There is no question that many mediums produced manifestations through trickery, something that affected the development of both Spiritualism and Psychical Research. The following are some examples of fraud reported to have taken place with physical mediums.
Examples of Fraud in Physical Mediumship
(Complete references are given below.)
Sitwell & Von Buch (1880)
Materialization of “Marie” was grabbed and found to be the medium, Mrs. Corner (Florence Cook).
Bogus Spiritualists Exposed (1888)
One of the Bangs sisters found disguised with a mask simulating a materialization. Wigs, muslim shrouds and make-up were found on inspection of the surroundings.
Materialization with Mrs. Williams was grabbed and found to be the medium in disguise.
Exposure of Mr. Eldred (1906)
Medium Charles Eldred found using a special chair with a secret compartment full of paraphernalia to fake materializations.
Charles Bailey was found by investigators to have purchased two birds he later produced as apports.
Ladislas Lasslo confessed all his materializations were fraudulently produced. A sitter was found to be the medium’s confederate.
Stanislawa Popielska photographed in darkness grabbing with her hand an object that was supposed to have been moved telekinetically.
Bogus spiritualists exposed: The lights turned up and the spook seized and arrested. (1888, April 3). The Washington Post, p. 4.
Dariex, X. (1894). Le fragant délit de la celèbre Mrs Williams. [The flagrant misdeed of the famous Mrs Williams]. Annales des sciences psychiques, 4, 333-354.
Exposure of Mr. Eldred. (1906). Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 12, 242-252.
Reichel, W. (1910). Charles Bailey on the continent. Light, 30, 126.
Schrenck-Notzing, [A.F. von]. (1924). L’imposture du pseudo-médium Ladislas Lasslo (imitation des phénomènes de matérialisation) [The imposture of pseudo medium Ladislas Lasslo (imitation of materialization phenomena)]. Revue métapsychique, No. 2, 105-134.
Osty, E. (1930). Le médium Stanislawa P. à l’Institut Métapsychique de Paris: Comédie médiumnique [The medium Stanislawa P. at the Metapsychic Institute of Paris: A mediumistic comedy]. Revue métapsychique, No. 6, 515-528.
Sitwell, G.R., & Von Buch, C. (1880, January 12). The capture of a spirit. The Times, p. 11.