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Shocking 18th Century Letter Shows Lottery Prizes Won Through Psychic Dreams! – Exploring The Outer Edges of Society And…

A wonderfully convoluted path of investigation lead to the discovery of lottery dream predictions in an 18th century letter. The description of that journey into the weirds of fringe research will be saved for another time, for now lets simply enjoy these anecdotes written by a German doctor in 1793 and included in a volume of case studies in ‘experimental psychology’ collected by the 18th century autodidact and erstwhile psychologist, Karl Philipp Moritz. (1)

Screen Shot 2020-07-25 at 9.09.13 PMThis particular letter was included in a book on “secrets of the black arts” printed in 1900 by novelty publisher I. & M. Ottenheimer, who specialized in children’s books, joke books, fortune telling and dream books. Its inclusion in the book appears to be a savvy advertising trick to give historical credence to their lottery dream books and support additional sales to folks curious to try their hand at applying some of the ‘secrets’ contained therein.

Secrets of Black Arts compiles excerpts from uncredited sources and each excerpt conveniently parallels topics covered by other books published by I. & M. Ottenheimer – or in some instances simply republishes portions of their own books without sourcing themselves. This particular letter is an unsourced selection drawn from a 1854 publication by patent medicine producer and astrologer Dr. C.W. Roback titled, The Mysteries of Astrology, and the Wonders of Magic…which was ironically published to create historical credence for his own goods and services and had taken the letter unsourced from an 1834 publication by Dr. Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, late professor of the Universities of Heidelberg and Marburg, and Private Aulic-Counsellor to the Grand Duke of Baden, called Theory of Pneumatology: In reply to the question, what ought to be believed or disbelieved concerning presentiments, visions, and apparitions, according to nature, reason, and scripture. Heinrich Jung-Stilling, at least, appears to have been writing with scientific intent. A tangled web indeed.

As for the letter – it is signed Christ Knape, Doct. of Philosophy, Medicine, and Surgery, and recounts a few instances from the good doctor’s gambling life in which precognitive dreams aided him in winning at lottery. Moritz was a Romantic and adventurer in the same cloth as his friend and colleague the famed poet, scientist and novelist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who brought us one of the most famous renditions of the Faust legend – so rest assured this isn’t your standard skeptical psychological case study.


“You desire me to give you a written account of what I lately verbally related to you regarding the soul’s faculty of prescience. As my experience rests solely upon dreams, I have certainly reason to apprehend that many will take me for a fantastic dreamer; but if I can contribute anything to the very useful object of your work, it is no matter— let people think what they will. Be that as it may, I vouch for the truth and veracity of what I shall now more particularly relate. 

” In the year 1768, while learning the business of an apothecary in the royal medical establishment at Berlin, I played in the seventy-second drawing of the Prussian numerical lottery, which took place on the 30th of May of the same year, and fixed upon the numbers 22 and 60. 

“In the night preceeding the day of drawing, I dreamed that toward twelve o’clock at noon, which is the time when the lottery is generally drawn, the master-apothecary sent down to me to tell me that I must come up to him. On going up stairs, he told me to go immediately to Mr. Mylius, the auctioneer, on the other side of the castle, and ask him if he had disposed of the books which had been left with hun for sale ; but that I must return speedily, because he waited for his answer. 

” ‘That’s just the thing,’ thought I, still dreaming; the lottery will just be drawing, and as I have executed my commission, I will run quickly to the general lottery-office, and see if my numbers come out’ (the lottery was drawn at that time in the open street); ‘ if I only walk quick, I shall be at home again soon enough.’ 

“I went therefore immediately, (still in my dream.) in compliance with the orders I had received, to Mr. Mylius, the auctioneer, executed my commission, and, after receiving his answer, ran hastily to the general lottery-office, on the ‘ Hunters’ Bridge.’ Here I found the customary preparations, and a considerable number of spectators. They had already begun to put the numbers into the wheel— and the moment I came up. No. 60 was exhibited and called out. ‘ Oh, thought I, ‘it is a good omen, that just one of my own numbers should be called out the moment I arrive.’ 

” As I had not much time, I now wished for nothing so much as that they would hasten as much as possible with telling in the remaining numbers. At length they were all counted in, and now I saw them bind the eyes of the boy belonging to the orphan-school, and the numbers afterward drawn in the customary manner. 

” When the first number was exhibited and called out, It was No. 22. ‘ A good omen again 1’ thought I; ‘ No. 60 will also certainly come out’ The second number was drawn— and behold, it was No. 60! ‘ Now they may draw what they will, said I to someone who stood near me; ‘ my numbers are out — I have no more time to spare.’ With that, I turned myself about and ran directly home. 

“Here I awoke, and was as clearly conscious of my dream as I am now relating it. If its natural connection and the very particular perspicuity, had not been so striking, I should have regarded it as nothing else than a common dream, in the general sense of the term. But this made me pay attention to it, and excited my curiosity so much that I could scarcely wait till noon. 

“At length it struck eleven, but still there was no appearance of my dream being fulfilled. It struck a quarter — it struck half -past eleven — and still there was no probability of it. I had already given up all hope, when one of the work-people unexpectedly came to me. and told me to go up stairs immediately to the master-apothecary. I went up full of expectation, and heard with the greatest astonishment that I must go directly to Mr. Mylius, the auctioneer, on the other side of the castle, and ask him if he had disposed of the books at auction which had been entrusted to him. He told me also, at the same time, to return quickly, because he waited for an answer. 

” Who could have made more despatch than I? I went in haste to Mr. Mylius, the auctioneer, executed my commission, and, then after receiving his answer, ran as quickly as possible to the general lottery-office, on the ‘Hunters’ Bridge’; and, full of astonishment, I saw that No. 60 was exhibited and called out the moment I arrived. 

“As my dream had been thus far so punctually fulfilled, I was now willing to wait the end of it, although I had so little time; I therefore wished for nothing so much as that they would hasten with counting in the remaining numbers. At length they finished. The eyes of the orphan-boy were bound, as customary, and it is easy to conceive the eagerness with which I awaited the final accomplishment of my dream. 

“The first number was drawn and called out, and behold, it was No. 22 1 The second was drawn, and this was also as I had dreamed, No. 60! 

“It now occurred to me that I had already stayed longer than my errand allowed; I therefore requested the person who was next to me in the crowd to let me pass. ‘What,’ said one of them to me, ‘will you not wait till the numbers are all out ?’ ‘ No,’ said I, ‘ my numbers are already out, and they may now draw what they please, for ought I care.’ With that, I turned about, pushed through the crowd, and ran hastily and joyfully home. Thus was the whole of my dream fulfilled, not only in substance, but literally and verbatim. 

“It will perhaps not be disagreeable to you, if I relate two other occurences of a similar nature: — 

“On the 18th of August, 1776, I dreamed I was walking in the vicinity of the ‘ Silesian Gate,’ and intended to go home thence, directly across the field, by the Ricksdorf or Dresden road. 

“I found the field full of stubble, and it seemed as if the corn that had stood there had only been reaped and housed a short time before. This wias really the case, although I had not previously seen it. On entering the Ricksdorf road, I perceived that some persons had collected before one of the first houses, and were looking up at it. I consequently supposed that something new had occurred in or before the house, and for this reason, on coming up, I asked the first person I met — ‘What is the matter here ?’ He answered with great indifference, ‘The lottery is drawn.’ — ‘So, ‘said I, ‘ is it drawn already ? What numbers are out?’ ‘There they stand,’ replied he, and pointed with his finger to the door of a shop that was in me house, which I now perceived for the first time. 

“I looked at the door, and found that the numbers were written up, on a black border round the door, as is frequently the case. In order to ascertain if there was really a shop, with a receiving house for the lottery, at the commencement of the Ricksdorf road, I did not think it too much trouble to go there, and found that this was really the case. To my great vexation, I found that only one of my numbers had come out. I looked over the numbers once more, in order not to forget them, and . then went home disappointed. 

“On awaking, I was hindered, by an accidental noise, from immediately recollecting my dream, biit shortly afterward it again occurred to me; and, after a little refiection, I remembered it as clearly as I have now related it, but found it difficult to recollect all the five numbers. 

“That No. 47 was the first, and No. 21 the second of the numbers, I remembered perfectly well; that the third which followed was a 6, I was also certain, only I was not confident whether the which I had seen hereabouts belonged to the 6 or the following number 4, which I also remembered very distinctly to have seen; and I was not certain of this, it might have been just as well 6 and 4 alone as 60 and 40. 

” I was the least confident as to the fifth number: that it was between 50 and 60 1 was certain, but which I could not precisely determine. I had already laid money upon No. 21, and this was the number which, according to my dream, should come out. 

” As remarkable as my dream appeared to be in other respects, yet I was diffident of it, from being unable to remember all the five numbers. Although I was quite certain that among the sixteen numbers mentioned — that is, those between 50 and 60, and the six previously indicated — all the five which I had seen in my dream were contained; and although there was still time to secure the numbers, yet it did not suit me on account of the considerable sum it would require to stake upon all the sixteen numbers, I therefore contented myself with a few AMBS and TERNES, and had, besides this, the disappointment of selecting a bad conjunction of numbers. 

” The third day afterward (the 26th of August, 1776) the lottery was drawn. It was the two hundred and fifteenth drawing, and all the five numbers which I had seen in my dream came out exactly — namely, 60, 4. 21, 53, 42; and I now remembered that No. 52 was the fifth of those which I had seen in my dream, and which I could not previously recollect with certainty. 

“Instead of some thousand dollars, I was now compelled to be contented with about twenty! 

“The third, and, for the present, the last occurrence of this kind, which I shall relate, was as follows: — 

” On the 21st of September, 1777, I dreamed that a good friend of mine visited me, and after the conversation had turned upon the lottery, he desired that he might draw some numbers out of my little wheel of fortune which I had at that time. 

” He drew several numbers, with the intention of staking money upon them. When he had done drawing, I took all the numbers out of the wheel, laid them before me upon the table, and said to him, ‘ The number which I now take up will certainlv come out at the next drawing.’ I put my hand into the heap and drew out a number, unfolded it, and looked at it: it was very plainly 35. I was going to fold it up and put it again into the wheel, but that very moment I awoke. 

” Having so clear a recollection of my dream, as I have now related it, I had much confidence in the nimiber, and therefore staked so much upon it as to be satisfied with the winnings; but two hours before the lottery was drawn, X received my money back from the lottery-agent, with the news that my number was completely filled up. The lottery was drawn on the 34th of September, and the number really came out. 

” Although I very willingly allow, and am well aware that many and perhaps the generality of dreams are from causes which are founded merely in the body, and therefore can have no further significance — yet I believe I have been convinced by repeated experience that there are not unfrequently dreams, in the origin and existenoe of which the body, as such, has no part; and to these, in my opinion, belong the three instances above mentioned. 

” I do not think that the contents of these dreams ought to give occasion to any one to judge wrongfully; for otherwise, I could just as well have selected others: but I have placed them together precisely because of this similarity. 

“Christ Knape, 

“Doct. of Philosophy, Medicine, and Surgery.”

Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 10.03.41 PMSpecial thanks to Dr. Patricia Turrisi, Ph.D. Director, Graduate Liberal Studies, University of North Carolina Wilmington, for providing the curious Johnson Smith and Company pamphlet – itself a compilation of unsourced excerpts, including a few from the I. & M. Ottenheimer book The Secrets of Black Arts – which lead me to this discovery!


Lottery Dream Books and Other Money Making Mind Tricks –


(2) The Secrets of Black Arts! A key note to witchcraft, devination, omens, forwarnings, apparitions, sorcery, daemonology, dreams, predictions, visions, and, the devil’s legacy to earth mortals; compacts with the devil! With the most authentic history of Salem Witchcraft, p. 21-26 (I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1900)

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