Unboxing an Antique Ghost Show - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Unboxing an Antique Ghost Show

$8 per device Online Experience
1 hour
See Dates
$8 per device
Chicago, Illinois
What We’ll Do

Join author and antiquarian Tony Wolf for a unique unboxing of the "ghost show" he inherited from his father, who was a noted collector of vintage stage magic effects.  

The Iowa-based Ghost Factory company manufactured and sold all manner of "spookology" effects during the early/mid-20th century. Some of their customers were fraudulent spiritualist mediums who used these tricks to con bereaved people - a practice known as the "ghost racket" — while others were magicians seeking to out-do and expose the frauds. Later, many of these effects were also used on the Midnight Ghost Show circuit, when magicians styling themselves as "mad scientists" would stage elaborately spooky haunted house-style performances for late-night horror movie screenings.

Tony will discuss how he discovered the ghost show in his dad's collection and delve into its colorful history as well as demonstrating a number of the effects, including the "talking skull", the "rapping hand" and the "spirit lamp." You'll have the opportunity to ask questions during a talkback session at the end of the presentation.

About Your Host
Tony Wolf
Tony Wolf

Originally from New Zealand, and now based in Chicago, Tony Wolf has had a lifelong interest in historical obscurities. His books include the Suffrajitsu graphic novel trilogy (2014), the true-crime anthology Houdini's "Girl Detective"; The Real-Life Ghost-Busting Adventures of Rose Mackenberg (2016) and the novel The Life and Fantastical "Crimes" of Spring Heeled Jack (2020). He has also written and co-produced/directed the independent documentaries Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes (2011) and No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards (2018).

A veteran of the entertainment and education industries, Tony served as the Cultural Fighting Styles Designer for the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and has created action scenes for over 300 feature films, TV series, and theatrical productions.

What Else You Should Know

Once registered, you'll receive a confirmation email with access to the Zoom room where this experience will take place.

This online experience is part of Atlas Obscura’s Wonder From Home initiative. At Atlas Obscura, our mission has always been to inspire wonder and curiosity about the incredible world we all share. Now, more than ever, there’s a need to stay connected—not only to our sense of wonder, but to each other. Follow and share the hashtag #wonderfromhome for inspiring stories, more incredible online experiences, and live streams with the Atlas Obscura community.

Dates and Availability
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