Tuesday, October 8, 2019


This 1940's Syco-Slate Pocket Fortune Teller was a product of Alabe Crafts of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The glass cyclinder's paper label features a Gypsy woman either advising, warning or admonishing someone based on your interpretation of her wagging finger. "Can I?" "Should They?" it asks.

"Will She?" "Will He?" Oh tell me, Syco-Slate. I can't stand the suspense!

Oh well...

It has a surprising number of possible answers.

As indicated on the label, Alabe Crafts was originator of The Syco-Seer, the predecessor to the Syco-Slate.

The Syco-Slate was advertised in magazines and sold for $1.19.

You might be thinking, "Hey, that reminds me of the Magic 8-Ball."  There's a reason for that.  But it's a bit of a story, so sit back.

Albert Carter was a near-do-well whose mother Mary was a famous Cincinnati medium. Mary had devised a parlor trick involving a chalk blackboard that was enclosed in a box.  When a question was asked and the lid was closed over the board, chalk could be heard squeaking inside as if writing.  Upon opening the lid, an answer to the asked question could be found on the slate.

Inspired by this, Albert came up with the idea of a glass tube filled with an inky fluid.  Inside was a pair of dice with various answers written on the faces.  Each die was separated from the other by a divider in the center of the tube.  Questions could be asked and an answer could be found from the top or bottom of the tube.

When Carter approached local shop owner Max Levison to sell the product, Levinson was intrigued enough to call in his brother-in-law Abe Bookman, an engineer.  Along with Carter and Levison, they formed the company Alabe Crafts and filed a patent for the Syco-Seer in 1948.  Unfortunately, Carter passed away before seeing the success of his product.  Bookman continued to make improvements, developing the simpler Syco-Slate. In 1950, Brunswick Billiards commissioned Alabe Crafts to produce a promotional item for their billiard tables and the Magic 8-Ball was born.

The Magic behind both the 8-Ball and the Syco-Slate is an icosahedron, or 20-sided die.  This is what allows the multitude of answers.

If that wasn't enough of a Halloween fix for you, why not ask the Syco-Slate if you should head over to the Countdown to Halloween and visit some of the other bloggers there?


  1. wow that is really cool! It's to bad he never got to see his product come to life.

  2. I was wondering how many sides that dice had considering all the possible answers. I need to look for one of these for my divination cabinet. Could you ask it if there is a Synco Slate lurking around Colorado Springs?

  3. Never saw this before and it is so cool! What a find! Thanks for sharing, man.

  4. How long did it take you to get all the answers?

    1. I'm glad someone thought of that. A long time. :)

  5. i had no idea that the Magic 8-ball idea was that old, or that it predated the 8-ball form itself. great research! i've never seen one of these tubes anywhere, and as you know i also haunt antique stores. what a find!


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