Planchette (a drawing device)

A small board supported on castors, typically heart-shaped and fitted with a vertical pencil, used for automatic writing and in seances.

Origin: Mid 19th century: from French, literally ‘small plank’, diminutive of planche. (Oxford 2015)

planchettePlanchette. (wood, castor wheels, pencil)


This particular planchette is made out of the top of a chart table from a ship used to carry spies in WWII.
Originally built in the 1930s to fish out of Lerwick, Shetland, the Mary Anne was used by the Royal Navy in WWII to ferry supplies and members of the Resistance movement across the North Sea to Norway. Disguised under its fishing equipment it concealed gun mountings for the protection of those aboard.

The Mary Anne came to New Zealand in the early 1960s and in the 1990s, a friend of mine sailed it from Napier to Lyttleton where it was refitted as a pleasure boat. The table used for plotting positions onto a map was now redundant due to new technology and he picked it out of the scrap heap. The ship was then renamed, sailed around the world and then to England. The wood still shows the indents from the pens of its captains, the ghosts of its former life.

planchette crop

Surface Detail. (graphite rubbing on paper)