Harry Price was a man who stood out as a truth seeker. As a researcher of psychic phenomena and a respected author, he pursued his investigations with passion, and is regarded today as a man who was not afraid to be criticized.
During his lifetime he wrote many books and papers on the subject of the paranormal, conducted scientific investigations and helped to publicly expose many fake mediums and paranormal hoaxers.
A Man of Many Interests
During his younger years Harry Price was a man with many varied interests, such as coin collecting, archaeology and space-telegraphy but the most fascinating was his interest in stage magic and conjuring.
He was a skilled amateur conjurer, noted for his expertise in sleight of hand.
It was this skill together with his thirst for the truth, that set him on the path to becoming a notable and famous paranormal investigator.
In a time where spiritualists, spirit photographers and mediums were extremely popular and almost unquestioned, Harry Price set out to authenticate their claims.
Although most of his work and investigations resulted in the mediums being exposed as frauds, Harry Price did actually endorse some of spiritualists he investigated.
His knowledge as a magician helped him to set up credible tests to investigate these practitioners’ paranormal claims.
While his work was revered by some, it made him very unpopular with others.
One of his noteworthy critics was Arthur Conan Doyle who insisted that Price wrote “sewage” about mediums, and together with his friends tried to keep Price’s papers out of circulation for many years.
Although Price was a member of the Society for Psychical Research, they also became one of the biggest criticizers of his work as he continued to expose fake mediums and disprove phenomena such as ectoplasm.
The Society for Psychical Research disapproved with Prices’ practice of paying mediums to test them, and also with his opinion on the meduimship of the spiritualist Rudi Schneider.
In 1926 Harry Price formed an organization called the National Laboratory of Psychical Research to act as a rival to the Society for Psychical Research.
Price used a variety of methods to observe and test the claims of spiritualists.
These included analysis of so-called “ectoplasms” by some mediums, which were shown to actually be the regurgitation of materials such as chewed paper, egg whites and cheesecloth.
In the case of William Hope, Price secretly marked his photographic plates and gave him other plates that had a distinct etching.
When Hope produced his photographic spirit images, Price was able to prove that they were a hoax, as they did not display the etching nor the secret marks.
In the infamous case of Rudi Schneider, Price used photography himself to prove that Schneider’s claims of levitation were merely created by sleight of hand.
Price was able to discredit the meduimship of George Valiantine, who claimed that he had contacted the spirit of Italian-speaking composer Luigi Arditi.
Price studiously recorded all the phases that were credited to the composer, and on investigation he found them to be exact matches to segments in an Italian phrase-book.
A True Believer
But Harry Price did not believe that all of his encounters with the paranormal had scientific explanations.
He wrote about one such experience that he had during a private séance. A woman named Kathleen Goldney is said to have encountered Price the morning after this séance occurred, and reported that he seemed visibly shaken.
During this session Price wrote that he had applied starch powder to the floor, locked the door and taped the windows of the room in which the séance took place.
At some stage during the séance a young girl, who called herself Rosalie, had appeared in a lifelike form.
Price reported having spoken with the girl and being able to touch her.
While he was suspicious during the encounter, he found that once the séance was over none of the seals had been disturbed and there was no evidence in the starch powder that any human being had moved over the floor.
Although the Society for Psychical Research attempted to discredit him, Price was convinced that this was a true paranormal encounter.
Although his work uncovered many mediums and spiritualists as nothing more than hoaxers, Harry Price was a true pioneer in the field of psychic investigation.
The legacy he left is one that reminds that while we can, and should, believe in the paranormal we must always be weary of those who seek only to fool us.