There are two portieres displayed in the Maplewood Hotel at Lily Dale, New York-carefully framed and covered with Plexiglas. Lily Dale and all of spiritualism should be aware there were only a few of these tapestries made by the famed Molly Fancher “The Brooklyn Enigma”-one displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Arthur Myers a former Lily Dale resident, opera singer, lecturer, historian and foremost collector of spiritualist memorabilia purchased the set of portieres through his connections in New York City.
Some background about Molly [Mary] Fancher 1842-1916. Molly was seriously injured two times in three years between the age of 16 and 19. The first was she was thrown from a horse and received a concussion and broken ribs and bones. After she was nursed back to health and able to get out and about she was exiting a streetcar and her hoop skirt became caught and she was dragged down the street. This time her injuries were more severe. She was crippled bodily, totally blind and bed ridden throughout her lifetime passing away at age 70.
Sightless and handicapped, being unable to use her hands normally, by placing her hands behind her head [she claimed she could see behind her head], under spirit control created many articles of embroidery with intricate design. She was constantly in pain, cared for and the sale of her embroidery provided for her support.
Leading physicians of the day could not account for her medical condition or her accomplishments-thus the title “The Brooklyn Enigma”. Molly was able to exist on very little food or liquid and for long periods of time had no intake at all.
Bedridden for 48 years Molly passed in and out of “conscious coma”. Several different distinct personalities would take charge of her body. The personalities were easily recognized as a child happy and buoyant, another fretful and petulant. One an older person who conversed about daily life, current events etc. and the fourth could do the remarkable embroidery. The fourth personality choose her materials, did her own designing, penned the color schemes and produced the remarkable art work even though Miss Fancher’s eyes could not see, and her stiffened arm forced the needlework to be done behind her head instead in front.
Spiritualists immediately recognize her artistry as the finest example of spirit direction accomplished through natural law by whose powers were greater than the medium. Miss Fancher lived more in the etheric than in the physical. Even though confined to her bed she was able to visit homes of friends, listen to symphony concerts, describe works of art at various museums and direct household duties to her servants. It is her remarkable needlework that she has left as a heritage to future generations-proof positive that there is a fund of knowledge in the etheric far greater than can be conceived by mortal minds.