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October 2008

The Ouija Board Law School Connection

Elijah J. BondWhile being dead might admittedly diminish one’s opportunity for a courtroom appearance-–even at Halloween--it doesn’t preclude the opportunity to speak in your defense. How so? By way of the oft overlooked legal device, the Ouija Board.

The Ouija Board was first patented by University of Maryland Law School graduate Elijah Jefferson Bond. He was born January 23, 1846 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland and was the fourth child of Judge William Bond and Charlotte Howard Richardson. His brother, General Frank A. Bond, gave birth to Harriet Virginia Bond, who would later marry Elijah's friend, William H. A. Maupin. Maupin was one of the original founders of the Kennard Novelty Company, the first company to produce the Ouija board.

Though not officially a member of the Kennard Novelty Company, Elijah Bond was granted the first patent on the Ouija board (No. 446,054) that was eventually acquired in 1891 by William H. A. Maupin and Charles W. Kennard. [Bond Patent]

While not directly involved in the operations of the Kennard Company, Elijah Bond revisited the mysterious world of "talking boards" when he moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Charleston, West Virginia. There he applied for and was granted a trademark on his Nirvana talking board on June 18, 1907. The mark is shaped in the sign of a swastika with the word Nirvana in the center. On June 20, 1907, Bond assigned this trademark to The Swastika Novelty Company, which manufactured and sold the Nirvana talking boards. While living in Charleston, Bond worked as both an attorney and an insurance agent.

Elijah Bond married Mary Peters of Maryland and had one child, William Brown Bond. Elijah later returned to Baltimore where he lived until his death on April 14, 1921.

[The Law Library is grateful to Bob Murch for allowing the reproduction of portions of his research for this article. For additional information, visit the Internet site William Fuld: The Story of America’s Most Unique Inventor, http://www.williamfuld.com.]

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