Wagners and Peases and Hornungs, some burgeoning entrepreneur would take advantage of table-tipping's popularity and market something to ride that wave. This thought seemed confirmed after glimpsing an interesting snippet in Ronald Pearsall's Table Rappers that a manufacturer in Florence produced a table specifically for turning, sold under the advertising byline "It Moves!" Unfortunately, as we often find in his study, Mr. Pearsall failed to provide documentation of any sort on this claim, and while I have little doubt that he found something, somewhere, we can't confirm the discovery without knowing his source.
But now we have something. One of the earliest spirit-rapping-and-table-turning expose texts--and now by far my favorite for its detailed descriptions--is Reverend H. Mattinson's Spirit Rapping Unveiled! I'm really taken with Reverend Mattinson's enthusiastic efforts to debunk the spirit rapping and table-turning fervor that has swept the nation as he's writing. In particular, I enjoy his plain, pragmatic language and efforts to shed light on a subject that he doesn't see as being all that mysterious. I particularly like his real-time breakdown of alphabet calling, as he and a friend indulge in some experimentation, spelling out simple sentences to one another as they call through the alphabet again and again, to not only show the ruthless inefficiency of the method, but also the improbability of the veracity of massive blocks of alphabet-called spirit communications that are being published at the time, given that even their expedited, rapid process produced only 240 characters per hour. That's less than two tweets, folks.
But on to the mechanism: Hiram Pack's "Medium's Table." Mattinson's account is a personal one, gathered when he was approached after a lecture in Hartford, Connecticut, by a man who claimed that a cabinet-maker friend of his had been approached about creating a fraudulent table for a rapping medium, with the caveat that the craftsman would be oath-bound not to reveal the method. Which he didn't accept, leaving him free to divulge the inquiry:
The tables are now, no doubt, in some stodgy old estate or Manhattan skyrise, with the owner nary-aware that a subtle nudge with their foot or hand on a concealed trigger could set the spirits a'knocking. I'm sure my wife would be thrilled each night at dinner with the retinue of bad jokes I'd have at my disposal if only I had spirits to answer. When I shared the account with Marc, he wanted to make sure the account wasn't too convenient on the part of the author, so he quickly confirmed Mr. Pack's identity and NYC residency in the 1850 census (no occupation listed), found is occupation as "cabinetmaker" in Brooklyn in 1869, and spotted him again in the New Canaan, CT census of 1870, where he's listed as a chairmaker. We have a winner, folks.