There is nothing new under the sun: the history of the photo editing is almost as old as photography itself. Spirit photography was first widely employed by William H. Mumler in the 1860s, but the earliest pieces were made by Sir David Brewster for his 1856 book The Stereoscope: Its History, Theory, and Construction. Even though he was using the simple double exposure technique and was revealed as a fraud, some other spirit photographers came up in the next decades. Here are some of the most interesting pieces of spirit photography before Photoshop.

Sir David Brewster: The Ghost In The Stereoscope, 1856

Eugène Thièbault: Henri Robin And A Specter, 1863

William H. Mumler's Spirit Photos, 1860s-1880s

Mary Todd Lincoln's portrait with the ghost of her husband, Abraham Lincoln, was taken in the early 1870s.

Left: "Master Herrod (a young medium) in a trance. His Spiritual Body Withdrawn and Appears Behind.", ca. 1868 Center: "Mrs. French of Boston with Spirit Son", ca. 1868 Right: Moses A. Dow, Editor of Waverley Magazine, with the Spirit of Mabel Warren", ca. 1871

H. P. Moore: The Guardian Spirit (1871)

William Hope: Three people with two spirits

Hope: Family group with two spirits

Hope: Woman with two boys and a female spirit

Hope: Man with a mysterious face appearing

Hope: Man with the spirit of his deceased second wife

Hope: Man With The Spirit Of His Helper

Hope: Will Thomas With An Unidentified Spirit

Unknown: A Haunted Lover's Proposal, 1890s

Strohmeyer & Wyman: A Dream Of Christmas, a stereocard from 1897

William Hope: Elderly couple with a young female spirit

Unknown from the early 1900s

Sir Victor Goddard's photo of his squadron in World War I, 1919

The ghostly face belongs to Freddy Jackson, who had been actually killed two days before the photo shot.

Harry Houdini (Ehrich Weiss): Houdini and the Ghost Of Abraham Lincoln, c. 1920

William Hope: A Seance, circa 1920

Ada Emma Deane's photographs from the early 1920s

The Brown Lady Of Raynham Hall, 1936

The most famous ghost photograph belongs to a London-based photographer named Captain Hubert C. Provand, who took photographs in the Raynham Hall Mansion in Norfolk, England. After the negatives were developed, it's said that a ghostly lady appeared on the picture of the building's main staircase. The woman was Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726), the sister of the first Prime Minister of Great Britain.


(via Macabre Museum, National Media Museum/Flickr, Framed Network, Flickr/depthandtime, evpmanuk/Flickr,, Wikimedia Commons, Photography Museum,, Library Of Congress, Mlkshk and Laughing Crow Knits)