Inv. SAH/ss-70121
Ghost hunter's toolkit

Item acquired by the Collector from Rodolphe V. in Belgium, 1957
Origin: Brussels, Belgium (1927-1940)


This is a ghost hunter's 'toolbox' that once belonged to the Ghost Hunters' Club in Brussels.
It contains cameras (including a very rare 1938 Speedgraphic), bottles and boxes of talc (to take fingerprints left by frauds/forgers), notebooks and pencils, flashlights, a set of 19th century skeleton keys, a multi-purpose tool (hammer, cutter, screwdriver, crowbar, pliers), several tape measures (to detect the presence of false walls), folding rulers (to measure the position of objects in order to verify the presence of poltergeists), a compass, maps, rope, string and copper wire, wax to seal off rooms, thermometers (the temperature often drops in the presence of a ghost), sticky tape, a portable battery, a typewriter (Corona Typewriter 1914), whistles, tongs, a stethoscope (to probe walls), a book on the trickery used in spiritualism and trickery in general (by Proskauer), and a small silver and gold sundial (the all-purpose tool of the occult). A pendulum, a book of prayers, a pack of tarot cards and a series of photos of dead children accompany the kit along with various devices, such as a travellers' espresso-maker for those long, all-night stake-outs.
With just a few exceptions, the notes of the Ghost Hunters' Club remain in the possession of the Club secretary, much to the regret of the Surnateum's staff. They have never been found by our investigators.


The Ghost Hunters' Club was founded by Rodolphe V., a journalist and later editor at a major Brussels newspaper. Raised in a family devoted to spiritualism and fascinated by ghosts ever since a trip to haunted sites in England and Scotland while still a boy, Rodolphe V. set about tracking spirits shortly after the First World War. He and a photographer were dispatched to Mexico in 1927 during the revolution led by the Cristeros, photographing individuals before and after they were executed (23 November 1927). He ended up loathing violent death and focused in particular on the ghosts of children.
In 1929, during a trip to the United States following the great Wall Street crash, he met a correspondent who suggested that he investigate a case known as the 'Haunting of Warsaw'.
Around 1931, after meeting Harry Price, who launched an investigation into the case of Borley Rectory, he began revamping his working methods. He joined forces with professional photographers, magicians, policemen and experts in a wide range of areas, including mediaeval history, Egyptology and mechanical engineering.
On the Collector's advice, he started using the 'key method' to test haunted sites and objects.
He took many photographs of haunted sites, but never really obtained any convincing shots - the one exception being the photo of the Beersel Castle ghost taken in 1939.
However, he did feel that most of the tortured souls whose presence he sensed were the ghosts of children - tormented souls looking for their mothers or a favourite toy left behind on this plane of existence. He posited a link between poltergeists and children.
He went on to develop a fairly rigid investigation protocol and then tried to help tormented souls find peace.
He developed the HWW (How?, Where?, When?) protocol, the foundation of his personal investigation system.
After noting down eyewitness accounts, the investigator checks that the haunted site has been sealed off before trying to make contact with the spirit.
He sometimes uses the sixth sense of animals to detect a haunting.
A book or a pack of tarot cards can be used to communicate with the entity.
Later, radios and tape recorders played the same role, but they have never been as accurate as tarot cards.

Other individuals joined the 'club':
John Doe: We do not have an exact record of his name, but he was the team's main photographer. He was with Rodolphe V. in November 1927 in Mexico for the revolution waged by the Cristeros and attended the execution of the Po brothers after their failed coup. Convinced that the souls of the dead can be seen in some of his photos, he made his technical skills available to the group.
He attempted - with little success - to photograph and film apparitions and he analysed the many amateur documents that were sent to him.

The team enlisted the aid of conjurors, one of whom has been identified with near certainty thanks to the notes taken by the journalist. His name was Jean-Jacques Louis Tummers, president of a magic club and a noted non-believer. In the 1950s he founded the Cercle belge d'illusionnisme (CBI). He almost certainly served as a technical adviser when drafting the HWW protocol.
An architect by the name of A. Gilot supplied maps and sketches of haunted sites, including the diagram of Maulbronn Abbey, which was haunted by the ghost of Dr Faust, Johannes Kepler and others.

Some members of the team also joined the 'Scarab', an association for research into and the application of the hermetic sciences (located at 12, Rue d'Assaut, Brussels).