The Auburn Company of Providence, Rhode Island has already gotten a fair assessment of its known history and products in my previous Wanda Tipping Table blog, given there due to the fact that for years collectors and researchers had assumed that their Syco-Graf was somehow related to Grover Haffner's creation due to the similarity of facial design. Unfortunately, that theory doesn't look to be playing out any more now than it did when I first revealed that info on the Auburn Company and its owners, and no new company information has come to light since that time. So it goes.
|Various Syco-Grafs and ads for same, 1920s.|
Beyond the company info, we have surviving ads for the Syco-Graf, or, the "Micro-Psychic Machine," and the search for them had led us to ads for another of Auburn Company's creations, the aforementioned Kyro, the Psychic Writer.
|Kyro Psychic Writer advertisement, The Independent, March 1921|
The pamphlet is a beautiful, petite little single-fold, expounding on the wonder of the Kyro psychic writer. We're blessed to finally, after this long search, to have a picture of the device, and in use, at that:
Operationally, the Kyro differs from other planchettes in that its aperture is centrally-placed, and "consists of a pencil and a special receptacle processed from silicated xylonite. The receptacle is covered by a thin diaphragm which connects with the pencil through a sensitive composition styled a "float," the same composition in effect as is now used on the latest model SYCO-GRAF." Xylonite is an early Bakelite-like celluloid substance, often used for knifes handle and imitation coral jewelry, so it seems we basically have a celluloid ring used as a retention for a thinner membrane in the window which holds the pencil, not unlike Fuld's classic clear-plastic-windowed planchettes from this period, only instead of holding a small needle as an indicator, the diaphragm is designed to hold the device's pencil. The illustration shows the planchette in use, and, sure enough, the young woman's hand is clasping the pencil, not the planchette's body--a possible clue into the potentially fragile nature of the celluloid diaphragm.
What is more mysterious is how this material is incorporated on the Syco-Graf, as the excerpt maintains. While the Syco-Graf in the Mysterious Planchette collection is admittedly missing its wooden indicator wheel, the remaining housing is brass, though it may be that the accompanying housing in the indicator itself was made of xylonite for "insulation" purposes, or the specimen I have wasn't the "latest" model incorporating this feature as the pamphlet hints.
So, what are we looking for? The Kyro is a red mahogany-stained hexagonal plywood planchette, with some sections stained in a lighter "birch color," so it probably looks a lot like the woodwork of its larger sibling, the Syco-Graf. It is likely stamped with its name. It has bakelite-like legs that may or may not have tiny little wheels, and have the turned-wood appearance of early Ouija planchette legs. The aperture should have a retention ring of the same substance surrounding a celluloid film with a hole in the middle to hold a pencil. And, of course, somewhere on top is that essential faux-pearl.
Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure this thing couldn't be confused for anything else! So, eyes open, stalwart readers, and here's hoping that somewhere, a perfectly-preserved Kyro is lurking in a dark basement or attic, just waiting for its rediscovery.You just come whispering back to me...