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Very interesting Michael thank you. I’ve often wondered about the provenance of the puppets in the images. The seem to me so awful that only a fool or someone completely bought-into her would suggest they are good evidence. They don’t even look like a good idea if they were simply intended as models.

Helen Duncan is a bit of a curiosity, there are so many seemingly conflicting accounts of her abilities that I find it impossible to consider her work as evidential although many did. I guess seeing is believing.

"The tight weaving on the edges, known as selvage, is quite visible."

I came up with a mischievous refrain employing that word about ten years ago:

WE'RE the sensible selvage, not the lunatic fringe; that's THEM!

I for one not only think the pictures represent perfectly what spirits look like, I look forward to spending the rest of eternity looking just that way :)

The spirits look a little humorless though, they clear have a stick in their butt.

Seasons greetings everyone.

Careful what you wish for Kris.....
Happy 2020!

It is interesting that the provenance of these bizzare photos goes seldom unquestioned. Were they staged by some unethical photographer while the medium was in trance? Are they ill-conceived publicity photos? Recreations of suspected fraud? It is difficult to believe that even the most enthusiastic Spiritualist would be taken in by such transparent tomfoolery.

Harry Price was, himself, a controversial and perhaps "mixed" medium investigator, who may have sometimes fudged facts for a good headline. Maurice Barbanell, author of The Case of Helen Duncan, editor for Psychic News, and medium for Silver Birch, had the opposite opinion of Helen Duncan from his examination of her talent.

Physical mediumship has often gotten an especially bad rap (pun intended), and the prejudice surrounding it adds to the natural cognitive burden of entertaining the possibility of facts well beyond the realm of typical experience.

If I have to bank on the integrity of these two investigators, then I'm inclined to believe the Price is not right.

While there is little doubt those images do show fake materialisations I think it unwise to dismiss ALL Helen's phenomena as fraudulent.

One only has to read the accounts of those present at her seances to realize that.

See here:

And we also have the report that was submitted by a team of magicians headed by William Goldston, founder of the Magician's Club.

They were astounded when their dead magician friend, The Great Lafayette, materialised and spoke to them. Goldston sent a report to Psychic News confirming that in their opinion Helen Duncan's mediumship was absolutely genuine and that no magician could possibly duplicate the phenomena that he and his fellow magician's had witnessed.

I hardly think such men would be fooled by some paper mache puppets!

I don’t know if you used this as a reference Michael but there might be some interest in an article on the web published in Psypioneer Journal, Volume 11,, No. 10/11: October – November 2015 concerning Mr. Harvey Metcalfe and whether or not he was the photographer that took the pictures of Helen Duncan and her ‘control’ Peggy starting on page 225.

An editor of Psypioneer Journal, apparently Paul J. Gaunt , commented that,

“The Metcalfe link to the four images tends to lead only to a book by Alan Crossley published in 1975. Did Crossley give incorrect information about the origin of the images? His book contains numerous errors . . . “

There seems to be some question whether or not Metcalfe actually took the pictures in under discussion. Anyway, there is a lot of interesting information about Helen Duncan, Metcalfe as well as others in this issue of Psypioneer Journal. There is also a photograph of Metcalfe.– AOD

Very interesting link Simon - thank you.


Very interesting!


Happy New Year!

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