manufacturer—with outlets at such places as Toys-R-Us—did a great disservice to Spiritualism in that it presented what was an excellent tool for communication with spirits as nothing more than a toy for idle amusement. As a consequence of the Ouija’s® connection with frivolous usage, organizations such as the National Spiritualist Association of Churches stopped endorsing its use, despite an excellent history of such use by people like Pearl curran(channeling Patience Worth), Jane Roberts (channeling Seth), and many others. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one who had reported favorably on its use, speaking of Sir William Barrett’s report on messages received through a Ouija® board in what he called “The Pearl Tiepin Case.”

In 1968, Parker Brothers was bought by General Mills. In 1985, General Mills combined it with Kenner Products to form Kenner-Parker Toys. Two years later this company was acquired by the Tonka Corporation which, in 1991, became a division of Hasbro. Despite all the recent changes of name and association, the Ouija® talking board is still generally associated with Parker Brothers.

Sources:

Covina, Gina: The Ouija® Book. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The History of Spiritualism. New York: Doran, 1926
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