VICTORIAN SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY

Sometime in the 1860's, Photographer William Mumbler accidentally discovered how to do a double exposure.  The technique, easily duplicated now, was unheard of in those days and so Mumbler and a few other photographers like him, decided to jump onto the bandwagon of the Victorian obsession with the supernatural and offer spirit photography to the general gullible public.

Family members were brought into the studio and placed in front of a camera (with film that had already been exposed to the image of a doll, painting, actor, or even an old picture of a deceased loved one, and were told that the spirit of the dearly departed was in the room and could be captured by the "special camera."  When the picture was developed, the family would be shocked that a spectral image would be in the photo with them.

The hoaxes continued for several years (even pulling one over on Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of Abraham Lincoln as you can see on the right) until more thinking heads exposed it for what it really was.  Strangely enough, even after 150 years, some folks still believe these photos are genuine.

What do you think?

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