This historic antique wood engraving, titled “The Capture of a Spirit – Sketches at a Recent Spiritualistic Seance,” represents the dramatic exposure of a fake spirit medium named Florence Cook (1856-1904).
During the first heyday of Spiritualism, Cook became one of the its most famous practitioners. She was noted for her purported ability to produce full-form spirit materializations of “Marie,” her spirit guide. During a seance, Marie would step out of the “spirit cabinet,” often singing and dancing to the delight of clients.
At a materialization seance in 1880, one of the attendees, Sir George Sitwell, reached into the spirit cabinet and grabbed Marie. When the lights came up, Marie was found to be Florence Cook, clad only in her corsets and petticoat and wrapped in white drapery.
A classic case of “pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain” …