Comments And Additions

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It is possible, however, that this was a pose assum- COMMENTS AND ADDITIONS

ed for publicity purposes.

The world's first professional muscle reader appar- Source:

ently was John Randall Brown. As a young reporter on the "Chicago Inter-Ocean", Brown occa- Date, sionally entertained friends with his strange abilities. In 1872 he made a bet that he could find a pin hidden anywhere in the city. His success (it was concealed under a rug in the Sherman Hotel) caused a sensation in the Chicago press, and by 1874 Brown had given up journalism for the career of a mentalist. He made many successful tours both here and abroad.

Brown was followed in this country by Washington Irving Bishop, the most sensational of native mind-readers. Bishop made a practice of driving, while blindfolded, a team of horses at breakneck speed through the streets to find an object hidden in some unlikely spot in the city. See "Nature", June 23, 1881 for a description of some of his dramatic performances in England. Bishop's name appeared in 1880 on a British pamphlet titled "Houdin and Heller's Second Sight Explained", but I understand it was ghosted by W. H. Frederick Wicks who later (1907) issued it in expanded form under another title. Bishop died in 1889 during a performance at the Lamb's Qub in Manhattan. His mother brought suit against the doctors who performed the autopsy, charging that her son had been murdered by them while he was in a cataleptic trance. The case made melodramatic headlines. Mrs. Bishop lost her suit, but later published a macabre pamphlet about it, now much sought after by collectors of mentalist literature.

The most famous of English muscle readers was Charles Gamer, a journalist who assumed the stage name of Stuart C. Cumberland. His experiences in entertaining notables (Prime Minister Gladstone was one of his best subjects) are recounted in an entertaining autobiography. "A Thought Reader's Thoughts", 1888. Cumberland never claimed telepathic powers. In his book (and in a magazine article in the "Nineteeth Century", December, 1886) he attributes all his skill to muscle reading, dismissing talk of psychic powers as "idle rubbish" and "sheer fudge". He also wrote several books attacking spiritualist phenomena.

A German immigrant named Vogt took the name of Axel Hellstrom, settled in Chicago, and achieved notable success as a muscle reader during the late twenties. "Hellstromism", a booklet on his methods, was published by Robert A. Nelson in 1935. A similar text with the same title mimeographed and undated, was issued by S. W. Reilly.

C. A. George Newmann (real name, George Naeseth), of Minneapolis, claimed to be the first muscle reader to perform non-contact mind-reading. Born in 1880, he toured the nation many times with his performances of mind-reading and hypnotism. His magnificent collection of rare magic books, pamphlets, articles and press clippings (including the original press scrapbook of Brown) is now owned by John McManus of Brooklyn. In 1945 Newmann issued a booklet about himself and his collection under the title "The Newmann Library". It reprinted many articles about him that had appeared in magic periodicals.

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A few years later, on his death, the library was dispersed, some of it going to the Library of Congress.

Muscle reading, like hypnotism, reached its height of public popularity in the United States and abroad during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, when many mindreaders built their reputations on this type of work. It even became popular as a parlor game known as "Willing". Later, only a few mentalists such as Franz Polgar featured it in their public performances.

"Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology" contains an article on muscle reading, as well as the "Annual Cyclopeda", 1887, p. 506. Early magazine articles on the subject include "The Methods of Mind-Readers", by Charles Gatchell, "Forum", April 1891; "Physiology of Mind Reading", by George M. Beard, "Popular Science Monthly", Feb. 1877 (reprinted in the "London Journal of Science", July, 1881. See the Sept., 1881 issue of the same journal for a brief history of muscle reading). An interesting letter on the subject appeared in "Popular Science Monthly", July, 1877, with a commenting letter by Beard. Beard originated the term "muscle reading" in 1874 after witnessing performances by Brown, and in 1882 published a booklet titled " The Study of Trance, Muscle Reading", and "Allied Nervous Phenomena".

Booklets on muscle reading, in addition to those COMMENTS AND ADDITIONS

already cited, include:

"Mind Reading or Muscle Reading", Sid Macaire, Source:

c. 1890. "How to Thought-Read," James Coates, 1901. "How to Read People's Minds", H. J. Burlingame, 1905. Distribution of this work by Johnson Smith and Company has probably made it the most wide read treatise on the subject.

"Contact Mind Reading—Expanded", Dariel Fitzkee, 1935. "Contact and Non-Contact Mind Reading", William Larsen, a four-page mimeographed manuscript published by Thayer in 1945. "Entertaining with Contact Mind Reading", S. Edward Dexter, 1952.

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