Brandon Hodge is a collector, author, researcher and entrepreneur residing in Austin, Texas. Fascinated in his formative years by his father's burgeoning interest in archeology, Brandon's childhood summers were spent on digs and excavations all over Texas. Brandon was known to wander off toward slightly more modern structures crumbling into dust on the horizon, where he gathered artifacts he felt resonated with the dying significance of families long fled. Since those early days, his father has amassed one of the largest and highest-quality collections of Paleo-American artifacts in the country, and Brandon has followed in familiar footsteps with planchettes and spirit writing devices.
Talking Board Collectors Bob Murch, Mike Buchner, Brandon Hodge, and Andrew Vespia, at the birthplace of the ouija -the former home of Charles Kennard, Chestertown, Maryland.
Always fascinated by the bizarre world of tipping tables, seances, and ghost hunts, Brandon created mysteriousplanchette.com as an outlet to synthesize his years of research in spirit communication devices and the early history of the Spiritualist movement. He added his first automatic writer to his shelves--a boxed E.I.H. Scientific Planchette--over a decade ago while building a bizarre magic routine featuring a collection of haunted antiques. While he has long since given up performance, the collecting gene that he inherited from his archeologist father resonates strongly, and he has since amassed the world's finest collection of writing planchettes, most of which are featured here on the site.
Years of research with other collectors has led to Brandon to begin work with colleague and frequent collaborator Robert Murch on a picturesque coffee-table book on the subject of spirit communication devices from their early beginnings to their modern equivalents, of which the research present on this site is but a small part. Tentatively titled "Talking Tables & Scribbling Spirits: A Complete History of Spirit Communication Tools," the book is a collaboration with collectors from all over the world, and includes the most in-depth research ever performed on talking boards. It is slated for 2014 publication. Brandon is a highly-motivated collector and researcher, and encourages anyone who discovers a planchette or other spirit communication device to contact him immediately so it might be cataloged and possibly included in the book! And who knows -you may have something he's never seen before!
By day, Brandon owns and operates two popular Austin small businesses-a funky toy store called Monkey See, Monkey Do! and the world-famous sideshow-and-circus-themed confectionery and soda fountain, Big Top Candy Shop. Both shops are highly-prominent, with Big Top being voted USA Today's top candy store in the country, as well as being featured on a number of network shows in various capacities, including the Travel Channel, Food Network, WE, DIY Network, American Express and Wendy's commercials, and a 6-minute vignette for the Food Network's "Kid in a Candy Store."Brandon is set to be featured in Bob Murch's upcoming documentary on talking board history, where he served as film's early-Spiritualism history and planchette commentator. Most recently, the show Oddities featured Brandon's collection of strange and unusual artifacts, including his planchettes and talking boards, and he acted as the on-air expert for the Travel Channel's "Patience Worth" episode of Mysteries at the Museum. In addition, he is a well-known, award-winning freelance writer in the tabletop roleplaying game industry, writing adventures for such prominent publishers as Paizo, Open Design, and Green Ronin.
Brandon currently lives in Austin's historic Hyde Park neighborhood with his lovely wife, Adie, and their black cat, Miette. By day, he runs his stores with the help of his crack team of soda jerks, candy clerks, and toy purveyors, and by night puts pen to paper while writing various publications. Most of their weekends are spent scouring flea markets, antique fairs, and old homesteads in Texas, while maintaining an international network of collectors, dealers, and researchers ever on the hunt for the next item or clue that will add the next important piece to their puzzle. If you have any information on planchettes, dial plates, talking boards, or any of the items featured here in the form of specimens, archives, books, newspapers, ads and trade circulars, pictures, or any other form of information that may be pertinent to our research, Brandon wants to hear from you! He can be reached at any time by email here.