Édouard Isidore Buguet

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Spirit photography hoaxer Édouard Isidore Buguet[1] (1840–1901) of France fakes telekinesis in this 1875 cabinet card photograph titled Fluidic Effect.

Édouard Isidore Buguet (1840–1901) was a French medium and spirit photographer.[2]

Buguet became a "sensation" among spiritualists during the early 1870s. He was even loaned money to set up his own studio. In June 1875, a police sting operation in Paris discovered that Buguet's photographic plates had pre-exposed images on them. After the exposure, Buguet admitted in court that his photographs were fraudulent.[3][4][5] He was convicted and served a year jail time.[2][6] According to the magician Harry Houdini, the police discovered figures and doll heads at Buguet's studio. He had used these as his "spirit" extras. Houdini noted that although Buguet was exposed as a fraud and he had confessed, some spiritualists still insisted his spirit photographs were genuine.[2]

The English medium Stainton Moses had supported Buguet in an article for Human Nature in May 1875.[7] After Buguet was exposed later in the same year, Moses insisted that Buguet was still a genuine medium and he had been bribed to make a false confession.[8][9] The case has been cited by researchers as an example of spiritualists willing to believe and refusing to accept evidence of fraud.[2][10][11]


  1. ^ "New exhibit looks at occult photography - East Valley Tribune: Get Out". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
  2. ^ a b c d Harry Houdini. (2011 edition). Originally published in 1924. A Magician Among the Spirits. Cambridge University Press. pp. 120-124. ISBN 978-1-108-02748-9
  3. ^ Martyn Jolly. (2006). Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography. Miegunyah Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0977282739 "In June 1875, Buguet was tried for fraud. He quickly confessed to surreptitiously double-exposing his plates with images of dummies, or his studio assistants, dressed up in drapery. Police raided his studio and seized two dummies, shrouds, false beards, and almost 300 pictures of various heads glued onto card."
  4. ^ Eugene V. Gallagher, W. Michael Ashcraft. (2006). Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America. Greenwood Press. p. 40. ISBN 0-275-98713-2
  5. ^ Lynn L. Sharp. (2006). Secular Spirituality: Reincarnation and Spiritism in Nineteenth-century France. Lexington Books. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-7391-1339-4
  6. ^ John Hannavy. (2008). Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. p. 552. ISBN 978-0-415-97235-2
  7. ^ John Mulholland. (1938). Beware Familiar Spirits. C. Scribner's Sons. p. 150. ISBN 978-1111354879 "Stainton Moses warmly endorsed Buguet in an article printed in May, 1875. In June, 1875, the French government arrested Buguet for fraud. At his trial he made a complete confession, and the police seized and produced his "spirit" doll and the collection of heads that fitted on it."
  8. ^ Frank Podmore. (1902). Modern Spiritualism: A History and Criticism. Volume 2. London: Methuen & Co. pp. 120-123.
  9. ^ Simeon Edmunds. (1966). Spiritualism: A Critical Survey. Aquarian Press. p. 115. "Stainton Moses even insisted that the prosecution was instigated by the Church, and that Buguet had been forced or bribed into making a false confession."
  10. ^ Ronald Pearsall. (1972). The Table-Rappers. Book Club Associates. p. 124. ISBN 978-0750936842
  11. ^ Milbourne Christopher. (1975). Mediums, Mystics & the Occult. Thomas Y. Crowell. p. 114. ISBN 0-690-00476-1