The hand of Eva Fay
Eva Fay was the wife of John Cummings 'Fay', who in turn was the
son of Anna Eva Fay, the celebrated American medium active around the turn of the
The sound of soft, repeating noises could be heard emanating from the small brown box carried by the medium. He set the box on the table next to a kind of dummy hand whose index finger had once been broken and inexpertly repaired. He then opened the box, in which we saw another - albeit different - hand.
"I will NOT, under any circumstances, demonstrate the power of this spirit rapping hand," he said pointing to the hand with the damaged finger. "It caused a number of mysterious deaths and 'accidents' during the 20th century". Spirit rapping hands were mainly used by stage mediums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Usually, the audience would ask the medium questions and the hand would answer by rapping on a piece of wood or glass. Of course, nearly all of these experiments involved trickery of some kind.
The Museum's collection includes a number of 'magic hands': the Demon Hand
talisman, the hand of Cleopatra,
Ollantay, the yeti
and two or three spirit hands. The Martinka model (the one with the
broken index finger) is named after the the first American magic shop,
whose shareholders included Harry Houdini, and which at one point was
owned by the famous Al Flosso. The other model (ca 1920-1930)
was manufactured by Owen in the United States. The specific feature of these hands
was that they worked for both conjurors and genuine mediums.
There was a longstanding dispute between Anna Eva Fay, the original
medium and mother of John, and Eva Fay (true name: Eva Dean) wife of
John. Eva Fay copied her mother-in-law's show almost exactly, although
she did add the spirit rapping hand through which her spirit would
communicate. This spirit, cajoled by the medium, slowly became jealous