Baron von Schrenck Notzing

German pioneer of psychical research, a physician of Munich who specialised in psychiatry which eventually led him into psychical research. Founded the 'Gesellshaft fur Metapsychische Forschung' and began his study of telekinesis and teleplastics which rendered him famous. Up to the time of his death there was no important medium in Europe with whom he did not conduct personal experiments. For many years he studied the phenomena of materialisation of Eva. C. (Marthe Beraud) at Mme. Bisson's house in Paris and at Munich.

Front Page Illustrations from the Journal Le Miroir

- Baron von Schrenck Notzing -

          IT WAS to be expected that the face an head images published in the works of the author and Mme. Bisson, appearing, as they do, in the form of isolated flat or mask-like forms, with or without a drapery of veils, should meet with severe criticism. As already discussed in detail in the chapter on negative points, a superficial examination of these photographs must, on account of their pictorial character and other resemblances to drawings sharply cut out, suggest fraud, unless the experimental conditions are taken into account, and this is, apparently, confirmed by the folded, crossed, torn and crumpled appearance of many of these productions.

This circumstance has been exploited by the Brothers Durville of Paris, owners of an institute for animal magnetism and massage, and proprietors of a book-selling and publishing business for the literature of the subject. In the journal The Psychic Magazine, founded by them on 1st January 1914, they published a series of articles directed against Mme. Bisson's book.

Their collaborator, Miss B. Barkley, claims to have identified a number of the head images produced by Eva C., and published in our works. She says, in No. 1. of the magazine mentioned:

"In Mme. Bisson's book there are no real materialisations, but only pictorial representations of faces. All these belong to well-known personages. The medium took her choice among the celebrities of the moment, contenting herself, in a childish manner, with defacing certain pictures by a few ridiculous and badly-placed retouchings."

She continues:

"Take, for instance, Fig. 119 to 121" (in the author's work, Fig. 118, Fig. 119 and Fig. 120), "which show the features of a woman. The inner camera registered on Fig. 112" (the author's Fig. 119) "the word 'Miroir.' The medium therefore used the journal Le Miroir for her images... Now, it is remarkable that the heads are nearly always the same size as that of the medium [incorrect - author]. We have therefore to deal with fraud by the latter."

The lack of clearness in the above expressions concerning Fig. 118, Fig. 119 and Fig. 120 produced, in the translation into German, the wrong impression that these belong to a single series of images produced at the same sitting, so that some critics have erroneously supposed that on one side of the exposed phenomenon the word 'Miroir' was to be read, and, on the other, a female face was to be seen. This supposition is not supported by the photographic data. For the picture representing the side view from within the cabinet (Fig. 119), and containing the word 'Miroir,' was produced in the sitting of 27th November 1912, and this isolated phenomenon had nothing to do with the head image (Fig. 120). The sitting of 29th November was negative as regards materialisations. It was only at the next experiment on 30th November 1912 that a well-developed female face (Fig. 120) could be photographed, standing on the medium's head The photographic results obtained on 27th and 30th November 1912 (Fig. 118, Fig. 119 and Fig. 120) are therefore quite independent of each other.

The heads of celebrities reproduced on the front pages of the journal Le Miroir are a little below life-size, and are all in black and white autotype.

Miss Barkley's allegations were taken up by the Neue Wiener Tageblatt, and elaborated as follows:

"Miss Eva prepared the heads before every séance, and endeavoured to make them unrecognisable. A clean-shaven face was decorated with a beard. Grey hairs became black curls, a broad forehead was made into a narrow one. But, in spite of all her endeavours, she could not obliterate certain characteristic lines. I (Miss Barkley) eliminated the disguises and reproduced the originals from the ghost pictures. There is, first of all, a picture of M. Poincaré. The hair of the President of the Republic has been altered and blackened, and his face has been lengthened, but all the other characteristic lines of his face remained. In a similar manner I have established the identity of all the other ghosts. I find among them the heads of President Wilson, of Paul Deschanel, the, King of Bulgaria, and several eminent actresses of the Comédie Française."

According to the same journal, on 30th December 1913 the medium is supposed to have photographed every picture after these retouching operations. The journal then adds:

"A tall ghost in white drapery was Ferdinand of Bulgaria, only thinner. And another ghost is the beautiful actress Mona DeIza, only deprived of her beautiful hair and of her eyebrows."

The Parisian daily Le Matin did not allow such an opportunity for a sensation to escape, and published a whole series of articles (15th, 26th, 27th and 29th December 1913 and 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th January 1918) centring round Miss Barkley's alleged discovery.

Before proceeding to a strict examination of the material brought forward by Miss Barkley to support her serious accusation, I may refer to some explanatory remarks regarding these pictures published in Part I. It seems, in the first instance, to be faulty logic to derive a proof of fraud from the constitution of the materialised object, since there is always the possibility that such apparently suspicious substances may be produced by the medium under conditions excluding all fraud. In this connection I may refer to the discussion in the section on negative points and the hypothesis of fraud. The further question as to whether, in the sittings referred to, the conditions were so arranged that fraudulent manoeuvres, enabling the medium to hide and smuggle in such pictures, were impossible, must be answered in the affirmative. In the sitting of 27th November 1912, in which the word "Miroir" was produced, both the cabinet (chair, walls, floor and curtains) and the medium's body (dressed only in tights and a black apron dress) were examined before and after the sitting. Eva C. was sewn into the dress at the waist, the back, the neck and the sleeves.

Still in the white light, and just before hypnosis, Eva's hands, being in front of the curtain, and holding both flaps, were laid on her knees, and remained there illuminated with the red light during the two hours of the sitting. At the extinction of the white light, Mme. Bisson held Eva's hands. The record was kept during the sitting, the times being correctly stated.

In this sitting also the medium's hands remained outside the curtain, visible in the red light (one hundred candle-power) until the close of the sitting, and could not have been used for the alleged unpacking and fastening of a disk-like structure on her hair, on the interior of which the word "Miroir" was printed.

Immediately on the ignition of the magnesium light at 10.42 p.m., the phenomenon disappeared without a trace. The final examination of the medium and the cabinet was negative. How could this absolute disappearance take place in the fraction of a second? The author, by the way, closes the account of this sitting with the words: "I can at present form no opinion concerning this curious result."

The picture which Miss Barkley describes as resembling President Poincaré was taken by the author at the sitting of 6th March 1913. Before this, as before every other sitting, the cabinet and the chair were examined. (See report of the sitting of 6th March 1913.)

The second photograph taken during this sitting is reproduced in Fig. 142 and Fig. 143, and is supposed to resemble President Poincaré, as regards the shape of the tie! The first picture during the same sitting shows a self-luminous materialisation.

Let us assume for the moment that Miss Barkley is right. How would the medium have been able to hide the Miroir reproduction, to unravel it, to expose it on her head, and to make it disappear without a trace? The movements observed in the head when first seen gave the impression of a filmy substance and not of paper, and whence the accompanying phenomena? And what is the connection between the self-luminous neuroblastic structure and the picture from Le Miroir? Is it rationally thinkable that, amidst the most puzzling phenomena which are sometimes exhibited even on the medium's naked body, suddenly a Miroir reproduction should appear? That is not only improbable, considering the course of the sitting, but is impossible on account of the experimental conditions observed during this sitting.

The materialisation identified with President Wilson (Fig. 136) was taken by Mme. Bisson alone, whereas the one provided with the three warts, also identified with President Poincaré (Fig. 149), was obtained in the presence of the Paris physician Dr Bourbon, while the medium's head was entirely sewn up in a veil, and while her hands remained visible outside the curtain during the whole sitting.

Miss Barkley now owes us a proof that under such conditions a Miroir picture could be exposed.

Miss Barkley's assertion that our books contain no true materialisations, but only pictorial representations of heads and faces, can surely only mean portraits reproduced on a flat surface. But in answer to this we may refer to the arguments brought forward on page 280, Part 1.

All these careful individual observations, the regular recurrence of the same process of development and disappearance, and especially the plasticity of many faces, as proved by mathematical and stereoscopic considerations, cannot be brought into harmony with Miss Barkley's hypothesis, which, in any case, is based only on very few appearances. Although the conditions of the control at the sitting of 27th November 1912, in which the word Miroir was produced, excluded fraudulent manipulation, so that the phenomena obtained must be declared to be genuine, I shall yet examine the objections of the critics who utter the suspicion that the heading of the journal Le Miroir might have been exposed in this case (Fig. 183).

In order to examine this question independently, the author made test experiments with two title-pages of Le Miroir of the year 1912, reconstructing the photographic conditions of the sittings (Fig. 184).

In all cases, as shown by the expert opinion of Dr Hauberrisser, the type comes out much too weak in comparison with the strong development of the original letters on our negative. Now, we could hardly assume that the colour and shape of the letters could be increased by any transfer process, especially when the original is printed. On the contrary, such a reproduction always shows a diminution of the colour contrast in comparison with the original. Now, if we wished to assume that Eva had strengthened the letters by hand, she would have been wiser to draw the letters herself to begin with. That would have been much simpler than the very lengthy process described by the critics. Besides, any manual retouching would be easily traced in the considerable enlargement of a transparency. We may therefore assert, on the basis of the expert tests, that in print both the original Miroir title-page and a reduced reproduction thereof, when photographed under the original conditions, yield other and very much weaker pictures than those shown by the strongly marked letters of the phenomenon itself.

Neither the original print of the Miroir, nor any copy of the same, technically produced, can, therefore, have been exposed on that occasion. Hence the genesis of these letters is none other than the process by which pictorial materialisations products are generated. We have, therefore, the two following facts: (1) With an exposure of headings of the journal Le Miroir we cannot produce a negative such as is shown in Fig. 119; (2) the shade and form of the letters does not differ materially from the productions of the printers' press.

The presence of the article "Le" indicates some connection with the journal Le Miroir, and it is not probable that there is some other connection, such as an advertisement in another paper, As regards the similarities described by Miss Barkley (Fig. 95, Deschanel; Fig. 108, Mme. Leconte; Fig. 116, Mme. Faber; Fig. 120, Mona DeIza; Fig. 136, President Wilson; Fig. 138, Ferdinand of Bulgaria; Fig. 143 and Fig. 149, President Poincaré), these so-called identifications, by their grotesque exaggeration, constitute a first-class journalistic bluff, which reduces itself to the correspondence of certain details in only three pictures, i.e., Fig. 136, Fig. 143 and Fig. 149. All the rest belong to the region of arbitrary guesswork. Correspondences in certain features, lines and directions of gaze can, in any case, be easily discovered. One need only examine illustrated journals from this point of view, and one will find astonishing similarities where there is no connection between the two objects compared. Besides, a chance similarity of type is very frequently found in external form, pose and expression. That is easily explained, since organisms, such as human beings, have developed according to the same morphological principles, and have a certain sameness in that development. Nothing is easier, for instance, than to discover two entirely similar noses in two people not related to each other; or to find similar collars and ties on different men. But if we go as far as Miss Barkley, then, finally, every comparison can be permitted, for every human being has two legs, one nose, two eyes, and two ears. He moves according to definite rules; he is dressed according to the fashion of the day, which suppresses all individuality. Thus, between any two male individuals, certain qualities and correspondences can always be found.

An interesting example is furnished by Fig. 108, obtained as a third flash-light photograph at the sitting of 5th August 1912 in Munich. Now, the alleged Miroir original of this photograph (Fig. 185 and Fig. 186), the portrait of the actress Mme. Leconte, appeared on 4th August 1912 in Paris.

We may regard it as impossible that Eva C. could have seen this journal only twenty-four hours afterwards, on the 5th August, in Munich, and could have altered it and used it for fraudulent purposes. In judging of this point, we must take into account the fact that this photograph shows, in itself, a transformation, since Fig. 103, the first photograph of 5th August 1912, shows the same type of face with less elaboration. In both cases we have to do with the same model. This is shown by a comparative study of the expression, the build of the nose, forehead and eye-sockets, and the fabric ornamentation. The flash-light photographs are not rigid drawings on an unchanging surface, but show a flowing variation, with a change of numerous details. Besides, the dissimilarity of all details in the Miroir picture (Fig. 185) is almost as great as it can be, compared with Fig. 186, although we may recognise a distant similarity in the formation of the head.

The picture which is supposed to represent Mona DeIza (Fig. 122 and Fig. 188) did not appear in the Miroir at all, but in the Journal Femina of April 1912, below life-size, and could be obtained commercially only in a small size through Felix & Cie, Paris (Fig. 187). How this picture, redrawn life-size, could be exposed as Fig. 120 of this work, has not been indicated by Miss Barkley. She contented herself with adopting the fraud hypothesis, without a shade of similarity or a particle of evidence.

The comparison of Fig. 140 with the King of Bulgaria, whose portrait was made as similar to the phantom as possible by means of a bathing wrap (Fig. 189), is also entirely devoid of foundation. It appears from a letter from an Italian correspondent, that he finds the greatest resemblance between the phantom and a deceased relative of his. While Dr von Gulat, in Frau von Kemnitz' pamphlet, asserts that it resembles the author. Perhaps there will be a few more identifications!

In comparing Fig. 191 with the head of the politician Deschanel (Fig. 190), there is only the direction of the gaze to go upon. All the other lines and features are entirely different.

The examples quoted suffice to reduce Miss Barkley's arbitrary constructions ad absurdum.

In another picture, Fig. 192 (Fig. 149), the comparison with the face of President Poincaré, Fig. 198, reduces itself to a similarity of the three pimples on the left fold of the cheek. The development of the left nostril is similar in both, but not the same, since it forms a greater elevation on the phenomenon picture. All the other lines - the whole build of the face, the eyes, and the gaze are quite different in the two pictures. Furthermore, the expression, in the phenomenon pictures, is particularly lively, and much more marked than in the Miroir original, which could hardly be expected in a secondary reproduction. In addition, the stereoscopic photographs show distinctly that the hair on the phenomenon consists of actual hair. Also, the size of the two pictures, compared by taking one part - say the nose - as a unit, is so different that no amount of redrawing could have enabled any one to use the Miroir picture as the foundation for the alleged transformation.

As regards the three pimples, the fold joining the nose and cheek are specially favoured positions for such growths. Thus, the late M. Alex. Bisson had three pimples exactly in the same spots. We might, therefore, assert with the same show of reason that his portrait had been used as a model.

When the publications in the Matin gave rise to the suspicion that for the above-named mediumistic picture portraits from the journal Miroir had been redrawn and fraudulently used, the author went to Paris, cut the heads in question out of the numbers of the Miroir, and photographed these on the medium's body, with the help of the photographer Barenne, in the séance room, under photographic conditions precisely the same as those of the sittings, in order to decide whether autotype prints could have been exposed by the medium at all. But, as shown by the agreement of the expert opinions of the Paris and Munich photographers, in all these tests the Miroir pictures came out uniformly so feeble, and so devoid of vivacity and relief, and markedly less defined than the reproductions shown in this work, that, for this reason alone, Miss Barkley's hypothesis is untenable.

In particular, the photograph of the head of President Wilson, as seen in the reproduction of our test experiment, is immediately recognised as a reproduction, since on the left shoulder and the breast of the coat, as well as on the lip, eyelid, and moustache, the marks of the process plate can be seen with a magnifying glass, and betray the process of reproduction. It is altogether an impossibility entirely to eliminate these marks of the process plate by manual treatment; nor can the grain of the photographic plate be relied upon to obliterate the dots of the Meisenbach screen. Considering the large number of illustrations, the origin would be betrayed somewhere. In some places the autotype tonings would be retraced, as in Fig. 19, where even the structure of the medium's skin is seen, that being a proof of the sharpness of the photography. The screen used for the figures in the Miroir shows four points per millimetre, and is therefore fairly coarse and easily recognised. We must, indeed, in judging of the phenomenon photographs, take into account that the simple exposures do not show the plastic character of the fabrics and veils added to the portraits, and may thus give rise to errors, since these veilings almost always show some kind of pattern (moire structure), which could easily be mistaken for the screen pattern. As regards the composition of the draped mediumistic heads, the stereoscopic photographs are decisive. By manual treatment the screen pattern, particularly the half-tones, cannot be entirely obliterated, while any painting over the pattern would be immediately recognised with the naked eye. The phenomenon pictures reproduced, if obtained from art publications, would have to show a moire structure in the photographs as reproduced, owing to the interference of the double pattern, but that is not the case.

This is another reason for saying that prepared Miroir reproductions cannot have been exposed as materialisation phenomena.

Of particular interest is a comparison of Fig. 143 with the same Miroir portrait of President Poincaré. One remarks the same cross striping and the same distribution of light and shade on the long ends of the two ties; while the upper loop of the phenomenon is short and broad, and only shows one cross fold. Poincaré's tie is provided with a longer knot and several cross folds. There are other distinct and obvious differences, especially in the narrower end of the tie, which, in the phenomenon, appears torn off, and ends a few millimetres below the knot. There are also distinct differences in the opening of the waistcoat and coat, as well as the length of the beard. It is certain that no exposure of the Poincaré original, in spite of the similarity of some details, would give an image of the neck portion equal to that of the phenomenon.

Careful measurement also shows that the phenomenon head is large in proportion to the dimensions of the tie, and that no exposure, even after working up details, will give the phenomenon picture of 6th March 1913. Such difficulties may also have occurred to the person who wrote the attack in the Matin of 26th December 1913, in which great emphasis is laid on the similarities in the two ties, for in presenting the two portraits the phenomenon picture was changed almost beyond recognition. The lines of the eye were strengthened, the tie was darkened and redrawn, so that now both the ends run into the knot. Also, a wing of the collar, which is not in the original, was added. The collar of the coat was changed, the tie was lengthened, and the folds of the coat collar were modified. In this way, of course, any degree of similarity can be artificially produced.

The illustrations Fig. 194 and Fig. 195 show the accuracy of these observations. It was unfortunate that the whole attack on the illustrations in the works of Mme. Bisson and the author was based upon this picture, which had been worked up in favour of the hypothesis of fraud, and was largely quoted in the German and foreign press. None of the critics seem to have considered it worth while to verify the assertions in the Matin by comparison with the originals in our books.

Another important point in comparing the autotype pictures of the materialisations is that the medium, in our photographs, always shows the same photographic exposure as the products; even when the latter are pictorial, and this is not the case with prepared illustrations or drawings, as. is shown by the following opinions:

Opinion of the Photographer, Barenne (Paris).

"I, the undersigned, hereby declare that for four years I developed the photographic plates handed to me by Dr von Schrenck Notzing, and derived from the sittings with Eva C, at the residence of Mme. Bisson. Dr von Schrenck has always been present at the development of the negatives.

"It has been asserted that the medium used portrait heads published in the journal Le Miroir.

"In order to refute this accusation, Dr von Schrenck called on me, and on Friday, 9th January 1914, we made test experiments in Mme. Bisson's flat, by attaching the portrait heads in question to the medium, seated in the cabinet, or asking her to hold them. For this purpose we had cut out first the portrait of President Poincaré (Fig. 193); secondly, that of President Wilson; thirdly, that of the King of Bulgaria (Fig. 189); and fourthly, that of Mme. Lecomte. All these portraits had appeared in the Miroir. Besides these, a test photograph of the heading of the journal Le Miroir was made, when held against Eva's hair (Fig. 184).

"We endeavoured to take these photographs under precisely the same conditions as the photographs of the original sittings. Immediately on developing the plates I found that the development met with extraordinary difficulties, which had never been encountered in the negatives obtained with Eva C. The impression made by the photographed pictures is feeble and lifeless. The pictures came out too light in tone, and were veiled on the negative.

"I had to employ a special process to obtain detail on the cut-out heads, while preserving the life-like character of the medium's head. Such an expedient had not been necessary during the four years of work with the mediumistic plates. On the contrary, the expressiveness of the materialisation on the plate was always in right relation with the clearness of the medium's features. I must also remark that the slightest correction with the retouching pencil of the faces reproduced would have been recognised immediately on development. Every photographer would say the same, just as every photographer can confirm that the fundamental substance of the materialisations of Eva C. gives no impression of paper.

"We may, therefore, assert with absolute certainty that the medium cannot have used the reproductions in question.

(Signed) BARENNE, Photographer,

Paris, 11th January 1914
"Rue Duret, 27 bis."

Opinion of the Photographer, Albert Halse (Paris)

"For the last two years Mme. Bisson has handed me photographic plates for development without any further details. The negatives excited my interest to a great extent. Anxious to obtain an explanation, I enlarged the pictures on the negatives until the medium had the dimensions of a giantess. Whenever I had any doubts with regard to the objects represented, I employed this means of satisfying my thirst for knowledge. A very strict examination of the materialisations, thus enlarged, always brought me back to the conviction that it was not a case of deception. Later, Mme. Bisson also asked me to produce enlargements of various pictures. Now it has been maintained that these photographs were produced with cuttings from journals. Such an assumption is only consistent with a very superficial examination. No photographer, familiar with photographic technique, would make such an assertion, since he has at his disposal more scientific methods of control than a simple examination with a magnifying glass. As regards the supposition that the negatives themselves were fraudulently produced, one may assert the absolute contrary with a clear conscience. Since the photographic methods, now generally known, are practised even by amateur photographers, any one can recognise, with ease and certainty, whether or not these negatives have been retouched. The repairing of small unexpected injuries to the pictures was abstained from in order to be able to say quite definitely that even the slightest correction had never been applied. At Mme. Bisson's request, I photographed some of these illustrations for comparison. The pictures look different from the photographed phenomena of materialisation, for the latter appear on the negative quite distinctly and clearly during development as if they were objects in relief, while the former, under the same conditions, appear grey, flat and indistinct.


"Paris, January 1914."

Opinion of Dr Georg Hauberrisser (Munich)

"Munich, 15th January 1914.

"I was commissioned by Dr Freiherr von Schrenck Notzing to ascertain whether pictures, cut out of the journal Le Miroir, and worked upon by hand, could have been used for representing the materialisation phenomena. I am convinced that, in spite of several agreements in detail (tie, eye-glass, pimples), cut-out pictures could not have been used in their original condition. As every photographer knows, the time required for a black and white picture is only from one quarter to one-eighth of the time required for persons and other things. If, therefore, the head of the medium is correctly exposed, a picture from the Miroir would be nearly white, owing to over-exposure, and would only appear very feebly drawn.

"By a practical experiment, in which all conditions were, as far as possible, the same as at the sittings (same flash-light, powder in same quantity, same distance, black background, same opening of diaphragm, same plates and sensitiveness, similar development, and other treatment of the negatives), a head cut out of the Miroir was, indeed, obtained, nearly white, with only very slight definition, something like a relief in plaster of Paris, while the phenomena, in Dr von Schrenck's originals, show strong definition, and about the same brightness as the medium's head. The title of the journal Le Miroir, when photographed under the same conditions, also only appears feeble, while, in Dr von Schrenck's photograph, the letters are clearly marked.

"Heads cut out of the Miroir can, under the same conditions, only have been used by colouring the paper with a non-actinic colour (brown, red, or yellow) and strengthening the drawing by hand in nearly all its parts. The cut-out heads could be obtained with the same clearness as the materialisation phenomena, if the exposure were reduced some sixteen to thirty times, but in this case the experimental photographic conditions would be quite different from those applied by Dr von Schrenck Notzing.

"(Signed) Dr GEORG HAUBERRISSER, Photo-Chemist."

Opinion of Professor Hertmann Urban (Munich)

"Dr. von Schrenck Notzing handed to me, on 12th January 1914, No. 34 of the French journal Le Miroir, on the front page of which was found a portrait of President Wilson. He also gave me a greatly enlarged photograph of a male portrait reproduced as Fig. 136 of the Phenomena of Materialisation. The problem was to ascertain whether this portrait could have been produced by changing, or working-up, President Wilson's head, as was maintained in the Psychic Magazine of 1st January 1914. On a superficial examination of the two pictures, there certainly appear to be some correspondences or similarities of detail, which suggest a discussion of the assumption, and giving rise to some suspicion.

"Both pictures (Fig. 196 and Fig. 197) show the same form, the same shading, and the same lines of collar and tie. But exact measurements, with a scale, show that the lines in the materialisation photograph run differently from those in the Wilson portrait, especially on the right-hand edge of the tie. In the picture of the phenomenon, the tie on the right is more round and bunchy. The coat collar of the phenomenon is also more vertical and stretched than in the Wilson portrait. The tie itself shows an agreement in both pictures, as regards drawing, especially in the shading and folds. The right-hand portion of the shirt and coat collar also corresponds to the Miroir reproduction.

"While Wilson's head is bent to the right and is pointed below, the head of Fig. 196 is placed quite straight on the shoulders and does not taper below, having a broader jaw down from the cheek-bone. The middle of the lips is also displaced towards the right, which is not the case in the Wilson portrait. That this displacement, which only affects the head and not the basis, could have been produced by the method of photography, seems to me impossible, for the whole picture would have to give a distorted impression, which is not the case, as is particularly evident from the regular forehead and eye portion. In painting, there is usually a numerical proportion, the line passing vertically through the centre of the face, being divided into three approximately equal parts, which are - first, forehead down to the root of the nose; second, root to tip of nose; third, tip of the nose to the point of the chin. Now, if the Wilson portrait had been changed by drawing and then exposed, these constant proportions would also have to agree, both in the phantom reproduction and in the Miroir original.

"The height of the forehead fits nearly three times in the vertical middle line in Wilson's portrait, while, in the phantom photograph, the same ratio is over three and a half, the forehead being too low in comparison with the lower portion of the head, the chin being rather short. If the Wilson portrait had been used, it is difficult to say why, in Fig. 196, the head stands vertically on the neck, or perhaps somewhat bent backwards, which makes the chin project, while in the Miroir picture the head is bent forward, with a slight turn towards the right. The result is that, in the Miroir picture, the forehead is nearer the camera and the chin seems to recede, while in the phenomenon picture the lower half of the head projects, and the forehead is slightly further away from the camera, which may account for the short forehead. If a horizontal line is drawn over President Wilson's eyebrows and touching them, the ear is a trifle below this line, on account of the head being bent forward. If the same is done in the phenomenon portrait, the ear is rather lower, which indicates either a bending backwards or an entirely upright position. That is a point determined by the proportions of the lines, and cannot be affected by redrawing, without entirely displacing the axis of the phenomenon head. The objection that the forehead had been cut short is disposed of by the fact that the typical position of the head would not be affected, even if the forehead were raised.

"At first sight the right eye is apparently the same in both pictures, and the upper line of the eye-glass passes in the same direction, but a further examination shows that the eye in the Miroir picture is straight when a diameter is drawn through the corner of the eye, while the same ratio, applied to the phenomenon head, shows a slight inclination to this line, the outer corner being higher (Mongolian eye).

"Furthermore, the drawing of the eye-glass, in the phenomenon picture, is a displaced oval, while in Wilson's case the outline of the eye-glass shows the regularity and accuracy of a photograph. The differences in the eyebrows, and the line of the hair, need not be dealt with in detail, since such changes could be produced with a chalk pencil, as Miss Barkley suggests.

"I have tried to convert the Wilson portrait into a copy of the phenomenon picture with a charcoal pencil, but it was impossible to alter the position of the head, which shows at once that this picture cannot have been used fraudulently for the phenomenon picture. It also appears to be impossible to hide the marking of the half-tone screen by drawing, especially in the light and middle tones, while, in the enlargement of the phenomenon head, I discovered no indications of the half-tone screen, as would have been the case if the Wilson portrait had been drawn over and thereafter exposed.

"Neither could I transform the chin into the characteristic shape of the phenomenon image, because one could only obliterate the line of the chin by erasure, a process which is not only fatal to thin paper, but which would also dispose of the half-tone marks, and that would be immediately discovered in a photograph. Such significant marks of the half-tone screen are not found in the original, although, in the reproductions of the phantom picture in the book, they are easily recognised. It follows that the marks of the half-tone screen cannot be hidden at all, and betray themselves with absolute certainty.

"To this must be added that the enlargement of the original negative handed over to me is nearly double the size of the reproduction of this negative in the book itself (with visible screen marks). Screen marks would, therefore, have to be more characteristic and visible with the naked eye, while they are actually not even seen with a magnifying glass.

"The phenomenon image recalls a typical soft charcoal or chalk drawing, and therefore suggested a charcoal drawing. The latter cannot show the screen structure throughout. That could only be obtained by liquid painting, superimposed gouache or water-colour. This is contradicted by the characteristic appearance of the phenomenon picture, which recalls pencil drawing, or stump technique, and not painting, which, indeed, would present extraordinary difficulties on bad paper. It would also show the marks of the brush, which would have to be used with thick paint, in order to produce a complete covering up of the half-tone screen pattern.

"If the Wilson portrait from the Miroir, modified by drawing, had been used for the phenomenon picture shown in Fig. 136, it would show screen marks, while the technique used for producing the changes would betray itself by a dozen characteristics.

"It would also be impossible to obliterate the differences between the two heads, as to their position, their proportions, and the several details of the face.

"It follows, with absolute certainty, from these considerations, that the portrait of President Wilson, shown in the Miroir, No. 34, 1912, could not have been made into the phenomenon picture, Fig. 136, by any artistic manipulation, in spite of some striking similarities.

"Munich, 14th January 1914."


In connection with Professor Urban's Opinion, it should be pointed out that, in President Wilson's portrait, the tie is tied with a pin, the head of which is evidently engraved with a coat of arms. This is absent in Fig. 196, and although Miss Barkley indicates a slight shading on the latter, which might represent that object, it is too far on the right-hand side.

The whole of the similarities with the Miroir pictures, of which so much has been made in the Press, reduce themselves to the following four points:

1. The agreement of certain details of Fig. 196 with the Wilson portrait.

2. A partial resemblance of the tie marks of Fig. 194 with the portrait of President Poincaré.

3. in the three pimples characteristic of that face, shown in the head of Fig. 192; and

4. In the occurrence of the letters Miroir.

As no explanation is forthcoming based upon fraudulent manipulation by the medium, and as it is impossible that either the originals of the Miroir pictures, or manually altered copies of them, could have been exposed to produce the photographs in question, we must look for some other explanation, based upon the origin of the teleplastic creations.

The teleplastic creations are so closely connected with the psychic condition of the medium that Morselli compared them with materialised dream images. This view regards the products as ephemeral, externalised precipitates of the medium's psychic impressions and reminiscences. That the phenomena in many cases realise the thoughts of the medium may be considered as established. I need only recall the repeated occurrences of hands as suggested by the sitters, and other fulfilments of their wishes. Such a process may also account for the projection of memory images of deceased persons, such as M. Alexandre Bisson and Mme. Bisson's nephew; also the production of an image resembling Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" which was so greatly talked about when it was stolen from the Louvre. Here, again, we have no slavish replica, but an impressionistic representation of the style in which the picture was painted. The results of this process, which may be called ideo-plastics, are closely connected with the storage of memories, and with the psychic life of the medium, with her intensity of dominant ideas.

Optical, or visual, images appear to play the chief part in the case of Eva C. Now, it is well known that the clearness of memory may rise to an abnormal level in the case of hysterical persons (hypermnesia). Thus, some slight event of youth, or an entirely lost language, can be revived under abnormal conditions, such as somnambulism or some diseases.

As Offner points out(1), painters like Vernet, Doré, and Makart were able to paint accurate representations of objects and persons after seeing them once. Of the philosopher Seneca, it is said that he could recite three thousand words accurately after hearing them once, and that he could repeat two hundred verses in the reverse order. A deceased relative of the author was able to reproduce a speech verbatim which he had once heard ten years before. The sharpness of memory, in such abnormal cases, is sufficiently illustrated by these examples, and may be compared to the sharp definition of a photographic plate.

(1) Offner, Gedachtnis, Handbuch der Naturwissenschaften Vol. 4.

The occurrence of cryptomnesia, or the recalling of a former memory image which had never entered the normal consciousness, is quite an ordinary occurrence with hypnotised persons and somnambulists. Thus, the important nucleus of a thing, or the chief points of a picture, can be completely forgotten, while some unessential detail (in our case, the form and marking of a tie, the position of three pimples, the shape of a prominent print, and certain lines and types of face) may be reproduced most accurately, and may occur in a new connection as an independent psychic performance. This may explain the speaking in foreign languages (glossolalia). That the cryptomnesic pictures may lead to the most remarkable and complicated combinations in the trance condition is shown by Flournoy's studies on the "Martian" language of Hélène Smith.

Cases have been known, both among painters and musicians, in which cryptomnesic performances were regarded by the artists as their own independent creations, although they could be shown to be identical with works of old masters. In mediumistic phenomena we may have a combination of ideoplastics with cryptomnesia, and such a combination may account for the observed coincidences in the case of the Miroir portraits, which were exhibited in nearly all the newspaper shops in Paris. If we suppose that the medium saw the Miroir number of 17th November 1912 with Wilson's portrait, within a few days of its publication, and had received a strong optical impression of the title-page. with the word "Miroir" at the head, and of the features of President Wilson, it is easily understood that on the 27th November she produced the word "Miroir," and later, on the 9th January, the type which contained cryptomnesic reminiscences of the tie markings and collar, and some facial lines from this visual memory. For the production of a word by the ideoplastic process and that of a picture is the same process of creation, and the former is only remarkable because it was observed only once in the course of four years.

In the case of other details, like the three pimples (Fig. 149), it is possible that an independent teleplastic creation may contain cryptomnesic elements, which are embodied in it. Such intermixtures are already well known in the purely psychic region, and have ceased to be wondered at. The literature of occultism contains a number of parallel cases. Thus, in a sitting held by Richet with Linda Gazerra, an angel head, by Rubens, was apparently the model for an ideo-plastic reproduction.

Morselli draws attention to, the fact that such forms, in the first instance, are developed in two dimensions, and therefore show a flat appearance. He says: "Sometimes they even give the impression of being cut out of cardboard, while in other cases their margins are undefined." It is only on further development that stereoplastic forms are produced, consisting of fragments of limbs, hands, arms, faces, heads, up to the formation of a whole identity. The above considerations dispose of the objections raised by Miss Barkley, as far as they are concerned with the possible fraudulent use of the Miroir portraits.

The result of the examination of these objections may be summarised as follows:

1. Even if the alleged agreement between certain portrait heads, reproduced on the title-pages of the journal Le Miroir, and certain phantom pictures were greater than it is, yet, in consideration of the experimental conditions of the sittings, a deception due to the smuggling in of prepared art journals, and their exposure in the places of the ideo-plastic images, is quite excluded.

2. The alleged similarity of the portraits produced by autotype in the journal Le Miroir is confined to the single occurrence of the title heading "Miroir" and the similarity of a few details in the portraits of Presidents Wilson and Poincaré to those in the phantom pictures of 19th January, 6th March, and 2nd May 1913.

3. The journal Le Matin published, as a basis of its attack of 26th December 1918, an illustration from the work of Mme. Bisson, which had been manipulated and retouched by hand, in order to make it resemble President Poineare.

4. Expert opinions are unanimous in saying that, if the author's photographic conditions are -strictly observed, neither the original pictures from the Miroir, nor any worked-up copies thereof, could have been exposed at the sittings so as to produce the author's published photographs.

5. The occurrence of certain details derived from the title-pages of Le Miroir in the phenomenon of the sittings of 2nd November 1912 and of 19th January, 6th March, and 2nd May 1913, is explained by the cryptomnesic function of memory, such as is often observed in the somnambulistic condition. Reminisences of former visual impressions and fragments of dream images coalesce unconsciously with the ideoplastic creations to form an unified presentation, which may be so misinterpreted as to give rise to suspicion.


The above article was taken from Baron von Schrenck Notzing's "Phenomena of Materialisation" (1920, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co. Ltd, London).

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