It's a great time to be a Talking Board collector. With so many boards to choose from these days, you even have the luxury of being choosy. It wasn't always so. Sources for old talking boards were few and a sizable collection usually took years to accumulate. Your success depended primarily upon how much time you were willing to spend scouring antique stores and flea markets. When you discovered the occasional gem, it was a very big deal. All this has changed with the arrival of huge Internet auction sites like eBay and Yahoo. Browsing one of these auctions is like visiting a flea market the size of Kentucky but without having to suffer the dust and sore feet. Talking boards once thought extinct pop up regularly. And while there is nothing quite like spending an afternoon wandering an antique show or searching antique stores in some quaint part of town, you're far more likely to find what you want online.
While you're online, you're going to want to make some new friends. Networking with collectors and sellers has never been easier. Talking board enthusiasts often have extra boards to trade and if a seller knows what you are looking for, he might just keep an extra sharp eye out. Whether all this lasts, is anyone's guess. If the supply of talking boards runs out or if eBay goes under, we may be back to the good old days of looking long and finding little. Neither of these dire possibilities appears too likely for the foreseeable future.
So, what is a fair price to pay for a board on an online auction? It depends on a number of factors and things can change day to day. A board that sells for $20 today may sell for $95 next week. Two or three anxious buyers can drive up the selling price during a bidding war. You may become exasperated when the price exceeds your financial comfort zone. But don't despair. If you miss the board of your dreams, there is likely to be another in the not too distant future. Patience is a virtue. Bidders sometimes overlook rare or important boards; so keep looking. Do your homework and make sure that you know your item. Sellers often misrepresent the age of Ouija boards. A patent or copyright date dates the patent or the copyright, not the board. A William Fuld Ouija dated 1938 may really be from the 1950s. And, although it may be obvious, you can't tell the age of a board by the planchette. The planchette may not be original to the board. Mismatched sets are common.
It's important to know that a board that is in pristine condition, with the original box and message indicator always will be worth more than just the board alone. From a collector's perspective, damaged talking boards with stains, worn printing, or plywood separations, aren't worth much of anything. If you buy one in poor condition, do it because you like the board, not because you think you have a great antique investment. Speaking of investing in antiques, talking boards are a specialized taste. If you are looking for the latest hot new investment venture, look elsewhere. Old talking boards are never likely to enjoy mass mainstream popularity. The odds are that you'll never get rich investing in them. And we sincerely hope we're wrong about that.
So, how much money are you willing to spend? The least expensive talking boards are the garden-variety paper litho Fuld-Parker Brothers Ouijas from the years 1938 to 1999. They sell for less than $15 usually and many are in excellent to mint condition. There must be millions in circulation. There is rarely a time when you don't have your pick of the lot. Wood William Fuld boards from 1892 to the 1940's are very collectible and sell for $30 to $200 depending on condition and completeness (with boxes and message indicator). The pretty golden maple boards are more desirable than the plain ply boards although how much they sell for often depends on who is doing the bidding, the time of year, and we suspect, the phase of the moon. Earlier Fuld-Kennard look-alikes sell for slightly higher than the later circle-star Fuld Ouijas. Very rare Fuld talking boards like the electric Mystifying Oracle can sometimes auction for ridiculously high prices when the dedicated collectors get involved.
Unusual and rarer boards like the original Kennard Ouija, Haskelite "Egyptian" Mystic Board, and the J.M. Simmons "swastika" Ouija sell in the $100 to $250 plus range and can go significantly higher if they have the matching planchette and box. Hasko Mystic Trays, "wood bordered" Hasko Mystic Boards and their cheaper plywood cousins sell for quite a bit less, in the $25 to $85 neighborhood.
"Chicago" boards like the Swami, Rajah, Magic Marvel, Yogee and kin seem to price themselves in the $35 to $75 range but can sell for double that if it's been some time since one has been up for auction. It can be a jungle out there. Keep your eyes open and follow the auctions closely. You're likely to find some great deals. And finally, don't become dependent on the auctions and neglect the antique stores in your area. You may not find any talking boards, but you might find a great looking armoire to keep them in.
Naturally, we can't mention every talking board ever made on this page. If you run into a strange one and have specific questions about it, e-mail us and we'll get back to you as time permits. It will help us if you look through our Gallery of Talking Boards first and pick out the board in question. That way, we'll know exactly the one you mean.
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