Parkes, F. M. (ca. 1872)

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Parkes, F. M. (ca. 1872)

British Spiritualist who practiced spirit photography. In association with a Mr. Reeves, the proprietor of a dining room, he obtained recognized spirit extras in 1872 after three months of experiments. That same year Frederick A. Hudson also obtained the first such pictures in England. Without the presence of Reeves or his own wife, Parkes could not get a full form and clearly defined pictures, only white patches and cloudy appearances.

In accordance with spirit directions, Parkes set it as a condition to have the plates in his possession in the dark room prior to their being placed in the camera for purposes of magnetization. To avert suspicion he had an inspection hole cut in the dark room through which the sitters could see the plate through its entire process.

Sexton wrote enthusiastically of Parkes's powers in the Christian Spiritualist. William Stainton Moses gave the following interesting description in Human Nature:

"A considerable number of the earlier pictures taken by Messrs. Parkes and Reeves were allegorical. One of the earliest, taken in April, 1872, shows Mr. Reeves' father holding up a cross above his head and displaying an open book on which is written "Holy Bible." Another shows a cloud of light covering two-thirds of the pictures, and made up of the strangest medley of heads and arms, and flashes of light, with a distinct cross in the centre. Another, in which Mr. and Mrs. Everitt were the sitters, taken June 8, 1872, is a symbolical picture of a very curious nature. Mr. Everitt's head is surrounded with a fillet on which 'Truth' is inscribed, while three pencils of light dart up from it. There are at least two figures in the picture which blot out Mrs. Everitt altogether.

"In a later photograph, in which Mr. Burns is the sitter, is a giant hand of which the thumb is half the length of the sitter's body. It is just as if a luminous hand had been projected or flashed on the plate without any regard to focus. Another very startling picture is one which shows on a dark background a huge luminous crucifix. Then we have angels with orthodox wings hovering over some sitters. One is a very striking model: the face of great beauty and of pure classical design. The figure floats with extended arm over the sitter, and below it, almost on the ground, appear nine faces, and, strangest of all, close by the sitter's head, a large eye, with beams of light proceeding from it. The eye is larger than the head of the sitter, and the whole picture presents a most curious appearance. Some show mere faces; some heads; some, again, whole bodies floating in the air; and some partially formed bodies projected on the plate, apparently at haphazard."