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A curiosity of hoodoo magic for gambling luck, "Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book" consists of nine separate alphabetical lists of objects and situations found in dreams with interpretations and lucky numbers for playing policy, an illegal (and now obsolete) lottery once popular in the black community. Also included is a reprint of a 19th century French divination system called the "Oraculum or Book of Fate," based on an old Arabic system of sand-divination commonly called geomancy.


"Aunt Sally's" was first published by Wehman Bros. in 1889. The author is unknown, but in the first edition, the copyright was claimed by Henry J. Wehman. Later acsimile editions were printed by I. and M. Ottenheimer of Baltimore, Maryland; The Lama Temple of Chicago, Illinois; and Indio Products of Los Angeles, California. The image shown here is from a facsimile edition published during the 1980s.

The cover depicts a thin, gap-toothed old black woman in a head scarf, shawl, calico blouse, and apron. Folks who collect psychedelic-era art may recognize this image as the swipe-source for a 1967 poster by Rick Griffin for a concert by Big Brother & the Holding Co. and Canned Heat. In the 1930s-40s a major hoodoo supplier, the King Novelty Company, not only sold the "Dream Book" but also manufactured a line of Aunt Sally's incense and other hoodoo potions. King's Aunt Sally was flipped right for left, and was younger and plumper, but she still wore the old slavery-days costume. She looked a lot like the then-current image of Aunt Jemima, seen on the pancake mix of the same name.

Policy was an illegal lottery first introduced in Chicago in 1885 by an operator nick-named Policy Sam. It soon spread around the country and, despite anti-policy laws, which started appearing on the books as early as 1901, it flourished everywhere in America until legal numbers games such as state lotteries supplanted it. Eventually the use of the term "policy" for this type of game came to imply an African-American clientele, for among Italian-Americans a similar illegal lottery was called "the numbers," while Cuban-Americans in New York referred to their lottery as "bolita." The name "policy" may have comes from a verbal code that the numbers runners (ticket sellers) used when collecting bets on the street: "Would you like to take out an insurance policy?" they asked. One could also play at a "policy shop" or "policy office," where the bets were taken and the stakes held by "policy writers." 

Policy bets were placed on groups of numbers from 1 through 78 (coincidentally the number of cards in a tarot deck). Borrowing from horse-racing terminology, a two-number betting combination was called a "saddle," a three-number combination a "gig," and a four-number combination a "horse." Gigs were the most popular play, but bets could be made in combinations of up to 25 numbers. Some gigs were so well-known that they had their own names, such as "the washerwoman's gig" (4, 11, 44) and "the dirty gig" (3, 6, 9). In the 19th century, a wager could be as low as one cent per number or three cents per gig; by the 1930s most operators set a three-cent or nickel lower limit on bets. The payout was usually ten-to-one, but higher payouts were made for groups of numbers.


Winning policy bets were selected several times a day, when those who ran the game spun a large wheel and "the numbers fell." Obviously, spinning a wheel left the operators open to charges of fraud. This did not stop people from betting, though. The "companies" that operated policy wheels gave themselves (and thereby their wheels) colourful names, such as "The Interstate," "The East & West," "The Red Devil," "The Dead Row," and "The Streamliner."

In New York during the 1920s, policy operators tampered with their wheels so often that an "honest" version of the game was established in which gig bets were taken on the last three numbers of the daily Federal Reserve Clearing House Report. The policy company that ran this game, known as "Clearing-House," was immune to charges of corruption, and offered the further advantage that the bettor did not need to contact a runner or return to the office to learn if he or she had won -- because the numbers were printed in the daily newspapers. In the South another "on-the-level" policy game, called "The Cotton Exchange," derived its winning numbers from the daily spot prices for cotton on the Chicago Board of Trade. At the highest levels, there were definite connections between the African-American, Jewish, and Italian-American mobsters who controlled both the policy companies and the numbers rackets; they sometimes teamed up to open new territories, and other times they killed one another to dominate gambling operations in certain towns or among certain ethnic groups.

The use of policy dream books may be as simple asto catch lucky numbers through dreams, but the gift of dreaming true is valuable in many ways, however, not just for money-making. Dream books -- of which "Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book" is by far the best-known -- are part of the African-American hoodoo tradition. They link dream images (e.g. dream of a cook or dream of a locomotive) to divinatory meanings (e.g. "you will receive a letter" or "beware a strange man") and they also give numbers for betting (e.g. 5-14-50 or 65-41-55). In a typical numbers book, the dream images are listed in alphabetical order, with one, two, three, or four numbers beside each item, specifically designed for the convenience of those who bet on policy.

The authors of these dream books are largely unknown to modern players, but among the most prolific was a man named Herbert Gladstone Parris. Under the pseudonyms Prof. Konje, Professor Uriah Konje, and Prof. De Herbert Parris wrote and published a considerable number of lucky dream books during the 1920s and 1930s.

Other dream book authors include:

  • Madame Fu Futtam (Dorothy Hamid, 1905 - 1985), a candle shop keeper in New York, who taught spiritual and occult work as well as giving dream interpretations and lottery luck numbers to her clientele.
  • Black Herman (Benjamin Rucker, 1892 - 1934), a stage magician and a root doctor as well, whose most famous book was probably ghost-written by the mysterious "Mr. Young"
  • Rajah Rabo (Carl Z. Talbot, 1890 - 1974), whose Pick 'Em Dream Book gives prophetic information in addition to numbers.

    By the 1930s several brands of "lucky dream" incense were being manufactured for the use of policy players. Burned in the bedroom before sleeping, they were designed to increase a person's chance of dreaming lucky and remembering the dream long enough to get it interpreted in numerical form. In addition, they often contained their own sets of lucky numbers, intended to be taken up by sifting through the incense ash upon awakening.


    Lucky dream incenses of early to mid 20th century fell into two major types: loose, self-lighting incense powders with a three-digit gig printed on paper and inserted in every package, and compressed charcoal briquette incense, which, when burned, revealed a hidden three-digit number in the ashes. Examples of the powder type included the King Novelty brand Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Incense and the Sonny Boy Products brand Lucky Dream Remembering Incense. The briquette type was represented by Lucky Number Incense, manufactured by the Eastern Trading Company of Chicago, which came in a pasteboard box depicting Buddha. Inside the box, packed on top of the incense, was a tiny three-fold booklet that interpreted the numbers from 100 to 999 and gave the meanings for a few dreams.

    The following description of a policy shop was written in 1892 by the journalist Thomas Knox, when the game was still in its relative infancy. In the shop Knox visited, the policy wheel itself was not seen by the customers because it was located at the company's "central office" on Broad Street. Furthermore, he estimated that only 30 - 40% of the policy players were African-American, but that percentage continued to increase until by the 1920s policy was almost exclusively the provenance of African-American gamblers:

     "Playing policy" is a cheap way of gambling, but one on which hundreds if not thousands of dollars are risked every day in New York. Sums as low as three cents can be risked upon it, and there are policy-shops where bets of one cent are taken.

    The play is upon numbers which are drawn daily, usually in Kentucky or Louisiana, and sent by telegraph. The numbers are from 1 to 78; the room where the game is played is, like those of other cheap gambling-dens, usually at the rear of a cigar-store, barroom or other place where it does not rouse suspicion if many persons are seen entering. A long counter extends the entire length of the room, and behind this counter, near its center sits the man who keeps the game and is called the "writer." He is not the proprietor, but simply a clerk on a salary, and his duties are to copy the slips handed up by the players, mark them with the amount of money paid, and watch to see that no fraud is practiced.


    There are twenty-five plays every morning and the same number in the evening at the regular shops, and they all get their winning numbers from a central office in Broad Street. Near the "writer" is an iron spike or hook on which are the policy slips; each slip contains the winning numbers and is placed faced downwards so that nobody can see what it is. Let us now see how the scheme is worked.

    I am about to try my luck at policy, and for this purpose enter a shop and pass through to the rear. If there are ten people in the room it is even chance that three or four of them will be negroes, as the colored brethren are very fond of this game of chance. The assemblage is promiscuous and not at all select.

    Along the counter are numerous slips of paper for general use. I take one of the slips and write upon it five pairs of numbers [sic; he means trios of numbers, not pairs, as will be seen], using any numbers from 1 to 78. I give this slip to the "writer," with fifteen cents, and say,

    "Put me in for five gigs at three cents."

    Two numbers are called a "saddle" and three numbers a "gig." There are numerous combinations in the game, but "gigs" and "saddles" are the most popular. I wait until the other players have put in their bets, which the "writer" copies and records and then hands back to the players, just as he copies and returns mine. When all the bets are in he takes the first policy slip from the spike or hook aforesaid, writes upon a slate the numbers he finds on the slip and then hangs it up where everybody can see it. He writes them in two columns of twelve numbers, and if I have guessed two of the numbers in either column in one of my gigs, I walk up to the counter and present my ticket for payment, receiving ten times the amount of my wager.

    But a man stands as good a chance of being struck by lightning as he does of winning at this rate. Nevertheless the game is full of seductiveness on account of its possibilities and also on account of its cheapness. Some of the shops have telephone connections, and a customer who is known to the establishment can play policy without leaving his office by simply telephoning his guesses. That a large amount of money may be lost at policy is shown by the circumstance that quite recently the cashier of an important law firm in New York city embezzled $125,000 of the money of his employers. When the defalcation was discovered and investigated it was found that this enormous sum had been spent in playing policy in a notorious shop on Broadway.

    "Darkness and Daylight; or, Lights and Shadows of New York Life," by Helen Campbell, Thomas Knox, and Thomas Byrnes (A. D. Worthington & Co., 1892); pp. 639-640.

    The mechanism by which the bettors' numbers in "Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book" were assigned to the various dream images is unknown to me. It may have been arbitrary, it may have been cabalistic in some sense (e.g. derived from gematria), or it may harken back to a European -- most likely French -- system of divination.

    Here is an example of dreams and their numerical equivalents:

    cat 14
    dog 4
    surgeon 10
    So, say i dreamed that a surgeon was feeding a cat and a dog and he fed the cat first. If i wanted to make a gig wager, i would bet 10-14-4. But if i dreamed he fed the dog first, then i'd bet 10-4-14. Some dreams are given interpretations in pre-made 2-number saddle combinations and some in 4-number horses, but most dream images are given single numbers or 3-number gigs, as the latter was the most popular type of bet to place. For example:
    butter (some good fortune, but mixed with sadness) 4, 7, 13
    fan (your mistress will be inconstant) 5, 23, 31
    judge (you will overcome an enemy) 28, 50, 70
    ladder (going up, wealth; coming down, poverty) 11, 31, 43
    policy office (foretells riches) 4, 11, 44
    Not-so-coincidentally, 4, 11, 44 -- "the washerwoman's gig" -- which signifies both "lottery" and "policy office," is the number-set that Aunt Sally holds on the cover of her "Policy Players Dream Book." It also appears on the label of a 1930s product called Magic Number Brand Three Number Incense, along with a black cat, a four-leaf clover, a horseshoe, and a pair of dice showing lucky number seven. "4-11-44" was also the name of a musical show by Bert Williams and George Walker, staged in New York in 1899 -- but despite its propitious name, the show was a commercial failure. The same gig was later used as the title of a blues song, Charlie Jackson's "Four-Eleven-Forty-Four," recorded in May, I926 (Paramount 12375).

    From the 1920s through the 1950s, both the subject of policy gaming itself and the numerical combinations found in the dream books made their way into a number of blues songs. In the most clever of these compositions, a series of dream book numbers would be substituted for crucial key words. Jim Jackson and Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) both wrote songs of this type called "Policy Dream Blues," and other blues artists who used policy number imagery in their lyrics were Bo Carter (Armentier Chatmon), Kokomo Arnold, Yodelling Kid Brown, Albert Clemens (Adam Wilcox), Elvira Johnson, and Peetie Wheatstraw. Typical of the genre is "Policy Blues" by Blind (Arthur) Blake, recorded in December 1930 in Grafton, Wisconsin, for Paramount Records.

    by Blind Blake

    Numbers, numbers 'bout to drive me mad
    Numbers, numbers 'bout to drive me mad
    Thinkin' about the money that i should have had

    I dreamed last night the woman i loved was dead
    I dreamed last night the woman i loved was dead
    If i'd have played the Dead Row i'd have come out ahead

    I acted the fool and played on 3, 6, 9
    I act' the fool and played on 3, 6, 9
    Lost my money and that gal of mine

    I played on Clearing-House, couldn't make the grade
    I played on Clearing-House, couldn't make the grade
    Lord, think of the money that i should have made

    I begged my baby to let me in her door
    I begged my baby let me in her door
    Wanted to put my 25, 50, 75 in her 7, 17, 24

    I want 15, 50, and 51
    I want 15, 50, and 51
    I'm gon' keep playin' policy 'til some good luck come

    A seasoned policy player could theoretically decode the singer's meaning by referring back to a numbers book such as "Aunt Sally's" and reading it in reverse. Even with the book in hand, however, Blind Blake's code is not easy to interpret because the same numbers are used for many different images, so the numbers could be interpreted in a variety of ways. For instance, in the first example i gave, "surgeon" = 10. But so does "chocolate."

    Still, there are some parts of the song that are fairly obvious: in the third verse Blake says he was a fool to bet on 3, 6, and 9, the "dirty gig." According to "Aunt Sally's," 3 is "anything filthy" and also "diarrhoea," 3 and 6 in combination are "any dirty filth," and 3 and 9 in combination are "brimstone" (sulphur), a common ingredient, along with "filth" such as feces and urine, in hoodoo spells for crossing and jinxing an enemy.

    Taken as a three-number gig, 3, 6, 9 indicates excrement -- and humourously implies that Blake thinks it was wrong to bet on dirty symbolism.

    The famously "filthy" 3, 6, 9 gig appears in a number of other songs about policy, most notably "Policy Blues (You Can't 3-6-9 Me)" by Albert Clemens (Adam Wilcox), recorded on April 2nd, 1935 (Bluebird B-5930) and "Policy Wheel Blues" by James Kokomo Arnold, recorded on January 15, 1935 (Decca 7147).

    In Blake's fifth verse, a sexual double-entendre is engaged by singer's desire to put his 25, 50, 75 in his girlfriend's 7, 17, 24. These numerical sets refer to two separate and partially conflicting arrays of words.

    25, 50, 75 are essentially male phallic numbers: 25 is a "vine" and 50 is a "cucumber," together making the male phallic symbol of a cucumber vine, reinforced by 75, which can be potatoes (i.e. testicles) or, even more to the point, "an elephant's trunk."

    7, 17, 24 are essentially female and concave numbers: 7 is a "wine glass," a "grave," a "burying ground," a "purse," a "fish," a "coach," "butter," and a "tart" (prostitute), and it naturally combines well with 17, which is a veritable cornucopia of female imagery, including a "goblet," a "stove," a "boat," the "sea," a "burying ground," a "fruit," "earth," a "cup of coffee," a "quiver" (for arrows), a "fat pig," a "house of ill-fame, " and the verbs "digging" and "churning butter" (the last two are common metaphors for sexual intercourse in blues songs), Meanwhile, 17 and 24 as a combination are "old shoes" and 24 alone is a "red rose" and a "wreath."


    The implications seem clearly "dirty," but Blake gets the last laugh on the listener, because an entirely different set of ascriptions shows that these numbers are demonstrably "clean":

    The male numerals 25 and 50 can also be interpreted as "underclothes" (25), "washing," "scrubbing," and "washboard" (all 50), while the female numbers 17 and 24 can also refer to a "river" (17) and "a washtub" (24) -- and so Blake might just as well be saying that he would like to put his wash-board in her tub of river-water and scrub his underwear clean -- a symbolic coupling reminiscent of another blues song, "Rubbin' on That Darned Old Thing" by Sam Theard (Decca 7025, recorded in Chicago, September 10th, 1934) in which the "darned old thing" that Theard must "rub with care, while [his wife] sits in her chair," turns out to be, not her clitoris (surprise, surprise!), but an innocent scrub-board in her wash-tub.

    Blake's sixth verse concludes with the singer declaring that he wants "15, 50, and 51" until "some good luck come." Like the previous verse, this one can also be decoded from "Aunt Sally's" as a double-entendre: On the one hand Blake is avowing his desire to "screw" (15) a "colored woman" (51) while "lying in bed" (50) -- but on the other hand he is merely indicating an innocent plan "to make noise" (15), "to sing songs" (50), and "to dance" (51) -- all perfectly appropriate activities for a blues musician!

    There have been and still are many other policy players' dream books -- such as "Three Kings," "Kansas City Kitty's," "King Tut's," "New Gipsy," "Professor Konje's," and "Red Star" -- but "Aunt Sally's" has always been the best seller and remains the standard of its class. One long-lost competitor to "Aunt Sally's" was "The Mystic Oracle; or The Complete Fortune-Teller and Dream Book," published in 1893 as #21 in "The People's Handbook Series" by F. M. Lupton of New York. In a mere 32 pages, this pamphlet not only encompasses Oneirology (divination by dreams) and The French Oraculum or Book of Fate, but it also explains the secrets of Zodiceology (divination of lucky and unlucky days and hours); Palmistry; Naeviology (foretelling by moles, marks, and scars); Physiognomy (foretelling from hair and features); Cardiology (foretelling by cards, dice, and dominoes); Charms, Spells, and Incantations!


    Related to dream and oracle books are the so-called "lucky books" -- many of them sales catalogues released by manufacturers of herbal patent medicines, especially during the period between 1890 and 1945. The sample shown here, "Dr. King's Lucky Book," was published in 1910 by H. E. Bucklen & Co. of Chicago, Illinois and Windsor, Ontario. In addition to advertisements for Dr. King's New Discovery, a remedy said to cure coughs, colds, and consumption (tuberculosis), the booklet contains a lengthy and typically abstract list correlating dream interpretations with gambling numbers, plus many pages recounting then-popular European-American folklore and superstitions. The uncredited author compiled and categorized hundreds of beliefs concerning good and ill omens connected to the realms of love, money, marriage, and career, and although these are presented uncritically and without annotation, they are so far-reaching that Dr. King's Lucky Book is almost as valuable as a scholarly study of the region's folkways would be, for it represents an accurate cross-section of Anglo-Celtic and Germanic folk beliefs in circulation in middle America before the First World War.

    Like the rest of the Lucky Mojo line, this product contains genuine herbal essential oils, not synthetic fragrances. Lucky Mojo labels are adapted from vintage packaging and in many cases the images are as traditional as the ingredients themselves.

    Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream is one of a family of related formulas that also includes Lucky 13, Lucky Number, Lucky Buddha, Lodestone, Magnet, Attraction, Fast Luck, Lady Luck, Japanese Lucky Seven, Three Jacks and a King, Lucky Hand, Algiers, Five Finger Grass, Money Drawing, Money House Blessing, Money Stay With Me, Prosperity, Wealthy Way, and our signature-scent, Lucky Mojo products. Each one of these old-time recipes is slightly different -- some placing emphasis on magical conjuration, others on magnetic attraction, herbal allies, spirit contacts, spell-casting, or speedy results, or all of these combined with good fortune and luck at ritual, occult, and ceremonial workings -- but they have in common the underlying aim of enhancing the practitioner's luckiness and ability to draw in that which is desired from the external world.

    The above formulas may, of course, be mixed and matched in any way that suits the practitioner, or may be teamed up with formulas from another line of goods, such as a financial or money luck formula like Money Drawing, or a passion and sexual love spell formula like Love Me.

    How you choose to use a Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream spiritual supplies is, of course, up to you, but one very traditional method is to employ them in conjunction with the 23rd Psalm, while praying for all that is desired.

    PSALM 23
    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.
    He leadeth me beside the still waters.
    He restoreth my soul.
    He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil for thou art with me.
    Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
    Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
    Thou anointest my head with oil.
    My cup runneth over.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, 
    and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 


    There are thousands of specific spells that employ a variety of hoodoo spiritual supplies. Here are some of the ways you can use Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream brand spiritual supplies to attract the luck you desire.


    You may perform spells for increasing luck, serendipity, fortunate coincidences, and acquiring whatever you desire at any time that is convenient. If the need is not urgent, you can take time to align your spell-casting with cosmic forces and work by a Waxing Moon Phase, so that the Moon grows bigger while you work. But don't let the Moon Phases hold you back: if the timing is not right, you can do the work according to the Planetary Rulers of the days of the week, the Atrological Sgns of the Zodiac, or whenever it is best for you.


    Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream hoodoo oil can be used as a bath oil, to dress candles for magic rites and rituals, as an additive to oil-based furniture polishes, or to wear oin your own body as a magical perfume. The genuine and authentic herbs and roots in the bottle are your assurance that this is a hand-made conjure oil and not a chemical-scented factory product.


    Before dawn dissolve half the packet of Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Bath Crystals into a tub of hot water. Pour the water over your head 9 times as you say the 23rd Psalm and name what you want. Air-dry yourself and collect a basin of the used bath water, which now has your essence in it. Dress in fresh, clean clothes, carry the basin of bath-water to a crossroads and throw the water toward the sunrise in the East. Walk back home and don't look back.


    Dust your body, your important paperwork, or your socks and shoes with Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Sachet Powder, or sprinkle a pinch of Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Sachet Powder in the four corners of the room where you plan to meet with those whom you wish to influence. Each time, say the 23rd Psalm and name what you want.


    Make the Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Incense Powders into cones (use a twist of paper or a small candle snuffer cone, pack the incense in with your finger, and turn it out of the cone) or place it loose on a brazier. Many people find that keeping a pot of Incense smoking while they work increases their ability to break through into a spiritual space or magical way of working.


    Carve your full name on a purple Offertory Candle and dress the candle with Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Oil. As you dress it, speak aloud your petition, such as, "With the help and grace of God, may i achieve what i require and desire."

    You may burn the candle in sections (generally 15 minutes at a time) or let it burn through to the end, no matter how long it takes. If you burn it in sections, you may fnd it a good idea to light and burn the incense each time as well.

    If you want the spell to be ongoing, or want a light at home to "back you up" while you are about your business, you would be better off to use a fixed and prepared Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Glass Encased Vigil Candle. Write your petition on paper, cross it with your name written 9 times, and set the Vigil Light in a safe place, such as the sink, bath tub, or shower stall, where it will not cause any problems while you are out.


    Whenever it is convenient for you, dissolve the remaining half of the bath crystals in hot water and add the liquid to the rinse water when you do your laundry, especially your underwear and stockings. When you wear these clothes, you will be "dressed" for luck.


    It is important to properly dispose of ritual remains. Because these are magic spells for good luck, you may want to keep the remains around your home. Wrap up any left-over candle wax, incense ashes, and used sachet powders in a piece of cloth. Secure and tie it with thread or string. Bury it in your back yard.

    Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Aunt-Sallys-Lucky-Dream-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Oil Order Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Oil from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.


    Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Aunt-Sallys-Lucky-Dream-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Incense-Powder Order Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Incense from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.


    Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Co.-Aunt-Sallys-Lucky-Dream-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Bath-Crystals Order Aunt Sally's Lucky Dream Sachet Powder from the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.


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    Dream books specifically designed for lottery play may provide interpretations of dreams (dream divination), but they also have something that other dream books do not have -- lucky numbers for you to bet on, depending on what your dreams reveal. These are some of the best and most often requested dream books utilized by folks who combine gambling play with signs and significations from hoodoo, conjuration, and rootwork.


    Historical information about African American Dream Books can be found on these pages:
    Dream Books, Policy Players, and the Lottery

    Herbert Gladstone Parris (Professor Uriah Konje) Lottery Dream Books

    aunt-sallys-policy-dream-book-cover Aunt Sally's Policy Players Dream Book
    by Aunt Sally (pseudonym)  
    Orig. pub. circa 1890; this is a facsimile reprint of a 1920s ed. A curiosity of hoodoo gambling magic, the text consists of four separate lists of objects and situations found in dreams with interpretations and lucky numbers for playing Policy, an illegal (and now obsolete) "numbers" game once popular in the black community. Old spiritual supply labels and blues songs often contain coded messages expressed in numbers from this book. Also included is a 19th century French divination system called the Oraculum or Book of Fate. There are interpretations and number picks for all dreams.
    128 pages, trade paperback.

    billy-bings-dream-book-cover Billy Bing's Dream Book
    by Billy Bing (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1951; this is a 22nd edition 1994 reprint. This is the most stripped-down and condensed of all the old-time dream books. Not much to look at, it is set apart from the others because it also contains material on lottery or lotto rundowns and work-outs, methods of number selection that do not rely on the symbolic divination of dreams. The two betting systems -- dream interpretation on the one hand and lottery rundowns and work-outs on the other -- are almost never mixed, so this is a convenient bridge between hoodoo based dream lore and numerology-based "system betting."
    48 pages, saddle-stitched.

    fu-futtam-occult-dreams Fu Futtam's New Startling Facts Occult Dream Book
    116 pages, saddle-stitched.

    h.-p.-dream-book-cover H. P. Dream Book
    by Professor Uriah Konje (pseudonym of Herbert Gladstone Parris)
    Orig. pub. 1926; this is a facsimile reprint dataed 1980. The second-most-popular dream divination book of the 20th century (after Aunt Sally's) was the H.P. Dream Book by "Prof. Uriah Konje," a pseudonym of the African American author and publisher Herbert Parris (hence the "H.P." of the title). Three-digit lucky numbers lists include Holidays, 66 pages of dreams (without interpretations), letters of the alphabet, 5 pages of ladies's names, 5 pages of gentlemen's names, natural events, days of the week, months of the year, body parts, garments, states, territories, and cities of the USA, and two important messages addressed "To the Black people of the World" and "To All Oppressed people of the World."
    96 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Kansas City Kitty Dream Book
    by Kansas City Kitty (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1930s; this is a facsimile reprint. What sets this dream book apart is the cute artwork on the covers and internal pages. Sections include a 1 page introduction, 12 pages of birthday horoscope numbers, 88 pages of dream keywords, 14 pages of women's names, and 12 pages of men's names. There are no interpretations for the dreams, just sets of number picks. The pen and ink drawings -- depicting scenes in an African American barbershop, lunch counter, small-town neighborhood, and church -- contain lucky numbers attached to almost every surface, so you can bet what you see, and as Rev. I. Doolittle says: "Brethren and Sisters, If ... you MUST play 'em, BOX 'EM."!
    128 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Original-Real-Lucky-13-Dream-Book-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California Original Real Lucky 13 Dream Book
    94 pages, saddle-stitched.

    madam-fu-fus-lucky-dream-book-cover Madam Fu-Fu's Lucky Dream Book
    by Madam Fu-Fu (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1945; this is a reprint of the "Successful Up-Dated Edition" circa 1965 This book contains 64 pages of dream keywords with several three-digit numeral combinations for each, plus a predictive interpretation, 12 pages of "Monthly Suggestions" and "3-5-7 Selections;" 1 page of "Monthly Super Specials for 3-5-7 Races;" and a 1 page "3-5-7 Mutuel Race Calendar.'" Tucked in between are many other lists, including "Occupation," "Your name is Your Fortune," "Clothing," "Deck of Cards," "Months of the Year and Birth Stones," "Days of the Week," "Holidays," "If You Attend," "Automobiles," "Dream Book Numbers," "Lucky Zodiac Birthday Horoscope [sic] Numbers and Lucky Days," "'Fast Luck' Specials," "Things You See and Hear," and "Hunches." 
    96 pages, saddle-stitched booklet.

    National-Dream-Book-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California National Dream Book
    98 pages, saddle-stitched.

    rajah-rabo-pickem-dream-book-cover Pick'Em Dream Book
    by Rajah Rabo (pseudonym of Carl Z. Talbot)
    Orig. pub. circa 1950s; this is a facsimile reprint. This dream book is unique in that the Pick'Em system consists of 104 pages of lists of dream keywords with 9 consecutively-numbered selections for variations on the image. The 10th number in the set, deemed a "Special," is picked to play on designated days of the week. The dreams are given interpretations and forecasts. There are also 5 pages of women's names, 4 pages of men's names, and 12 pages of monthly number picks.
    128 pages, saddle-stitched.

    rajahs-lucky-number-dream-book-cover Rajah's Lucky Number Dream Book: Pick-Em for Hits
    by Rajah Stanley (pseudonym of Carl Z. Talbot)
    Orig. pub. circa 1978; this is the "26th Successful Updated Edition," In addition to 70 pages of dream numbers with no interpretations, there is a 1 page introduction; 11 pages of men's and women's names, 1 page of "Weather Numbers;" 1 page of for "Days-of-the-Week, "Stanley's Best Bet," "Months of the Year," and "First Week of Month;" 2 pages of "Holidays," "Birthstone," "Waterfalls of the U.S.,"Dams of the U.S.," "Rivers of the U.S.," and "Good Luck Numbers;" I page of "Stanley's Lucky Forecast;" 1 page of "Signs of the Zodiac;" 1 page of "Occupation;" 1 page of "Things You See and Hear;" 1 page "If You Cannot Remember Your Dream;" and 5 pages introducing the post-modern number system wherein a few 3-digit combos in VERY LARGE NUMERALS are accompanied by cryptic phrases.
    96 pages, saddle-stitched booklet.

    rajah-rabos-5-star Rajah Rabo's 5-Star Mutuel Dream Book
    by Rajah Rabo (pseudonym of Carl Z. Talbot)
    Originally published in 1932; this is a facsimile of the 1941 revised ed. This famous lottery dream book contains 46 pages of dream keywords. There are no interpretations for the dreams, just sets of 3-digit number picks. In addition to the dream numbers, there are 17 pages of numbers for ladies' and gentlemen's names, 1 page of leading jockeys's names (of the 1930s!), 3 pages of names of race horses (also from the 1930s), names of Harlem clubs, birth years (last number is 1934), and weekdays, 2 pages of month numbers and "Harlem Hunches" (things you might see), 2 pages of names of states and cities, 3 pages of horoscopes with zodiac numbers, and 6 pages of numbers for every birthday in the year.
    80 pages, saddle-stitched.

    stellas-lucky-seven-star-dream-book-cover Stella's Lucky Seven Star Dream Book
    by Stella (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1965; this is a facsimile reprint.  This book consists of 128 pages of dream keywords with several three-digit and three-pair numeral combinations for each dream, plus a predictive interpretation or forecast. There are also 6 pages of men's names, 7 pages of women's names, 12 pages of horoscopes with lucky numbers, 1 page of Lucky Lucille's Hot Hits, 1 page of monthly Lucky Star Forecast numbers, 1 page of numbers for "Things You See and Hear," 1 page of numbers for "Hunches," 1 page of numbers for brands of automobiles you may see, 1 page of daily number picks to use "If Your Dream Does Not Appear" elsewhere in the book, and a 1 page introduction.
    128 pages, saddle-stitched.

    red-devil-lucky-number-dream-book Stella's Red Devil Lucky Number Dream Book
    96 pages, saddle-stitched.

    stellas-success-from-dreams-book-cover Stella's Success from Dreams: Number Interpretations
    by Stella (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1965; this is a facsimile reprint. This book consists of 128 pages of dream keywords with several three-digit and three-pair numeral combinations for each dream, plus a predictive interpretation. There are also 6 pages of men's names, 7 pages of women's names, 12 pages of horoscopes with lucky numbers, 1 page of numbers for "Things You See and Hear," 1 page of numbers for "Hunches," i page for "Automobiles," and 3 pages of short number lists for "Miscellaneous," Ladies' Clothing," "Gents' Clothing," "Months with Birthstones," "Days of the Week," " Holidays," "If You Attend" and "If You Get," plus a 1 page introduction.
    128 pages, saddle-stitched.

    The True Fortune Teller: Dreams and Numbers
    by The Gypsy King (pseudonym of Ralph Anderson)
    Orig. pub. circa 1940; this is a facsimile reprint. This book consists of 61 pages of dream keywords with several three-digit numeral combinations for each dream, plus a predictive interpretation or forecast. There are also 2 pages of birthday numbers (1 by the Gypsy King and 1 by Professor Zonite), 1 page of wedding anniversary symbols and their corresponding 3-digit numbers, 1 page of monthly "Super Specials for All Popular Totals," a 6 page article on numerology, and a 1 page introduction describing The Gypsy King.
    72 pages, saddle-stitched.

    three-wise-men 3-Wise Men Lucky Number Dream Book
    edited by Lucky Lucille

    128 pages, saddle-stitched.





    Historical information about African American Dream Books can be found on these pages:
    Dream Books, Policy Players, and the Lottery

    Herbert Gladstone Parris (Professor Uriah Konje) Lottery Dream Books

    Billy-Bings-Gold-Book-from-Professor-Hitts-Records-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California Billy Bing's Gold Book, from "Prof." Hitt's Records
    40 pages, saddle-stitched.

    billy-bings-red-book-lottey-numbers-cover Billy Bing's Red Book Relative Numbers: "Follow-Ups"
    by Billy Bing (pseudonym)
    Orig. pub. circa 1930s; this is a 30th edition 1997 reprint. This is a convenient and easy-to-use printed table for Numbers fans who like to bet on "relative" or "associate" numbers, otherwise known as " follow-ups" or numbers that are more likely to follow a winning number the next day. Also included is a Lucky Name Numbers chart, Horoscope numbers, and Popular Numerology Vibrations.
    24 pages, saddle-stitched.

    billy-bings-work-out-book-lottery-numbers-cover Billy Bing's Work-Out Book
    by Billy Bing with "Prof." Hitt (pseudonyms)
    Orig. pub. circa 1930s; this is a 26th edition 1990 reprint. This booklet provides a great introduction to the many non-dream divination "systems" of lottery number play popular in the African American community. Topics covered in this handbook include definitions of terms used in the Numbers Game, a history of work-out methods, and a series of exemplary work-outs, such as The Miracle System, The Daily Work-out, The 3-5-7 Work-out, The Master Line Work-out, The Gable Work-out, The Big 8 Work-out, The Double Number Elimination Work-out, The Seven Come Eleven, and more.
    24 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Professor-Hitts-Rundowns-and-Workouts-by-Professor-E-Z-Hitts-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California Prof. Hitt's Rundowns & Workouts
    by Prof. E.Z. Hitts

    80 pages, saddle-stitched.

    pro-zo-gold-book-facts Pro-Zo's Gold Book Facts About Numbers
    by Prof. Zonite

    48 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Rabos-Rundown-and-Workout-Book-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California Rabo's Rundown and Workout Book
    edited by Rajah Rabo (pseudonym of Carl Z. Talbot)

    64 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Lucky-Three-Wisemen-Rundown-and-Workout-Book-at-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company-in-Forestville-California Lucky Three Wisemen Run-Down & Work-Out Book
    edited by Prof. Zonite
    24 pages, saddle-stitched.

    Thanks to Chris Smith ( for discographical information and the picture of Blind Blake, to Tony Whetstone ( for help with my transcription of Blake's lyrics, to Al Young ( for discographical information, to Mary Katherine Aldin ( for discographical information and the names of many singers who recorded policy-based blues, and to Alan Balfour ( for transcription help and for supplying me with a copy of "Policy Blues" (pages 128-147 from "Screening The Blues: Aspects of the Blues Tradition" by Paul Oliver; Cassell, London, 1968). Thanks also to Lisa Karch (awanderingjedi@aol.comhahaha) for the scan of Magic Number Brand Three Number Incense, manufactured by the Curio Products Co. of Memphis, Tennessee. Other sources consulted included "Inside Black America" by Roi Ottley (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1948) and "Darkness and Daylight" by Helen Campbell, Thomas Knox, and Thomas Byrnes (A.D. Worthington & Co., 1892) Knox was the credited author of Part II of the book, in which the description of the policy game appears; it was copied out for me by nagasiva yronwode, who also helped out with the image-scanning.

    And now, for the terminally bibliographical in spirit, here is the full title and publication data for the latter tome, in all its grandiose Victorian splendour:

    Darkness and Daylight;
    Lights and Shadows of New York Life.
    A Woman's Story of Gospel, Temperance, Mission, and Rescue Work
    "In His Name,"
    With Hundreds of Thrilling Anecdotes and Incidents,
    Personal Experiences, Sketches of Life and Character, Humorous Stories,
    Touching Home Scenes, and Tales of Tender Pathos,
    Drawn From the Bright and Shady Sides of City Life
    Mrs. Helen Campbell,
    City Missionary and Philanthropist.
    With an Introduction
    Rev. Lyman Abbott, D.D.,
    Editor of "The Christian Union," and Henry Ward Beecher's Successor as Pastor of Plymouth Church.
    Supplemented by a Journalist's Description of Little-Known Phases of New York Life;
    and a Famous Detective's Thirty Years' Experiences and Observations
    Col. Thomas W. Knox,
    Author and Journalist,
    Inspector Thomas Byrnes,
    Chief of the N.Y. Detective Force.
    with Two Hundred and Thirty-Two Engravings From Photographs
    Taken From Life Expressly for This Work, Mostly by Flash-Light,
    and Reproduced in Exact Fac-simile by Eminent Artists.
    Hartford, Conn.;
    A.D. Worthington & Co., Publishers;


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