The ERDNASE thread

This version: http://lookingforerdnase.com/thread/

Original thread: http://forums.geniimagazine.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1240

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Last updated: October 23, 2015

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Guest | 02/21/03 03:51 AM | link | filter

Hello everyone,

Some time ago I began to study The Annotated Erdnase which I found quite fascinating. However, I soon delayed my study of Erdnase and began reading the Card College volumes.

Now I'm ready to resume my study of "The Expert". My question is how does one properly study Erdnase? Should I start with the Legerdemain section or Card Table Artifice?

Are there certain moves that are best studied from other sources? Are there sleights that are too inferior? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Roberto

Lance Pierce | 02/21/03 08:08 AM | link | filter

The Expert At The Card Table is a singular book.

Start at page 1; progress to the back cover. Then...start at page 1 again. Repeat periodically for the rest of your life.

Cheers,

Lance

Jon Racherbaumer | 02/21/03 11:36 AM | link | filter

I agree with Lance on this one. Some books must be "lived with" over an extended period. This being said, I've seldom run across any essays on WHY Erdnase is a book worth studying--at least none with cogent, explanatory force.

THE ANNOTATED ERDNASE, by example, shows the fruits of various studies, providing interesting and useful marginalia and footnotes. But there is nothing equivalent to lit-crit books found in Literature.

Are you up for it, Lance? Darwin?

Anybody?

Onward...

Lance Pierce | 02/21/03 12:42 PM | link | filter

I'm probably not up to it, Jon. Darwin would indeed do a wonderful job with it, as would Steve Freeman or Persi. I'm sure Max would also (as is his usual style!) give us some great insights.

All I can say is that if the book is read and absorbed over a period of time, and if what it says is compared with one's own experience as he grows and learns, then it will reveal itself to be much more than a collection of techniques and artifices. Within the pages is embodied an entire philosophy of conduct and manner, a cogent and complete system of thinking about magic and its related fields. Far beyond the wonderful moves contained therein, what the book gives us is an approach, a style, and a guidebook toward really understanding not only the inner workings and mechanisms of sleight of hand, but its psychology and practice as well -- and because of this, much of what it has to say goes way beyond the field of card work alone. Sometimes it seems almost as though everything every great magician has said about performance and execution is already there in the pages of this book, concisely stated and well-phrased.

But of courseyou already knew all this! ;)

L-

Richard Kaufman | 02/21/03 03:01 PM | link | filter

mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.

Jon Racherbaumer | 02/21/03 03:46 PM | link | filter

I agree with you, Lance, which makes the question of Erdnase's real identity that much more puzzling; however, I think that David Alexander has taken this into account and may be closer to finding the REAL Erdnase.

Onward...

Jason England | 02/21/03 05:21 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
Therefore they have nothing to teach? Hmmmm. I've never seen anyone do an invisible top change, should we throw that one out as well?

Isaac Newton's PRINCIPIA was shown to be "wrong" by Einstein in the early 20th century. Does that make studying the PRINCIPIA a worthless endeavor? Of course not.

Obviously, I heartily disagree with Richard's position. Mrmagik, please, please spend some time on the SWE shift, and on the Open Shift. They both have loads of information in them, even if they ultimately never become "invisible". Erdnase himself admitted that the Open shift is imperfect, and in the "Artifice" section of the book stated that "The shift has yet to be invented ...that can be executed with the hands held stationary and not show that some manuever has taken place, however cleverly it may be performed."

But I don't think that these two admissions make the study of the SWE and the Open shifts a "waste of time". They just mean you have to practice and study them with goals other than complete invisibility in mind. Like maybe making a tiny little connection to our past masters, and the struggles they went through in trying to create the perfect shift? Just a thought.

Jason England

Richard Kaufman | 02/21/03 06:54 PM | link | filter

You'll find a sharp division in our field over whether some of the moves in Erdnase have any value or not. I have seen the best in the world do the SWE Shift, and not a single person has ever performed it where it was deceptive to me. Where, in other words, I didn't SEE, actually see, that a pass occurred. Why waste time studying sleights that you'll never use? No one really has enough time to study the sleights you WILL use in the depth they should be studied and practiced.
I might add that I'm pleased to have Jason England on this Forum. I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with him at the Magic Castle last November (December?) and he did some very fine work. One thing in particular stands out, which you'll all get to see if the original credit sequence in the movie "Shade" is retained.

Steve V | 02/21/03 08:23 PM | link | filter

Am I the only one who believes Erdnase was a compilation of idea's put together by a handful of card workers rather than one super genius?
Steve V

Jason England | 02/21/03 10:24 PM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
[QB]You'll find a sharp division in our field over whether some of the moves in Erdnase have any value or not. I have seen the best in the world do the SWE Shift, and not a single person has ever performed it where it was deceptive to me.[QB]

Well, I agree with you that the passes are probably never going to be made fast enough to fool the eyes. But I just think there may be something to gain by studying them anyway.

I don't always measure the utility of a sleight by whether or not I "use" it in my work. And, I've learned to be careful about saying that something can't be done, just because it hasn't been done yet. There was a time when the center deal was thought impossible by a large segment of the top magicians of the day. Today, I could probably name at least 10 people that I know that can do a deceptive center deal.

Who knows, maybe mrmagick will be the one to get the SWE shift down under a 10th of a second or so. I think at that speed it would be a viable move indeed, although still an esoteric one.

Thank you for the compliments about my work Richard. You probably don't know it, but you're partly responsible for me being into magic. The SECRETS OF BROTHER JOHN HAMMAN was the first book I ever bought.

Jason

Guest | 02/22/03 05:33 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
What about Freeman?

Best,

Geoff

Guest | 02/22/03 06:41 AM | link | filter

Erdnase, hmmmmm.

I recently came upon a use for one of the aforementioned exotic shifts/passes, at least all those hours practicing weren't completely squandered. Rather than write of it here, I think I'd rather fool you with it, at least for a moment or two -- should our paths cross and there's the opportunity of course.

An unsolicited Tip:

Don't overlook the other top palm, in spite of the fact that Vernon scorned it, and Ortiz chose silence.

Richard Kaufman | 02/22/03 09:04 AM | link | filter

I didn't say anything about the palms in Erdnase: I know several top notch guys who use them all the time.
And, I didn't say there were no uses for the SWE Shift, for example. Not only is Kenner's "SWE Elevator" in Out of Control a good example of that, but Tom Franks has a lovely move using the SWE shift for a face-up card revelation.
I have seen Freeman do the move: visible.
I have seen Riser do the move: visible.
I have seen Miller do the move: visible.
I have seen Dingle do the move: less visible, but still visible.

Of course, if we go with the idea that the SWE Shift is a move designed for standup or platform use, then of course it would be done during a body turn. Then it WOULD most likely be invisible, and it's a good shift for platform work because there's no dip which would be visible from beneath.

David Alexander | 02/22/03 10:58 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Steve V:
"Am I the only one who believes Erdnase was a compilation of idea's put together by a handful of card workers rather than one super genius?"

_____________________

Yes, Steve, probably. The "voice" one reads in the Artifice half of Erdnase is of a piece and comes from a writer who has had long practice at expressing himself through writing. The author is also highly skilled at problem solving and articulating his solutions in a clear and unambiguous manner. There is no evidence of an editor at work. The work would be quite different if an editor had had a hand in it.

It is also important to realize that the book was written over a period of time, doubtless years, as Erdnase worked out the various problems he set for himself, gathered information from card sharps and hustlers by observation and trading, and set down his insights as they developed.

See my article in the January 2000 Genii for my take on the Erdnase mystery. Richard generously gave me the space I needed.

Lance Pierce | 02/22/03 09:34 PM | link | filter

Yeah, Im with Mr. Alexander. While Erdnase didn't claim that absolutely everything in the book was his, he did state that he claims "originality for the particular manner of accomplishing many of the manoeuvres [sic] described." This implies that while some sleights are cited as wholly original, those that arent are likely original variations of existing sleights in his day. Erdnase demonstrated a habit of identifying those methods that were in common use at the time, such as the information he imparted on forcing, back-palming, and top changes. In fact, of the six two-handed transformations he describes, he unequivocally claims credit for only one.

We have to come to the most reasonable conclusions we can. In the section on Card Table Artifice, Erdnase writes, "...as certain artifices are first disclosed in this work, so will others remain private property as long as the originators are so disposed." This strongly indicates that the material he gives is for the most part his, but it also leaves open the possibility that some may have been methods in the public domain (as only certain artifices are being disclosed for the very first time). Further conviction is lent in the very next sentence, where he writes, "We betray no confidences in publishing this book, having only ourselves to thank for what we know." Its possible that by the words, "this work," and "this book," he means the section on Artifice, or it may mean the entire book, but either way, if we can take him at his word (and I'm not sure why we wouldn't), then the material is indeed original with him or are variations original with him -- with the exception of those he clearly identifies as being in common use at the time (i.e. the stock shuffle).

As improbable as it might seem to some, the unified "voice" that David speaks of...the writing style and manner...the tone of the overall work combined with the information imparted...it all supports the "super genius" theory more than others. Im willing to accept the notion that Erdnase was, like some others before and after him, a prodigy, and one who had both the talent and insight to not only learn a craft, but change it forever.

Cheers,

Lance

Guest | 02/24/03 12:55 PM | link | filter

I realize that the passes in EATCT are not often seen and my comment regarding them wasn't to be confused with my tip on the top palm.

While I know of several cardmen that use the top palm number one, I am not aware of anyone using number two. Some are not even aware that there are two. I attribute this to the fact that Vernon in print didn't like it at all, and Ortiz doesn't give it a so much as a mention. The fact that number two is at least as good as number one (for my use at least), either the fellas didn't understand it (highly unlikely perhaps), or, they felt it didn't warrant additional commentary. I disagree heartily with that second alternative and in Vernon's case at least, I truly think he misunderstood the move due to his abhorence of it in comparison to the first.

Richard Kaufman | 02/24/03 08:05 PM | link | filter

If I'm not mistaken, Earl Nelson uses the second top palm and does it beautifully. Actually, I might be remembering him performing a palm from the center with the deck is pivoted away from the hand. Can't remember exactly, but he does it extremely well.

Guest | 02/24/03 10:38 PM | link | filter

During my study of Erdnase I have noticed one issue being tackled a number of times by the author(s). That being the elimination of space and movement during a secret action. I think the underlying motivation for the number and variety of sleights spirals out from that central theme. Every sleight is a lesson. You don't need to be able to perform an invisble SWE shift for the lesson to be valuable. It speaks of accomplishing the action in a small space. The one handed shift is the same lesson approached from a different angle. Each for an entirely different purpose. The one handed shift is decribed in the Card-table artifice section and the SWE in the Legerdemain section. Erdnase seems plauged by wasted movements the majority of sleights incorporated at that time.
He is searching for answers, the same answers we seek today.
Asking the question is the most important part.

Charlie Chang | 02/25/03 02:36 AM | link | filter

SW Erdnase's book is more than a rite of passage for aspiring card workers. Almost every item in the book has been thoroughly thought out and presented in a clear, concise manner.

Every sleight is mechanically beautiful by design and, more often than not, thoroughly practical and deceptive in practise.

There are exceptions, the most commonly mentioned being the SWE shift. There are very few places for this shift in modern conjuring but that does not mean that it should not be studied and its lessons learned.

Richard Kaufman is an advocate of invisible shifts. He is also one of the world's finest exponent of this branch of our art. That said, an invisible shift is often quite different to an IMPERCEPTIBLE shift.

A pass, like a top change, was not originally conceived as a move to be stared at during is execution. Personally, I feel that the audience's attention should never be directed towards the deck during a sleight.

Often an invivsible pass is made under cover of another action - a cover. While the audience does not see the shift, they see the covering action. I am not saying this is bad I simply believe that a silent pass under proper misdirection is much, much better. Here the audience is aware of nothing. Strangely, this is the pass advocated by Malini, Vernon, Liepzig, Walton, Ramsay, Galloway and Hofzinser to name just a few.

The SWE Shift is not a cheating move. It is a conjuror's shift (as clearly stated in the opening paragraph). It could easily be argued that this shift was designed for parlour magic rather than close up.

In actual fact, once the shift has been mastered, the shift has several uses, one of which is mentioned in Vernon's Revelations.

Most important is the lesson to be learned from this shift. Perfecting its actions teaches a great deal. Performing this sleight well (either slowly or at speed) takes more than mere skill, it requires the student to UNDERSTAND the shift and learn it properly.

Erdnase is packed with great material for the card magician. The palms are excellent, the shifts intriguing and the effects are timeless.

Every time I return to this book I am drawn back into it's pages like a miser opening his money box.

I say every student of card magic should have this book on his agenda (after Royal Road, Vernon's Inner Secrets and Card College). As Lance Pierce stated, Erdnase is a life-long commitment.

Back to the SWE shift. RK says he has never seen this performed invisibly. I have. I watched this performed and never saw the packets exchange. This was during a lengthy session with a friend (a session stretched over several months as we explored Erdnase together). He got the action just right and it was great. Dare I say I even hit it a few times myself but damn if it isn't elusive.

RK mentions several people who he saw do the shift and none were completely invisible. I too have seen many people attempt the shift and none were completely invisible unless they used a cover action (raising the hands, spreading the cards as the shift is made or ending with a different shaped deck at a different angle - all of which were great to see).

That said, I would like to point out that almost no one I have seen has performed the shift correctly - as described in the book. Everyone (including Steve Freeman on the Vernon tapes) has made some sort of adjustment and almost everyone STARTS IN THE WRONG POSITION.

So the chances are that while you may not have seen this shift performed invisibly you probably haven't even seen it executed properly. All of which is moot since I believe it was never intended to be invisible, simply fast, silent and performed at the correct MOMENT.

End Rant.

Richard Kaufman | 02/25/03 09:24 AM | link | filter

A fine essay from Mr. Wilson, who demonstrated a very mean Spread Pass in Ohio.
What I really want to add is that there is no reason to waste time learning sleights that you will probably never use. Few of us have enough time to practice the sleights we will use!
Spending time learning the SWE Shift and the Open Shift is not the BEST way you can spend your practice time: spending that same time learning a Riffle or Classic Pass, or The Diagonal Palm Shift, is time MUCH BETTER SPENT because you WILL use those sleights a LOT once you've mastered them.
End of MY rant. :)

Pete Biro | 02/25/03 10:48 AM | link | filter

Being a "shiftless" soul... I like crimps, corner shorts and resin (Koornwinder Kard Kontrol). Not to say that I don't admire those shiftier than I, it is just something I never really got into.

It's a whole different sport.

Fine sleight-of-hand card magic is like baseball is to football.

Bill Duncan | 02/25/03 07:18 PM | link | filter

Is there anything in Erdnase to rival the Diagonal Palm Shift? In my (admittedly limited) time with EATCT I have not found anything so profoundly well constructed.

It almost defies understanding at first and is almost completely counter intuitive yet it is the most amazingly direct way to get a card out of the deck without tipping the steal.

An engineering marvel...

Also, does anyone use the Arthur Finley variant from the Vernon Chronicles?

Richard Kaufman | 02/25/03 07:36 PM | link | filter

Vernon taught me the Finley Variant--Vernon did it superbly. If I recall, the end result is entirely different since the card ends up in Gambler's Palm in the right hand rather than full palm in the left hand.

Lance Pierce | 02/25/03 08:34 PM | link | filter

Actually, according to Volume I of The Lost Inner Secrets, the card goes into a full classic palm rather than a gamblers palm. In looking at the mechanics, Im not sure how one would get the card into gamblers palmthis will make an interesting exercise to try and solve

Many thanks to RP and Jay for their observations (as well as the rest, of course).

Cheers!

Lance :D

Richard Kaufman | 02/25/03 09:57 PM | link | filter

Lance, after that volume of the Vernon book appeared, I explained to Minch that the description did not jibe with what Vernon had shown me. I believe Stephen then described it with the gambler's palm (NOT COP!) in a subsequent volume in the series.
Ah--I now recall that the sleight put the card into right-hand gambler's palm and that the right hand immediately moved to the left inner elbow to tug upward at the sleeve.

Bill Duncan | 02/25/03 10:24 PM | link | filter

Richard, does this sound right?

I seem to recall Minch telling me that Mr. Finley had used a full classic palm but that Vernon used the Gambler's palm which he considered a better concealment.

Another minor example of "The Vernon Touch" making a very good thing into a very great thing.

Sean Piper | 02/26/03 01:50 AM | link | filter

Speaking of the SWE Shift...

Has anyone tried the Block Cover variation as mentioned by Chris Kenner in Out of Control?

Sound as though it would shade the move well, but having trouble figuring out the best finger positions. Any ideas?

Lance Pierce | 02/26/03 05:57 AM | link | filter

Hi, Richard,

Well, I was having trouble figuring out how to avoid flashing the outer right corner of the card as it was taken into gambler's palm, but I see where it can be done now. Knowing that in many circumstances where one is seated at a table Vernon preferred the gambler's palm over the classic palm, this bit of finesse doesn't surprise me!

Thanks,

Lance

Richard Kaufman | 02/26/03 08:30 AM | link | filter

Incidentally, I saw Vernon do this when he was about 84. He fumbled he first few times since he hadn't done it in many years, however he hit it the third or fourth time and it looked perfect. He did it perfectly several times after that.
Finley's handling is invisible and utterly disarming.

Lance Pierce | 02/26/03 09:03 AM | link | filter

Regarding Erdnase, Richard Hatch pointed out to me once that many of the illustrations in the book carry Erdnase's copyright statement right beneath the drawing, but many of them don't. There doesn't seem to be a discernable pattern as to why some do and some don't, but all the drawings appear to be pretty close in style.

Coupling this with the information gleaned from the interview with the person who did the artwork for the book and how he expressed his surprise because he didn't remember drawing so many, does anyone have any theories to explain this? Did the artist draw all the pictures that don't bear the copyright statement, and was Erdnase also an excellent mimic with the pen who drew the remaining pictures and put his copyright claim on them?

Lance

Bill Mullins | 02/26/03 11:18 PM | link | filter

Has anyone tried to look up the copyright registrations for either the book or the illustrations at the Library of Congress? Might be some interesting information there (these forms were, for example, the first hard evidence that "Richard Bachman" was in fact Stephen King.

David Alexander | 02/27/03 12:40 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Lance Pierce:
[QB]Regarding Erdnase, Richard Hatch pointed out to me once that many of the illustrations in the book carry Erdnase's copyright statement right beneath the drawing, but many of them don't. There doesn't seem to be a discernable pattern as to why some do and some don't, but all the drawings appear to be pretty close in style.

Coupling this with the information gleaned from the interview with the person who did the artwork for the book and how he expressed his surprise because he didn't remember drawing so many, does anyone have any theories to explain this? Did the artist draw all the pictures that don't bear the copyright statement, and was Erdnase also an excellent mimic with the pen who drew the remaining pictures and put his copyright claim on them?

Lance

____________________________

My article covers this in one of the footnotes. All of the illustrations were traced from photographs, a job that would have taken a day or so. Otherwise, Marshall Smith (the artist) would have been with Erdnase for at least two weeks if he actually drew from life...assuming that Erdnase had all 101 poses planned out and that there were no errors or corrections. Otherwise, it would have taken longer... Smith remembered one meeting on a particularly cold day which I managed to pinpoint in December, 1901.

The cost of printing over 100 photographs was prohibitive and would have required a more expensive paper. The use of "cuts" or line drawings facilitated a much cheaper production.
My wife, a professional artist, agrees with this assement as does Jim Steranko who has a bit of experience in the art business.

By the way, I've enlarged the drawings and discovered the cards to be both of poker and bridge-sized.

David Alexander | 02/27/03 12:44 AM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
[QB]Has anyone tried to look up the copyright registrations for either the book or the illustrations at the Library of Congress? Might be some interesting information there (these forms were, for example, the first hard evidence that "Richard Bachman" was in fact Stephen King.[/QB-----------------

The copyright has been published and the pseudonym was used. The illustrations were not separately copyrighted.

The entire copyright business is significant for a number of reasons which I may reveal in a follow-up article once a bit more research has been completed.

Richard Hatch | 02/27/03 08:38 AM | link | filter

Last March I spent several days at the Copyright Office in Washington researching this and other related things. It took more than a month after that and about $80 or so in fees to finally get a copy of all four pages of the original copyright application. The Whaley/Busby book only reproduces half of one page. Nothing earthshattering in the other pages, but you never know till you look! The front page identifies the author as being of "American" nationality and gives his address care of James McKinney, as does the page Busby reproduced. McKinney was a Chicago printer, so presumably did the printing for the author (this is an assumption. I happen to think it is pretty good one, however!). The copyright was filled out on February 15, 1902 and reached the copyright office just two days later on the 17th (they had good postal service in those days!). Since the application included a printed copy of the titlepage (this is the third page of the application), the book was clearly "in production" in mid-February. Two deposit copies (not one as stated by Whaley, who chides John Booth for saying there were two) were received at the copyright office on March 8th, so the book was coming back from the bindery by March 6th. "S. W. Erdnase" is not identified as a pseudonym on the application, nor in the copyright offices files. One mystery to me is how the author sold the book initially. He obviously had copies to sell in early March and his stated purpose in writing the book was that he "needed the money" (David Alexander believes this is purely literary irony. I don't read it that way.) The earliest known advertisement for it is in the Sphinx in November 1902. (It is briefly mentioned in the September issue.) What was he doing with copies in the meantime? The first edition copy in the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress had been Adrian Plate's copy, and written in Plate's handwriting (at least I believe it to be Plate's handwriting!) at the bottom of the titlepage it says "Sold by James McKinney and Company" and gives their Chicago address. How did Plate, in New York, know this? I assume he might have seen an advertisement for it in the non-magical press. I'm looking for such an ad. If anyone spots it, please let me know!
Incidentally, Jim Steranko does agree that the illustrations "could" have been traced from photos, but has not put all his "eggs" in that basket. He also sees evidence in the illustrations that they "could" have been the work of two different artists (or one who got better!). So I'd say the field is still open on that issue... The titlepage states that the illustrations were "drawn from life" by M. D. Smith, and Smith recalled doing so. That he was surprised that there were so many illustrations (101) is intriguing (he'd have guessed he did 20 or 30). But Gardner was interviewing him more than 40 years after the fact and it was clearly not an important job from his point of view. His grand-niece and nephew are going to be digging a box of his stuff out of storage this week to see what "Erdnase" materials he still had when he died. My guess is that he had the letters Martin Gardner wrote him and not much else, if that. But again, you don't know till you check, so I'm looking forward to their report...
I did check to see if there had been a seperate copyright application on the illustrations (about half bear a copyright statement, half don't), but there was none...

Richard Kaufman | 02/27/03 08:54 AM | link | filter

Having drawn many thousands of illustrations by "tracing" from photographs, I can say that it would have been nearly impossible for Smith to have done 110 drawings in one day.

Guest | 02/27/03 09:10 AM | link | filter

I love the Erdnase info coming out. I hope this thread stays alive.
This may be an odd thought, but...
Maybe Erdnase took some of Smith's illustrations, traced them, and combined them with some of Smith's other illustrations, and voila(!) had a new illustration for the book that he didn't have to pay for.
I think RK may have mentioned that Frank Garcia did something like this in his day, or was that A.I. Cragknarf?

David Alexander | 02/27/03 09:26 AM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
He obviously had copies to sell in early March and his stated purpose in writing the book was that he "needed the money" (David Alexander believes this is purely literary irony. I don't read it that way.) The earliest known advertisement for it is in the Sphinx in November 1902. (It is briefly mentioned in the September issue.) What was he doing with copies in the meantime? The first edition copy in the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress had been Adrian Plate's copy, and written in Plate's handwriting (at least I believe it to be Plate's handwriting!) at the bottom of the titlepage it says "Sold by James McKinney and Company" and gives their Chicago address. How did Plate, in New York, know this? I assume he might have seen an advertisement for it in the non-magical press. I'm looking for such an ad. If anyone spots it, please let me know!
Incidentally, Jim Steranko does agree that the illustrations "could" have been traced from photos, but has not put all his "eggs" in that basket. He also sees evidence in the illustrations that they "could" have been the work of two different artists (or one who got better!). So I'd say the field is still open on that issue... The titlepage states that the illustrations were "drawn from life" by M. D. Smith, and Smith recalled doing so. That he was surprised that there were so many illustrations (101) is intriguing (he'd have guessed he did 20 or 30). But Gardner was interviewing him more than 40 years after the fact and it was clearly not an important job from his point of view. ...[/QB][/QUOTE
____________________

The printing end of project took several months, in the middle of winter, beginning early in December and concluding when the books were available to sell, apparently late February or early March. Since McKinney was not the publisher, his printing services were bought and paid for which meant the bill was paid in full before Erdnase took possession of the first run.

A three-month process to obtain a product that must then be advertised (possibly), sold and distributed, that must be paid for by the author is not a project someone undertakes because "they need the money." Publishing books, especially those with a niche market, is not a quick way to make money.

Erdnse, presumably with the requisite skills, could have found a game and made money. His comment is ironic, as in keeping with the persona evident in the Artifice section.

Plate could have found out about the book a number of ways, other than a magazine ad. People traveled, people talked to one another, etc. The book was not a secret, but was probably sold and distributed quietly before it was advertised to magicians.

The tracing of photos, at 5 minutes each, would have taken over 8 hours of continuous work. Given that Smith would have done these at his studio near McKinney's plant, the project could have done these over two or three days, with Smith delivering them either to Erdnase at his hotel (for approval) to McKinney's office where the work was approved. Smith did not remember prolonged contact with Erdnase, which drawing "from life" would have required.

What he remembered was meeting Erdnase in an unheated hotel room, "auditioning" for him by making some quick sketches. The photos were not "drawn from life," unless you stretch the definition to include photographs taken from life. That he got a bit better at the process as he progressed through the 101 illustrations should be readily apparent.

Lance Pierce | 02/27/03 09:37 AM | link | filter

It is all very intriguing, isn't it, John? And many thanks to Richard and David for adding their work here.

If Erdnase could replicate Marshall Smith's drawing style, then perhaps he did add his own illustrations to Smith's, and claim copyright only on those. On the other hand, as David stated, it's possible that Smith was able to quickly trace all the requisite drawings. If so, though, then why only attach a copyright statement to some and not others? Hmmm

Does anyone know how many copies of the book Erdnase ran in the first printing and perhaps subsequent others? Are there printer's records that would reveal this?

I don't have my copy of Expert with me at this moment, but I distinctly remember the copyright statement originating from Canada (The Department of Agriculture, to be exact, in London, Ontario). Does this precede or succeed the copyright filed in the U.S.? What do the Canadian records reveal?

Cheers,

Lance

David Alexander | 02/27/03 10:52 AM | link | filter

The copyright statement is misleading and somewhat nonsensical. The claim of copyright is made by "S.W. Erdnase," and then "Enterted at Stationers' Hall, London."

At least one British researcher has looked and found nothing there.

Then, "Entered according to the Act of the Parliament of Congress.....in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture." It says nothing about "London, Ontario."

"Parliament of Congress" is nonsense. It is either "Act of Parliament," which would be in keeping with a British copyright, or "Act of Congress," which would be appropriate to an US copyright. What it says doesn't mean anything.

This suggests either someone who didn't know what they were doing - an amateur publisher as Erdnase was - an incompetent at McKinney who typeset this after Erdnase had left and wasn't available to proof it (which also explains the technical errors in the text) - or someone trying to confuse the issue.

The book was copyrighted in the US, as Hatch and others have clearly shown...but the copyright page does not announce that. Since the US copyright forms were filled out using the pseudonym, there was no need for additional obfuscation.

As I have said before, had anyone tracked "Erdnase" back to McKinney, all they would have found, had McKinney talked at all, was their belief that it was a man named Andrews (an additional pseudonym I believe my candidate would have used) wrote the book. Sorry, we don't have a forwarding address for him.

It should also be pointed out that the Preface contradicts what Erdnase supposedly told Smith...that he was a "reformed gambler who had decided to go straight."

In his Preface Erdnase writes, "The hypocritical cant of reformed (?) gamblers, or whining, mealy-mouthed pretensions of piety, are not foisted as a justification for imparting the knowledge it contains." His "justification" for writing the book, his "primary motive" as he describes it, is "he needs the money."

This is highly unlikely as anyone who had ever been involved in the publishing business well knows. The book took years to research and write and the actual publishing process took several months, with all publishing services paid for in advance by Erdnase, to be followed by distribution and sales (details currently unknown) before any money would be realized. A minimum of four months if he had customers ready and waiting. Longer if he had to develop the market after the book was available. Hardly the actions of a someone who "needed the money."

There is no evidence that I am aware of that gives the number of copies printed in the first print run, or if the first run was the only print run. The plates were at McKinney and available for addition print runs, should the demand be there.

Common printing/publishing custom suggests for economy and a reasonable cost per unit, the first run was probably 250 to 500, but we don't know with any certainty. It could have been more...or less. Then there are the six or seven months between when the book was available to Erdnase and when it was made known publicly in the magic press of the day, another two before an ad appeared.

It may be that Erdnase sold/distributed the books he had planned on, that the book served whatever purpose he had in mind and that what was left could be sold to magicians. Part of the purpose of the magic section - written without the persona seen in the Artifice section - was camouflage, disguising the book's true purpose as a primer for cheating with cards. Indeed, years later, print run was seized by a vigorous sheriff for exactly that reason. In Erdnase's day, the First Amendment was not interpreted as it is today and a pure primer on card cheating would be seen as an offense to public morals. Possibly the book was sold "under the counter" for a period of time before people saw that it was not going to attract much heat.

The book was equivalent to a $40 or $50 book today, so it wasn't cheap....and we do not know if Erdnase sold them at list price or for more.

Lance Pierce | 02/27/03 11:43 AM | link | filter

I knew I shouldn't have opened my trap until I went home and pulled down my copy. Thanks, David. At the risk of abusing the wonderful resource that is yourself, one more question for now...

Vernon told the story several times of how he first came to know of the book. He stated that his father, who worked in the patent & copyright office in Canada, came home one day and told him that they'd received a book on gambling (the Erdnase book), but that he felt Dai was too young to read such as yet. Vernon said that he badgered his father about the book to no avail, but that shortly after, he saw the book on display in a local store and acquired it.

I hope I've remembered this with some accuracy; I'm going back some years here from when I heard the story. It does imply that the book was indeed submitted for copyright in Canada and that it wasn't so much "sold under the counter" (at least not where Vernon found it), but that it was carried rather openly.

In trying to piece together the mosaic of the book's history, where does this information fit in?

Thanks,

Lance

Richard Kaufman | 02/27/03 12:17 PM | link | filter

David, I don't believe the illustrations could have been drawn/traced in the brief time you've mentioned of five minutes each. Considering the detail and careful adherence to the anatomy of the hand, I would say at least 20 to 45 minutes each. And we're assuming that he simply put ink to paper, rather than using pencil first and inking afterward. Or having to REdraw as many as 20% (or more!) because Smith wasn't a magician and didn't understand the importance of the exact position of every muscle, etc.
Earle Oakes also "traces" from photographs. He only produces five drawings a day!

Lance Pierce | 02/27/03 12:28 PM | link | filter

I do have to say that in looking at the illustrations, they don't appear as if they were traced, but have the look more of a freehand style...although Smith may have done his work freehand from photographs. Just conjecture, though...

Lance

CHRIS | 02/27/03 12:28 PM | link | filter

David,

there is one wrong reasoning in your post. If we assume that Erdnase was unexperienced in publishing, if it was his first book, then why is that inconsistent with his statement of "doing it for the money"?

To me it makes perfect sense. There are many who think that they can get rich writing a book. And then they find out that is far more difficult. So I can fully believe that Erdnase thought he could make a good amount of money doing the book, particularly if he had no prior experience in the publishing world.

Chris Wasshuber
preserving magic one book at a time.

Chris Aguilar | 02/27/03 12:31 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
He only produces five drawings a day![/QB]
Richard,

Out of curiosity, how many Illustrations can you pump out a day?

When you're in "the zone" of course. :)

Richard Hatch | 02/27/03 12:44 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:

The copyright statement is misleading and somewhat nonsensical. The claim of copyright is made by "S.W. Erdnase," and then "Enterted at Stationers' Hall, London."

At least one British researcher has looked and found nothing there.

Then, "Entered according to the Act of the Parliament of Congress.....in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture." It says nothing about "London, Ontario."

"Parliament of Congress" is nonsense. It is either "Act of Parliament," which would be in keeping with a British copyright, or "Act of Congress," which would be appropriate to an US copyright. What it says doesn't mean anything.

This suggests either someone who didn't know what they were doing - an amateur publisher as Erdnase was - an incompetent at McKinney who typeset this after Erdnase had left and wasn't available to proof it (which also explains the technical errors in the text) - or someone trying to confuse the issue.
I hate to admit that Busby is right about something on this topic, but he was right when he pointed out that the copyright statement in the first edition of Erdnase is an unusual triple copyright statement. The first line says:
"Copyright, 1902, by S. W. Erdnase."
This is, in fact, the US Copyright statement.
Under this is a seperating line and then the statement:
"Entered at Stationer's Hall, London."
This is the British copyright statement. Under this is another seperating line, then it says:
"Entered According to the Act of Parliament of Canada in the Year One Hundred Thousand and Two, by S. W. Erdnase, in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture."
This is the Canadian Copyright statement. Even in the first edition, the word Canada is in broken type. Sometime, much, much later (possibly not till the 1930s), Frederick J. Drake and Company replaced the broken type for "Canada" with the word "Congress". This was not a mistake the author made. Whoever he was, he knew quite a bit about copyright law, as all three statements are correctly formatted. I know of no other book from the period, magic or otherwise, with this feature. He did follow through with the US Copyright (why?). He apparently did not follow through with the Canadian or British Copyrights (why not?). I think these facts tell us some important things about the author, though it is not clear exactly what.
The exact nature of the author's relationship with the printer McKinney is not known. McKinney was an alcoholic and one of his partners was a known gambler. To me it is not impossible to imagine that they undertook the project without requiring up front financing from a struggling author for a project they may have believed in themselves. We know now that they were selling copies themselves. Was this at the author's request, or to pay off his debt? We just don't know at this point. The fact that the author bothered to follow through with the US Copyright application, to me weakens his conjectured need for absolute anonymity, as does his use of the artist's true name ("M. D. Smith") on the title page. Anyone with sufficient interest in 1902 could have gotten the copyright information, tracked down McKinney, tracked down Smith, and learned a great deal that is now lost to us. Certainly we would have learned exactly what he looked like, when and how often he met the artist (he had vivid recollection only of their initial meeting, but agreed that they must have met more than once. Indeed, he claimed that after making the sketches "from life" he would go to his studio to ink them in, returning them to the author for his approval...). How much Smith was paid, what bank was used for the check, what hotel they met in, what name he was registered under there, how many illustrations he did (and how), the exact nature of the author's "relationship" to Louis Dalrymple, the political cartoonist, etc. etc. Enough I would think, for a clever detective quickly to pinpoint the author, even if the latter was dealing with McKinney and Smith under a second pseudonym (I don't happen to believe he was, but I admit I don't really know!). I really don't understand why someone demanding (as conjectured by David Alexander) total anonymity would bother with the copyright application or place Smith's true name on the title page. I happen to think the author likely did not require that high a degree of anonymity, and that a simple reversal of his true name sufficed for his purposes. Indeed, he may have been disappointed not only with poor sales on the first edition (I am guessing about 1,000 were done as they are much more common that the two hardback edition Drake put out in 1905 and were available from Chicago magic shops as late as 1911 at half the original price (which was still double Drake's hardback price, triple the Sear's catalog price!), but with the fact that no one tracked him down. I really think we won't understand all the known facts until we know for sure who the author was...

Incidentally, for those interested, the facsimile of the first edition offered by bookseller Michael Canick is finally out and is quite lovely. At $52 it is also rather expensive, but I'm happy to have one (limited to 750 copies). Copies of the 1975 Powner edition, which retains all the typographical features of the first edition, except for the title page, are still widely available for under $10 at most dealers...

Guest | 02/27/03 12:44 PM | link | filter

One of the aspects about the illustrations that always concerned me is the fact that Smith's recollections were offered many years after he did the work. It seems too many suppositions & conclusions are based on these recollections, which could be entirely erroneous. Consider this: the memory scientist & psychologist Jean Piaget had vivid recollections of being kidnapped when he was 2. It turns out that this never happened & was a story fabricated by his nurse. Even after Piaget learned the truth, he still had distinct images of the supposed event.
This thread was started by someone asking about how to study Erdnase. While I'll post a commercial message elsewhere, I'd like to encourage serious students to purchase the facsimile edition that I'm distributing, if for no other reason than that the type & illustrations were painstakingly restored & everything is 100% legible.
Best,
Michael

****************************************
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* Michael Canick Booksellers, L.L.C.
* 200 East 82nd Street, #3B
* New York, NY 10028
* Phone: (212) 585-2990
* Fax: (212) 585-2986
* E-Mail: canick@panix.com
* Website: http://www.canick.com
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Richard Kaufman | 02/27/03 03:04 PM | link | filter

I have just received the facsimile first edition of Expert at the Card Table which is being distributed by Michael Canick and it is THE edition to have if you love this book. I do have a first edition and it looks virtually identical.

David Alexander | 02/27/03 04:52 PM | link | filter

I stand corrected on the first page...the copy I was looking at I thought to be a replication of the first edition, but it wasn't.

About McKinney "publishing" the book. There is no evidence for that. The book was "Published by the Author," which means to me that it was bought and paid for by Erdnase. Otherwise, McKinney's name would be on it for re-orders, credit, etc.

I've addressed the other questions in other locations and don't need to take up bandwidth covering old ground again.

It makes no sense to posit that Smith did some of the illustrations and Erdnase did others. If Erdnase had the ability, why bring Smith into the picture at all? Why didn't he do all the illustrations himself?

On speed, some artists are painstakingly slow while others aren't. We have a friend who is a highly successful wildlife artist. He won the national duck stamp contest a few years ago. He was trained as an anatomical artist and is incredibly slow. My wife isn't. See www.thealexanderstuido.com for my examples of her work. Click on the painting at the opening screen to see examples. The large oil painting of the pretty girl, which is not completely illustrated, is 36" x 72" and was completed in 40 hours of painting. The dress is velvet and looks like velvet in the painting.

The male head and shoulders was done in two 6 hour days, in time for his funeral. This is all freehand work. Pastels are faster..a few hours each.

Using a light table and a good photograph should take a a lot less time, a few minutes each.

My wife did the illustrations of James Randi's public magic book. The line drawings did not take long at all, especially given good photographic reference, and the pencil portraits (poorly reproduced by the publisher) took about 45 minutes each, but they were done freehand, not traced.

If Smith had produced 5 drawings a day, he would have been on the project for 20 days...hardly a financially viable assignment to accept.

Guest | 02/27/03 04:52 PM | link | filter

Thank you Richard Kaufman & Dick Hatch for your kind words about the Erdnase facsimile I'm distributing. One word about the price: since the books were so carefully crafted & indeed had to be returned & rebound (for additional cost) and since both the publisher & myself have put large resources into the project (both time & money), it is doubtful that either of us will make a profit even if the complete print run of 750 copies sells out.

Best,
Michael

****************************************
*
* Michael Canick Booksellers, L.L.C.
* 200 East 82nd Street, #3B
* New York, NY 10028
* Phone: (212) 585-2990
* Fax: (212) 585-2986
* E-Mail: canick@panix.com
* Website: http://www.canick.com
* By Appointment.
* Specializing in Rare, Used & New Magic.
* Book Search Service & Appraisals in All Fields.
* Catalogs Issued.
*****************************************

Richard Hatch | 02/27/03 09:17 PM | link | filter

One other aspect of the illustrations might be worth mentioning here. According to Mike Perovich, Vernon felt that the number of illustrations, 101, was not accidental. It was a popular way to advertise things (101 ways to clean house, 101 Dalmations, etc) and in fact, the author uses it on his title page to allow him to say "With over 100 drawings from life by M. D. Smith". Yeah, there are more than one hundred: one more! So Vernon's thinking was that the author needed to get to that magic number for marketing reasons. It would be more likely he would get there by adding illustrations than by deleting them. If he went to Chicago with his manuscript and some of the illustrations, he would only need Smith to add the "20 or 30" he later recalled to get to the magic 101. Smith recalled that the author was not concerned with the drawing's artistic merits, just their accuracy. One way of interpreting this 40 year old memory would be the author telling Smith: "Make your illustrations match these." Of the 101 illustrations, 50 have a copyright statement as a caption. Roughly 2/3 of those in the card table artifice section are so captioned, only 11 of the 35 in the legerdemain section are. If one believe the copyright captions differentiate between two artists and those bearing it are the earlier ones, this makes sense if -- as many have speculated -- the legerdemain section was expanded later to facilitate marketing the book. All of this is merely conjecture at this point, of course. The author told Smith that he was somehow "related" to Louis Dalrymple, a famous political cartoonist of the day. My current favorite two artist theory has Dalrymple doing the "copyrighted" illustrations, but bailing out on the job before finishing it (he was wanted on spousal support charges. His first wife had not only divorced him with alimony, but he was not allowed to remarry or leave NY. He both left and remarried, so was pretty much on the run until his death apparently from venereal disease related delirium a few years later (1905). Anyway, it turns out Dalrymple was in Chicago at about the same time the book was nearing completion, though I haven't pinned down the dates, so this is not as outrageous a theory as it might first seem. But it does beggar the question of why Smith's name (which had no commercial value) and not Dalrymple's (in this scenario) was on the title page. Which brings us back to the degree that the author needed anonymity... Why not just make up an artist's name on the titlepage?

On the size of the job for Smith: We don't know how much he was paid, but it was enough for the author to have paid him by check, rather than cash, and for Smith to be hesitant about accepting the check from a relative stranger. Especially since it was the first (or one of the first) checks on the account (consistent with the author having only recently arrived in Chicago). But he did take the check, it did clear, and he never saw the author again. To my way of thinking, the use of a check implies a fairly sizeable job...

Nathan | 02/27/03 10:23 PM | link | filter

Thanks to all you experts for some very interesting Erdnase discussion. I've become increasingly obsessed with this book over the past year. I have two comments that I hope you'll find intriguing.

First of all, here is some evidence that I've never seen mentioned before that the number of illustrations is somehow important. In the discussion of the second deal Erdnase says, "He need not bother about acquiring skill at blind shuffling, cutting stocking, or any of the other hundred and one ruses known to the profession." This is certainly a bit of irony.

Second, with regard to the comment that the author needs the money: Has anyone considered the possibility that Erdnase expected to receive money from a source other than the sales of the book? Perhaps Erdnase made a bet that he could pull of the greatest book publishing scam in magic history. He was certainly arrogant enough to believe he could pull something like this off. Furthermore, if he really was a gambler at heart then the bet itself would have been much more exciting than any actual money he made which explains why Erdnase wouldn't just go find a game if he needed money. Consider this line from the intoduction: "He knows little of the real value of money, and as a rule is generous, careless and improvident. He loves the hazard rather than the stakes." When Erdnase says he needed the money, he might mean that he couldn't resist such a preposterous wager.

David Alexander | 02/28/03 09:05 AM | link | filter

I'm afraid this discussion is becoming rife with fantasy. Now Dalrymple is being brought in as a possible artistic contributor. This is in the same vein as the suggestion that Mark Twain was the ghost writer.

Best to remember Occam's Razor and adhere to it.

David Alexander | 02/28/03 10:15 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
On the size of the job for Smith: We don't know how much he was paid, but it was enough for the author to have paid him by check, rather than cash, and for Smith to be hesitant about accepting the check from a relative stranger. Especially since it was the first (or one of the first) checks on the account (consistent with the author having only recently arrived in Chicago). But he did take the check, it did clear, and he never saw the author again. To my way of thinking, the use of a check implies a fairly sizeable job...
-------------------------

The use of a check indicates the publisher (Erdnase) wanted proof of title, clear ownership of the material he was paying for. Establishing clear title is important for what happened later and a check is the best evidence.

It is also indirect evidence that McKinney had nothing to do with "publishing" the book since, as an established printer, they could have ordered the illustrations and paid for them directly. McKinney would have been known to Smith.

As it was, McKinney probably recommended Smith and Smith accepted the job on that referral. That it was a short job is also implied because Smith would not have accepted a long job, from a stranger, without some sort of downpayment. Who is going to work for a couple of weeks for a stranger - a reformed gambler who was met in a cheap hotel - without a deposit? Please....

The job took a day or so - tracing the photos - the material was delivered and approved - the job paid for by a check which could be verified quickly by Smith by walking over to the bank and cashing it. If there was a problem, it could be resolved quickly since the book was in the early stages of production and the author/publisher was still around.

Bill Mullins | 02/28/03 10:20 AM | link | filter

If the book wasn't published for money, then why was it published?

Not for vanity or to establish a name for the author, the pseudonym precludes that.

Not as a public service to protect the sheep from being fleeced -- it isn't written from that perspective, nor does it seem to have been marketed that way.

Perhaps Erdnase lost a bet to McKinney, and the manuscript was payment?

Any other ideas?

Also, Hatch says above that copyright wasn't followed up in Canada -- has someone researched the Canadian copyright records? Are there significant early editions in other languages (and other countries whose copyright records should be checked)?

As far as Dalrymple doing some of the drawings -- can anyone say whether or not the style of Dalrymple is similar to that in the book? Samples of Dalrymple artwork:

http://www.relativelyyours.com/dalrympl ... rymple.htm

http://bugpowder.com/andy/e.dalrymple.html

http://www.graphicwitness.org/group/pksail.jpg
http://www.graphicwitness.org/group/pktower.jpg
http://www.bu.edu/ah/ah208/lecture4/1-40.jpg
http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trm44.html

I don't think their styles are so similar that a claim that Dalrymple was a co-illustrator of EATCT makes sense.

Guest | 02/28/03 10:31 AM | link | filter

I think it is a bit unfair to lump the Louis Dalrymple theory with the Mark Twain theory. The illustrator, Marshall D. Smith, recalls the author telling him that he (the author) was related to Dalrymple. I thought the Mark Twain theory came from Martin Gardner as it related to Milton Franklin Andrews. Gardner speculated that M.F. Andrews and Twain were friends for several reasons including the fact that they both lived in Hartford at the same time. According to Busby, even Gardner thought his own Mark Twain theory to be extremely unlikely.

If Marshall Smith is to be believed, then I don't think discussing Dalrymple's possible involvement with the book is rife with fantasy.

This is a very interesting thread, and I greatly enjoy reading the observations of Richard Hatch and David Alexander.

Richard Hatch | 02/28/03 10:35 AM | link | filter

I agree with David's comment that the Dalrymple as second artist is as fantastic (and unlikely) an hypothesis as Martin Gardner's "Mark Twain as ghostwriter" theory (and I flattered to be in Gardner's company!).
I suspect I'm having as much fun exploring it as Gardner did with the Twain theory. These things are fun to fantasize about, and one never knows where they might lead.
I also agree wholeheartedly that Occam's razor is a useful guide. As I apply it, Occam's razor would lead us to look first for an "E. S. Andrews" about 40 years old, possibly related to Louis Dalrymple, slight in stature, who had lived in Chicago in the 1890s, went back to Chicago in the late fall of 1901 (to have the book published), and left not much later (likely about when the book dropped from $2 to $1 in February 1903: the explanation being that he dumped copies when he moved). Such a candidate exists:
Edwin Sumner Andrews, born 1859, lived in Chicago from 1888 to 1895, moved back (from Denver, another gambling center) in October 1901, departed (for San Francisco, yet another gambling center)in February 1903, the very month that the Atlas Novelty Company at 295 Austin Ave dropped the price from $2 to $1 (only the second time the book was advertised in the Sphinx). E. S. Andrews' address in Chicago (actually Oak Park): 195 Austin Ave, 8 blocks due south. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I think not. He wife's maiden name was Seely, the same maiden name as Dalrymple's mother. Coincidence? Perhaps. His nearest neighber growing up in rural Minnesota was an Irish immigrant farmer named Patrick McKinney who had a son named James. The book's printer was a James McKinney, the son of immigrant Irish whose older brother (whom he employed) was named Patrick. Coincidence? Almost certainly, but intriguing enough for me to want to explore further. Edwin Sumner Andrews as a "travelling agent" for the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, which would have given him ample opportunity to observe (and participate in, if so inclined) card play. The one photo I have of him shows him to be the proper height range (judged relative to those around him...). Can I place a deck of cards in his hands. No. But he makes a heck of a circumstantial case, in my opinion...

Richard Hatch | 02/28/03 10:48 AM | link | filter

Dalrymple's style does not look anything like the illustrations in Erdnase, but I have five other books illustrated by Marshall D. Smith that don't look anything like the technical drawings he did for Erdnase either, so I don't discount the Dalrymple theory on those grounds. But I don't take it too seriously myself, either, just trying not to miss any possible clues by ignoring him entirely...
The Canadian copyright has been exhaustively researched, most recently by David Ben. The copyright was not applied for (it would have left a record even if the application was rejected, on moral grounds, for example). The British copyright has also been researched without bearing fruit. Possibly the author intended to file these applications, but never followed though. British copyright at that time required 5 deposit copies (for each of the national libraries). As far as I can tell, none of them currently has a first edition (most can be searched online), making it extremely unlikely he followed through with that application (owing perhaps to lack of funds). Possibly the triple copyright statement was just a bluff to scare off pirates, but then why bother even with the US Copyright?
Frederick J. Drake began selling first edition copies in 1903 and continued to sell them until he reprinted the book beginning in 1905 and continuing at least as late as 1934 (possibly 1937, when the plates were transfered to Frost Publishing Company). I have done extensive research on Drake and he appears extremely scrupulous in following the letter of the law. He had almost all his publication, regardless of subject matter or author, copyrighted in the name of "Frederick J. Drake and Company". I have examined the records of some of these in the copyright offices in Washington. He clearly knew and apparently followed the letter of the law. Erdnase is one of the few books (the are others, but not many, especially from this period) that he published without obtaining a transfer of the copyright. To me, that implies that he had made a financial arrangement with the author, either buying the book outright (then why not obtain the copyright, as was his practice?) or paying royalties. And it as Drake who first broke the news that the "S. W. Erdnase" read in reverse yields the author's name. In my application of Occam's razor, that carries some weight..

Randy DiMarco | 02/28/03 11:10 AM | link | filter

If a copyright was never applied for in Canada, then the Vernon story about his father telling him that the book had been received at the copyright office would have to be false.

Richard Hatch | 02/28/03 11:13 AM | link | filter

The Vernon story is a "false memory". David Ben has been able to identify the book his father brought home. It was not Erdnase, but another book on gambling from the period and is illustrated with photos. We may have to wait for David's Vernon biography to learn the details...

David Alexander | 02/28/03 12:09 PM | link | filter

There are plenty of people who "remember" the annoucement of the attack on Pearl Harbor coming in the middle of a baseball game when the season was over months earlier.

David Alexander | 02/28/03 12:59 PM | link | filter

The evidence shows the book was author published. That's what it says in the front of the book. Author published means everything done to produce the book would have been bought and paid for by the author prior to the book appearing in printed form. McKinney was not a publisher. McKinney was a printer and binder. (Even Martin Gardner was confused on this point.)

The illustrations were paid for with a check, which suggests the printing and binding were also paid the same way. This is important if the author/publisher is traveling and needs copies sent here or there as instructions and a check could be mailed to McKinney and the orders fulfilled with minimal fuss. Checks also provided a paper trail for ownership should the need arise, which I believe it did.

My thoughts on this, which Ive previously shared with Dick Hatch, follow:

McKinney was going down the drain, but continued to have the responsibility for Erdnases printing plates and excess stock, material they couldnt legally dispose of. They had no way of contacting Erdnase, so what to do with his property as the business was deteriorating?

Without a shred of supporting evidence, Busby claims that in 1903 William J. Hilliar brokered a deal between M.F. Andrews and Frederick J. Drake, a Chicago publisher, for the rights, plates and unsold stock. However, if the real Erdnase was involved in the deal, as Busby claims, then Drake, like any prudent publisher, would have purchased or had the copyright transferred to his name. That didnt happen, which in and of itself is not a problem as royalties could have been paid by contract, but the actions by Drake subsequent to obtaining the Erdnase material suggest Drake had a less than benign motive, for, once in possession of the plates, he then advertised an edited version of Expert of 204 pages and 45 illustrations by Samuel Robert Erdnase in the United States Catalog: Books in America. Clearly, he did not own or have legal rights to the copyright because he listed the book under another authors name. He would not have done this if he owned the copyrights or had legal entitlement to the material. However, this book never was released. The conclusion one must make is that some how Erdnase learned of Drakes plan and forestalled it.

My conjecture is that the real Erdnase may have contacted McKinney for more books or somehow learned that the company was failing and that his material had been transferred to Drakes care, with Drake continuing to sell Erdnases book.

Erdnase hired a lawyer, to whom he presented the various cancelled checks, copyright forms, original manuscript, etc., easily proving his bona fides as the author and owner of the copyright.

A letter from the lawyer to Drake stops the whole Samuel Robert Erdnase business in its tracks. Drake was in possession of and selling material that wasnt his. This could lead to trouble, but the whole thing is put off as a misunderstandinga favor to McKinneymisrepresentation by Hilliar, whatever, and the matter settled out of court. A lease agreement to use the plates and a royalty contract was signed with Drake paying monies to Erdnase/Andrews, probably through the same Chicago bank account set up to pay for the book.

Drake had dozens of titles and Expert would have been one of many, not worth any legal hassle especially when he was in violation of several state and federal statutes, with no way to win. Settling was the only solution.

Drake reprints the book with the copyright remaining in the name of Erdnase, royalties are paid and life goes on.

Then one day, the royalty checks are returned by the bankaccount closedno forwarding address. It isnt Drakes responsibility to chase authors and pay them royalties, so he just keeps tabs on what he owes and waits to hear from the author. He never does.

The year 1930 rolls around, important because that is the year the copyright comes up for renewal. No one renews it. Drake cant because he doesnt own it or have legal rights to it, otherwise he would have. Erdnase doesnt, because my candidate has, years earlier, dropped any interest he has in the project. It has served his psychological purposes and he has moved on with his lifeand to renew the copyright may risk exposure. There is no benefit for him to resurface.

So, in 1930, the book passes into public domainand, apparently, no one notices or cares because the market is handled by Drake and the production of another edition probably isnt financially viable, should anyone have taken notice of the books now public status.

Drake continues to sell the book until 1937, a period of time when Drake could argue that their author is legally dead seven years being the standard back then. Drake, for whatever reasons, sells the plates to Frost who probably assumed responsibility for paying the author or his heirs back royalties. Certainly it would have been prudent for Drake to have Frost assume liability.

This is, of course, conjecture, but it does explain the facts as we know them without complication.

Richard Hatch | 03/01/03 11:12 AM | link | filter

For anyone interested, here's an original Marshall D. Smith painting you can pick up for just $20,000:
http://showcase.goantiques.com/search/i ... p?id=92899
Personally, I don't think it looks anymore like the work of the artist of Erdnase than the Darlymple cartoons posted earlier. My feeling (as a non-artist) is that the technical illustrations required by the artist could easily have been rendered to his satisfaction by any competent artist. Smith specifically recalled that the author was not interested in "artistic" qualities, just accuracy, leaving little room for artistic expression.
David Alexander, in his excellent post says:
"The evidence shows the book was author published. That's what it says in the front of the book."
True enough, and I agree with it, but it does raise the question of how much of what the mysterious author tells us we should take at face value. For example, on that same title page he tells us his name is "S. W. Erdnase" which we now know not to be true (it was, however, not obvious to readers at the time of publication). He also tells us that the illustration were drawn "from life" while Alexander claims they were traced from photographs. The copyright page claims copyright in Canada and the UK. Not true. The preface claims he wrote the book because he "needs the money". Alexander tells us this is simply irony, and that he was a man of independent means. My understanding is the Alexander's candidate's motive for writing the book was to exact private revenge on the gambling fraternity that had cheated him in his youth, but the author tells us he has "neither greivance against the fraternity nor sympathy for so called 'victims'" (p. 10). I'm sure other examples of such contradictions could be found. In fact, some people feel his statements that he both betrays "no confidences" yet proffers "the sum of our present knowledge" (p. 14) are inherently contradictory. I'm not so sure. My feeling is we should believe the author and other "witnesses" until forced by facts to do otherwise. I see no compelling reason not to believe that "S. W. Erdnase" is a lightly disguised version of his real name, that he was the publisher of his own book (I'm not sure anyone on the forum has challenged this claim, but since we don't know who the author was, it doesn't tell us a great deal about him. He gave his address on the copyright application c/o McKinney who, it turns out, was selling copies of the book, so the thought that McKinney himself might have authored the book is not entirely outrageous...), that the illustrations were drawn from life by M. D. Smith, and that he needed the money. Perhaps this post will be useful it points out that what we don't yet know about the author and his book greatly outweighs what we do know.

We don't know when, where and under what circumstances the book was written. Some believe it to have been written many years before it was finally published. I'm not among those, but it is possible. We don't know when the book was illustrated by Smith (Alexander's pinpointing of the date by comparing weather records with Smith's recollection that he met the author on a bitter cold day is an ingenious approach, but it does assume that Smith met the author shortly before publication, i.e., in the winter of 1901. While that assumption is reasonable and one that I share, it is an assumption. Smith told Gardner he was about 25 when he did the job. He turned 29 in the winter of 1901.). We don't know exactly where they met or how long the illustrating took or how much Smith was paid. We don't know the nature of the author/publisher's relation with McKinney, whom we assume printed the book (a reasonable assumption, but an assumption, nonetheless), so we don't know the terms they worked out. Nor do we know the nature of the relationship between the author and Frederick J. Drake, who began selling first editions at half price in 1903 and printing the book himself in 1905. We don't know how many first editions were printed or how they were distributed. We therefore don't know how well it sold and whether is satisfied the author's need for money or not. We don't know why the price was dropped from $2 to $1 in February 1903, less than a year after the book came of the presses. We don't know why the copyright was not transfered to Drake nor why it was not renewed in 1930. Finally, we don't know who wrote the book. Likely many of these questions will not be answerable until we do.

Richard Kaufman | 03/01/03 11:31 AM | link | filter

I'm afraid I must disagree with statements regarding the illustrations in "Expert at the Card Table" made by both my friends David and Richard.
First, the drawings are extremely exacting, and almost perfectly reproduce the anatomy of the hand. These drawings simply could not have been done as quickly as David assumes. Each one looks as if it would have taken a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes. That's a minimum, and frankly I think and underestimate.
Second, Richard states that any competant artist could have done the work. I must strongly dispute this: Even great artists often fail miserably when it comes to the hands. Here, we are not even talking about great art, and it has nothing to do with whether the artist is "reputable" or not. It has to do with someone who understands the anatomy of the hands and how it relates to the objects they hold. The illustrations in Erdnase are among the clearest ever drawn in our field. VERY FEW artists are capable of that.

Richard Hatch | 03/01/03 12:41 PM | link | filter

Richard, thanks for pointing this out.
On the question of whether the illustrations were drawn "from life" or traced from photos, let me throw in the following, for others to correct me on as well:
The final illustration, Fig. 101, shows the face of the Ace of Spades from a Bee brand deck. Thinking that this might help date the illustrations (since the designs change over time), I obtained a photocopy of the Bee design from that period (which turns out to have been stable over that period, so only set a lower bound on the illustrations). The actual design is significantly different from the one shown in the illustration, suggesting to me that this illustration, at least (or that portion of it) was not traced, but rendered free hand...
Fig. 16 (page 47) shows two edges of the square board that Smith recalled the author demonstrated the moves on. The front edge of the deck runs parallel to the front of the board, so a traced photo should show the end of the deck parallel to the side of the board. It does not, again suggesting this was drawn freehand, and rather quickly at that. I asked Steranko to take a close look at the illustrations, to see if he could determine whether they showed evidence of having been traced from photos, rendered by two or more artists, and whether the author's hands were large or small. His conclusions to all three issues were ambiguous. In the case of the size of the hand, some (fig. 79 for example) make the hand appear small while others (fig. 61) make it appear huge. I don't believe these discrepencies could be explained merely by saying that some poses used bridge sized cards and others poker size. It could be explained if they were drawn from life as stated on the titlepage by the author and later recalled by the illustrator. I don't know anything about the history of photography, so hope someone who does might see fit to comment on this, but my naive belief is that it would have been both much more expensive and much more time consuming to pose for the photographs (to get 101 usuable ones would likely have required a fair number of more shots). Many of the poses would be awkward to hold for the cameras of the period (shots from below, above, etc. which required setting up a tripod, etc. etc.) If the author took the time and expense to have the photos taken and (as Alexander contents) was not concerned about turning a profit from the project, why not use them for the book, rather than spending additional time and expense to turn them into illustrations? Lang Neil's photo illustrated book came out later in 1902 at the same price as Erdnase (of course, it was not self-published either!). Any experts on turn of the century photography care to enlighten us?

Bob Coyne | 03/01/03 02:40 PM | link | filter

The sleeves in the illustrations seem stylized rather than realistic. For example, many of them have a little curved line with a gap to indicate the connection between the length of the sleeve and the end of the sleeve (hard to explain verbally). Plus, the shirt extended out from the coat sleeve seems more uniform than it would be in real life. So my guess is that Smith either drew the sleeves from life in a quick stylized way, or alternatively, he fabricated them after the fact in the process of finishing/refining the illustrations.

Either way, that seems to me to be an argument against tracing. If he traced the pictures, I'd expect to see less stylized, more varied sleeves. And a similar argument for the hands themselves. I'd expect to see more profile of knuckles, for example, if it was traced (e.g., left hand in fig. 85).

Though I guess he could draw from pictures rather than tracing them which would account better for the reduction/simplification.

Richard Hatch | 03/01/03 04:02 PM | link | filter

As something to look at when considering a "two artist" or "one artist who got better" theory, Steranko pointed out discepencies in the rendition of the fingernails. Some are ovals and others are more realistically squared off. Naturally, one must compare the same fingers on the same hands for this to be relevant. Again, this seems like the kind of discrepency more likely to occur if being drawn from life than traced from photos. Of course, it could also be explained by two different people posing for the illustrations, or one who got a serious manicure between sessions...

For a fascinating example of photos that were turned into illustrations, several incredible photos of Robert-Houdin performing cups and balls, card sleights, etc. are in the fantastic new books by Christian Fechner. Robert-Houdin had these taken and then turned into illustrations for his seminal text, Secrets of Conjuring and Magic. This was in the late 1860s, so perhaps the mysterious Erdnase did the same some 30 odd years later...

Richard Hatch | 03/02/03 10:45 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Nathan Becker:

First of all, here is some evidence that I've never seen mentioned before that the number of illustrations is somehow important. In the discussion of the second deal Erdnase says, "He need not bother about acquiring skill at blind shuffling, cutting stocking, or any of the other hundred and one ruses known to the profession." This is certainly a bit of irony.
Nathan is correct is citing the above reference to the term "one hundred and one" in the text as never having been mentioned in print prior to his posting. I had done a text search on a number of key words some months ago, using Chris Wasshuber's eBook version. My search on the word "hundred" turned up one other use of the phrase. In his discussion of ways to present the pre-arranged deck (p. 181) he says: "There are a hundred and one variations..." I think these two examples show the author's fondness for the phrase and strengthen Vernon's contention that the number of illustrations (101) was not accidental.

Richard Kaufman | 03/02/03 06:42 PM | link | filter

I had the opportunity of spending a good deal of the day in my car with Earle Oakes, and we discussed the issue of the drawings in Erdnase. His contention is similar to mine: they must have taken a minimum of at least 20 minutes each to draw, if not much longer.
I have several other observations to make:
1) The illustrations almost uniformly depict someone with small chubby hands. Unless someone can find evidence that Smith always drew peoples' hands looking small and chubby, we MUST assume Erdnase's hands were small and chubby. (Note that Vernon had a smaller than average size hand; Steve Freeman has small hands; Howard Schwarzman has small hands: all three men could/can do virtually every sleight in the book.)
2) These illustrations could not have been sketched from life. It seems impossible to me that this degree of anatomical accuracy could have reproduced from quick sketches made from looking at Erdnase's hands. My own experience forces me to assume that they have been traced from photographs.
3) The fact that there are two different "groups" of illustrations does not indicate to me that there are two different artists involved. It more strongly suggests that Smith did the drawings in two different batches, at least six months apart but as long as several years apart. I say this from experience: I illustrated "The Card Classics of Ken Krenzel" over a period of a year. The first batch of drawings differs substantially from the second batch, for which the photographs were taken about six months later. Very simple: my style changed. The style of every artist changes over time, even over just a few months, depending upon what is influencing his or her work. With a book that has as many extremely complex drawings as this ("complex" in the sense that the positions of the fingers and cards are vital), it would not be at all surprising if Smith did it in two batches.
4) The fact that "The Modern Conjuror" was one of the few (though not the only) books to use photographs during that period would suggest not just that it was more expensive to use photographs, but the prevailing opinion (which persists to this day) that illustrations are simply a BETTER way to explain this type of material. Besides, Erdnase may have felt that actual photographs of his hands might betray his identity. Either way, just because photos do not appear in the book is no reason to presume that the illustrations were not drawn from photographs.
5) The points about the sleeves and cuffs and table edges having nothing to do with anything. When making a drawing like this, frequently the edges of the table and the sleeves are not in view, or only partially in view, in the photograph. They can, and frequently are, "made up" by the artist. And you can see the difference in the line work when something has been traced from a photo and when it hasn't--frankly, the fact that the cuffs or sleeves sometimes look spontaneously drawn strengthens, NOT weakens, the arguement that the illustrations were traced from photographs.

Richard Hatch | 03/02/03 08:32 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
1) The illustrations almost uniformly depict someone with small chubby hands. Unless someone can find evidence that Smith always drew peoples' hands looking small and chubby, we MUST assume Erdnase's hands were small and chubby.
Smith recalled the author as having small, soft hands (softer than a woman's), consistent with the above. This is important in the identity search, since Milton Franklin Andrews was known to have large hands. And, of course, he was 6' 1.5" in his stocking feet, taller than Smith, who recalled looking down on the author, whom he recalled as being 5'6", perhaps smaller, not taller than 5'7" (Smith himself appears to be about 6' from a photo of him standing beside Paul Rosini and Martin Gardner which can be see in Chuck Romano's Paul Rosini book, HOUSE OF CARDS. Gardner was about 5'7" at that time. In fact, Smith told Gardner he was about the same size as Erdnase when Gardner first interviewed him. Gardner was unable to convince Smith that he might have met Milton Franklin Andrews, due to the height discrepency.)
Erdnase himself refers to the sizes of hands in several places. For example, after describing the difficult one-handed Erdnase shift (p. 101), he says: "We presume that the larger or longer the hand, the easier it will be for a beginner to accomplish this shift, but a very small hand can perform the action when the knack is once acquired." He seems to "know" about small hands, but must "presume" when it comes to large hands, suggesting his own hands are small, though this is open to interpretation. Vernon in REVELATIONS says of Erdnase's description of the classic pass (p. 96): "Erdnase's method for the two-handed shift is the only one in which tip of thumb is held at side of pack and it is decidedly more efficient especially if operator's hand is small." Suggesting again that Erdnase likely had small hands...
Thanks to David Alexander for pointing these passages and their significance out to me.

Guest | 03/02/03 09:23 PM | link | filter

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this thread, the contributions have been varied and well thought-through/informed. Fascinating stuff.

Thanks.

Guest | 03/02/03 10:14 PM | link | filter

I'd like to echo Eric's words. I started by asking on the proper way of studying Erdnase and got a whole lot more. Although the emphasis of this thread has been somewhat diluted, in reading these wonderful responses, I have found them to be inspirational and very interesting to say the least. Thanks everyone and keep 'em coming!

Roberto

Pete Biro | 03/03/03 11:25 AM | link | filter

Does ANYONE have proof that Expert at the Card Table was NOT written by Walter B. Gibson? <GRD>

Richard Hatch | 03/03/03 11:53 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Does ANYONE have proof that Expert at the Card Table was NOT written by Walter B. Gibson? <GRD>
It's very hard to prove a negative! That what gives Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Milton Franklin Andrews such staying power... ;)

Richard Kaufman | 03/03/03 12:13 PM | link | filter

How old was Gibson when Expert came out? Two?

Guest | 03/03/03 12:20 PM | link | filter

Erdnase was actually Charlier.

Richard Hatch | 03/03/03 12:23 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
How old was Gibson when Expert came out? Two?
Hey, according to the new Fechner biography, Robert-Houdin was baptised several days before he was born (not a typo in Fechner's text, he points it out himself in an endnote), so I wouldn't eliminate Gibson from the growing candidate list on age alone (though you'd think Smith would remember needing to change diapers between sketches!). Actually, Gibson was seven at the time. Probably not quite 5'6", though his hands likely would have been "small and soft". And he was from the East Coast. Oh wait, it was Gibson who told Gardner in 1947 to contact Edgar Pratt, which led to the Milton Franklin Andrews theory. And Gibson, ghost-writing for Radner, who gave the author's true name as "James Andrews". Clever smokescreens to hide his own involvement?

Richard Hatch | 03/03/03 12:45 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Hen Kvetch:
Erdnase was actually Charlier.
Ironically, Charlier is the only magician mentioned by name in Erdnase, and his name is misspelled at that: "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] pass" and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." (p. 128). The move is used in a later trick and spelled properly, so this is just a typo, but could be used both to argue that Erdnase was not an active member of the magic fraternity (the whole legerdemain section has him standing outside it: Why do conjurers always use the pass instead of blind shuffles? He is clearly well read on magic and probably came up with some of his great moves because he was not fraternising with magicians...) and that the book did not have an editor (who would have caught the discrepency) as David Alexander argues persuasively. I also don't think the book had an editor, but I think it not so much due to his need for anonymity, but due to his need for money: he couldn't afford one. This is consistent with the cheap paper and binding, and the cheap hotel in which he met the artist.

Jonathan Townsend | 03/03/03 03:04 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
...not so much due to his need for anonymity, but due to his need for money: he couldn't afford one. This is consistent with the cheap paper and binding, and the cheap hotel in which he met the artist.
Hi Rich,

I'm trying to read this thread and glean the back story as you and some others collect evidence. The money issue itself begs some questions.

Is E@CT to be interpreted like Nicolo Machavelli's work as intended to regain favor at some court or clique?

Did the author claim to be reformed? If so, why not get a church involved? If the work had a different tone and focus it might be framed as a 'how to save your money from evil people' type work.

If not, then there is money to be taken from the card table and not much motivation to write a compromising book. Even if one had students one might wish to protect the material by coding the text and limiting the illustrations to just what the student might have forgotten from the lessons given.

More puzzled than usual

-Jon

Guest | 03/03/03 03:15 PM | link | filter

The publisher of the Erdnase facsimile I'm distributing asked me to post his theory here concerning the illustrations in Erdnase. BTW, because the illustrations are so clear in this facsimile, the point he makes is more easily seen.

His theory is basically this: there were at least 3 artists illustrating Erdnase. Possibly Erdnase (to save money) or Smith (to save time) had a colleague or student do some of the work. The publisher cites 3 illustrations for his theory: On page 29, Fig. 1, the hands look anatomically correct and professionally rendered. On page 132, Fig. 68, the hands look awkward & amateurishly rendered (compare especially how the base of the fingers meet the hand). Finally, on the facing page (p. 133, Fig. 69), the hands & cuffs seem quite different again. Also, a heart can clearly be seen drawn on the back of the lower hand! This apparently is a device that students use to get the proportions & shape of the hand correct. It is the only illustration in the whole book that has this heart shape visible.

Michael Canick

Richard Hatch | 03/03/03 03:25 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Michael Canick:
Finally, on the facing page (p. 133, Fig. 69), the hands & cuffs seem quite different again. Also, a heart can clearly be seen drawn on the back of the lower hand! This apparently is a device that students use to get the proportions & shape of the hand correct. It is the only illustration in the whole book that has this heart shape visible.
Gazzo seems to think the heart shape (which is edited out of some later reprints) is a significant clue to the author's identity. He also thinks the fact that it occurs in Fig. 69 might be of importance. I don't know how to interpret any of this. Gazzo also thinks that the final words of the book "no hocus pocus" are important. He first suggested to me the idea of using the Bee Ace design to try to date the book, but as noted earlier, it only put a lower bound of 1892 (when Bee brand was introduced, I believe, working from memory here) on that particular illustration. He thinks the book could have been written decades before being published and that the relative popularity of the games mentioned could also be used to date it...

Guest | 03/04/03 01:46 AM | link | filter

The really great thing about this thread is that I'm READING Erdnase again. Believe it or not, there are many among us who haven't even read it! As Darwin Ortiz mentioned, "The work of art is always more important than the artist" (I'm quoting by memory, but its a good point.) It would be nice to see a discussion on the book itself, but really, what else could be said, other than: READ IT! It is a wonderful experience.
Anyway, can't John Edward find out who he was? Ha ha.
Seriously, if I was in a position to do so, I would gladly see to it that Richard Hatch and David Alexander receive a grant to continue their research. We're getting close and clsoer it seems. Remember years ago (in The Phoenix?), it was mentioned triumphantly "They mystery of Erdnase has been solved!" If they only knew...
And if Erdnase himself only knew the lasting influence he'd have!
Go forth now and read the book, if you haven't done so, you'll thank me.

Charlie Chang | 03/04/03 03:24 AM | link | filter

I just caught up on this thread and have just spent an hour going through it. Wow. I hope someone is recording a lot of this - it's one of the best Internet threads I have ever seen on a magic site.

I am not qualified to offer a theory on Erdnase's identity. I happen to subscribe to Richard Hatch's excellent candidate but have been fascinated by all the potential Erdnase suspects put forward by David Alexander and Mr Hatch. I think we are very fortunate to have two passionate historians researching this mystery from different perspectives.

I have a theory that may answer a lot of questions about the drawings in Erdnase.

First of all, I think it would be important to learn the details of obtaining 101 photographs in the late 19th century. I assume it would be extremely expensive and quite difficult in itself. Not like buying a roll of film and dropping it at the one hour photo booth.

Assuming that obtaining 101 photographs would not prove to be prohibitive we should also consider the idea of someone going to such an expense only to have the photographs converted into drawings. At this stage in the life span of photography such an idea might seem extremely fanciful if not downright stupid.

Experts in the history of photography might be able to clarify this.

Now, if I was Mr Smith and I was required to draw from life, I find it quite unlikely that I would sit with my subject and complete each illustration in front of him.

It would be much smarter to perform quick sketches, outlining the position and size of the hands and cards. Such sketches can be completed in a matter of SECONDS.

Before you dismiss this, consider that such preliminary sketches were an accepted tool of the pre-photography artist.

Now look at the drawings in Erdnase. These are not real hands. Yes, they may accurately reflect the size and shape of the subject BUT these hands are fanciful - they are drawn, in my opinion, from the illustrator's mind.

I think Smith sat with Erdnase and made dozens of quick sketches. Then, later, he used those sketches to create the illustrations, applying his understanding of the human hand to the positions shown in his initial drawings.

He could then return them to his employer by mail.

While I do not have Richard or Earl Oaks' experience, I have illustrated several small books and studied anatomy and life drawing at the Glasgow School Of Art.

I think that both Richard and Earl are approaching the problem from their position as excellent draughtsmen.

I believe Smith approached the task as an artist.

Richard Hatch | 03/04/03 07:43 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
It would be much smarter to perform quick sketches, outlining the position and size of the hands and cards. Such sketches can be completed in a matter of SECONDS.

Before you dismiss this, consider that such preliminary sketches were an accepted tool of the pre-photography artist....

I think Smith sat with Erdnase and made dozens of quick sketches. Then, later, he used those sketches to create the illustrations, applying his understanding of the human hand to the positions shown in his initial drawings.
In fact, this is EXACTLY the process described by Smith when interviewed by Martin Gardner in December 1946, some 45 years after the fact. He told Gardner he made sketches which the author approved. He then left the hotel room in which they met to return to his studio to ink them in. He did not recall tracing them from photographs, which I think he would have remembered. He was trained at the Chicago Art institute and doing extensive illustrating at this time (he later gave up this line of work in favor or oil painting, which paid him better). He recalled that his work at the time was for "cheap magazines", indicating that he likely did not command a high price for his services, consistent with the book's author having a profit motive (i.e., "needing the money"). What is strange about his recollection is that he was both surprised by the large number of illustrations (he'd have guessed he did 20-30 not 101) and that he did not recognize them. He claimed he did recognize the handwriting beneath them, i.e., "Fig. 1", "Fig. 2" etc. I find that very strange. Apparently Vernon was so disappointed with the artist's recollection (when interviewed in May 1947 at the SAM convention in Chicago some months after Gardner found him) that he expressed some doubt as to whether Smith had actually illustrated the book at all...

Charlie Chang | 03/04/03 08:13 AM | link | filter

This method for producing the illustrations could feasibly explain many things.

If Smith were working from sketches the quality of each drawing is bound to vary. Lets say he did five drawings in each session. It is entirely likely that the quality of the drawings will not be constant. This could also be explained by the quality of his preliminary sketches.

There is is also no way to determine the order in which he did the drawings. He may have started with illustration 69 - then 25 then 101 and so on.

It is also possible that the illustrations were not numbered by Smith at all. As an illustrator, I think it best to mark an illustration at the lower left corner of the paper. The drawing can then be labelled later when the book is being laid out. I seriously doubt that the illustrations were numbered by Smith the way they are in the book. This ma be the work of McKinney or even Erdnase himself.

As to Smith's surprise that he did so many drawings - I think we can consider this as a minor issue. How many times have you mis-remembered an event or even a period from your past? This was no-doubt a novel job for Smith but by no means the highlight of his career. Why should he recall every detail 45 years later?

Maybe he was surprised that he had done so many drawings. This does not mean he did not do them.

Bob Coyne | 03/04/03 08:43 AM | link | filter

I think the point relayed by Michael Canick, that there might have been multiple artists is plausible. Looking through them, a few groups jump out (to my eye). Specifically, I think figures 84, 85, 86, 87, and especially 88 seem of inferior quality. And 92, 93, 94, 97 also. Others look very well drawn with correct proportions.

Multiple artists would fit with Smith's recollection that there were many more than he remembered. It would also fit with Erdnase needing money. Perhaps he could only afford to have a limited number professionally illustrated (by Smith). For others he found less competent (and cheaper) help.

diagonalpalmshift | 03/04/03 04:40 PM | link | filter

I know very little about drawing, and, honestly, when I looked at the illustrations I thought they were all better than I could do, and therefore thought all of them were good. However, maybe Mr. Erdnase only had Mr. Smith do the drawings he could not do himself because they were too difficult, or he wanted them to be very accurate. Perhaps he had worked on them prior to meeting or hiring Smith. Are the more difficult drawings consistently the better ones?

Also, I think Erdnase would have mentioned if he had additional artists work on the book, unless he put Mr. Smith's name in the book for purposes other than giving credit. Further, in the book he seems like a man who wanted to at least appear modest, since, after he named the S.W.E. Shift, he kind of downplays the use of his name in the title. This, in my mind, makes it possible that he might have worked on some of the illustrations himself without mentioning it. What would the price difference be if you had all the drawings done or just the ones that have been perceived as not as exceptional?

Regards,

Ricky Smith

Pete McCabe | 03/04/03 05:03 PM | link | filter

Sorry if I missed this in this long and wonderful thread, but do some of our resident experts have any thoughts on the significance of the name of the S.W.E. Shift?

I'm thinking, for example, that if S.W. Erdnase were really E.S. Andrews, he might have chosen a different title that would reflect his real name better.

Just a thought. Thanks to everyone for posting the results of their labor here for all to share.

Pete

Bob Coyne | 03/04/03 08:49 PM | link | filter

Pete McCabe asks: Sorry if I missed this in this long and wonderful thread, but do some of our resident experts have any thoughts on the significance of the name of the S.W.E. Shift?
David Alexander's fascinating and tantalizing theory (printed in Genii or Magic a couple years ago) is that S.W. Erdnase is really an anagram of real person named W.E. Sanders. Regarding the S.W.E. shift, "W.E.S." (Sander's initials) is what you get when you perform a shift on "S.W.E" (Erdnase's initials). The "S" packet gets shifted from the top (beginning) to the bottom (end).

David also points out that Erdnase means "Earth nose" in German. Sanders was a mining engineer. Maybe a coincidence, or maybe a clever pseudonym that functions both as an anagram and a description. Anyway, it's been a while since I read it, but there were various other things that would link Sanders and Erdnase, but nothing conclusive I think. Apparently there are also diaries of Sanders in existence, but I don't know if anything in them supports the theory or not.

Pete McCabe | 03/04/03 11:27 PM | link | filter

Thanks Bob, and by extension, David. And everybody else on this thread. This is just another of those things that would have been utterly impossible just 11 years ago, before the World Wide Web was invented.

Todd Karr | 03/04/03 11:39 PM | link | filter

Hi, everyone

First of all, stay tuned for Martin Breese's upcoming CD-ROM release of the entire file of The Magic Wand. The very first issue (1910) begins a series by Professor Hoffmann analyzing moves in Erdnase (the Fleming/Gambler's Book CLub edition has this material, too).

Richard Hatch and I have been discussing Erdnase in-depth recently and he suggested I share a few thoughts. I do NOT want to get into an endless debate and quibble about details...I'm just sharing some ideas.

I also do think it's important to check out as many avenues as possible, so Richard and everyone else should continue their leads and see what turns up.

One of my first comments to Richard, whose historical wisdom I greatly respect, was that my background is in investigative journalism and in historical research (plus 12 years as a full-time magician). A few rules I follow: 1. Use common sense and get the facts correct. 2. Without proof, theories are just speculation. 3. People's memories are not facts (just look how people inaccurately recall your magic feats to their friends).

The artwork: Erdnase most likely made many of the changes himself to Smith's artwork, altering some and perhaps composing others by tracing Smith's drawings and making necessary changes when he saw Smith got certain details wrong. Erdnase probably didn't have the money to have Smith redo them: he states up front he was publishing the book for the money and Smith said he met the guy in a cheap hotel room. If he did hire a second artist, it does look like the work of an amateur as pointed out.

Copyright notices: It looks like Erdnase inserted the notices mainly where he had room to do so. It appears that the layout was typeset, after which a paranoid Erdnase decided to insert copyright notices under the artwork, perhaps thinking the drawings weren't covered by the copyright at the beginning of the book. (This makes me think this man did not know much about the law.)

Erdnase's character: I would say this was a very bright fellow, a good, detailed writer. I believe he used a pseudonym because he feared retribution by crooked gamblers. (This was probably a rough time to mess with the livelihood of card sharps. Look how peeved the magic community was with the Masked Magician and multiply exponentially.) I think this paranoia is reflected in the overkill with the book's copyrights.

Magician or gambler: The book feels like it was written by a magician. I believe this person was an incredibly skillful and knowledgeable gambler but I think his knowledge of magic is just too great for a non-magician. Secondly, I feel that the text is TOO careful to point out shortcomings of "those conjurers"...it really feels to me like the author was taking great pains to pose as a gambler. His prose also feels like someone trying hard to give the impression of being erudite but amusing.

Publishing: I checked the first ad in The Sphinx, 1902 (as Richard Hatch points out below, it's mainly the text from the book's forward, ending with the author saying he's in it for the money...not a great way to lure buyers). My feeling is that sales were awful for the first few months, so he decided to sell some other way (as Richard indicates, through Vernelo, then Atlas).

Residence: I don't think it's easy to pinpoint anything about where this man lived. These were not the pioneer days of horse-pulled wagons. Look at the traveling schedules of performers in those days (Germain did 45 shows in 45 cities in 46 days): people were mobile and New York to Chicago trips were not impossible. The fact that he met Smith in a hotel room was probably not just for privacy, but because he was in fact from out of town.

The pseudonym: Erdnase was clever, but I don't think the name was too far from whatever name he started with. Andrew or Andrews was probably part of it. (I keep wondering about E.S. Burns, who owned Atlas...that E.S. is spooky.)

Smith's memory: I think it's not a good idea to put too much weight on Smith's recollections. This is very flimsy proof, and without an exact record of his conversations with Erdnase, I feel one must be very careful chasing leads or making assumptions based mainly on what Smith said.

Where to look: I would check anyone in magic who was a card expert at that time, as well as anything written about gambling. The only smoking gun I think we will find at this point are more writings by this person, who was an excellent writer and probably wrote more somewhere. A careful comparison of texts with the same phrasing and words would be a very convincing development.

Now, who's going to help me find out who Elbiquet was? If you read his book Supplementary Magic, you'll see that his presentational theories had a huge influence on Al Baker. (And he is probably not Louis Branson, who had a totally different writing style and an opposite outlook on magic, and was much, much less insightful.)

Bill Palmer | 03/04/03 11:54 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
I have the advantage of Mr. Kaufman, then, for I have actually SEEN Harry Riser do an invisible SWE shift. It was a long time ago. I saw him do it about a half dozen times. I didn't believe he had actually done anything.

Richard Hatch | 03/05/03 12:36 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Todd Karr:
Publishing: I checked the first ad in The Sphinx, 1902, and the author did not write very good copy, not focusing on the work's value to magicians, trying to be very florally about its contents, and then concluding by saying he's in it for the money...not a great way to lure buyers. My feeling is that sales were awful for the first few months, so he decided to sell through dealers, first Vernelo, then Atlas.
The first advertisement in THE SPHINX was in the November 1902 issue. It was simply the preface to the book, minus his statement about "needing the money". I agree that the advertisement was not a good one, but would blame that on the Vernelos, who were doing advertising, not the author of the book they were selling.
I read the evidence very differently than Todd, but perhaps that is what makes the book a classic: we each see what we want to see in it!

Todd Karr | 03/05/03 12:42 AM | link | filter

The November 1902 ad ends with:

"But whatever the result may be, if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author."

Richard Hatch | 03/05/03 02:19 AM | link | filter

The original last sentence of his preface to the book is:

"But it will not make the innocent vicious, or transform the pastime player into a professional; or make the fool wise, or curtail the annual crop of suckers; but whatever the result may be, if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money."

The Vernelo ad in the Sphinx is just his preface, minus the last phrase. I don't think the author intended his preface to be used as a stand-alone ad for the book, as the Vernelos used it. He would probably have used something along the lines of his titlepage summary of the contents which may be viewed as his ad for the book:

"Embracing the whole calendar of slights [sic] that are employed by the gambler and conjurer, describing with detail and illustration every known expedient, manoevre and strategem [sic] of the expert card handler, with over one hundred drawings from life by M. D. Smith. Price $2.00"

I also happen to think the preface is a truly fine piece of writing.
And I think the author "needed the money"!

Nathan | 03/06/03 12:16 AM | link | filter

Since the discussion has somewhat turned to the writing style in the book, here are some comments I have. Has anyone else considering these before?

The only blatant grammatically incorrect sentence I've found is in the Cull Shuffling section: "Lightning don't strike in the same place often..." This sentence sounds so out of place that everytime I read it I wonder if Erdnase really wrote it.

I have heard about people comparing writing samples from diaries of suspected authors in a search for a match. Has anyone looked into the phrase "quick as a flash." It seems that Erdnase likes to use it to the point where it is almost overused. It may just be a common expression of the period, but given the elegance of Erdnase's style I find it somewhat hard to believe that he would succumb to overuse of a catch-phrase of the day. Perhaps it could be a clue to his hometown (or region) dialect?

Richard Hatch | 03/06/03 03:13 AM | link | filter

I had hoped to get Shakespearean scholar Don Foster interested in the Erdnase problem. He's the fellow who unmasked Joe Klein as the anonymous author of PRIMARY COLORS. I sent him an email several years ago, never heard back. Then I read his terrific book, AUTHOR UNKNOWN: IN SEARCH OF ANONYMOUS and learned he gets hundreds of such requests each week... I had also falsely assumed (as many do) that he had some kind of computer program to compare styles and you could just dump in two samples and check for a match. But that is not what he does. I do recommend his book as it is highly entertaining and parallels the Erdnase identity search in many ways. Foster's reputation suffered a slight setback recently as his early reputation was based on convincing scholars that an obscure 16th century funeral elegy by "W.S." was a previously unattributed work of William Shakespeare. Recent scholarhip has shown someone else wrote it...

Bart Whaley when researching THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE took some kind of style matching software and compared the "style" of Erdnase to that of Milton Franklin Andrews' confession/alibi letters and found a "match". He also compared the style of Erdnase to that of William Hilliar, their candidate as Milton's ghostwriter, and also found a match. To my way of thinking, that shows Hilliar could have "ghosted" the confession/alibi letters, which is patently ridiculous, and so the excercise proves nothing. In fairness to Whaley, this was done when such programs were light years removed from what they would be today. So he deserves credit for having made the attempt.

Jeff Eline | 03/06/03 11:36 AM | link | filter

I have nothing to add to this conversation, except to say that it is fascinating! Thank you!

Guest | 03/06/03 03:46 PM | link | filter

Regarding Nathan Becker's observation of an obviously ungrammatical phrase in Erdnase, I feel that this might have been an intentionally used colloquialism.

Regarding Dick Hatch's discussion of style-matching computer software, my understanding is that these programs are quite sophisticated. They look for grammatical patterns (e.g., how often does an author use adverbs? Where in a sentence do adverbs tend to occur? How many words apart (in range) are the adverb from the verb? Etc.) and compare these patterns in two or more writing samples.

Many years ago, I had a professor who used such a program to confirm his suspicion that Hemingway wrote one of his books earlier in his career than he claimed.

Is there someone on the Genii Forum who has access to such a program?

Michael Canick

Guest | 03/07/03 10:42 PM | link | filter

Hi Michael Canick,
Are you suppling dealers with this edition of Erdnase? Just curious. And do you accept Paypal? It sounds like a nice thing to own, even for a minimalist like me.

Guest | 03/08/03 09:22 AM | link | filter

Hi John (and any other interested party):

My agreement with the publisher prohibits me from selling discounted copies to dealers (although they may buy as many as they want for retail <g>) or from offering discounts to anyone. Sorry.

We accept any type of payment (except shells) including major credit cards & PayPal, which can be sent to my e-mail addy below.

The price again is $52 + $5 P&H for domestic orders. For multiple copies & international orders, please contact me privately. In fact, I think it would be respectiful to this topic discussion if any commercial inquiries be directed to me privately at my contact info below. You can find out more info on the book at our site or on the Genii Collector's Forum.

Best,
Michael

****************************************
*
* Michael Canick Booksellers, L.L.C.
* 200 East 82nd Street, #3B
* New York, NY 10028
* Phone: (212) 585-2990
* Fax: (212) 585-2986
* E-Mail: canick@panix.com
* Website: http://www.canick.com
* By Appointment.
* Specializing in Rare, Used & New Magic.
* Book Search Service & Appraisals in All Fields.
* Catalogs Issued.
*****************************************

Guest | 03/08/03 09:32 AM | link | filter

Hi John (and any other interested party):

My agreement with the publisher prohibits me from selling discounted copies to dealers (although they may buy as many as they want for retail <g>) or from offering discounts to anyone. Sorry.

We accept any type of payment (except shells) including major credit cards & PayPal, which can be sent to my e-mail addy below.

The price again is $52 + $5 P&H for domestic orders. For multiple copies & international orders, please contact me privately. In fact, I think it would be respectiful to this topic discussion if any commercial inquiries be directed to me privately at my contact info below. You can find out more info on the book at our site or on the Genii Collector's Forum.

Best,
Michael

****************************************
*
* Michael Canick Booksellers, L.L.C.
* 200 East 82nd Street, #3B
* New York, NY 10028
* Phone: (212) 585-2990
* Fax: (212) 585-2986
* E-Mail: canick@panix.com
* Website: http://www.canick.com
* By Appointment.
* Specializing in Rare, Used & New Magic.
* Book Search Service & Appraisals in All Fields.
* Catalogs Issued.
*****************************************

NCMarsh | 03/08/03 02:57 PM | link | filter

I'd like to first talk a bit about the question of the extent to which Erdnase was genuinely interested in magic, then the question of using computers to pinpoint authorship....

some comments on Erdnase:

Magician v. Gambler:
Some Observations:

  • Erdnase cares about how magicians perform. He has thought, carefully, about how magic should be performed and passionately exhorts the learner to adopt certain practices.
  • The sleights in his "Legerdemain" section are just as carefully and thoughtfully conceived as those designed primarily for the card table.
  • He is familiar with the practices and methods of contemporary conjurers.
  • The Exclusive Coterie is an highly entertaining presentation for an assembly. When delivered by someone who interprets the words well, it is an extremely entertaining piece for contemporary audiences (as Ricky Jay very convincingly proved in his first off-broadway show). I have seen very many magicians (including myself at one time) who have put little thought into the presentation of an assembly; Erdnase presents a polished and interesting script carefully coordinated to the performer's actions.
If he were merely tacking on a section on conjuring to increase the sales of his work, why put more thought into the content than many conjurers would? Why spend the time developing and finessing such powerful, groundbreaking sleights when they are utterly useless to one who's exclusive interest is in card artifice at the gaming table?
Was Erdnase a Magician? I think that Erdnase was, primarily, a lover of artistic card handling. I believe that he began as a gambler, but that a love for his tools outpaced in him the love of wager; he began to thouroughly explore the manipulation of playing cards...and this led him to experiment with the sleights and methods of conjurers and, perhaps, to begin to perform himself.

I think Erdnase was a sort of inverse Dai Vernon. Vernon was a magician whose love of deceptive and artistic card handling led him to explore and think about the methods of gamblers. Erdnase, to my mind, was a gambler whose love of deceptive and artistic card handling led him to explore and think about the methods of magicians... What think the experts?

some comments about attempts to quantify style:

The use of computer software to determine authorship seems highly suspect to me. Any such software depends upon postulates that are neither self-evident nor demonstrable, namely that:
  • published works by the same author, in the same period, will always feature the same characteristics
  • multiple authors will not have the same stylistic profile.
if the second postulate is false, and we can't prove it's not, then a mere stylistic match proves nothing. In a case like that of Primary Colors further verification is possible because the writer is a contemporary. With Erdnase, because no one is alive to admit authorship and the evidence of the act of writing the work are largely buried by time, we are dealing with a much more difficult proposition. In order to verify the results of any philological analysis we would need some new evidence external to the text; of course if we had such new evidence, then philological work would be moot...either way we see that without some new evidence external to the text itself, we will never be able to definitively assert that any candidate was Erdnase...we are engaging in an endeavor that will probably always remain speculative -- and I, for one, really love mystery...
best,

nate.

Guest | 03/09/03 11:33 PM | link | filter

I remember Jon Racherbaumer writing something, somewhere (Magic Magazine?) about an annotated Erdnase by Marlo. He was emphatic about saying that the book DID NOT exist. Would have been nice though. And BIG. Anyway, who among us today, would be qualified for the job of a third annotated Erdnase? Is there any such project in the works?
Another thing...Erdnase is a great book, and Vernon was a great magician. The book, all by itself is indeed wonderful. But for Vernon, it really spoke to him. He worked at getting it, and he just GOT it. We all have books that speak to us, better than others. For me, CLOSE-UP CARD MAGIC, is one such. Perhaps if any of us took the time to be as THOROUGH with our "speaking volumes" (Sorry David!), as Vernon was with his, we'd each have a better understanding of magic, as we see it, as what it is to us individually. Yeah, I know: as it happened Vernon "got" a really good one! Does this makes sense? Or is it a non point? I had good intentions when I started!

Guest | 03/10/03 06:22 PM | link | filter

Actually, the book was "Revelations". It was given to Marlo,he wrote comments in the book, then the book was given to Vernon,where he too wrote comments. The person who was suppose to have the book passed away many years ago. The search for the holy grail continues..............

Richard Kaufman | 03/10/03 07:34 PM | link | filter

Here's the story: a guy by the name of Chuck (think his last name was Stanfield--a nice guy) worked at Magic Inc. and had a huge collection of signed first editions. He bought a copy of "Revelations" when it was published and gave it to Marlo so he could write some comments in it, based upon Vernon's annotations. Marlo did this, belittling Vernon's additions. Chuck then gave the book to Vernon to sign, and to get his reaction to Marlo's jealous scribblings. Vernon wrote, "Ed, keep striving," or something along those lines.
Chuck died of AIDS years ago and Jay Marshall inherited his library. So, Jay Marshall now has the book.

Dustin Stinett | 03/10/03 09:20 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by John Blaze:
Anyway, who among us today, would be qualified for the job of a third annotated Erdnase?
Off the top of my head I can think of four men who are eminently qualified. However, another quality these men share in common is that they would never, ever, consider it.

Dustin

Max Maven | 03/10/03 09:33 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Here's the story: a guy by the name of Chuck (think his last name was Stanfield--a nice guy) worked at Magic Inc. and had a huge collection of signed first editions. He bought a copy of "Revelations" when it was published and gave it to Marlo so he could write some comments in it, based upon Vernon's annotations. Marlo did this, belittling Vernon's additions. Chuck then gave the book to Vernon to sign, and to get his reaction to Marlo's jealous scribblings. Vernon wrote, "Ed, keep striving," or something along those lines.
Chuck died of AIDS years ago and Jay Marshall inherited his library. So, Jay Marshall now has the book.
Chuck's last name was indeed Stanfield.

Vernon wrote addenda to several of Marlo's comments. I believe the punchline was closer to, "Ed, keep up the good work."

The Standfield collection was sold, most of it piecemeal, so the owner of that double-annotated copy of Revelations is not necessarily Jay.

Jon Racherbaumer | 03/11/03 12:31 AM | link | filter

I have a COPY of the Marlo comments re REVELATIONS, comments which were not really annotations but short, negative remarks more accurately resembling snide marginalia.

REVELATIONS of course is better than the knee-jerk demeaning reactions that circulated when the book appeared. They more accurately reflected an almost unanimous disappointment of the book they imagined rather than sage or informed appraisals of the book that actually exists. This often happens when expectations are too unrealistically high in the first place.

I DO have a scattered collection of Marlo's true annotations, which would now make an interesting and very personal book. Right now it is not in book form, though.

EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE, to me, is a curious book and the current interest in this work and its mysterious author or authors is even more curious. I also find it interesting that nobody talks about McDougal's "take" or his Erdnasian book anymore?

Comments?

El Mystico | 03/11/03 12:17 PM | link | filter

Wonderful thread!
One point not touched on is Erdnase as teacher. Certainly the whole book demonstrates his ability in this area - but specifically in describing the Three Card Stock within Card Table Artifice, he says "Certain players whom we have instructed, can execute the stock with the greatest facility". And the three card stock has far more purpose for gambling than for magic. Whereas I can see no equivalent indication of teaching in the legerdemain section. So - he gave lessons in gambling technique, it would seem.
Does this lend weight to the argument he was a gambler? In the introduction to the artifice section, he says "some techniques will remain private property as long as the originators are so disposed" - highlighting that some gamblers were sharing their private techniques with him. Yet in the introduction to the Legerdemain section, he says "...as far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers, not one of them knows of" (a substitute for the pass), suggesting, if, he is reliant on literature, he is not so well aquainted with magicians - but then,later, when talking about the diagonal palm shift, he does refer to a move as being "well known to most conjurers" - which could indicate a familiarity with our breed...

Dave Egleston | 03/14/03 09:31 PM | link | filter

To all contributers:

Thank you very much - This thread is conclusive proof - Best magic board on the net

Dave

(By the way Mr Alexander, I checked out your wife's drawings - She draws real good!!)

John Bodine | 03/19/03 01:05 PM | link | filter

Regarding the illustrations, isn't it probably that Erdnase had already penned the majority if not entire contents of hte book and was seeking illustrations to clarify or strengthen certain points? If you agree that this was the case, isn't it possible that the description of a sleight or move could have been given to Smith for reference while he was illustrating. Alternatively, Smith could have done quick sketches and later inked them in. Upon receiving the final illustrations Erdnase accepted the work but then while laying up the art noticed that the illustrations did not exactly match the accompanying text. It wouldn't have been too difficult for him to trace an existing image with only minor adjustments.

This might explain why some of the images don't seem quite right while others are very perfect. It may also provide some clue as to why some images contain copyright statements while others do not.

Fantastic thread - thank you all.

John Bodine

P.S. Richard, I know I still owe you some pictures of potential residences for Edwin Sumner. I'll put the activity a bit higher on my list.

Richard Hatch | 03/20/03 08:00 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by John Bodine:
P.S. Richard, I know I still owe you some pictures of potential residences for Edwin Sumner. I'll put the activity a bit higher on my list.
Thanks, John. Looking forward to it. With luck this may allow us to get a better grip on E. S. Andrews' height, should the one known photograph show him in front of a residence that still exists. It's a longshot, but you never know. (Clearly he is "short" relative to the rest of his family in the photo, including his two adolescent children...)

Is anyone interested in a post about Martin Gardner's pursuit of "James Andrews"? His correspondence with the Library of Congress on this topic in early 1947 has at least one surprising "revelation"...

Frank Yuen | 03/20/03 09:54 AM | link | filter

Yes, please post it. This thread has probably been the one that I've enjoyed the most.

Frank Yuen

Richard Hatch | 03/20/03 11:53 AM | link | filter

I'll try to dig out Gardner's correspondence later today and post this, rather than work from memory and get things wrong...

Richard Hatch | 03/25/03 02:11 PM | link | filter

On December 10, 1946, Martin Gardner in Chicago wrote letters to Marshall D. Smith, Richard W. Hood (son of and successor to Edwin C. Hood, founder of H. C. Evans & Company, the Chicago based gambling supplier since 1892) and the Canadian Copyright office, asking all of them specific questions about S. W. Erdnase and his book. All responded promptly and only the Canadian copyright office yielded no information, other than the fact that they could find no record of copyright there. Smith responded just two days later and in his reply letter he wrote: I did the drawings for Mr. Erdnase whose name I had forgotten. When Gardner met Smith the very next day, Gardners notes tell us: Before I [Gardner] mentioned Andrews as the name, he said that Erdnase didnt sound right, and he recalled it as a name with a W. When I said Andrews his face lighted up and he was sure that was it. Does not recall first name or initials. I think it worth noting that Smith did not independently recall the name as Andrews, though he strongly supported Gardners suggestion. Gardners interview with Smith and his subsequent correspondence yielded quite a bit of specific information regarding the books author, including a detailed physical description and the fact that he was somehow related to Louis Dalrymple, the famous political cartoonist of the period. He also recalled that he made pencil sketches of the authors hands, then took them home to ink them in after the author had OKd each sketch. He thought the job took him about two weeks, though he had specific memories of only their initial meeting
Just a month later, on July 16th, 1947, Gardner wrote the Librarian of Congress for the first time about the book. In that letter he says: The authors real name was James Andrews. He obtained the pseudonym of S. W. Erdnase by spelling his real name backwards, including the last two letters of James.
In his reply some two months later (March 17th, 1947), Robert C. Gooch, Chief of the General Reference and Bibliography Division, after supplying the bibliographic information Gardner requested, writes: We are very interested to note that you have discovered evidence that this authors real name is James Andrews. Our Processing Department would be pleased to learn in what source this information may be found, in order to complete its records. In his detailed response of March 20, 1947, Gardner writes: Regarding the authors real name: In my research on Erdnase I located M. D. Smith, the artist who did the illustrations. He lives in Chicago, a hale and hearty man of about 80 [in fact, he 74 at the time -rh]. He remembered Erdnases real name (I.e. James Andrews). With this as a lead, I found a magazine article by James Andrews in Harpers Weekly, June 26, 1909, titled Confessions of a Fakir, which contains intrinsic material that establishes it beyond doubt as by the same author as the book on gambling methods. This article was reprinted in Conjurers Magazine in August 1949. Just two months later, in October 1949, Gardner found articles from 1905 detailing the lurid life and death of card cheat Milton Franklin Andrews, who had been described to him as Erdnase (without revealing his name) by Philadelphia magician, E. L. Pratt. Within a short period of time, Gardner abandoned the James Andrews theory in favor of Milton Franklin Andrews.
What surprised me in Gardners correspondence was the claim that he was led to the James Andrews theory by Marshall Smiths recollection. He met Smith in December 1946 and makes this claim in March 1947, though mentions the James Andrews name just one month after meeting Smith. He made no mention of James Andrews in his article THE MYSTERY OF ERDNASE published in the SAM Convention program in May 1947. James Andrews is mentioned in Vincent Starretts weekly Books Alive column in the Chicago Sunday Tribune of June 15th, 1947: For nearly half a century the identity of Erdnase remained a mystery; then the ingenious Mr. Gardner read the name backwards and produced E. S. Andrews. But who was E. S. Andrews? A later discovery by Mr. Gardner revealed him as James Andrews; the initials obtained by spelling the name in reverse were the last two letters of James. This final revelation came too late for inclusion in Mr. Gardners article, The Mystery of Erdnase, and were revealed to me in a letter supplementing the printed revelation The same article mentions Smith, but without crediting him with this revelation. It does credit Smith with the Louis Dalrymple clue, noting that Dalrymple was then [1902] a cartoonist and comic artist for the Chicago Tribune. (Incidentally, Smith acknowledged receiving a copy of the Tribune article from Gardner in his letter of June 24, 1947).
Alas, Gardners own recollection of this episode is now pretty dim (he is more than a decade older than Smith was back then and it was 55 years ago!). He now thinks it likely that he first found the article in Harpers Weekly, then asked Smith about the name James Andrews and got some kind of encouragement, though this is, of course, not what Gardner wrote to the Library of Congress at the time. And why did he omit the reference to James in the SAM Program? Surely not, as the Tribune article states, because he obtained it too late for inclusion. He had the information in January, the convention wasnt till May
Some of you may recall that I was once enthusiastic about a James Andrews candidate myself, specifically, James DeWitt Andrews, a Chicago attorney and writer of legal treatises. I remain interested in James DeWitt Andrews, but in trying to link him to Dalrymple, I stumbled across Edwin Sumner Andrews, whom I consider a more likely fit on circumstantial grounds. The most intriguing response to the MAGIC article (December 1999) I wrote on this topic (which included considerable information on James DeWitt Andrews) came from reader Michael DeMarco. He found the circumstantial case I made for JDA sufficiently compelling to search the first edition title page (which seems to be the Rosetta stone of this mystery) for the other missing letters of his name. Sure enough, there they are: the first letters of each line of the inverted pyramid subtitle are JAM DEWTT, missing only the letter I (no, they are not in that order!).

Pete McCabe | 03/25/03 04:32 PM | link | filter

If, as Dick suggests, the first edition title page is the Rosetta stone of this mystery, can someone post a link to a scan of this page?

Richard Hatch | 03/25/03 10:47 PM | link | filter

Michael Canick includes an image of the first edition titlepage in his write up of his facsimile edition:
http://www.canick.com/erdnase.html
The second line of the title:

"Ruse And Subterfuge"

has been the source of much speculation. Steve Burton, Thomas Sawyer and more recently David Alexander have all considered it significant that reversing the first two words yields "And Ruse" = Andrews. Sawyer (and possibly Burton) pointed out that the first and last letters of "Subterfuge", when also reversed yield "E. S."
David Alexander's reading of the titlepage "clues" is given in his excellent cover story feature in the January 2000 GENII.

Nathan | 03/25/03 11:48 PM | link | filter

Since I have access to a University library, I couldn't resist the temptation to look up the article by James Andrews in Harper's Weekly.

There are some interesting circumstantial similarities between Erdnase and James Andrews. They both seem to be interested in making money and they both have little sympathy for the victims. Also they both wrote literature exposing the detailed workings of their artifice. There is also a brief mention of card sharps in James Andrew's article which is either an indication of his lack of knowledge of card cheating or as a tease to all those card workers who might have tried to find Erdnase.

Somehow I doubt the card expert ended up as a fakir on Coney Island, but one thing is sort of intriguing. James Andrews claims to have made between $150 and $200 per night telling fortunes. I'm not sure what Erdnase would have been able to make in a card game in one night in those days, but I wonder if it might have been comparable money. It certainly involves significantly less risk. Might Erdnase have lost his nerve and turned towards a safer and equally profitable profession?

Richard Hatch | 03/26/03 07:55 AM | link | filter

Nathan, thanks for looking this up! Is the original a single oversized page? I assume Harper's does not include an "about the authors" page! In the CONJURORS' MAGAZINE reprint (August 1949), it is a single page, spread sideways across two of the magazine's 8.5x11 pages. Gardner's one page introductory piece accompanying the reprint points out that the James Andrews in the article described himself as a "blonde, blue-eyed, thin nervous American" which agreed with Marshall Smith's description. James Andrews also says "the spur of poverty drove me into prophecy" which agrees with Erdnase's "need for money" motivation for publishing THE EXPERT. Gardner says the writing style of the James Andrews story is "somewhat different" from THE EXPERT, but points out that this could be explained by the different audience being addressed or the possibility that THE EXPERT was ghostwritten. He does note the mention of the cardsharp and that both use the terms "patter" and "chicanery", and the device of a question mark in parenthesis. Gardner found a James J. Andrews listed as a clairvoyant in the 1909 New York directory, but no way of determining whether he was the author of the Harper's story. I would add that we don't know if the Harper's story was written as fact or fiction, or whether its author's true name is James Andrews. I personally don't think the story sounds anything like Erdnase.
Gardner also says in his introductory remarks that, while Marshall Smith "confirmed" that Erdnase's real name was Andrews, "Smith does not, however, recall Andrews' real name." This, of course, directly contradicts what he wrote to the Library of Congress just four months after meeting Smith.
If Smith did indeed independently recall the author's first name as "James", I would consider that extremely significant. Gardner would then have recognized that it explained the "E. S." and begun his search, leading to the Harper's article as claimed in the letter to the Library of Congress. But other than that letter, there is no suggestion that Smith did so. If Gardner was simply led to look for a James because the name ends in "ES", then one should also look for candidates named Charles, Wes, Les, Soames, Ames, etc. The same logic could extend the search to middle names ending in those letters, leading to an impossibly large field of candidates.
Based on the US population of the time, the artist's description, the frequency of the last name Andrews, the popularity of male first names beginning with E (these statistics can be found online associated with the 1900 census) and an assumption regarding the frequency of middle names beginning with S, I at one time estimated there were no more than 24 white adult males named E. S. Andrews at the time of the book's publication. I have found a half dozen of them by searching census records. That one of them is the age and size (approximate) remembered by the author, possibly related to Dalrymple (which is how I found him), moved to Chicago late in 1901, left in February 1903 and was living just 9 blocks south of Atlas Novelty Co. which began distributing first edition copies at half price in February 1903 strikes me as rather remarkable if it is just a coincidence (as it may, indeed, be).

Richard Hatch | 03/26/03 10:12 PM | link | filter

If anyone wants a piece of original artwork by Erdnase's "relative" Louis Dalrymple, there is currently a drawing of his from Puck on ebay at the following link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 70138&rd=1

Guest | 03/27/03 03:18 PM | link | filter

For you hunters the 1880 US Census, which was, I believe, the first showing names, jobs, family members, etc. is on line. The British census from around the same time is also on line.
Steve V

Nathan | 03/27/03 11:02 PM | link | filter

Richard,
To answer your question, the Harper's Weekly that I looked at was an enormous poster size. It is being stored in the library's special collections so I had to have a librarian go back and pull it up for me. She was quite out breath when she lugged the bound 1909 volume back with her! I felt a little guilty when she then showed me how I could just pull it up online.

Todd Karr | 03/29/03 06:39 PM | link | filter

Richard Hatch was kind enough to send a copy of the Harper's article to me and so far I see no significant similarity of style or usage that would indicate that Erdnase wrote it. As Gardner noted, though, this could simply mean that his article was heavily edited by the Harper's editors.

Richard Hatch | 04/10/03 11:25 PM | link | filter

I was searching the web for uses of the expression "mealymouthed pretensions" and only came up with two matches, both Erdnase's preface. But one of them is on a site that describes itself as "a collection of primary texts of american anti-authoritarianism" and includes links to quotes by Mencken, Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, Abby Hoffman, Tecumsah, etc. I was surprised to see Erdnase in their company!
Here's the site:
http://www.crispinsartwell.com/americanliberties.htm

Dustin Stinett | 04/10/03 11:49 PM | link | filter

That is a fascinating view of Erdnase's words. Obviously he was not a fan of those behind the reform movement of the late 19th & early 20th centuries (whose design, for those of you out there not familiar with the movement, was to rid cities of the evils of gambling and the other vices normally associated with it) but to call that single sentence a "primary text" of anti-authoritarianism is quite a stretch indeed.

Dustin

Guest | 04/13/03 06:22 PM | link | filter

Wow, to be mentioned in the same sentence as any of the abovementioned social activists would be quite an honor for most people. Abby Hoffman was one of my heros during the early 70's, and tecumseh makes one heck of an engine (just kidding about that last one)

Nathan | 04/22/03 12:01 AM | link | filter

At the risk of polluting this thread with another "crazy theory", I want to suggest the following research tactic that to my knowledge has not yet been attempted. Regardless of how insane you think my idea is, the saving grace is the fact that it is completely testable by someone who has access to the appropriate resources (which I unfortunately do not).

Suppose for a moment that Erdnase's motive for disguising his identity was because he wanted to pull off the greatest trick in magic/gambling publishing history, but he wanted to eventually be discovered. Perhaps this is why he revealed the illustrator's real name. Maybe there is another clue that leads to additional information. Another really cryptic thing in the book is the copyright "Entered at Stationer's Hall, London..." According to what I've read in "Annotated Erdnase", the book was never copyrighted there so it seems strange to cite this copyright since the book actually was copyrighted in the US.

Perhaps, and I know this is pretty crazy, Erdnase wrote some autobiographical material and copyrighted it in England but never published it with the hopes that it would be discovered after "The Expert at the Card Table" reached its present day mysterious status. Thus, the thing to search for in Stationer's Hall is a book that was copyrighted in 1902 but never actually published. The US copyright office apparently received a couple of copies of Expert (at least according to what I've read in Annotated Erdnase), so presumably the office in London would have received a preprint of whatever informational book Erdnase might have submitted. Clearly Erdnase would not copyright such autobiographical material under the name S.W. Erdnase because he wouldn't want someone to accidentally stumble on it without solving the copyright page puzzle (if such a puzzle exists).

Temperance | 04/30/03 04:00 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by R P Wilson:

That said, I would like to point out that almost no one I have seen has performed the shift correctly - as described in the book. Everyone (including Steve Freeman on the Vernon tapes) has made some sort of adjustment and almost everyone STARTS IN THE WRONG POSITION.
This is true, however as so much of the explanations in Erdnase have errors and a lot of the descriptions are somewhat ambiguous, who is to say that the method given for the S.W.E shift is actually correct?

Just a thought.

--Euan

Leonard Hevia | 05/11/03 09:03 PM | link | filter

This is a wonderful thread worthy of repeated study. I just received my copy of Expert at the Card Tablefrom Michael Canick and will compare the information from these postings with my facsimile copy.

I believe only a serious historian of this text can answer Lance's question. I'm currently wondering if Mike Caveney will republish Vernon's Revelations. Since Mr. Caveney is reviving out of print books from his catalog--and since this year is the 100th anniversary of this wonderful text-well-it's just a thought. :)

Guest | 05/12/03 01:39 PM | link | filter

Uh Oh, it looks like Erdnase is catching up with the five page three fly thread!

Charlie Chang | 05/12/03 03:39 PM | link | filter

I would like to correct Euan's above post. There are VERY FEW errors or ommissions in the Erdnase text. It is my experience that everything is both well described and VERY WELL thought out.

While the descriptions are "economic" they include everything needed by the serious student to learn the moves.

As Dai Vernon wrote in his introduction to Revelations:

"Erdnase is at once logical and practical. Surely no one, before or since, has written so lucidly on the subject of card table artifice."

As someone once observed, students of Erdnase usually blame their difficulties on the text, rather than their inability to understand it.

Temperance | 05/12/03 04:04 PM | link | filter

Very few? Hrmm.

The slip cut is wrong, completely. Interestingly the same wrong technique is described in more card manipulations. Actually it's just the image in more card manipulations but it's still wrong.

There are several errors in the bottom deal description in that he changes which finger are meant to be doing the push out several times.

The over hand shuffle cull descriptions are ambiguous as to which cards are meant to be jogged.

The open shift is less than clear.

The first method for top palming is clearly wrong. Does anyone do this move with the left pinky in the position described in the text? ( ie against the middle of the inner short edge ).

That's just off the top of my head.

However I still think it's a brilliant book and well worth studying. In fact next to Roy Walton, Alex Elmsley and Bob Hummers works it's my favourite book.

--Euan

Charlie Chang | 05/12/03 05:17 PM | link | filter

Euan,
I'm trying not to slam you here but what follows may read that way. I figure it's best to just say it and be done. Just my opinion on a subject close to my heart.

To begin with, you are correct about the bottom deal - partly. There is ONE error which mentions the second finger pushing out the bottom card instead of the third. Vernon mentions another paragraph earlier in the description which states that the second finger and thumb "do the work". Vernon believed that Erdnase meant to say "third finger and thumb", assuming he referred to the dealing action. The sentence immediately before this one, however, talks about the little finger and it's part in HOLDING the deck. I believe that he goes on to say that the second finger and thumb do all the work with regards to supporting the pack, NOT the dealing action. This is moot but either way it does not detract from the excellent description of the sleight. Hardly "several" errors as you suggest.

The Open Shift is VERY clear. You simply haven't read it clearly. To quote Vernon again:"This is an exceedingly difficult pass but its acquisition can be greatly facilitated by following Erdnase's EXACT instructions". I learned it from the book. It wasn't easy but the work is all there.

I have no problem with the overhand shuffle culls. They're complex but correct. Better methods have since appeared but I learned all of these for completeness. Never, ever, used them.

Erdnase's Top Palm (version one) is a perfect sleight. It is rarely used and has been varied to death but the original is still extremely well described and thought out. Mechanically, it's brilliant. Just because people don't do it, doesn't make it any less perfect.

The Slip Cut is completely CORRECT. The illustration exaggerates the middle part of the sleight but, in doing so, correctly conveys the action. Carrying the lower half forward under the top card is a DIFFERENT tabled slip cut. I have used the Erdnase cut for many years with no difficulty. In Revelations, Vernon mentions a complete blind that is worth looking up (also correctly described). He also discusses the now standard version of the tabled slip-cut (where the lower packet is carried forward).

Euan, you need to understand that, when I first started visiting Roy Walton in his shop (almost twenty years ago) , I took his advice and bought a paperback of Erdnase, had it trimmed to the edge of the text and have carried it in my pocket ever since. I have lived with this book, studied it, loved it, hated it and devoured it.

I still dont understand it like Roy Walton does. Or Gordon Bruce. Or Bruce Cervon. Or Howie Schwarzman (who I could spend hours discussing the book with). But I keep reading and keep getting rewarded.

Thinking the text is wrong simply because it is either alien (like the top palm) or difficult (like the open shift) suggests you need to reconsider whether it is really a favourite book after all.

Temperance | 05/12/03 05:41 PM | link | filter

Hi Paul

Your post didn't come across as slamming me, just so's you know.

You really think the slip cut is correct? In the text you are told to hold the deck off the table by the ends. Slip the top card to the left as your right hand takes the top half to the right then drop the left portion on the table followed by the right. At least in the Dover reprint, perhaps it is different in the original text?

I've never seen anyone handle a slip cut this way.

Usually you have the deck on the table the bottom half is moved forward onto which the top card is slipped using the right index finger (if you're right handed). then the right hand comes back and picks up the remaining half and slaps it on top of the other half.

Or am I missing something?

I'm not trying to attack you or Erdnase here I'm just trying to point out that as there are some errors in the text. There is a distinct possibility that the description of the SWE shift is perhaps incorrect.

--Euan

PS Vernon also said that you shouldn't treat sleight descriptions as biblical but that you should try to understand what is going on and then adapt the technique so that it fits how you handle cards (all hand sizes are different etc). I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea.

Charlie Chang | 05/12/03 07:15 PM | link | filter

Euan,
the slip cut is a different action - follow the text and perform it with a distinct slapping action. straight to the table, no forward action.

Matthew Field | 05/13/03 04:37 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
when I first started visiting Roy Walton in his shop (almost twenty years ago) , I took his advice and bought a paperback of Erdnase, had it trimmed to the edge of the text and have carried it in my pocket ever since. I have lived with this book, studied it, loved it, hated it and devoured it.
This thread is wonderful, and the small quote above from Paul Wilson is well worthy of any serious student's consideration.

Along with Michael Canick's new facsimile of Erdnase, and among other versions of the book in my library, I have two copies of the inexpensive Dover paperback edition. One looks nice and neat. The other looks like it's been in the washing machine.

That's the copy I fold in half and stuff in the back pocket of my jeans when I'm going somewhere like a beach outing. While I find it difficult to actually work with a deck of cards on the beach, reading Erdnase is something I very much enjoy.

So reading that Roy Walton had suggested something like this to Paul, who took it to heart, resonated within me, and I post this to stir some students out there to do likewise.

Thanks, Paul.

Matt Field

CHRIS | 05/13/03 08:06 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
That's the copy I fold in half and stuff in the back pocket of my jeans when I'm going somewhere like a beach outing.
Another idea is to get the electronic version and print it out in small fonts. With a little tool like ClickBook one can even print out a small booklet (4 or 8 pages per sheet). And when it's torn up, just print out another one. Or print chapters separately. Then it might fit in your breast pocket.

I don't need to tell you where to get the electronic version ;)

Chris Wasshuber
preserving magic one book at a time.

Dave Egleston | 05/13/03 03:19 PM | link | filter

Except you can't read it on the beach!!!!!!! Too much glare!!

Dave

CHRIS | 05/13/03 03:46 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
Except you can't read it on the beach!!!!!!! Too much glare!!
Dave, I wrote 'print out'. When you print the ebook there is no glare. ;)

Chris Wasshuber
preserving magic one book at a time.

Temperance | 05/14/03 07:26 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
Euan,
the slip cut is a different action - follow the text and perform it with a distinct slapping action. straight to the table, no forward action.
Yes it's bad technique though. You do that in a game and you're liable to get your kneecaps blown off.

Re the open shift. Can anyone actually do this? There doesn't seem to be any conceivable angle from which it can be viewed to make it even remotely deceptive.

--Euan

Charlie Chang | 05/15/03 04:06 AM | link | filter

I have no idea how to reply to this. I'm stunned.

Euan clearly thinks he knows more about it than the rest of us - including Erdnase.

Personally, I feel like I just tried to explain quantum mechanics to my dog.

For the record, I think the slip cut is excellent and the Open Shift is an excellent lesson in shift mechanics.

Temperance | 05/15/03 06:40 AM | link | filter

Paul, the fact that I have an opinion outside of your own does not warrant your personal attacks. I would very much appreciate it if you did not refer to me as a 'dog' again. Thank you!

The open shift is impractical and unnatural in handling. There is no conceivable reason to hold the deck in the manner needed to execute it. Out of interest, how do you justify the unnatural grip when you perform this? Also where is the focus of viewing; perhaps from the right side using the back of the right hand as cover?

--Euan

Guest | 05/15/03 09:53 AM | link | filter

Euan, come on, man, Mr. Wilson didn't refer to you as a dog.

Teaching quantum physics to a dog would be a very frustrating experience. Mr. Wilson was simply using an analogy to voice his frustrations. Have a nice day! :)

Earle Oakes | 06/09/03 03:36 PM | link | filter

Regarding the illustrations of THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE.Because there are so many intricate finger positions and specific breaks in the deck,I believe M.D.Smith must have worked over photographs and not from life as I understand the term.While purely conjecture, Erdnase,in stating on the title page that the drawings were done "from life",I believe he could have been referring to photographs that were taken for Smith's use.

No matter, whether from life or photos the outstanding feature of Smith's drawings is that the hands and fingers express the action as well as the proper finger positions to accomplish the sleight described. Fig.5, riffle shuffling and Fig.10, squaring up the deck are just two handsome examples of Smith's accurate and expressive drawings. I don't mean style or technique.

The original drawings had to have been done at least 60% larger than the published work. All the cards have rounded corners and the lined card indications on the sides of the talons and deck are all there and accurately drawn which could only have been done at a much larger size than shown in the book.

To do 101 drawings (over photos) with the clean accurate detail that the Smith drawings have in less than 20 minutes per drawing would be difficult.I think working 8 hours a day for four days would be a reasonable estimate as to the time it would havetaken Smith to do that number of drawings.

Technique aside, Smith, did wonderful expressive drawings for Erdnase. To draw hands so that they show the grace of the fingers and the beauty of the sleight is always the challenge to the illustrator of magic. M.D.Smith did an admirable job, no matter the time it may have taken to do the work or whether he worked from life or photographs.

This has been one of the most interesting threads to make the Forum.

Earle

Richard Hatch | 09/16/03 10:42 PM | link | filter

I have recently been encouraged to post publicly some previously unpublished critiques of THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE (TMWWE). Let me begin by saying that I truly consider TMWWE to be a fantastic book which every student of Erdnase should own and study. This discussion assumes you have the book and can look up the references in it. It may make little sense if you do not have access to a copy. The good news is that it is still in print and available at a reasonable price from several dealers including the publisher.

TMWWE is basically a chronicle of the life of Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA, 1872-1905) and a history of Erdnase (the book and the author), arguing persuasively that MFA was Erdnase. This theory was first published by Martin Gardner, who developed information supplied to him by Edgar Pratt, a magician originally from Providence, Rhode Island, but living in Philadelphia when Gardner corresponded with him (at the suggestion of Walter Gibson) beginning in 1947. Gardner later met him several times. Gardners evidence (on this and other Erdnase theories) was further developed by Jeff Busby and then Bart Whaley. Thus the book is credited to Bart Whaley (who did most of the writing and much of the background research) with Jeff Busby and Martin Gardner. In addition to his research, Gardner contributed a foreword and Busby, who published the book in 1991, contributed not only research but several important chapters.

Let me begin with one of the very first artifacts presented in the book: a frontispiece photo opposite the title page of a handsome young man from the turn of the century. The photo is captioned Milton Franklin Andrews. When Martin Gardner received his first copy of the book, he was struck by the photo, which he had never seen. His initial response was Thats not Milton! as it was so unlike the photos of MFA with which he was familiar. Indeed, Thomas Sawyer in his critique ERDNASE: ANOTHER VIEW (possibly still available from Aladdin Books in Fullerton California) makes the same point. The morgue photo of MFA (p. 37) is clearly not the same man shown in the frontispiece photo (compare the shape of the noses: one is convex, one is concave, check the relative distances between the chin and lips, lips and eyes etc. Not the same man.). If the frontispiece photo is not MFA, who is it? One of the wonderful things about TMWWE is the extensive endnoting of source material. The first endnote in the book (p. 383) tells us that this photo, now in the collection of Howard Flint, is unique and still in the original photographers studio frame (Rose & Sands of Providence RI and NY) and that pencilled lightly on the back, likely in Edgar Pratts handwriting, it says Age 24 [corrected from 23], August 7, 1900. The photograph was purchased by Flint from Bob Little, who obtained it from Philadelphia magic dealer Mitchell (Mike) Kanter, who had obtained it, along with several other materials supposedly relating to MFA and Erdnase, from Pratt.

The first thing worth noting is that the photo is not unique. This was pointed out in T. A. Waters review of TMWWE in GENII, as he knew of the existence of at least one other copy. Flint had sold that copy to a well known magic personality and close friend of Waters, and Waters review implies that Busby/Whaley had knowledge of this. Bob Little did not know that he had sold Flint two photos stuck together, and it is likely that neither Kanter nor Pratt realized it as well. Since MFA was 27 on the date pencilled in on the photo, Whaley conjectures that it is likely a photo of MFA at age 24, given to Pratt when MFA was 27. Now Pratts correspondence and interviews with Gardner never claim that he knew MFA well, only that MFA was on friendly terms with Pratts childhood friends, the Taylor brothers and that what MFA showed them, the Taylor boys would share with Pratt (Pratts 4 letters to Gardner are reprinted in Darwin Ortizs wonderful ANNOTATED ERDNASE, also still in print and highly recommended to all interested in this topic). Why would Pratt even have a photo of MFA, whom he barely knew, and why would he keep it for nearly 50 years? Intrigued by this mystery, I went through the Providence city directories (available on microfilm at the Family History Library of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City) covering a period of about 30 years researching Pratt, the Taylor brothers and, relevant to the case at hand, the Rose & Sands photography studio. Philip Rose founded the studio in the 1870s, at which time it was simply The Rose Studio. For one year, and one year only --1900-- he partnered with an ex-employee named Sands who had moved to NY and together they operated under the name Rose & Sands. By 1901, the partnership had broken up and The Rose Studio was back in business (Sands eventually moved back to Providence and opened a competing studio under his own name). This allows us to date the photos frame with some certainty as from 1900, and it seems most reasonable that the photo itself also dates from that period, as indicated by the pencilled notation. So who is it?

As it turns out, Edgar Pratt had an older brother William Pratt who turned 24 (from 23!) on August 6, 1900. I cannot prove, but would be willing to bet that the frontispiece photo of TMWWE is a photo of William Pratt, taken to commerate his 24th birthday. Pratt told Gardner that his brother died a few years later, and it makes sense to me that he would both have and hold onto a photo of his deceased brother for many years, selling it to Kanter only when poverty forced him to do so (Gardner tells us that Pratt was living in empoverished circumstances when they met).

One of the things Pratt sold Kanter, apparently on the same occasion (along with two letters from Gardner) was the copy of the AMERICAN WEEKLY article, THE MALTED MILK MURDERER published on May 20, 1945. This is reproduced on page 264 of TMWWE. Even with a strong magnifying glass, the article (which is missing several pieces) is difficult to read, but I have since been able to purchase several copies online. Everything Pratt told Gardner about MFA that can be verified is in that article, as are several things he told Gardner about MFA that are incorrect. Pratt, at that time, would not tell Gardner who Erdnase was. Later, when Gardner found the MFA murder/suicide story by following up on Pratts leads, and told Pratt that MFAs story had seen print several times (Pratt claimed to be protecting his friends identity to avoid scandalizing the Andrews family), Pratt claimed he did not know anything had ever been published on this topic--this just a few years after THE MALTED MILK MURDERER article. It is my belief that Pratt, whatever his relationship with MFA (I am inclinded to believe he did not know him at all, from the many mistatements he made regarding him), knew about the Andrews=Erdnases real name theory (which was published in THE SPHINX by Leo Rullman in February 1929 as though it was already well known at that time) and conjectured that MFA was Erdnase based on the MALTED MILK MURDERER article. And perhaps he was correct in doing so: MFA remains the only candidate named Andrews who is known to have had some of the skills required of the books author (knowledge of card cheating methods and card tricks). The fact that he died in 1905 conveniently explains why the author who clearly took pride in his work never came forward to identify himself, once the book became a commercial success.

Gardner, even after cracking the MFA theory, remained skeptical because of Pratts strange behavior. But he followed up Pratts lead that James Harto had collaborated with the author and found independent evidence of this, which he found compelling. I have done considerable research on Harto, as well as on Hugh Johnston and Del Aldephia, who, along with Albertie Minkley, MFAs sister-in-law, are cited in TMWWE in support of the MFA theory. Should there be sufficient interest, I would be happy to post some of my findings on this board as time permits.

Dave Egleston | 09/16/03 11:22 PM | link | filter

Thanks Mr Hatch,

This is the stuff that fascinates - I don't believe there will ever be a time when this isn't interesting.

I'm ready for you to put out a book - I'll be one of the first to buy it

Dave

Bob Coyne | 09/17/03 06:20 AM | link | filter

Yes, thanks to Richard Hatch!! This is fascinating information and research. I'd always wondered about the veracity of Pratt's claims that he knew Erdnase and that Erdnase = MFA. If Pratt's statements are suspect (as RH reserach indicates), then the whole MFA theory becomes less credible. I'd love to hear about the new research on Harto (the hypothesized writer of the magic section).

Chris Gillett | 09/17/03 04:18 PM | link | filter

It is especially nice of Dick to say that "I truly consider TMWWE to be a fantastic book which every student of Erdnase should own and study" considering the things that Busby has been saying about Dick in his occasional e-mail screed. It demonstrates what a gentleman Dick is. BTW, I like TMWWE too.


This post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Genii Magazine or Richard Hatch.

Guest | 09/18/03 04:28 PM | link | filter

Hatch strikes again......thanks.

Brad Henderson | 09/18/03 06:11 PM | link | filter

Wow, amazing stuff. Thanks for the post.

Brad "speaks without moving his lips" Henderson

Richard Hatch | 09/20/03 09:59 AM | link | filter

Thanks, guys, I'll try to post some more information on this topic here soon. I think the information on Harto, Hugh Johnston, and Bertie Minkley should be of interest.

As far as a book goes, I don't yet feel there is sufficient compelling evidence for closure on this topic. Milton Franklin Andrews remains a "person of interest" to me, despite the glaring discrepencies between what we know about him and what we believe about the author. Other persons of interest are Wilbur Edgerton Sanders (see David Alexander's excellent GENII article, January 2000), Robert Frederick Foster (Jerry Sadowitz's proposed ghostwriter of the book), James DeWitt Andrews (see my MAGIC article, December 1999), and my favorite for the past 3 years, Edwin Sumner Andrews (mentioned in passing at the end of the MAGIC article and in some earlier posts here). I have pretty much lost interest in a Canadian riverboat captain named E. S. Andrews, a Michigan newspaper publisher named E. S. Andrews, and a British engineer named E. S. Andrews (first noted by Mike Perovich, who called his attention to Dai Vernon, who was enthusiastic...). I have recently become interested in William Symes Andrews (1847-1929), a American electrical engineer who wrote a book on Magic Squares, published in Chicago in 1908 by the Open Court publishing company, who also published Evans OLD AND NEW MAGIC. I had lost interest in him (he's much older than recalled by Marshall Smith, for one thing), but it was recently brought to my attention that Al Flosso seemed to think that he was Erdnase, which has made him worth another look, in my estimation...
At this point, I think I'd have to call my book, THE MEN WHO WERE NOT ERDNASE (and a couple who might have been)!

Chris, not sure what Busby e-mail references you're talking about, but regardless, TMWWE is still THE essential book on this topic.

Chris Gillett | 09/20/03 02:15 PM | link | filter

"Chris, not sure what Busby e-mail references you're talking about"

Good.

Matthew Field | 09/20/03 02:35 PM | link | filter

Dick Hatch's research on Erdnase is absolutely fascinating -- many thanks, Dick, for posting it here.

As more tangible thanks, I'll be visiting www.magicbookshop.com to check out the great selection of new and used books you've got at H& R magic Books. I might recommend Pit Hartling's new "Card Fictions." He's one of the Flicking Fingers, and H&R is bringing the book to U.S. audiences. See the rave review by Eric Mead in the October Genii.

Matt Field

Richard Hatch | 10/15/03 11:59 PM | link | filter

Apologies for the delayed posting of more information relevant to TMWWE and its thesis that Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA) was Erdnase. Here's another installment:

Once Gardner had deduced that Edgar Pratt had been talking about Milton Franklin Andrews, he sought independent confirmation that MFA really was Erdnase. Unfortunately, Alvin Andrews, MFAs older brother whom Gardner tracked down and interviewed in Hartford in 1949, knew nothing about the book, and had never heard of Pratt, the Taylor brothers or any possible relationship with cartoonist Louis Dalrymple. Gardner wrote Marshall Smith regarding MFA and found that virtually nothing the artist recalled about the author corresponded to what was known about MFA (wrong age, wrong height, etc etc. See earlier posts and the December 1999 MAGIC article). So Gardner returned to Philadelphia to press Pratt for more details. When Gardner showed Pratt the photostats of the newspaper accounts of MFAs dramatic demise, Pratt finally opened up to Gardner and admitted that he had been talking about MFA. Significantly, he said that he never heard MFA mention the book, and had only heard his high school chum George Taylor mention it once, in connection with a sleight Pratt had asked Taylor about, to which he responded, Thatll be in Andrews book. Pratt claimed subsequently to have recognized the move in Erdnase when the book came out, though he did not identify the move for Gardner. On this visit he told Gardner that he had heard (though he couldnt recall where) that Harto of Indianapolis supplied the magic section. Pratt thought Harto [James S. Harto a performer and magic dealer] hadnt known Andrews, but that the printer got in touch with Harto about adding this section. A few things are worth noting at this point: First, Pratt did not claim that Harto told him about his involvement with Erdnase, and second, Pratt claimed that Hartos involvement was at the publishers insistence. Since the book was originally published by the author the latter claim seems suspect at worst and schizophrenic at best. In any case, Gardner pursued the Harto claim hoping to find the independent confirmation he sought. Unfortunately, Harto had died in 1933 and had apparently spent several years prior to that in a sanitarium. But Gardner was able to track down two Harto associates, Audley Dunham and Charles Maly, both of whom confirmed that Harto and Erdnase had some kind of relationship. Dunham had been an assistent to Harto and had worked in his magic shop. In response to a letter from Gardner, Dunham wrote: Yes, I have heard Jim Harto speak of Andrews he was referred to Jim by another magician the name of which I cannot recall at the present time [sic]. I spent many hours with Jim... and Jim referred to some part he helped on Erdnase. Dunham then talks about an auction of Hartos estate that he organized at which Waldo Logan of Chicago was the major purchaser. ...if I am not mistaken there was a letter in Waldos purchases from this magician to Jim in which some mention is made of Jim helping on Erdnase. Erdnase has never interested me much as I am not primarily a card man, there was however an original Erdnase in the effects and I also believe Waldo has that or may[be] J. Elder Blackledge got it I do not remember. He later goes on to say that Roltare Eggleston said something about Harto being connected with Erdnase. The rest of Dunhams letter does not mention Erdnase.
Maly, another close friend of Harto, was first contacted at Gardners request by Francis Marshall. Marshall wrote Gardner that Maly told her that he had seen the Andrews notes and notebooks, etc. in Hartos possesssion, and that Harto and Andrews planned a 2nd volume to Expert at Cd Tble [sic]. Gardner wrote Maly care of Frances Marshall on March 28, 1951, outlining Pratts claims, though refering to MFA simply as a gambler named Andrews and asking if Maly could confirm them. Malys handwritten response was in the margins of Gardners letter: Your informer is correct - Jim Harto did have contact with Andrews (Erdnase) or vice versa regarding a magic sectin in Erdnases book, but I do not remember any of the details. In fact, Harto showed me two letters, as I recall, from Andrews. However, since that was over 25 years ago - yes, probably closer to 32 years ago, I cannot remember any part of the letters. I am quite sure though that up to the time of Hartos death these letters were in Hartos file. Maly apologized for not being able to provide more information and suggested that Gardner contact Audley Dunham...
These two confirmations of Hartos association with Erdnase bolstered Gardners confidence in Pratt as a reliable source, leading him to reject Marshall Smiths conflicting testimony as mistaken. But I think it worth noting that neither Maly nor Dunham makes any reference to Milton Franklin Andrews, nor does either state that Harto authored the legerdemain section of Erdnase. Both confirm that Harto told many folks that he had collaborated with Andrews (Erdnase) on a project of some kind, a claim worthy of serious consideration. Time and interest permitting, Ill post some background next time on Harto that may have a bearing on this question.

Frank Yuen | 10/16/03 06:22 AM | link | filter

Hopefully you have the time because I'm certain you have the interest. Thanks for the update.

Frank Yuen

Grant McSorley | 10/16/03 10:06 AM | link | filter

Richard,
This has to be the best discussion on the forum. Everyone even slightly interested in Erdnase owes you a huge debt of gratitude for putting all this information here for us.
Did anyone ever get to look at the letters that Waldo Logan won at auction?

Thanks,
Grant

Richard Hatch | 10/16/03 01:47 PM | link | filter

Thanks, guys. I'm having fun finally organizing this material, but it does take time so your patience (and encouragement) is appreciated...

Originally posted by Grant McSorley:

Did anyone ever get to look at the letters that Waldo Logan won at auction?
Alas, Gardner was unsuccessful tracking them down. Waldo Logan, whom Gardner had known in Chicago (as had Marshall Smith. In fact, Logan's mother had awarded Smith a prize for one of his paintings...) had moved by then, apparently to Florida, and Gardner was unsuccessful in his attempts to follow up. There is a chance the letters survive in someone's archive somewhere... I would also be very keen on examining the "original Erdnase" that Dunham refers to. I assume he means a first edition copy. If Harto did collaborate with Erdnase, one would think Harto's personal copy might give an indication of this... But Gardner's attempts to follow up leads to Blackledge did not bring results either. Also, it should be mentioned that Dunham destroyed many of Harto's documents before the auction, including original letters to Harto from Houdini, Kellar and others. Dunham was afraid he would catch some of Harto's lingering "Syph" germs from them, even though this was more than a decade after the latter's death!

Richard Hatch | 10/16/03 01:54 PM | link | filter

As a follow up to the above, I try to examine ANY copy I find out about of the first edition. Some have, in fact, yielded new information (for example, Houdini's copy, which is mentioned earlier in this forum). I currently know the whereabouts of nearly 50 first edition copies (including the exceptional one currently being auctioned on eBay!), and have had a chance to examine about a dozen of them. But I am anxious to learn the whereabouts of others (and examine them, when possible), so if you have or know the whereabouts of copies, feel free to email me privately at richard@magicbookshop.com
Surprisingly, the first edition seems to be the most common of the early hardback editions, more seeming to have survived than of the Drake hardbacks. Extrapolating backward, my current guess is that the print run of the first edition was likely close to 1,000 copies, of which probably about 100 survive today. But that's just a guess at this point...

Dustin Stinett | 10/16/03 11:39 PM | link | filter

This is a most incredible thread, and I hope it continues in earnest! Richards enthusiasm for this subject comes through in his writing, but folks, you should have seen him in action at the 2001 L.A. History Conference! He was a site to see!

For those of you who might be interested in discussing the contents of this amazing book, Forum member Philippe Noel has started a thread on it in the Book of the Month Forum. You can join in by clicking below!

Thanks!
Dustin

http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ ... 7;t=000013

Richard Hatch | 12/01/03 10:50 AM | link | filter

A painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of Erdnase, is set to be sold at live auction by Treadway Galleries of Oak Park, Illinois next Sunday, December 7th. The painting can be viewed online at http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... 2204907987
(if that doesn't work, do a search on www.ebay.com for "Marshall D Smith").
They think it will sell for between $2,000 and $3,000, with an opening bid of $750. Another Illinois art dealer has one of his paintings offered on sale for more than $20,000, so maybe it will!

Bill Mullins | 12/01/03 11:34 AM | link | filter

I've seen it mentioned a couple of times that Martin Gardner speculated that Mark Twain might have written Erdnase -- due to connections with Dalrymple??

Is this an anecdotal speculation? Where does it appear in print? In some of Gardner's writings? or was another writing quoting a statement made by Gardner?

Richard Hatch | 12/01/03 12:13 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
I've seen it mentioned a couple of times that Martin Gardner speculated that Mark Twain might have written Erdnase -- due to connections with Dalrymple??

Is this an anecdotal speculation? Where does it appear in print? In some of Gardner's writings? or was another writing quoting a statement made by Gardner?
Once the hints dropped by Edgar Pratt led Gardner to Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA), Bill Woodfield got copies of the Bay Area coverage of the latter's lurid end, which seemed like the OJ Simpson story of the day (November 1905). Included in this coverage were transcripts of two lengthy "confession/alibi" letters written by MFA to local newspapers (he confesses to having attempted to murder his Australian gambling partner, with whom he was caught attempting to perform "the spread" while sailing from Hawaii to San Francisco, but gives alibis regarding the other 3 murders police wanted to pin on him). Because these letters sounded so little like the prose of Erdnase, Woodfield suggested to Gardner that MFA (assumed now to be the author), must have had an editor or ghostwriter. Gardner, knowing that MFA had been raised in Hartford, made the connection to Mark Twain, a prominent Hartford resident after he achieved literary fame. Gardner found some stylistic similarities with Twain (the "club room" anecdote, for example), evidence that Twain had ghosted other works, and the fact that Twain was fond of billiards, at which MFA was a known hustler. He even got confirmation from a relative of Twain's named Cyril Clemens who edited a "Mark Twain Journal" saying that one of Twain's friends had told him (Cyril) that Twain had known MFA. But established Twain scholars informed Gardner that Cyril Clemens was not to be trusted on such matters and pointed out that Twain spent the entire period of possible collaboration with MFA (basically the decade prior to the turn of the 20th century) travelling in Europe rather than in Hartford. So Gardner stopped pursuing that line of inquiry, which he had always considered unlikely, though intriguing.
All of the above may be found in Bart Whaley and Jeff Busby's incredible THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE. Transcripts of the letters MFA wrote are included as Appendices. Those who favor MFA as author are prone to bring in ghostwriter/editors, but if MFA did not write the book, such a complication seems premature. David Alexander has persuasively argued from internal evidence that the self-published book did not have an editor. Busby conjectured that Bill Hilliar ghosted it, with the added complication of James Harto contributing the legerdemain section. Time permitting, both conjectures can be discussed at length in future postings.

Tabman | 12/01/03 05:54 PM | link | filter

this would make for a killer indie film!! all the ingredients are there plus the mystery. maybe shoot it from the perspective of all the suspected erdnase characters or from your (richard) perspective as a professor indiana jones type character looking for the truth. ill produce the sound track so now we need a script writer, producer, director, actors, crew, equipment, transportation, a psychic and of course lots of dinero.

Richard Hatch | 12/01/03 08:03 PM | link | filter

After the Erdnase mystery was covered on the front page of the Wall Street Journal three years ago, I was actually contacted by by a documentary filmmaker about it. I gave him contact info for Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby as he mostly wanted to option the film rights for the MFA story and I didn't feel I had any right to that material. I know he spoke with Martin, but later got the impression he never spoke with Jeff. In any case, as far as I know, no money changed hands and no film was made. I believe he tried to pitch it to the History Channel without success. I still hear from him occasionally. Several others have also expressed an interest, but the focus usually seems to be on the MFA story, since that is the most "romantic" and so, presumably, the most "marketable" version. Two years ago BBC radio did produce a 15 minute story on Erdnase featuring interviews with David Alexander, Bart Whaley, Roger Crosthwaite and Darwin Ortiz. Darwin was even featured performing the Erdnase color change on the radio!

Tabman | 12/01/03 10:37 PM | link | filter

im not surprised that there was some buzzing about it after the wsj story. color change on the radio!! thats a good one!!!! i guess ill get busy on the script.
-=tabman

Richard Hatch | 12/07/03 02:36 PM | link | filter

Just a quick follow-up: The painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of Erdnase, mentioned earlier in this thread, sold at live auction today in Oak Park, Illinois to an online bidder for $3,000 plus 22% online buyer's premium plus other charges (shipping, 3% credit card charges if he or she uses one) for a total cost of likely close to $3,7500. For now, the painting may still be viewed at http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... 2204907987

Todd Karr | 01/12/04 09:48 AM | link | filter

Hi, everyone

Very exciting developments on Erdnase.

I've uncovered information on a Midwest con-man named E. S. Andrews who seems to fit the bill of our man. The dates, locations, and character fit in place very well. I ran this past Richard Hatch, who feels it's definitely promising. I am following some of the leads and will of course share the details with everyone as soon as possible.

Matthew Field | 01/12/04 01:41 PM | link | filter

Todd -- Very exciting! How did everybody else miss this guy?

Matt Field

Richard Hatch | 01/12/04 02:41 PM | link | filter

Matt, wishing to "betray no confidences" limits what I can say at this time, but I believe it is safe for me to say that Todd's new information is extremely promising. It appears to be a previously unknown "E. S. Andrews", who seems to be in about the right places at the right times in a most intriguing line of work. That he was not on anyone's radar screen prior to now is not all that surprising given the difficulty in tracking the pool of candidates 100 years ago. What is more surprising (to me) is that such candidates are being found at all, at this late date! Todd has accessed a previously untapped resource and may have hit paydirt, but much work remains to be done and he is diligently pursuing it.
I spoke to Martin Gardner, now 89, this morning, and he is intrigued by the development as well.

Bob Farmer | 01/12/04 04:11 PM | link | filter

I am Erdnase.

Guest | 01/12/04 04:39 PM | link | filter

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!! After thumbing through old turn of the century newspapers in the Library of Congress I have just discovered mention of Erdanse's Wife, May. She was a performer, of all things she did card magic.Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.....Mike.... :p

Bill Mullins | 01/12/04 04:47 PM | link | filter

Bob Farmer isn't Erdnase. Bob Farmer is Spartacus.

Pete McCabe | 01/12/04 11:31 PM | link | filter

No, I am Spartacus!

Guest | 01/13/04 05:16 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Mike Walsh II:
Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.
I can't see this rumour spreading very far! :D

Todd Karr | 01/14/04 02:22 PM | link | filter

Hi, again

I've received a number of curious inquiries about the nature of the information I've dug up. Below are some of the relevant facts, which are all I'll reveal for now before I check other sources.

This person, E.S. Andrews, was reported in 1901 as perpetrating a rather sophisticated scam in a Midwest town before fleeing. His company's base is stated as Chicago.

In 1904, the same E.S. Andrews was arrested and tried for pulling the same con job in a different state.

While in jail during the court process, a reporter interviewed Andrews, who was stated to have used an assumed name prior to his arrest.

Andrews is described as a bright young man and his comments to the reporter are lengthy, eloquent, clever, and mention legal knowledge and a love of reading.

I am currently checking court records and other sources and will let everyone know more when the facts are in.

Jeff Eline | 01/14/04 02:59 PM | link | filter

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

AMCabral | 01/14/04 03:06 PM | link | filter

Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.....Mike
Certainly a most jarring revelation....keep a lid on it, will you?

-Tony

Anthony Brahams | 01/15/04 04:09 AM | link | filter

Fill in on this.

AMCabral | 01/15/04 06:15 AM | link | filter

Yes, by all means, Schedd's some light on this subject...

-T

Bill Mullins | 01/15/04 08:15 AM | link | filter

Hellman, let's get back on topic.

Guest | 01/18/04 10:52 PM | link | filter

Any more news on this exciting development?

Paul

Tabman | 01/19/04 09:27 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Farmer:
I am Erdnase.
yes you are and you would be perfect for the part of "the expert" in my film.
-=tabman

Bill Mullins | 01/23/04 04:09 PM | link | filter

The first edition Erdnase at the recent Swann Galleries auction went for $900 plus 15% premium.

It was described as "London, 1902". Does that mean it was a British printing?

Guest | 01/23/04 05:29 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
The first edition Erdnase at the recent Swann Galleries auction went for $900 plus 15% premium.

It was described as "London, 1902". Does that mean it was a British printing?
There are no known British printings, but this is a common bibliographer's error. Mulholland made the same error, as did the bibliographers of Milbourne Christopher's Library. It is no doubt due to the confusing "triple copyright" statement (US, British and Canadian), which has led others to suspect it was a Canadian imprint (there have been two Canadian printings, but not the first edition). The first edition copy sold at Swann's was in decent condition, so the price seems to be dropping a bit, though prices were generally "down" on most items in this sale, which was attended by less than 25 onsite bidders, according to credible first hand reports...

Guest | 01/24/04 12:27 AM | link | filter

It is clear to me that this is the single finest thread on the internet. I hope this one continues moto perpetuo.

I now view this book with the same enthusiasm I had when I first started trying to decode the Seargent Pepper album cover.

Brian Marks | 01/24/04 11:34 AM | link | filter

If you take a look at the Zapruder film under the right lighting conditions, you can see a man with an umbrella doing an invisible SWE Shift. This proves Erdanse was the second gunmen behind the grassy knoll. He looks erily like Bob Farmer

Richard Hatch | 06/19/04 10:12 AM | link | filter

Another Marshall D. Smith painting sold today at an auction and may be viewed online at the following link:
http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... AMEWA%3AIT
It went for only $250 plus buyer's fees. Doesn't look to me anything like the Erdnase illustrations (but then again, why should it?) and seems to be identified only by the artist's initials: MDS.

Guest | 06/19/04 12:10 PM | link | filter

Taken from "expert at the card table" dover books.foreward to the dover edition.

"who was S.W Erdnace?Early on it was noticed that when this name is spelled backward it becomes E.S.Andrews.Half a century ago I was instrumental in tracking down the authors true identity.He was Milton Franklin Andrews.(MFA),a native of hartford,Conn.,who left home as a youth to become one of the nations most successful card swindlers.A man with a violent temper and a fondness of prostitutes,he was wanted by the police as a prime suspect the murder of Bessie Bouton,one of his many girlfriends, in Cold Springs,Colorado.
In 1905,when the police finally located andrews,and broke into his apartment, he shot himself and the women then living with him.He was 33".
skip a bit and -
"We know that Andrews paid a Chicago publisher to publish his bookin 1902.We also know that he paid a chicago artist,Marshall D. Smith,to illustrate the book.I had the pleasure of locating the elderly smith when he still lived in chicago.he told me how,as a young man he had gone to Andrews' hotel room on a cold winter daty to make pencil sketches of the gamber's hands as he held the cards above a felt-covered board that you see in some of the drawings. But who did Andrews pay to edit his manuscript? To this day the question remains unanswered. In "The Man Who Was Erdnase", Whaley gives excellent reasons for thinking it was William John Hilliar, an English magician who settled in America and who ghosted books by magicians T. Nelson Downs and Howard Thurston.
Whether Andrews actually killed Bessie Bouton we shall never know. It is possible he was no more than a likely suspect. Ther is no doubt, however, that his short life was dangerous and tormented. He must have known that his book would be his only claim to undying fame. He was immensely proud of his skills and his original contributions to card work and, as he tells in his book, was frustrated by the necessity of keeping his talents hidden. Surely that was why he concealed his last name in so simple a way that it would be easy to discover.
Ther is controversy over how much material Andrews omitted- secrets he preferred not to reveal- as well as the extent to which he may have knowingly given inferior methods. In some cases Smitth' drawings are misleading. For instance, the illustration for the slip cut shows how not to perform this valuable move. The text itself does not support the picture. Nor does the text describe the best technique. as all card magicians should know, a slip cut is best made by pressing the index finger on the top card so that, when the bottom half of the deck is cut forward, the car slides with it to give the impression that the top half has been take. Then the habnd comes back to pick up the top half. which has not moved, and place it on the bottom half."
From the Immortal words of Martin Gardner.

I know that most of us have read or already known this bit of info but i recently stumbled upon this interesting man/subject.
So if anything i hope this helped.-KARDZ

Bill Mullins | 06/21/04 11:12 AM | link | filter

For those interested in primary source material:

"The Man Who Was Erdnase" has some information about the arrest of Milton Franklin Andrews, taken from contemporary newspaper reports. Those interested in seeing the originals should search here:

UTAH Newspapers

This is a project to digitize 19th and early 20th century Utah newspapers, in a searchable format.

See HERE for an example.

Searching on Juggler, conjurer, conjuror, magician, gambler, card sharp, etc. also leads to interesting articles.

Bob Coyne | 06/21/04 01:52 PM | link | filter

What happened to the new Erndase candidate (an E.S. Andrews) that Todd Karr uncovered? It sounded very promising!! But the last mention of that was in January. Anything new on it? Has it panned out?

Bill Mullins | 06/29/04 07:48 AM | link | filter

Burton Sperber's privately published periodical, A Real Miracle, reprints "The Story of Erdnase" by Wilford Hutchison and mentions "S. W. Erdnase, Another View" by someone named Sawyer. Who is Sawyer? Is either the original of the Hutchison book or the Sawyer book readily available? Is there any real new info in the Sawyer book?

I am not wholly persuaded that M.F. Andrews was Erdnase. But (at least according to Whaley/Busby/Gardner) some of his relatives (who were laypeople in magic/gambling) and others (some of whom recognized the significance of "Expert") believed he had published a book. If that book wasn't "Expert", what was it? Since "The Man Who Was Erdnase" lays out the case that Erdnase was Andrews, it doesn't really pursue this line of inquiry -- has anyone else?

Todd Karr | 06/29/04 09:48 AM | link | filter

Hi, everyone. I've been waiting for court documents from the man I'm checking out. The wheels of research turn slowly sometimes.

Richard Lane | 06/29/04 04:30 PM | link | filter

Bill:

S.W. Erdnase: Another View, copyright 1991 by Thomas A. Sawyer.

Self-published, 67 pages, card covers, plastic spine. Addresses the conclusions of The Man Who Was Erdnase and the Andrews data from The Annotated Erdnase. I've seen it priced between $25 and $75. Aladdin Books used to stock it. They still have his other works.

From the introduction.
"If the present book does nothing more than encourage such further discussion on this matter, then it will have served a useful purpose"

More an open letter than a monograph, Mr. Sawyer details any inconsistencies or syllogisms he divines from those texts. He doesn't proffer counter arguments, but sensibly cautions against assumptions and leaps of faith.

The only new material is some wider context for the publishing efforts of the Frederick J. Drake company and bibliographic aid to dating early editions.

To borrow a phrase, food for thought and ground for further research, but it noticeably predates the readily available work of Richard Hatch, (Magic December 1999) David Alexander, (Genii January 2000) and the contributions to this forum.

Considering the price to content ratio, I suggest only the truly hardcore track it down.

Richard Hatch | 06/30/04 11:15 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
Burton Sperber's privately published periodical, A Real Miracle, reprints "The Story of Erdnase" by Wilford Hutchison and mentions "S. W. Erdnase, Another View" by someone named Sawyer. Who is Sawyer? Is either the original of the Hutchison book or the Sawyer book readily available? Is there any real new info in the Sawyer book?

I am not wholly persuaded that M.F. Andrews was Erdnase. But (at least according to Whaley/Busby/Gardner) some of his relatives (who were laypeople in magic/gambling) and others (some of whom recognized the significance of "Expert") believed he had published a book. If that book wasn't "Expert", what was it? Since "The Man Who Was Erdnase" lays out the case that Erdnase was Andrews, it doesn't really pursue this line of inquiry -- has anyone else?
The Sperber reprint was done because the originals are so scarce. I believe there were only 12 copies of the original (I dont have my copy of the Sperber reprint handy, but it gives the bibliographic details and lists the whereabouts of known copies). The information in it is merely a summary of Martin Gardners Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA) theory, as detailed in TRUE magazine in January 1958. The Sawyer monograph questions that theory, based on the evidence presented in Busbys THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE (TMWWE) and Ortizs ANNOTATED ERDNASE. Sawyer, a lawyer and conjuring bibliophile, concludes that the MFA theory, though plausible, remains unproved. He does not examine competing theories, asat the timethere were none. Sawyer was first to point out that the frontispiece photo of MFA in TMWWE is not the same person shown in the morgue photo of MFA and that the photos of MFA on pages 10, 20, 21, 119, 129, and 144 of TMWWE are all versions (some touched up to show him clean shaven and with a goatee) of the same photo, not independent images. He also questions the testimony of Albertie Minkley, MFAs sister-in-law. TMWWE makes much of her recollections, in Chapter 15, A Case of Identity" (an imaginary cross examination of the principle players in the identity issue), where Whaley has her say: When that nice Mr. Jay Marshall showed me his copy of THE EXPERT I recognized it right away! Just like the ones in the big pile of copies of dear Miltons own brand new book that he kept in his room back in ought three [1903]. Keep in mind, this is an invented testimony, not an actual statement made by Mrs. Minkley. If accurate, it would constitute compelling evidence of MFAs authorship of the book. The actual facts are somewhat different:

In early May 1956 Jay Marshall, after appearing on the annual Boston Magicale show, visited his parents in Chicopee, Massachusetts and took that opportunity to go to nearby Holyoke to see what he could dig up about MFA, who lived there with his in-laws for several years at the turn of the century. His visited the office of the HOLYOKE TRANSCRIPT-TELEGRAM and got the editors son interested in the story. A small notice appeared in the paper on May 10, 1956, Local Magician On Ed Sullivans TV Hour Sunday, and the article mentioned that Jay was trying to contact the family of MFA, a reputed card shark who may have written a book, a belief the truth of which Marshall is attempting to ascertain. As a result of the newspaper story, two family members got in touch. One, a niece of MFA, provided some information about what happened to his wife and daughter, but no information about his authorship. The other was Mrs. Oscar W. Minkley (Albertie Walsh), sister of MFAs wife. Donald Dwight, the editors son, wrote Jay on May 12, 1956, having spoken with Albertie. In addition to relating some family information, he says that Mrs. Minkley knew nothing about the book, but did say he was a college graduate (which turns out to be untrue) and did write books or pamphlets and gave magic exhibitions in the area. Before going to the next stage, keep in mind that Mrs. Minkley, age 71 in 1956, was attempting to recall events from more than 50 years earlier, prompted by a newspaper article that specifically solicited information linking MFA to a book popular among magicians and gamblers. Immediately after appearing on the Ed Sullivan show on May 13th, Jay Marshall called her, but made no notes of his initial conversation. However, after returning to Chicago, he did call Martin Gardner, whose typewritten notes (misdated May 11, 1956) indicate Mrs. Minkleys memory had improved somewhat since speaking with the editors son, as she apparently confirmed that Andrews wrote the book and said that he also wrote sev. Pamphlets, privately printed, sold to gamblers for large sums. Jay returned to the east coast to perform on Gary Moores television show (his recollection of this in a letter written in December 1956 was that this was about a month later, but the Holyoke newspaper article indicates he was to appear on Moore's show on Monday, May 21st. Of course, it could have been postponed or a later appearance) and took that opportunity to travel to Holyoke to interview Mrs. Minkley. He did take notes of that conversation, and called Gardner afterwards. Gardners typewritten notes (misdated March 20, 1956) say that the mss. he sold were probably typewritten by him, not printed. She looked at book [a copy of Erdnase Jay brought with him], recalled pictures, but remembered book as being thicker than it was. Recalled that he had many copies of it on hand. She repeated that she thought he had been to college. Jay transcribed his notes of the interview in a letter to Gardner dated December 12, 1956. Unfortunately, the surviving transcription in Gardners collection may be missing a second page or second letter (the one page letter says continued at the bottom). Jay Marshall probably has his original notes, which would be interesting to see, as the surviving transcription makes no mention of the book or the manuscripts. It does say She insists he was a college grad which we know now to be inaccurate. That is the extent of the documentation I have seen of Mrs. Minkleys testimony on this subject (she does report anecdotes about his card tricks and other family information, all given in TMWWE). There are a couple of very curious features of her reaction to the copy of the book Jay showed her: She apparently recognized the illustrations, but misremembered his book as being thicker. If Jay showed her a first edition copy (as Gardner reports in an essay in THE ANNOTATED ERDNASE), this memory could be explained by the passage of time, we tend to misremember things we saw as a child as larger than they were. But in a 1990 phone interview with Bart Whaley (see footnote 15 to page 303 of TMWWE), Jay recalled that hed shown her the Fleming edition, surely the very thickest of all editions (Perhaps in light of this, TMWWE interprets Gardners notes cited aboveas that she thought the edition Jay had was thicker than the books MFA had. That was not Gardners understanding, as shown by his essay, and his assumption that Jay had shown her a first edition. The notes are open to either interpretation). Since she claimed to recognize the illustrations, she must have looked at an open copy, indicating more than passing acquaintance with the book. Does it strike anyone else as strange that she wouldnt have looked at the title page and asked her brother-in-law who Erdnase was? The name "ERDNASE" is clearly printed on the spine of the first edition as well. The authors strange name, especially if MFA claimed to her to have written the book (she never says he did), would surely have left an impression, I would think As Sawyer points out, MFA may have had stacks of books, but were they THE EXPERT? Were they books he wrote? Perhaps she saw a copy of MODERN MAGIC. To a laymansome fifty years laterhands manipulating cards might strike a memory chord, even if drawn in very different styles (Curiously, Marshall D. Smith, the named illustrator of the book, did NOT recognize the illustrations when Gardner first showed him a copy of the book! Some take this as evidence that he did not do them)

Heres how I see the Minkley testimony: She learns of Jay Marshalls interest in the Holyoke newspaper and contacts the paper. The first person who speaks to her about it reports that she knows nothing about the book, though she does confirm MFAs interest in magic, and that he wrote some manuscripts. She receives a long distance call (quite an exciting event for many in the 1950s!) from Jay Marshall, immediately after hed performed on ED SULLIVANS popular Sunday night television show, which shed likely watched, having read about it in the paper. That must have been quite exciting for her too, and she now confirms that her brother-in-law, MFA, wrote the book. When celebrity Jay Marshall takes a special trip from New York to Holyoke to interview her after appearing on the Gary Moore show, she does not disappoint him, claiming to recognize the books illustrations, if not its physical features, and offering numerous anecdotes about MFA. How seriously should this testimony that MFA actually wrote THE EXPERT be taken?

I personally find the non-affirmation of MFAs older brother Alvin much more troubling for the MFA theory. He was only too happy to meet with Gardner in the fall of 1949. Gardners notes do not show Alvin had ever heard about the book, though he knew quite a lot about MFAs gambling activites. Their relationship was so close that it was Alvin who advised MFA to go to Australia to avoid the police charges of murdering several people (Alvin did not believe him guilty). Gardner conjectures that MFA did not tell his family about the book because it might embarrass them. This would seem to fly in the face of the authors clear pride of accomplishment and strong sense of worth as expressed in the book (not to mention its conflict with the recollection of Albertie Minkley, cited above. If she is to be believed, he had no qualms about letting his in-laws know about the book). Would a known card cheat and pool hustler and an accused multiple murderer be embarrassed to tell his family about a book hed written? Gardner sent Alvin Andrews a copy of THE EXPERT with a lengthy letter dated November 7, 1949. Gardner says he is anxious to know if you think the writing sounds like Milton. He received no reply. Now, if someone sent me a copy of a book written by my late brother, whom the world believes to have been a serial killer, but whose book shows had a redeeming side, Id have surely acknowledged its receipt and commented on its voice! We dont know why Alvin didnt bother to respond (he didnt die for several more years), but possibly he wasnt convinced that MFA had anything to do with the book, and regarded Gardner as a bit of a crank for thinking so Admittedly, that is pure conjecture on my part.

A final note: I sent Gardner a copy of Sawyers book (the second, revised and enlarged 87 page edition of 1997) and in his letter to me, dated 31 August 1999, he says: Thanks for your letter and the copy of the Sawyer book which I did not even know existed. He raises good points, and I admit that the identity of Erdnase is still an open question, lacking in any positive documentary evidence that MF Andrews was the man. I would estimate my belief at about 80 percent. Pratt is the major link. I dont believe he lied. He was very reluctant to give me information about Andrews because he said it would be hard on his brother My views on Pratts reliability and motives can be found earlier in this thread.

Richard Lane | 06/30/04 03:47 PM | link | filter

Pratt & photographs: A curiosity.

The footnote to the nicest photograph of Andrews in the frontispiece to The Man Who Was Erdnase, mentions the rear notation, "Rose & Sands- Providence, R.I./ 234 5th Avenue." A bolster to the claim that Providence resident Ed Pratt received the photograph from Andrews.

Here's another fine example from the Rose & Sands studio.

http://www.gabrielleray.150m.com/Archiv ... quest.html

Interesting to note that the NY studio at 234 5th Avenue, was a block and a half from the Madison Square Club at 22 W. 26th. A short hop down to John Morrisey's place at 5 W. 24th and not much further to the House With The Bronze Door at 33 W. 23rd. At least 2 other gambling joints existed in less than a five block radius, but those were by far the spiffiest, bar a carriage ride down to 818 Broadway.

In 1910, outside 234 5th Avenue, heiress Dorothy Arnold vanished into thin air, creating another infamous unsolved mystery. That place was jinxed.

Richard Hatch | 06/30/04 04:40 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Lane:
Pratt & photographs: A curiosity.

The footnote to the nicest photograph of Andrews in the frontispiece to The Man Who Was Erdnase, mentions the rear notation, "Rose & Sands- Providence, R.I./ 234 5th Avenue." A bolster to the claim that Providence resident Ed Pratt received the photograph from Andrews.
On page 4 of this thread will be found my earlier posting on Pratt and the frontispiece photograph. As noted there, the Rose & Sands studio was only in existance for one year, allowing us to date the photo (or at least, its frame!) with some certainty to 1900. Based on the notation (apparently in Pratt's handwriting) on the back of the photo ("Age 24 [Corrected from 23], August 7, 1900"), I am convinced this is a photo of Pratt's brother William, who turned 24 the day before (coincidence?). Andrews, whose 2 other known photos differ markedly from this one, would have been 27 on that day. In my opinion, there is no credible evidence that Pratt even knew Andrews, since everything he told Gardner that was accurate (and some things that were not) were in the "Malted Milk Murderer" article in Pratt's possession (unbeknowst to Gardner).
I've been able to purchase several photos from this studio on eBay (though none of Andrews!).

Pete Biro | 06/30/04 06:33 PM | link | filter

Are you going to publish all these posts?

Glenn Bishop | 09/09/04 08:08 PM | link | filter

This is the best thread that I have read in a long time.

I do not feel that Erdnase was a card shark I feel that he was a magician. I have met card sharks in the past and they seem to know only a few moves...

These moves they do very well - but magicians seem to want to know more moves than a card shark. And card sharks really do not need to know a lot of moves just WHEN to do them in a game.

Expert at the card table is filled with moves. It is ground breaking and there has not been a book since that has done what Erdnase has done with his book.

Another thing in the magic section is that in the routines Erdnase has all sorts of bits of business in the routines. When he palms cards... Vernon points these little bits of business out in Revelations...

These bits of business can only be developed by performing the magic effects for people. In real time and under fire. This suggests to me that Erdnase was a performer.

As with his twelve card stock or fancy stock. It makes a great demonstration of fake card cheating but no real card cheat would ever cheat like that.

In the first few pages of the book he also talkes about how saloons used look outs. He could have been a look out for a saloon. And could have been around card players and card cheats for a long time.

Why would he write a book? I feel that it was promo and Erdnase was his stage name. Magicians use stage names but he was also re-inventing himself to become this other person that was the expert at the card table...

Micky McDoogle called himself "The Card Dective" and that was part of his promo. And so were the books he wrote.

My other feeling is that if Erdnase was a card cheat why would he need the money and write a book to get money?

If he was the card cheat of card cheats finding a game in 1902 would have not have been a hard thing to do. And I feel that if he needed the money he could have found someone to back him with a steak... If he was indeed the card cheat of card cheats that is.

He could also do three card monte. Three card monte is the fastest way to make a buck as far as con games go.

I learned Three card monte by reading Erdnase. And I also got tips later from Buddy Farnan and Dai Vernon himself.

Looking at the research that Whit Haydn has done on three card monte. And knowing about the game and watching people play it on the streets in Chicago. The MOB is an important part of the swindle.

Back in 1902 they used a mob and a script... Yet reading the three card monte routine in Erdnase there is no mention of using a Mob at all.

And that suggests to me that may have never done it on the streets. But the way that he writes about it it would make a great demonstration for an entertainer/card shark/magician to do to entertain during a show.

The book suggests to me that he was a magician and he was inventing a persona... As the expert at the card table. And the book could have been part of the promo.

Magicians write books and invent persona's to get publicity and to set themselves up as experts in a field. Scarne, McDoogle, Ortiz, Forte have all used books and video for this reason.

Selling the books and tapes makes a profit but not as much of a profit as a booking - being an expert in a field can get a lot more money because it sets them appart from the average magician that can do a few card tricks.

This is just a guess but in the first few pages of the book he talks about people that were employed by saloons to watch for card cheats. Could this book be part of him trying to set this up as a performing/consulting market?

And the add in the Sphinx for magician a second market and an attempt at quick cash?

Todd Karr | 09/10/04 11:04 AM | link | filter

Quick update: I've obtained copies of the original court docket sheets for the case of con man E.S. Andrews and there's not much more there than the basic information I have already...not even a first or middle name! I may be posting some of my info on the Web soon, so stay tuned!

Glenn Bishop | 09/10/04 11:12 AM | link | filter

Thank you Todd Karr. I have found your posts very interesting reading...

I look forward to reading more...

Richard Hatch | 09/30/04 11:41 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:

Back in 1902 they used a mob and a script... Yet reading the three card monte routine in Erdnase there is no mention of using a Mob at all.
Glenn, this is not quite accurate. On page 121 of the standard editions Erdnase writes about Monte: "In a confidence game, the corner of the Ace is turned by a "capper," who seizes an opportunity when the careless (?) dealer turns to expectorate, or on any pretext neglects his game for a moment." This seems a clear reference to the mob aspect of the "confidence" version of Monte. Erdnase does not advocate that one do this, merely states it as a matter of fact. Indeed, the entire Monte section seems out of place in the "card table artifice" section of the book, since he seems to be clearly presenting it as entertainment, commending it to the amateur as a source of much amusement. In that context, it seems more suited to the "Legerdemain" section though perhaps he is merely acknowledging its gambling origins by including it in the former section. In any case, I can find no instance of Erdnase recommending any sleight or move as something that has earned him money, but on several occasions he makes references to having been the victim of card cheats. Indeed, he admits in the introductory section that his interest in card manipulation stemmed from an awareness of having been cheated. As I read it, his passion for play was transformed into a passion for manipulation, i.e., his study of the latter cured him of his compulsion for the former. But that is strictly conjecture on my part. He makes fun of reformed gamblers in his famous preface ("The hypocritical cant of reformed (?) gamblers...") so it seems unlikely that he regarded himself as one. As you point out (and as does Darwin Ortiz in his ANNOTATED ERDNASE), if he were an unreformed gambler who needed money, he wouldn't write a book, he'd find a game... Tony Giorgio has pointed out numerous other instances in the text that argue against the author having been a practicing card cheat. This leads many to believe he was a magician, but his tone in the legerdemain section is that of an outsider: he's read books on magic and studied the performances of magicians and wonders why they use the pass instead of blind shuffles, for example. The fact that book came off the press in early March 1902 and was not advertised in THE SPHINX (which was published in the same city as the book) until November of that year (it received a brief mention in the September issue) would suggest that he was not aware of how to reach that particular market for his book initially (the ad was placed by the Vernelos, publishers of the SPHINX, not by the author). So my best guess is that he was a student of both branches of card manipulation, but just an armchair practictioner of both. Perhaps he suffered from the failure of nerve he refers to on page 23. I expect most of these questions will be answered when we find out (if we do!) the author's true identity...

Glenn Bishop | 10/08/04 10:11 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
[b]
Back in 1902 they used a mob and a script... Yet reading the three card monte routine in Erdnase there is no mention of using a Mob at all.
Glenn, this is not quite accurate. On page 121 of the standard editions Erdnase writes about Monte: "In a confidence game, the corner of the Ace is turned by a "capper," who seizes an opportunity when the careless (?) dealer turns to expectorate, or on any pretext neglects his game for a moment." This seems a clear reference to the mob aspect of the "confidence" version of Monte. [/b]

Guest | 10/08/04 10:00 PM | link | filter

Just wanted to clarify something that Glenn alluded to: Steve Forte is not a magician who invented a persona for his act; Steve would be the first to tell you that he's not an entertainer and has never tried to be. He has moves out the ying-yang but he's never considered himself a magician.

He is, however, the best cardshark I've ever met.

Guest | 10/09/04 12:22 AM | link | filter

Glenn Bishop is wrong about Erdnase and monte. Watching mobs in Chicago in the 1970's is interesting but not contemporaneous with Erdnase's experience. I would suggest Glenn reads "40 Year a Gambler on the Mississippi" by George Devol before he makes assessments regarding Erdnase's accuracy.

Hope this helps.

Glenn Bishop | 10/09/04 09:08 AM | link | filter

Buster Brown... To me it is not about being right or wrong when talking about the mystery of Erdnase. Richard has done some fantastic work on this subject. He is like someong digging at some tomb or old world dig - digging up the past and the mystery. Each bit of theory or idea that is uncovered is another step toward getting to the mystery.

I suggest you get Whit Haydn's three card monte DVD from the School Of Scoundrels. This is the first DVD that shows how the mob works. And back in the 1900's they did it this way.

There was open monte and closed monte.

Erdnase text on three card monte was one of the more interesting things that I found in the book. I feel by reading it that he did it as a demo. The same reason that he did the twelve card stack. A great demo. But I do not feel (Having played cards) that a card shark would do it that way.

I am not interested in being right or wrong. I am only interested in what we can bring to the table and try to find clue's.

I think that Richard has done a fantastic job.

I have also posted in other threads on this subjects and If Erdnase was a card shark he may have used three card monte as an after game. To be done after the poker game was breaking up.

I have seen people cut to the high card as an after game. If a card shark could do this he could win back some lost money. Or use this to cheat and not have to cheat during the game.

But my thoughts on three card monte are that if you know three card monte it is one of the fastest money makeing games or cons that there ever was. Only cons like the thimble rig or the shell game do as well.

In fact it is often said about three card monte that it will make more money for the con man faster than any other game...

If Erdnase could do three card monte why would he need to cheat at the card table and "Need the Money" as the book said?

Again... It is not about being right or wrong it is about exploring the mystery and bringing ideas to the table to talk about!

Glenn Bishop | 10/09/04 09:31 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by emeprod:
Just wanted to clarify something that Glenn alluded to: Steve Forte is not a magician who invented a persona for his act; Steve would be the first to tell you that he's not an entertainer and has never tried to be. He has moves out the ying-yang but he's never considered himself a magician.

He is, however, the best cardshark I've ever met.
I have seen Steves work on video and I think that he is the best of the best. I don't know Steve Forte... And I have no idea how he makes his money. But he did make money on the video's that he did as John Scarne made money on the books that he wrote. And Darwin Ortiz makes money on the books and video's that he produces.

Darwin is also one ot the best and gets a good fee for a demo of card sharping expo as well as doing magic.

I have no idea if Steve Forte does demo of card sharp methods but if he does I would think that he is also getting top money for doing it...

To me a demo of card sharp methods is a show like a speaker. People work hard in these markets to show that they are the at the top and they do this today by writing books and doing video's...

Perhaps this was the reason Erdnase wrote the book... Perhaps not but it is a theory and just another thing to look at in the mystery of Erdnase.

Guest | 10/09/04 09:42 AM | link | filter

I have great respect for Whit Haydn. Whit's a friend of mine. I haven't seen the DVD, but I have his book on monte, which is excellent. If the DVD shows a large mob, then that's fine. But I do think you need to read Devol's book which contains numerous accounts of working monte with one or two partners and sometimes alone.

I know Richard too, and I'm not sure why you kept mentioning him. For what it's worth, Richard and I corresponded on Erdnase in the late nineties, and I think his scholarship is excellent.

I agree, monte is lucrative. And you don't even have to be that good at it. Paul Wilson and I both witnessed a tourist lose $1400 cash outside Caesar's Palace about three years ago, and I have watched (and photographed) monte mobs all over the world.

cheers

Guest | 10/09/04 11:23 AM | link | filter

Well, I just got done reading this thread, it has been quite interesting. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Defintately given me some things to think about with regards to magicians/gambling, etc. Also, I just love reading history, or even speculation about history (but ssshhhh, don't tell my friends).

One thing about the last post got me, however. The tourist losing $1400! Funny, one of the things I'm studying/working on in magic the most is the phsycological processes that go into everything, but one I haven't been able to understand is gambling. It's one of those tests Mithrandir refers too. For the last year now, I've been puzzled over gambling. You see, I got into a Casino for the first time when I was 17 years old, with nearly $700 bucks in my pocket. I played until I got kind of bored and left, down twenty bucks. Since then I've returned a few times, trying various Casino's, etc with over a grand on me, just in case I got that bug . I mean I wanted to feel it, find it, understand it. No luck.

But hell, free booze, and shows, lol...

Seriously though, there is something there I'm having difficulty pinpointing, but I think it may be important to what we do, and maybe to the way this crazy world works...thoughts? I'll let you know if I scrape up anything cogent...

Glenn Bishop | 10/09/04 11:46 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Buster Brown:
I have great respect for Whit Haydn. Whit's a friend of mine. I haven't seen the DVD, but I have his book on monte, which is excellent. If the DVD shows a large mob, then that's fine.

I agree, monte is lucrative. And you don't even have to be that good at it. Paul Wilson and I both witnessed a tourist lose $1400 cash outside Caesar's Palace about three years ago, and I have watched (and photographed) monte mobs all over the world. cheers
Ask Whit Haydn about it. I talked with him about Erdnase and three card monte in the close up Gallery at the Magic Castle...

And what we talked about - is why I feel this way about Erdnase and three card monte. It is just a guess but it is just another guess or theory that we bring to the table.

By the way the book you mention is on my list...

Robert Allen | 10/09/04 11:51 AM | link | filter

I'm sure there are different reasons people enjoy gambling, just as there are different reasons people take recreational drugs. From my limited experience I will note that winning in a casino and winning in the stockmarket give you (or at least, me) precisely the same feeling of euphoria. Conversely, loosing at either gives a feeling of depression.

While I enjoyed gambling when I did it, being a relative cheapskate I would only play at games which gave me some chance of winning, or at least breaking even. For me gambling was a sort of role playing; getting comped, flashing the wad of money I never intended to actually gamble to the pit bosses, not to mention as you note the drinking, eating, etc. I got to play the role of someone who's respected because of their wealth and gambling skill. I think that's what a lot of people get out of it - role playing. Before going to Reno or Vegas (and even after coming back) I'd watch _Casino_ on DVD :) .

Guest | 10/09/04 12:09 PM | link | filter

That is very interesting sir. I must admit that amongst my peers, and ranging out to a few years older, (not too sure about the older demographics, on this one), there is an increasing trend to "re-invent" onself, whenever one feels like it, and a seeming lack of any notion that this might not be an ideal concept.

So, beyond "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", you're saying that people actually are expeiriencing a sort of real virtual reality or the chance to be someone, or at least play the part of someone they're not?

Looking at the money Casino's make, the idea that people desperately wish to not merely be entertained, but to shroud themselves in a cloak of fantasy if you will, well, I'd say it bodes well for our business. :D And is yet another proponent of creating an entire magical environment for someone, like a seperate little demension when we perform, instead of being mere tricks, or a puzzle. As they tell me Slydini did with his pins, where others failed...

Sorry for going off topic, and sorry if some of this stuff seems like stating the obvious. Sometimes little gliches in my thinking appear, and it is important to capitilze on them, (I think) in whatever area they were spawned from.

After all, I believe Erdnase tells us, "THE finished card expert considers nothing too trivial that in any way contributes to his success", though personally I picked that concept from the writings of Mr. Paul Chosse.

Larry Horowitz | 10/09/04 12:39 PM | link | filter

As Richard mentions, on P.121 Erdnase uses the word "expectorate". This is the exact same word the Devol uses in "Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi".

The coincicence seems to great for Erdnase to have been writing from his own Monte experience.

Richard Hatch | 10/09/04 01:04 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Larry Horowitz:
As Richard mentions, on P.121 Erdnase uses the word "expectorate". This is the exact same word the Devol uses in "Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi".

The coincicence seems to great for Erdnase to have been writing from his own Monte experience.
Larry, that's most interesting!

Since several people have mentioned Devol's book (I believe Peter Studebaker even included it on his "top ten" list in one of his lecture notes), I thought I might point out that this 1887 classic is available as a 300 page paperback reprint from numerous sources for just $12.95 plus shipping (including H & R Magic Books www.magicbookshop.com
Do a search on "Devol" and it will show up.)

John Bodine | 10/09/04 01:31 PM | link | filter

I might add that it appears as though the value of a second edition of "The Expert at the Card Table" is approximately $760. It's just such a shame that mid bid of $72 didn't win the auction. :)

johnbodine

Richard Hatch | 10/09/04 10:15 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by John Bodine:
I might add that it appears as though the value of a second edition of "The Expert at the Card Table" is approximately $760. It's just such a shame that mid bid of $72 didn't win the auction. :)

johnbodine
It should be noted that if either Jason England (the winning bidder) or I (the underbidder) had not tried to "spike" this in the last few seconds, one of us would have gotten it for just $107.50. Had neither of us bid, it would have sold for just $72...

CHRIS | 10/10/04 07:57 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Since several people have mentioned Devol's book (I believe Peter Studebaker even included it on his "top ten" list in one of his lecture notes), I thought I might point out that this 1887 classic is available as a 300 page paperback reprint from numerous sources for just $12.95 plus shipping.
"Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi" can also be had electronically from Lybrary.com http://www.lybrary.com/index.html?goto= ... mbler.html

Chris Wasshuber
Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.

Guest | 10/10/04 08:30 PM | link | filter

Stuart,
Your question about understanding gambling/gamblers, is best discussed in another thread or elsewhere.
But you may want to read the works of Dr. Robert Custer and others who worked with compulsive/addictive gamblers.
I knew a number of those who worked in Vegas, who threw their salaries away each week, who would call you, a "normie"...someone who couldn't,(thankfully) understand the wishfull, delusional, magical thinking, that the reality of math, would somehow, stop for them. I knew high-ranking casino executives, whose business was to know how much revenue, the "games" would generate by the hour, but still took THEIR salaries and blow it each week, at the same games at the casino next door!

Todd Karr | 11/14/04 10:57 AM | link | filter

Hi, everyone

I have decided to share my Erdnase research with the magic community in the hope that we all can join forces to pursue some of these leads I've uncovered on con man E. S. Andrews.

Go to www.illusionata.com (this is the new Magical Past-Times site, which I'm now editing) to read about Andrews, see the news articles, and check the list of potential research topics that interested historians can try to chase.

As always, I'll stress that this may not be the man we're looking for. We haven't found a deck of cards in his hands. But at least we may eliminate one more candidate if this proves to be yet another false lead.

I'll welcome emails from anyone making progress on these leads!

Thank you and best wishes,
Todd

Bill Mullins | 11/14/04 05:07 PM | link | filter

Todd's new info is very interesting, and it's great that he's sharing it (as well as picking up Magic Past Times).

To follow up on one of his leads:
This site:
http://www.cdpheritage.org/newspapers/index.html
has a number of scanned Colorado newspapers. No reference to Charles Brandon was found. There are too many references to "Andrews" (1600+ between 1900 and 1910) to say yet if any of them are relevant.

Todd Karr | 11/15/04 06:42 PM | link | filter

Thanks, Bill. The Colorado newspaper index is a promising resource...this is exactly the kind of pooling of efforts that I think will prove productive in tracking down Erdnase.

Don | 11/15/04 08:03 PM | link | filter

Todd, that was very, very interesting to read. Great research, it sounds a lot like it actually could be S W Andrews.

Gook luck.

Don | 11/15/04 08:06 PM | link | filter

oops, i mean E S Andrews.

Todd Karr | 11/16/04 08:32 AM | link | filter

Thanks, Rage

Matthew Field | 11/16/04 10:55 AM | link | filter

Todd -- Phenominal! Many thanks for posting the results of your research, and for taking over the "Magical Past-Times" site.

Matt Field

Todd Karr | 11/16/04 01:54 PM | link | filter

Matt, thanks. I hope this all helps advance the Erdnase search so we can give credit due to this unsung but outstanding author. As for MPT, I hope to honor Gary Hunt's legacy and do a good job with it, including other intriguing material soon.

Brad Jeffers | 11/16/04 11:41 PM | link | filter

Todd, Very interesting material. Keep up the good work!
By the way, how is the Mickey MacDougall book coming along?

Tommy | 11/17/04 12:08 AM | link | filter

Mr Karr

Thank you.
A fine piece of work and very exciting theory. I hope you will get all the help you need.

Just thinking of the cuff. The gent was convicted so unless he won an appeal later he would have a criminal record. Did they not take photos and fingerprints in those days?
I think it unlikely that he would have been given a jail term if it was his first offence, but if he had then what prison would he most likely have gone to from the court where he was convicted? Prisons often keep very good records.
I do not suppose the gent was connected to Denver by any chance. I only ask that because a lot of pro con men were at that time.

Todd Karr | 11/17/04 10:26 AM | link | filter

Brad: Thanks, and I don't have plans for a MacDougall book right now, although the card detective would definitely be fascinating.

Mr. Cooper: The surviving court records are scant from that period, and while I had hoped to get more from the Wisconsin police files, the docket sheets are all I was provided with. This is where we need someone to go there and check the records in person and see what actually still exists. I also agree that prison records might be helpful, and I hope some of our Wisconsin friends can help check this out.

You're right about a Denver connection. Check my article again at www.illusionata.com where the press states Andrews' company is incorporated in Colorado. I hope business records still exist from that period!

Tommy | 11/17/04 12:33 PM | link | filter

Re Denver. This was a guess from me. I am from the UK and do not know my geography of the USA very well. However, Because of the Denver connection, your man might well have been a member of the Blonger mob. See here for a run down of these guys.
http://www.blongerbros.com/gang/cast/underworld.asp



Your man describes himself as Businesslike and I cannot think of a word that could better describe the Erdnase work itself.
Businesslike
Definitions:
Exhibiting methodical and systematic characteristics that would be useful in business
Not distracted by anything unrelated to the goal
Synonyms: earnest, efficient, purposeful
In the manner of one transacting business wisely and by right
methods. ; practical and efficient.
Serious and purposeful.

Regards
COOPER

Todd Karr | 11/17/04 09:00 PM | link | filter

Cooper:

Exactly. And the Denver gang info is very interesting.

Bill Mullins | 11/18/04 02:38 PM | link | filter

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress are about to digitize 30 million pages of American Newspapers. web page

Todd Karr | 11/18/04 07:15 PM | link | filter

Bill: That's excellent news! It's amazing what you can find hidden in old newspapers, and today's search engines makes researching names a matter of a few seconds rather than months.

Todd Karr | 11/22/04 03:56 PM | link | filter

Thanks, Glenn. I've already begun receiving a number of tips.

Bob Farmer | 11/22/04 06:47 PM | link | filter

Back when "Erdnase" registered his copyright in Canada, the registration was done at the Department of Agriculture (where, apparently, Vernon's father worked). As part of the application, a copy of the book had to be filed.

I figured the book and the application must still be somewhere. Canada eventually created a copyright office and a lot of the records have been shifted around.

However, I did find what appears to be an entry for an original edition (there are other entries for later editions and reprints):

First, go to amicus.collectionscanada.ca

Or go to the Canada website and find Library and Archives Canada.

Here's the info:

Amicus No. 14561855

LCCN numbers 76378049 //r952

LC Call No. GV1247.E66 1902

It seems to me that if this copy could be examined, along with the original registration, some clues might emerge.

Bill Wheeler | 11/22/04 09:51 PM | link | filter

I had trouble opening amicus.collectionscanada.ca but perhaps this link will help:

http://amicus.collectionscanada.ca/aawe ... &v=0&lvl=1

Noodling around on the above mentioned website, I found reference to S.R. Erdnase ... perhaps this is his brother.

Or maybe we should be looking for James Andrers. ;)

Richard Hatch | 11/22/04 11:03 PM | link | filter

Bob, the copy you cited in Amicus did not show up for me when I did a search of the "National Library Collections," only when I searched "The Entire Amicus Database," so my guess is that it is not a copy submitted for copyright purposes (since it should then be in the National Library Collections, correct?), but a first edition elsewhere in Canada. The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library in Ontario has a first edition in the Art Latcham Magic Collection, so that might be the copy in question. Of course, I could be wrong and it would be most exciting if the Amicus reference is to a copy submitted by the author for copyright purposes. I would be very interested to learn of any other first editions in Canada, and elsewhere (my current count of first editions in public and private collections is well over 60 copies but I suspect I know of less than half the surviving copies at this point...). David Ben did recently check copyright submissions for the period in question (as have others before him) and found no record of the book having been submitted for copyright in Canada, despite the book's unusual, possibly unique triple copyright statement. The "Stationer's Hall, London" copyright also seems not have been submitted, though the American copyright forms and fees were filed properly and two deposit copies sent to the Library of Congress in early March 1902.

Bill, the "S. R. Erdnase" is a reference to "Samuel R. Erdnase" under which name the book's author is often referenced in bibliographies. This has been traced back to a 1904 catalog of Frederick J. Drake, prior to their first reprint of 1905. The catalog listing is curious in giving the incorrect number of pages (204 rather than 205) and illustrations (45 rather than 101), so it seems likely the "Samuel R." is a typo as well, though, of course, it could also be a clue of some kind!

magicam | 11/23/04 03:32 AM | link | filter

Dredging up a few matters discussed earlier in this wonderful thread

David Alexander opines that EATCT could not have been written for money because of the up-front costs of publishing and the time delays in obtaining profit, and later suggests that the book cost $40-$50 in equivalent money in those days a high cost indeed. While I agree with Davids implication that Erdnase probably could have made his money more efficiently at cheating (assuming he was so good at cheating), given the high cost of the book, it is not out of the question that Erdnase could have initially expected a very tidy profit at the end of the day at sales of $2 per copy (although subsequent price reductions suggest that sales may not have been so good). Considering the poor quality of the first edition, I wouldnt be surprised if the cost to print and bind the book was less than a dime per copy yielding a huge profit margin, abnormally high even if the book was wholesaled.

David also wrote: The use of a check indicates the publisher (Erdnase) wanted proof of title, clear ownership of the material he was paying for. Establishing clear title is important for what happened later and a check is the best evidence.

While we may never know why Erdnase used a check for payment to Smith (assuming Smiths recollection was correct, and leaving us to wonder why Erdnase would want to leave a paper trail), I disagree that a check is the best evidence. A receipt would have been just as good. Moreover, a simple check would indicate nothing more than payment for some sort of services not necessarily ownership of the drawings. While some artists do indeed sell ownership of their work, others merely sell the rights to use the artwork (i.e., they grant a license for certain purposes or a specified period of time) and retain ownership of their work.

David also wrote: It is also indirect evidence that McKinney had nothing to do with "publishing" the book since, as an established printer, they could have ordered the illustrations and paid for them directly.

To my mind, the act of commissioning and paying for the illustrations directly would be the hallmark of a publisher, not a printer.

There has been some discussion and opinions given about whether or not Erdnase was a magician or a gambler. Richard Hatch notes that Erdnase made reference to Charlier in EATCT. This reference does not conclusively prove anything, as Richard admits, but it does suggest (to me at least) that Erdnase was very familiar with the conjuring literature of the day. Either that, or Erdnase just happened upon the very few magic books published prior to 1902 which mention Charlier: Hoffmanns translation of Robert-Houdins Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (1878), Hoffmanns More Magic (1889), and Charles Bertrams Isnt it Wonderful? (1896). What are the odds that a hard-core gambler would have read these few magic books to the exclusion of others, and somewhat carefully at that? And if Charlier was so obscure in conjuring circles, how well known could he have been outside of the conjuring fraternity? On the other hand, if J. N. Maskelynes assessment is correct, then Charlier was a card sharp, for Maskelyne told Henry Ridgely Evans that he (Maskelyne) purchased a set of marked cards from Charlier in London in about 1873. So perhaps Erdnase was a gambler after all and knew of Charlier from Charliers reputation as a cheat? I take credit for none of the foregoing. You will find all of this information and more in Eddie Dawes wonderful chapter on Charlier in Charles Bertram The Court Conjurer (1997), published by the Chief Genii himself. The mere fact that Erdnase knew about the extremely elusive and obscure Charlier seems to support the argument that Erdnase had more than a passing interest in and familiarity with magic.

In closing, these are just my thoughts. I'm not pretending to know anywhere near as much about EATCT and its mysterious author as David, Richard, and others who have contributed mightily to this thread.

Clay

Marco Pusterla | 11/23/04 06:49 AM | link | filter

Hi, everybody!
Clay said:

Maskelyne told Henry Ridgely Evans that he (Maskelyne) purchased a set of marked cards from Charlier in London in about 1873.
While my message can have nothing to do whatsoever with Erdnase, one of Charlier's marked cards pack is currently in The Magic Circle's museum, in London (UK)... I don't recall if this is the same deck bought by Maskelyne, but I do remember it is a very interesting deck indeed...

Ok, that's is... going back lurking ;)

----
Marco Pusterla - http://www.mpmagic.co.uk

Richard Hatch | 11/23/04 09:18 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Magicam:
Either that, or Erdnase just happened upon the very few magic books published prior to 1902 which mention Charlier: Hoffmanns translation of Robert-Houdins Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (1878), Hoffmanns More Magic (1889), and Charles Bertrams Isnt it Wonderful? (1896).
I believe Charlier is also mentioned in Hoffmann's 1889 Tricks with Cards, though I don't have a copy I can check. He is mentioned by name in Howard Thurston's Card Tricks (1901) and more importantly in Roterberg's 1897 New Era Card Tricks, which was almost certainly a source and inspiration for Erdnase, as pointed out by Jeff Busby (Roterberg's book sold very well for the same $2 cover price). Erdnase mentions his interest in conjuring literature on page 126: "But so far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers...". In his first (and primary) mention of Charlier, Erdnase writes (p. 128): "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] Pass," and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." I don't believe any other writer on conjuring at the time would have refered to Charlier as a "famous magician" and the fact that Erdnase misspells his name in this initial and primary reference (it is spelled correctly in a latter passing reference) suggests to me that he was not a magical "insider." It does not follow that he was necessarily a professional gambler, but his familiarity with that world does seem more intimate to me.

David Ben | 11/23/04 10:38 AM | link | filter

The original "The Expert At The Card Table" was never submitted for registration for copyright to the Government of Canada. I have examined all entries bracketing the years in question - including those in the hand of Vernon's father. I have also had on going discussions with the National Archives and others regarding this issue as part of my research into the Vernon biography.

I do believe, however, that I have solved the riddle of how, why, when, where, etc Vernon first came across this book and the connection it had to his family. This will be explained in the book. (For those who are interested, I am about 75,000 words into a 180,000 word project.)

As for editions submitted to Canada, all books submitted to the Government of Canada at that time were eventually shipped to England and were destroyed accidentally in a fire.

Terry Screen | 11/23/04 12:36 PM | link | filter

I must say that I've found this whole topic absolutely fascinating,illuminating and a real live treasure hunt to boot.
It's given me a whole new perspective when reading EATCT.
My thanks to you all, and great job Mr. Karr with your contributions here and with Magical Past-Times.

Gotta get back to the book!

Regards . .

Terry.

Tommy | 11/23/04 04:27 PM | link | filter

Just a thought or two.

Kokomo, 1901 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!
Oshkosh, 1904 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!
The Chicago 1907 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!

I find it strange that a conman would want to use the same false name over and again to play the same con trick. In other words why not use a different false name.
After 1901, when his con comes to light, why not go to ground and emerge under a new false name, and after the 1904 conviction why carry on in the same name.

It tends to suggest to me, that it is not a false name. That E S Andrews was prepared to front this con. That is, he does it, confident, that he can beat the rap if arrested.

E S Andrews was indeed confident of winning the case in is jail house interview but was convicted. However if that conviction was quashed on appeal then it makes a bit of sense.
In that event his confidence in this legal loophole con might have grown and he would have carried on doing it. We do not know, do we, if he won an appeal. Also I note that there is no evidence that Tyler was convicted. I ask as I am not sure.

I am aware of conmen here in England who use their own name over and over, pulling a legal loophole con. Even though they are arrested time and again they, do not get convicted. These con games are similar in nature to the E S Andrews con; suffice to say that they are based on getting permission from the owner to take his goods or cash. It results in a civil case, rather than criminal one. They purposely use their real names because using a false name might be evidence of criminal intent.

Turning to another idea: E S Andrew appears well educated in business and might have gone to a business college. I do not know but perhaps there were few such Colleges at that time. One place I heard mentioned is Bryant & Stratton Business College. A long shot but maybe they have a student record. Or any education records might be worth a look as he sounds to me like a guy who had qualifications.


Regards

COOPER

PS Also why use this particular false name in reverse to write the S W Erdnase book. Again it suggests E S Andrews would have been his real name not a false one. What do you think, or have I got my facts wrong, sorry if that is so.

magicam | 11/23/04 06:40 PM | link | filter

Richard Hatch wrote:

I believe Charlier is also mentioned in Hoffmann's 1889 Tricks with Cards, though I don't have a copy I can check. He is mentioned by name in Howard Thurston's Card Tricks (1901) and more importantly in Roterberg's 1897 New Era Card Tricks, which was almost certainly a source and inspiration for Erdnase, as pointed out by Jeff Busby (Roterberg's book sold very well for the same $2 cover price). Erdnase mentions his interest in conjuring literature on page 126: "But so far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers...". In his first (and primary) mention of Charlier, Erdnase writes (p. 128): "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] Pass," and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." I don't believe any other writer on conjuring at the time would have refered to Charlier as a "famous magician" and the fact that Erdnase misspells his name in this initial and primary reference (it is spelled correctly in a latter passing reference) suggests to me that he was not a magical "insider." It does not follow that he was necessarily a professional gambler, but his familiarity with that world does seem more intimate to me.
Richard, as you have had your head into this problem for years, your judgment is far better informed than mine. That said, given Erdnase's penchant for misdirection, I do not find the one-time (intentional?) misspelling of Charlier's name and the "famous magician" phrase as very hearty evidence that Erdnase was unfamiliar with magic and magicians of the day.

Even with the additional books you cite, this subset of magic books mentioning Charlier is still quite small, although admittedly the titles you mention do incorporate the word "Card[s]" in their titles, thus perhaps making them more prominent to one casually reviewing a magic dealer catalog or a magic magazine. But what was Erdnase doing looking at such catalogs or magazines? And even if he never saw such publications, as insular as the magic community is, would it be unreasonable to guess that he had friends/associates who were quite familiar with the magic literature of the day (or at least its high points)? All in all, I cant help but suspect that Erdnase was more familiar with magic than he admitted.

Clay

Richard Hatch | 11/24/04 08:28 AM | link | filter

A painting by Erdnase's illustrator, Marshall D. Smith, sold on eBay yesterday for $499. Here's a link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... RK:MEWA:IT
It had previously been listed at $999 and failed to find a bidder.

Bob Farmer | 11/24/04 03:07 PM | link | filter

If you look closely, you can see the guy sitting down has a card palmed in his right hand.

Tommy | 11/24/04 04:00 PM | link | filter

Cool Ace of Spades door ! I want one.

:cool:

Richard Hatch | 12/03/04 11:57 AM | link | filter

Another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith, circa 1905, is currently on eBay. He is not identified as the artist in the posting, but several of the illustrations, including the cover illustration are shown. Here's a link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... Track=true

Tommy | 12/04/04 05:15 AM | link | filter

Was the first edition printed by "Letterpress"?
For what it is worth. You can determine this by looking at the back of a printed page and looking for a kind of embossing, in particular look at the back of the illustrations. Letterpress is a relief printing process.
I have a little experience with letterpress and I can say it is not easy to typeset a book without making a spelling mistake, even if you are a great speller. It is set up like mirror writing, that is it looks like a rubber stamp but it is lead type. I am not sure when type setting machines came about but small printers would set up the plate by hand as a rule and each and every letter is a separate piece of type.
Also the illustrations would have been what are called Blocks and they can be expensive. Some years ago I had a small block made and it cost me 50 and there are over 100 in the Erdnase book.
I am not sure when Litho printing came into use in the USA but that would have been much cheaper. The plates are made by a photographic process with litho and they are flat and leave no embossing.

PS I am saying it might not have been Erdnase that made the spelling mistake but the printer.

Paul Gordon | 12/27/04 11:58 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Lance Pierce:
Regarding Erdnase, Richard Hatch pointed out to me once that many of the illustrations in the book carry Erdnase's copyright statement right beneath the drawing, but many of them don't. There doesn't seem to be a discernable pattern as to why some do and some don't, but all the drawings appear to be pretty close in style.

Coupling this with the information gleaned from the interview with the person who did the artwork for the book and how he expressed his surprise because he didn't remember drawing so many, does anyone have any theories to explain this? Did the artist draw all the pictures that don't bear the copyright statement, and was Erdnase also an excellent mimic with the pen who drew the remaining pictures and put his copyright claim on them?

Lance
I know I'm late in the day commenting on this, but:

My ex-wife (artist) thought that there were three different styles of illustrations in the book. (I mentioned this to Richard Hatch when I met him in USA back in 1998/9.) The 'copyrighted' ones were possibly the originals and the others 'style copies' of those, but by two different hands. (My ex wife [Joyce] commented on the small detail; knuckles, creases etc.)

AND - I have a publishing theory (as I am a publisher): If the author(s) wanted to be anonymous, why choose Erdnase which is obviously Andrews spelt backward? Red herring!?

AND - How did he copyright it with a false name? The publisher AND the printer must have known something about him...NO publisher would publish a book by an unknown, for fear of 'breach of copyright.' Who paid the bills? Where did invoices go to?

I THINK that the publisher (Drake) must have been in on it; some kind of joke/scam? I, for one, would NEVER accept a manuscript from an unknown! ALSO - who would Drake pay the royalties/one-off fee to?

If you really wanted to be 100% anonymous, you'd have to NOT copyright/record it at all. And, you'd have to probably print it yourself! Hmm! Brings be back to Drake & McKinney...It makes you think.

MY THEORY is that the book is a 'house' piece of work; possibly a joke to get us all thinking! That, it did, alright...Yes, the revolutionary sleights are different - but, anyone could (and they do) publish esoteric moves that are never demonstrated in person.

TROUBLE is: If one scorns Erdnase, one gets vilified! Daft, really. People only want to believe what they want to believe. This is why we still have the Kennedy/Monroe stories/theories! How dull it would be if the TRUTH was that Oswald really did do it!

The book is NOT (I've searched) recorded at Kew Gardens (holding Stationers Hall material) in England, as also pointed out by the late Alan Kennaugh. That, I think, was another red-herring.

I LIKE the book, but I don't think it was written by a mysterious genius; certainly not Milton Andrews. I think it's a complete red-herring...designed to accomplish EXACTLY what it has accomplished...

Any thoughts, anyone?

Paul Gordon

Richard Hatch | 12/28/04 09:37 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Paul Gordon:

I THINK that the publisher (Drake) must have been in on it; some kind of joke/scam? I, for one, would NEVER accept a manuscript from an unknown! ALSO - who would Drake pay the royalties/one-off fee to?
Just to clarify a bibliographic point: The first edition (March 1902) was not published by Drake, but--according to the title page--was "published by the author" whoever he may have been. Drake did not begin selling first edition copies until sometime in 1903 (at the reduced price of $1) and did not begin to issue its own editions until 1905 (initially at 50 cents in hardback and 25 cents in paperback). According to a Leo Rullman article in the Sphinx circa 1928, Drake claimed it had purchased the reprint rights outright and had never paid royalties nor had subsequent contact with the mysterious author. Which is not to say that Frederick J. Drake might not have known who the author was. He is, after all, the one who suggested to Sprong and/or Vernon that they read "S. W. Erdnase" in reverse. Of course, the "Mr. Andrews" Drake dealt with might not have been using his real name in his dealing with Drake or the presumed original printer McKinney (who was also selling copies of the book) or with Marshall D. Smith, the illustrator. Which makes sense if he did indeed wish to remain anonymous. I personally don't think he did require or desire such anonymity, as if he did, putting the real name "M. D. Smith" on the titlepage as illustrator, which added no value to the book, would have to be seen as a huge risk to his anonymity. The fact that it took more than 40 years for someone like Martin Gardner to think of tracking down Smith is an accident of history. Anyone could easily have done so early in 1902 and likely quickly tracked down the author based on Smith fresh recollections of when and where they met, which bank the check in payment for the illustrations was written on, the name he used, etc.

Steve V | 12/28/04 09:41 PM | link | filter

I saw a show on PBS where they have 'History Detectives'. Call 'em up and let them use their amazing resources to see what they can come up with. At minimum it should be interesting.
Steve V

Brad Jeffers | 12/29/04 12:59 AM | link | filter

If you really wanted to be 100% anonymous, you'd have to NOT copyright/record it at all.
I don't think the author would have required or desired "100%" anonymity. He simple didn't want his true name to appear on the cover of a book dealing with advantage play - a book that would most likely be read by people he had previously encountered, or may later encounter at the card table.
In his dealings with Drake, Smith and others, he would have no need to use a pseudonym.

MY THEORY is that the book is a 'house' piece of work; possibly a joke to get us all thinking.
An interesting theory.
Absurd - but interesting.

Jim Morton | 12/29/04 09:13 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Steve V:
I saw a show on PBS where they have 'History Detectives'. Call 'em up and let them use their amazing resources to see what they can come up with. At minimum it should be interesting.
Steve V
Steve, I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.

Jim

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 12/29/04 09:26 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jim Morton:
Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.
All I could find when doing a quick search on the Copyright Office's website was the claim for the 1995 Dover edition.

-Jim

Richard Hatch | 12/30/04 09:51 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jim Morton:

Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.
[/QB]
I believe this is covered earlier in the thread, so will just make a quick resume here: The 4 page copyright application for the first edition was received at the US Copyright Office in mid-February 1902. The copyright holder is identified as the author, S. W. Erdnase, and his address is given c/o James McKinney and Company, printers in Chicago at their business address. The author's name is not identified as a pseudonym (it was not required to be so identified). He is listed as being an American national. Two deposit copies were received at the copyright office in early March (I believe March 8th), 1902, so the book was off the presses and presumably available for sale at that point. There was no recorded transfer or renewal of copyright, so the book became public domain 28 years later in 1930. Those who have checked in Canada and the UK have found no evidence that the work was submitted for copyright protection in either nation, despite the book's claims to have done so.

Richard Hatch | 01/13/05 02:18 PM | link | filter

Jason England just snagged a hard to find edition of Erdnase on eBay. Here's a link to it:
Card Secrets Exposed
This is one of several variants under this title published by Powner for K. C. Card Company. This one has 206 pages, page 206 being Paul Fleming's introduction to the Hoffmann section, even though that is omitted from this edition. That would date this circa 1945. In TMWWE (pp. 336-338), Jeff Busby refers to these variants, advertised by KC as early as 1939, as "fictional," implying they never existed, an indication of their scarcity.

Guest | 01/19/05 06:02 PM | link | filter

There have been numerous attempts to identify mysteries surrounding the book The Expert at the Card Table. Here are some personal observations on one of the greatest books on sleight of hand ever written. Some who read and post in this thread may find my observations of interest. I have some clues from the book that I have not found put forth before. Some of you may be able to expand on them.

The book was published in 1902. My opinion is that the work reflected in the book more closely resembles the kind of table work seen in the era of 1875, possibly a decade before or after, but around that time.

To paint a picture of the 1870s, one would see the era of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the western side of the United States. This was the time of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Coral. Basically the only areas where education was a standard was in the New York, Boston, and Baltimore areas. Therefore, it is my assertion that the author came from one of these areas or possibly Europe.

The author was very well educated. Some claim there was a ghostwriter. Maybe, but if the book was written by the author, he was very well educated. This may seem a bit in depth, but it is very important to the point I am going to make later on. This person probably associated with people much like himself- aristocrats. However, based on the book, I would say that the author was playing with cowboys, miners, farmers, a bar crowd, and prospectors- not people like himself. Again, these are some of the observations I have made through the clues I am going to submit later. You can take them for what they are worth.

M.D. Smith, the illustrator, recollected to Martin Gardener that the man he met in the Chicago hotel room brought with him a board which to place on his lap, and asked him to draw pictures from life. Other people suggested that Erdnase might have been the inventor of the close-up mat. When M.D. Smith illustrated, he didnt know what he was getting into, he just wanted to do a good job for what he was being paid for. M.D. Smith said to Martin Gardener that he recollected that he was asked to draw from life in a hotel room. I disagree with this. I think the illustrations came from photographs. Here is why- if you look at illustrations 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 44, 45, 56, 63, and 64, all have reflections. What I mean by this is that the hands were performing maneuvers for the photographer above a varnished tabletop. If it would have been a green board or mat, the illustrator would not have shown as great of detail as to show reflection. My assertion is that the illustrator drew based on photos of the operator working at a varnished type tabletop from a saloon, and not the type of tabletop one would find at an aristocrat hall or fancy banquet hotel.

The tabletops in saloons were fashioned to accommodate drinking. Therefore, if beer was spilled, it could be easily wiped up. Aristocrat society made their money in the hotels. The saloons encouraged an atmosphere to have people drinking, playing pool, and card games.

This is why Erdnase did not go into great detail about working with the riffle shuffle. Instead he worked with the working man overhand shuffle. On a table without felt, the cards were difficult to pick up from the table to utilize a riffle shuffle.

On page 24, Erdnase suggested that the best way to practice was to sit up straight at a card table, adjacent to a mirror with cards in hand. Once again, Erdnase mentions a card table. I would imagine that Erdnase was sitting at the card table, not with a close-up mat, performing the manipulations for a camera.

To be continued....
Stay tuned...

Guest | 02/11/05 12:50 AM | link | filter

Amazing. I started this thread Feb. of 2003 and today, two years later, it is still alive and kickin!

I have totally enjoyed reading all of the responses on this thread and reading all of this great stuff rekindles the passion I have for this great book.

Thank you and please, keep them coming!


Roberto

Richard Hatch | 02/11/05 09:22 AM | link | filter

Hi Roberto, thanks for starting this thread!
I'm currently (among other things!) trying to track the first identification of S. W. Erdnase = E. S. Andrews, i.e., who recognized this first and got the word out. I think most of us know of the Vernon story about learning from his friend J. C. Sprong in Chicago that publisher Frederick J. Drake had told Sprong the man's real name was Andrews. Vernon then pestered Drake to reveal more, but Drake would only tell him to read the name backwards. Versions of this are in both the Diaconis preface to REVELATIONS and Vernon's Genii column. Vernon's personal questioning of Drake seems to have been when Vernon was cutting silhouettes at the Chicago World's fair in the early 1930s, but Sprong's interaction with Drake was likely earlier. The bibliography in THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE says that Mickey MacDougal's 1939 GAMBLER'S DON'T GAMBLE may have been the first to publish the E. S. Andrews identification, but I have found three earlier published references, all in THE SPHINX, all by bookseller Leo Rullman. The earliest I have is November 1928. He does not annouce it as though this is exciting news, so I assume it was not at the time, though it seems surprising that Vernon would not have known about it, were that the case, given his great interest in the book and its author.
Does anyone know of earlier references?
A 1962 issue of THE MAGICAL BOOKIE makes reference to a first edition copy of Erdnase that has, "inscribed in longhand" on the second flyleaf "S. W. Erdnse = E. S. Andrews". It seems doubtful that this is a copy inscribed by the author, but I'd sure love to look at this copy! Anyone know its present whereabouts?

Bill Mullins | 02/11/05 03:14 PM | link | filter

For what it's worth, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported between late Dec 1902 and Jan 1903 on the bankruptcy proceedings of one James McKinney. I don't know if this is the printer, but since the date falls between the initial release under the imprint of McKinney and subsequent sales by Drake, this may be relevant.

I've got enough info that someone who knows how to work the archives of the Chicago/Cook County court system could pull the file, probably.

Also, Todd Karr's article of last November mentioned a Mr. Andrews who scammed while working for the Charles Branden Commercial Co. I've found another article where they were at work, in the Jan 31 1903 Davenport Iowa Daily Republican. Andrews is not mentioned in this one, but it is the same company, again up to no good.

The CBC was incorporated in Illinois on Dec 19, 1905. The Secretary of State of Illinois may have info from this act.

Richard Hatch | 02/11/05 10:05 PM | link | filter

Bill, great work! I think if you'll recheck the January 1903 Davenport reference that you kindly shared with me, you'll note that "Andrews" is mentioned and was, in fact, arrested there as well, though presumably released rather than held for trial, based on the report. But that may still yield an arrest record with more information on him...
The James McKinney in the bankruptcy petition of January 30th, 1903 is the printer, as his address is given as 73 Plymouth Place in Chicago, which was McKinney's address and the address used by Erdnase in registering the copyring in care of James McKinney. According to the bankruptcy petition, "an inventory of the property" was available for inspection. I wonder if such a document might still exist? It would be interesting to see if the inventory included copies of Erdnase (and how many!) and who bought the assets. It may not be a coincidence that the price of the book was dropped from $2 to $1 the following month and that Frederick J. Drake began advertising first edition copies later in 1903. (Drake's own earliest known printing is dated 1905 and was supposedly made from the original first edition plates).
Anyone in Chicago who can track down the court records?

Todd Karr | 02/12/05 08:44 AM | link | filter

Bill: Many thanks for digging up this additional information on the Brandon Company scams!

Guest | 02/15/05 10:58 PM | link | filter

I find all this history of who Erdnase was fasinating and respect the guys doing the detective work as much as I respect Erdnase himself.

To me, even considering where to start is very daunting and way beyond my abilities, I take my hat off to you all and thank you for sharing your thoughts and findings.

while I do find this side of the book interesting and I am fasnated how it came to exist, to me it remaims secondary to the material itself.

For these reasons I am afraid I can offer nothing to the search. I would however like to argue (in a friendly way) Glenn Bishops claims about the twelve card (fancy) stock being something that would never be used by a card cheat.

"As with his twelve card stock or fancy stock. It makes a great demonstration of fake card cheating but no real card cheat would ever cheat like that."

Glenn Bishop.

The variable number stock (titled twelve card stock for illastrive purposes) is very useful, how it is used and why it is wrote up like it is must be understod before a quote such as the one above is thrown out.

We term this example a fancy stock, as it is very rarely that an opertunity occurs for selecting three sets of Four of a Kind; but the procedure is the same for two sets, or for sets of three, or pairs, or, infact, for the stocking of any number of kind, with sleight variation in the calculation.

Erdnase.

It is in the description of this stock that Erdnase takes the student away from the mimicking of taught examples and into the understanding of the procedure that is necessary for a card player to use it to full advantage.

It's not just a fake useless procedure used to accomlish this teaching though. If we look at the idea of using this stock with sets of three or two cards (or combinations of four's, three's and/or two's) we can see that the description of obtaining four is needed to gain the necessary understanding.

The sleight variation in the handling mentioned in the text is basic and is the first step to understanding the shuffle.

If using the shuffle to have three cards fall to the dealer (with three sets of three on top) the nine cards being run at the very start are changed to seven and the rest of the shuffle may be done the same. This means that the first card of the three will fall to the dealers hand on the third round rather than the second as with the four card version.

If using the shuffle to have two cards fall to the dealer (with three sets of two on top) the nine cards being run originally are changed to five, this means that the first card of the two will fall to the dealers hand on the fourth round rather than the second as with the four card version or the third round with three.

Thus; the shuffle can then be seen instantly as very useful to the true card cheat. He gets his cards and has knowlwege of plenty of the top cards (eight in the example in the book) after the deal and going into the draw without any need for markings or for glimpsing anything.

I'm sure the multiple possibilites of gaining this knowlege before and while getting involved in the draw can be seen from here.

Aspects such as; Erdnase's like of decks with no work put in, his dislike of cold decking, every single word of the stock and cull shuffling, the wonderful palms that were designed to work specifically following an overhand shuffle and with the purpose of holding out for the cut, and his understanding of just how useful the bottom deal is that make me believe strongly that Erdnase was nothing other than a card cheat of the highest order.

David.

Tommy | 03/02/05 09:04 PM | link | filter

Coterie.

This might be pure coincidence but I just wonder if this Coterie of confidence men and Exclusive Coterie is connected in some way. The use of this word Coterie which is not a word I read often and the connection with card cheating seems interesting, so thought I would put it up.

Denver Times July 14, 1901
BLONGER IN A STEW
Crack Bunco Man Will Be Rearrested Tomorrow.
HE WORKED A BRITISHER
But the Traveler Had "Brawses" on His Trunk and Sped Along After Blonger Had Been Made to Cough Up.
A new complaint will be filed tomorrow by the district attorney against Lou Blonger, the head of a coterie of confidence [men?]. Blonger was arrested last week on a complaint signed by George Ritter, who charged him with enticing him into a brace poker game and swindling him out of $300. Justice Rice was aroused from his slumbers at 2 o'clock by Ritter and an officer, and a warrant secured for Blonger.

Cooper

Bill Mullins | 03/04/05 09:23 PM | link | filter

Probably just a coincidence. "Coterie" is a word which, while not obsolete, has fallen from favor over the last hundred years.

Richard Hatch | 03/04/05 11:09 PM | link | filter

A painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of THE EXPERT, sold at auction today and can be viewed here:
Marshall D. Smith Painting

Tommy | 03/05/05 06:49 AM | link | filter

Mr Hatch it seems from this that Marshall Smith is more well known to magicians than the Art World, they do not deem it worth a mention that Marshall Smith was the illustrator of the of the Erdnase book or are unaware of this fact. I do not know if this interests you but it seems they are looking for help for his biography. See below:

http://www.askart.com/adopt.asp
These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:

A Chicago and New Orleans painter known for street scenes, Marshall Smith exhibited in the 1930s at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was also a WPA artist.

Richard Lane | 04/03/05 06:07 PM | link | filter

In the interest of completeness:

The Charles Branden Commercial Co. is not mentioned in any volume of the Marvyn Scudder Manual of Extinct or Obsolete Companies, or the Robert D. Fisher Manual of Valuable and Worthless Securities.

Did anyone chase down the certificate of incorporation from the Illinois vaults?

Richard Hatch | 04/04/05 04:14 PM | link | filter

Another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith is currently on eBay. It is missing a page, but I assume all the Smith illustrations are there. Here's a link:
Marshall D Smith illustrated book on eBay

Richard Hatch | 04/25/05 05:58 AM | link | filter

Here's another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith on eBay, showing some of his illustrations:
Jack Henderson Down South on eBay
Warning: The cover illustration (by Smith) is no longer "politically correct" and might be offensive to some. Perhaps that is also why it is fetching such a high price, with reserve not yet met!

Richard Hatch | 05/14/05 05:37 PM | link | filter

Here's another painting attributed to Marshall D. Smith being auctioned off tomorrow in Oak Park, Illinois:
Marshall D Smith Painting
Opening bid of just $200...

Bill Mullins | 05/16/05 08:15 AM | link | filter

It looks like the Smith painting only brought $225.

Brian Marks | 05/16/05 05:37 PM | link | filter

Eardnase, so who is he?

Jonathan Townsend | 05/17/05 04:53 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
Eardnase, so who is he?
That would be Lobe Eardnase, a cousin of the illustrious author of Expert at the Card Table.

El Mystico | 05/17/05 09:35 AM | link | filter

Author of "Expert at the Ear Surgeon's table"

Guest | 06/01/05 01:06 AM | link | filter

Would it please be possible for someone to briefly rattle out the names of those already under the Erdnase spotlight? Ie who's already been looked at?

I have a name that so far fits the bill; dates, place, and he has a strong literary background. Like the aforementioned Andrews in this post however, no pack of cards found yet. Would really appreciate knowing if he's been targeted yet and/or dismissed as nothing.

Thank you.

Guest | 06/01/05 04:04 AM | link | filter

Hello everyone, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this topic thus far, and I'd like to add my thoughts:

I had the honor of meeting with Darwin Ortiz the day before yesterday and we had an interesting discussion about who Erdnase was. He informed me that the Chicago bank that issued M.D. Smith's check (for payment of the illustrations) was later bought out by a larger bank which today still maintains account information from 1902. The source that gave Ortiz this information, which he did not disclose to me, has not contacted Darwin with follow up information. Only a few legal formalities needed to take place before the account information could be given out, but that's the last Ortiz heard of the investigation.

I shared my theory to Darwin about Theodore Hardison possibly being Erdnase. The fact that Hardison's manuscript "Poker" directly plagiarises phrases and illustrations from Expert at the Card Table is not my sole reason for this belief. "Poker" was self published by Hardison in 1914, around the time Erdnase couldn't be contacted anymore for his payments. (I believe Drake accepted payments at this point, but if you read this entire thread, I'm sure you'll discover who exactly pocketed the rest of the profits) Hardison added the spread, the strike second, and the greek deal, which many (including Vernon) suspect was purposely left out of Expert for certain reasons. I believe "Poker" was written partially as a sequel: another attempt to disclose the same information and make more money.

If "Poker" is read with the mindset of the author writing a sequel, and who thought he was treated unfairly in the profits of his first book, the text takes a new meaning:

"as the novice begins his career in the game, and is fortunite enough to enjoy a few good winnings, his natural ambition, as it is with all 'Young America' is to go higher"
-Theodore Hardison

Also I think it is interesting to note that the letters E-R-D-N-A-S-E can be found in the name "Theodore Hardison", which both I and Darwin believe to be a pseudonym.

be well,
Jeff Wessmiller

P.S This is merely a theory that I've dreamt up. Anyone that can provide information that would prove me wrong would be appreciated, and probably help me sleep better at night.

Guest | 06/01/05 04:51 AM | link | filter

Hi Jeff great to read more from you - hope you're in good health + whatnot. (Might make it down in August after all!)

I can't confess to having read Hardison's publication, and I must apologise for the following, only adding to more brainfood at night, but there are a number of inconsistencies:

Granted, the letters exist within his name, though as do T-H-O-D-O-H-R-I, with no apparent reason for them being left out. Does anyone here share the view that often the NAME is overstudied and analysed? It presumably wasn't meant as a puzzle/pseudo/century-long-brain-itch but rather a way to slyly take the heat off his real name (for his safety) without going crazy into word-games. Reversing a name seems pretty logical, certainly if it works and reads as well as "Erdnase" and not ... Zitro (actually pretty neat :D ), Etrof, or what have you. Who spends such time and effort to write such a beautiful piece of work, only to then use a name that is in no way related? No doubt he'd brag about the book and show it to some close ones - he must have had some friends.

The fact that E.S.Andrews fits perfectly is often viewed as though it doesn't matter - like Gardner with M.F.Andrews - what's the point in assuming it's Andrews if you're going to ignore E and S and substitute two different ones?? There are several hundred E.S.Andrews available on online census records, each of them surely deserving more credit and time (since they match perfectly what we're looking for - the NAME) than names that simply contain SOME letters that match? This is no disrespect but it just beats me why people don't take such a solid lead more seriously.

Furthermore - why would Hardison write one book under a pseudo, only then to write a "sequel" under his real name, claiming no credit to the original? Could the paraphrasing not be simply because EATCT was a well-read book at the time with solid well-written material? Much as works published today cross-reference and quote from other writers' works?

Again, would appreciate thoughts on the "making money" comment since (I believe touched on earlier) is spending months writing a book really the best way to make money? Surely a man of his talent, requiring money, could find faster more effective methods?

None of this, again, is meant as disrespectful or hole-picking, just further angles on what we have. I'm awaiting replies from the people in the US I've contacted regarding the name I mentioned above - a little more information this way and I'll post it all up for public viewing here.

Nothing for certain by any means, but the name, place and date all fit pretty snug.

In thought,
D.

Guest | 06/01/05 05:13 AM | link | filter

(PS the info is: E.S.Andrews (have precise forenames), born within 5 years of 1850 (have precise date), worked in NC* (have precise town) at about the turn of the century, and worked for a newspaper, rather high-up the pecking order).

*EDIT: Please forgive ignorant Brit - misread somewhere & was of the angle that Chicago was within NC. :whack: Still, he could've travelled...

Guest | 06/01/05 07:14 AM | link | filter

Hi Drum (DMC), tried e-mailing you, but the e-mail address in your profile ain't working.

We never did meet up.....

Dave

Guest | 06/01/05 08:04 AM | link | filter

Hey Dave -
You know was reading an email yesterday + meant to write...! <<Diluting interesting topic>> It's Drummond(REMOVE)Magic@Yahoo.co.uk. Travelling in Asia until August but definitely when back.

Guest | 06/01/05 08:45 PM | link | filter

More information as of this morning - he was at age 27 a PRINTER. If he wanted to jump around legalities without leaving a trace, this might well allow for it. Mmmm it deepens.

Bill Mullins | 06/05/05 05:46 PM | link | filter

From the "Daily Knave" column in the _Oakland Tribune_, 5 Sept 1956, p. E-29.


"S. W. Erdnase was for half a century a name to conjure with. Since the 1902 publication of The Expert at the Card Table dozens of persons have attempted to penetrate the psuedonym which cloaked the identity of the author of this famous book which outlined the methods of professional gamblers.

It was not difficult to conclude that his name was Andrewsbut what was the given name? Who was he?

For 50 years Erdnase' Chicago publisher was plagued with inquiries, but always professed that his records failed to reveal the author's true identity.

Erdnase' book was, when published, a sensation among the ace-in-the-hole boys; and it has remained one of the great textbooks for gamblers and sleight-of-handsters. It was the first textbook to reveal the best methods of the second deal, the shift, the bottom deal, false cuts, and other subterfuges of the card cheats.

What was more important, the book was written with a curiously detached cynicism, rather well pointed up by the author's prefatory remarks.

In effect, Erdnase counseled that card cheats cheated no one but themselves.

He contended that the passion for play had seduced many a man who, had he spent the same wit and energy in earning an honest living, could have amassed a considerable fortune.

He had not written his book, he noted, for moralistic reasons. His book, "will not make the innocent vicious, or transform the pastime player into a professional; or make the fool wise or curtail the annual crop of suckers; but whatever the results may be, if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money."

Now, after half a century, it is claimed that Erdnase' identity has been learned.

His name is said to have been Milton C. Andrews, and he is thought to be buried in San Mateo County. Paradoxically, the disclosure has been made not through the efforts of his compatriots, the gamblers, but by two sleight-of-hand experts, Martin Gardner and Jay Marshall - to whom, cheating at cards is absolutely unthinkable."

From the same column, one week later (p. E-21)

"After 50 years, the story of the man who wrote The Expert at the Card Table is being pieced together, little by little.

"There was a Milton C. Andrews," writes An Old-Time Oaklander, "who was in the public prints around 1907. He was a proiessional gambler and super-crook, who gained the friendship of one Ellis, an Australian jockey on a voyage from Australia to San Francisco.

"Ellis had considerable coin of the realm which Andrews knew about. On arrival Andrews invited Ellis to his apartment in Berkeley where he beat him up and left him for dead; but Ellis recovered and later Andrews was traced by reason of the fact that he ate only health foods and was captured at a health food store in San Francisco." "

Pete Biro | 06/05/05 06:57 PM | link | filter

My memory tells me that the Daily Knave in the Oakland Tribune was written by Fred Braue.

Braue was also using the pseudonym "Aunt Elsie" as he edited the children's page.

Before I was into magic I won a contest run by the Oakland Tribune and when I called and asked for "Aunt Elsie" a man answered, explaining that was a pseudonym and he was the editor, a Mr. Braue.

Small World, eh?

Bill Mullins | 06/07/05 07:19 AM | link | filter

Did Braue have anything to do with Real Estate? There is a column in the Oakland Tribune called "Realty Review" written by him.

Pete Biro | 06/07/05 09:34 AM | link | filter

NOt that I know of... but you don't have to be "in" something to write about it... just be a good researcher and writer. Which Braue seems to have been.

Bob Farmer | 06/07/05 01:00 PM | link | filter

According to an article which appeared in the Oakland paper, Braue did write real estate and business columns.

Richard Hatch | 07/03/05 08:05 PM | link | filter

I realize this might more properly belong in the marketplace section, but frankly I thought this thread needed "bumping up" so am mentioning it here instead! I've just posted a copy of Martin Gardner's THE GARDNER-SMITH CORRESPONDENCE on eBay. This documents Gardner's first contact with Marshall D. Smith, Erdnase's illustrator, reproduces his notes from his initial interview with Smith, and their subsequent correspondence on this topic. It was a reading of this correspondence that lead me initially to question the Milton Franklin Andrews' theory, since Smith's eyewitness testimony, if credible, seemed to contradict that theory on several points (most notably MFA's age and height). Anyone interested in this topic should begin by reading Bart Whaley, Jeff Busby, and Martin Gardner's MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE, then follow up by reading Ortiz's ANNOTATED ERDNASE (which reproduces the Gardner-Pratt correspondence) and this booklet. Limited to only 250 numbered copies and published in 1999 (to preserve the correspondence and publicize our sale of the original letters on eBay. It, along with Gardner's first edition EXPERT, signed on the title page by Smith, sold as a lot for more than $10,000 in early 2000), it recently went out of print and is starting to fetch high prices on eBay (about a week ago a copy sold there for $41). I've bundled this copy (#207) to a pristine copy of the K. C. Card Company edition of THE EXPERT, likely printed for KC by Frost Publishing in Chicago in the late 1930s (see listing for more bibliographic details). Here's a link to the auction for those wanting more details:
Gardner-Smith Correspondence on eBay

Glenn Bishop | 07/06/05 11:04 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by david walsh:
For these reasons I am afraid I can offer nothing to the search. I would however like to argue (in a friendly way) Glenn Bishops claims about the twelve card (fancy) stock being something that would never be used by a card cheat.

"As with his twelve card stock or fancy stock. It makes a great demonstration of fake card cheating but no real card cheat would ever cheat like that."

Aspects such as; Erdnase's like of decks with no work put in, his dislike of cold decking, every single word of the stock and cull shuffling, the wonderful palms that were designed to work specifically following an overhand shuffle and with the purpose of holding out for the cut, and his understanding of just how useful the bottom deal is that make me believe strongly that Erdnase was nothing other than a card cheat of the highest order.

David. [/QB]
To use the twelve card fancy stock in a five handed game of poker by a card cheat would involve getting four sets of three of a kind in order - at total of a twelve cards in order and controlling them as a slug - then getting the winning hand on the bottom - and doing some kind of a stocking of the wining hand on the bottom.

Then deal out the cards having the dealer or the shark get the winning hand leaving the slug of twelve cards in sets of threes to be dealt on the draw. While a card game was in play!

I don't know but wouldn't easier if Erdnase just added the winning hand to the slug that was dealt on the draw - and use the false shuffle and false deals to keep control and deal the cards of choice on the draw? - If it were a real game!

Having the slug going from the lowest set of three of a kind to the highest would give Erdnase the strongest hand after the draw.

Also I do not feel that culling 3-4 sets of three of a kind while a game is in play is an easy thing to do for the lone poker cheat. This is why I feel that Erdnase was a magician - because the twelve card stock makes a great demonstration - and would sell his book. But to use it in a card game - there are better and easier methods for a card cheat to use to set up a cooler on a mark!

A cold deck - if he wanted this choice of hands as the cooler?

Now if Erdnase could do this and what you say. Why did he NEED the money?

Guest | 07/09/05 04:39 PM | link | filter

Hi Glenn,

Its hard to tell but I think you may misunderstand the description of the stock in the book. Before I go into why, part of what makes me believe Erdnase was a cheat from reading this move in particular is in the following phrase:

"We term this example a fancy stock, as it is very rarely that an opportunity occurs for selecting three sets of Four of a Kind; but the procedure is the same for two sets, or for sets of three, or pairs, or, infact, for the stocking of any number of kind, with sleight variation in the calculation."

In this I see the point being made that the opportunity to obtain this four of a kind being rare, but more so that he knows that the opportunity to do anything with it is also a rare event. On the surface I can see why someone would think that the move (if used directly as the example Erdnase uses to teach the move) would only be of use for a show of skill.

Erdnase says that he knows the event occurring to be in a position to do this is rare, he knows from card playing experience that getting three sets of four of a kind in order to the top of the deck isnt an easy feat. From his words about the procedure being done with lesser amounts of cards of kind I also believe he knew that being in the event to use such a thing is also rare.

The following is partly why Im not sure you are getting the text right:

Its in your mention of the bottom of the deck in your last post; the bottom of the deck never comes into play.

For a moment Ill hypothetically assume it is to be done with three sets of four of a kind in the desired order and for five players, Ill also hypothetically assume they have been culled to the top in the desired position.

There is no need to get the winning hand (or any known cards) to the bottom, the idea is that all three sets of four sit on top of the deck, they are stocked in relation to the top and the winning hand is dealt to the dealer leaving the other two sets of four as the new top cards of the deck ready to do as the dealer pleases on the draw.

To take the move further than the books example; and Erdnase clearly knew this was possible. It would take a book of its own to cover the true possibilities of his stock shuffle:

To use the twelve card fancy stock in a five handed game (or any handed game) doesnt necessarily mean culling (by whatever means) three sets of four of a kind to the top, there are many variations of sets of four, three, two, sets of three and two or even a large stock of no particular numbered sets.

This will come clearer as you read but the reason being is that the sets of two, three or four dont even have to be of kind.

Imagine you gathered the cards ready for the deal memorising the order of the top eight cards of the deck.

You do the twelve card fancy stock and deal, you know none of the cards in the other players hands or in your own hand (until you look of course) but you do know the top eight cards of the deck before you go into the draw.

Many a successful card cheat has ruled out the need to stock and this is partly due to the need to cull ready to stock. They may use marked cards (edgework, pegs etc.) or glimpses to get the information thy need and that this stock offers. So this stock used like I said above then offers this information with no need to glimpse and with no work in the deck.

Playing regularly, with no mechanics other than this shuffle, offers a massive advantage that couldnt be beaten by straight play. If you add a second deal or if you were to add a cull it can of course be more powerful. Im sure the second deal speaks for itself, as for the cull, and for illustration purposes:

You cull four aces and have them as the lowest set of four in the twelve, the top two sets of four are just sets of four for the purpose of describing the move. They are in-fact eight totally random cards, these you memorise as in the previous example. You do the twelve card fancy stock getting four aces on the deal and also knowing the first eight cards going into the draw.

A card player reading the description of this stock can instantly see this advantage and can instantly see that the three sets of four is just the surface. Im pretty sure Erdnase (as a card player) would have known this when writing it.

Of course, if you are playing at a game where you can get away with dealing yourself four aces there is little need to know the draw cards. As Erdnase did with the stock in his book, I have only used it to illustrate the procedure.

The example before that one was of course one of actual use, as is the above one but with different cards, perhaps like the following:

On gathering the cards you see a five of hearts, a six of clubs and a seven of spades, all sitting nicely beside each other. Within the distance of the next nine cards is a four of clubs and an eight of diamonds (not necessarily beside each other), you just have to position the three beside each other to be part of the lowest set of four and remember the positions of the other two that lie within nine cards (above) and shuffle as though you are stocking twelve for three sets of four (or three sets of three if they are within six cards) and you get your five, six, seven on the deal and know the positions from the top of the deck for the other two cards of your straight.

As for a cold deck being a better and easier move, it certainly isnt better and Erdnase states quite clearly his thoughts on that and the easier issue:

Of course an exchange may be made by sleight-of-hand, but the player who can accomplish this feat successfully is generally well versed in the higher orders of card-table artifice, and will dispense with such make-shifts as cold decks or any kind of prepared cards.

I agree with him.

If you read through the description again you will also find that there isnt really any mention of setting up a cooler on a mark. The closest that comes to it is:

If the dealers set is the highest of the three it matters little to him how the draw is made, as none of the players can get a higher hand.

All it really says is that its a stock to get the dealers hand to the dealer and the other cards on top of the deck for the draw to do as suits the situation best.

I can easily see that with the mention of three sets of four of a kind at the start, and then with this statement at the end it could look to some that perhaps it is a shuffle to deal three people all four of a kinds or something similar.

As with the book itself; it is way deeper than just that, part of the beauty of every aspect of this book is what lies beneath its surface.

As for Erdnase needing the money, I dont particularly take this seriously. It could be a sarcastic joke or something as mentioned by some. I even remember once when I started to write a book, the amount of money I thought to be involved was massive compared to what I later found out to be the reality, it was a gradual decrease of expectation along the years of writing.

I dont think the statement can be one to be taken as proof that he wasnt a cheat.

Anyway, I think the devil wrote it, he must still be making money off it.

David.

Larry Horowitz | 07/10/05 03:38 PM | link | filter

O.K. Here is an odd thought, I really don't know if it warrents any merit.....

It has always been thought that the writing style and vocabulary used by the author has denoted an education and possibly finer upbringing. Yet, all gambling references in the book refer to Poker. I believe at the turn of the century Poker would have been considered a low-brow game.

Does it signify anything that there is no reference to cheating at Gin, Bridge, Pinnochle or any other game played with "x" dollars per point? Certainly, there are known stories of cardsharp's working the cruise ships traversing the Atlantic.

Guest | 07/10/05 05:20 PM | link | filter

Hi Darren,

Dai Vernon has been noted for saying that it's all there in black and white. I don't know to what extent he took this, I'm sure some of the older members here who knew or met him would know more about his thoughts here.

There is the odd mistake that comes clear the more the book is studied, but other than that; when I read the book I see everything to be there in black and white. But with a book that (to me) has obviously been wrote by someone who practiced what he preached there has to be under the surface information, it can't not be there.

It would be impossile for an author of this work to put everything he knew about everything included on paper, especially when it comes to moves such as the cull and stock shuffles.

While I can see Dai Vernon's thinking behind it all being there; I can also see that it's only so much of what the author knew that is there. While reading between the lines may not be neccessary to learn the moves, it can certainly offer a fuller understanding of what is going on.

I suppose there are no two people the same, and different people will see different parts of any quality text in a different clearness, perhaps Dai Vernon just seen this stuff clearer than anyone else, and that wouldn't be surprising.

From any level; I believe the book deserves a massive respect and thought is well worth putting into it, so I do both.

Larry, at the turn of the century I have no idea what poker would have been considered as, either over here or in the States. Sorry to jump in and reply to your thought without knowing, perhaps if what you say is true there could be something in it.

First I have to add somehting here. The book really does reek of poker and draw poker at that. It can clearly be seen that the thinking behind the majority of the book is tackling problems that occur in draw. The cut and the draw have been thought out massively by whoever wrote this book.

It is't the only game mentioned in the book though.

There is mention of Whist, Hearts, Poker, Cribbage, Euchre, Coon Can, Penukle, All Fours, Piquet and Euchre.

Back to your thought; as I said, I have no idea of how poker was looked apon at the time, the book is obviously not a quick throw together of moves worked out for the latest fad game though. We have read here that the book may have been written long before being published. Whether it was or not; the moves were definately not freshly thrown together for a quick publication.

Perhaps you are right and draw poker was becoming low brow, maybe if this wasn't the case the book wouldn't have been published at that time.

I don't have a clue really, I was just interested in the possiblity when I read your thought. Hopefully someone here knows more about the history of the game and can help out.

David.

Richard Hatch | 07/10/05 05:47 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Larry Horowitz:
Yet, all gambling references in the book refer to Poker. I believe at the turn of the century Poker would have been considered a low-brow game.

Does it signify anything that there is no reference to cheating at Gin, Bridge, Pinnochle or any other game played with "x" dollars per point?
Poker is referenced only four times (on pages 9, 70 and 115), and relatively in passing, whereas Euchre is more prominently featured (also mentioned four times, if one does not count the two section headings and the two table of contents reiterations). And the only game I know of that the author explicity admits to having played is Cassino (p.p. 116-117), at which he sheepishly admits to having had a "protracted run of 'hard luck'" which he only later learned was due to a "short deck." In addition to the games mentioned in the text as cited above by David Walsh (Whist, Hearts, Poker, Cribbage, Coon Can, Penukle, All Fours, Piquet and Euchre) the author mentions Faro three times on page 18 (though his earlier reference on page 14 to having "bucked the tiger voluntarily" is almost certainly an admission to having played that game as well) and, perhaps most famously, an entire section is devoted to three card monte, though that is hardly a real game!

I do think it is instructive to examine the games mentioned and what they might tell us about the author. Some (Gazzo, for example) have attempted to use them to date the original manuscript (when were the games cited popular?) and perhaps fix the age of the author, but I am not aware of much success in that direction. I also think the writing style ought to tell us much about the author: the kind of works he read, perhaps his academic history and background. But I am not personally able to do much with that kind of literary "profiling." Although many have assumed that the style pre-supposes a higher education, I would point out that many fine writers of the period did not have such a background, Mark Twain being a prime example.

Guest | 07/10/05 06:34 PM | link | filter

There certainly is mention of many games in there, and I know no gamblers who know and play only a single game.

But even without specific mention of name I also see a massive draw poker influence in the work, but it could just be that out of all the games mentioned I only know that and hearts.

David.

Larry Horowitz | 07/10/05 07:43 PM | link | filter

It would appear that I am mistaken. Once again I shall read the book,(for the umpteenth time), and pay a little more attention.

David Alexander | 07/10/05 09:01 PM | link | filter

Larry wrote:O.K. Here is an odd thought, I really don't know if it warrents any merit.....

It has always been thought that the writing style and vocabulary used by the author has denoted an education and possibly finer upbringing. Yet, all gambling references in the book refer to Poker. I believe at the turn of the century Poker would have been considered a low-brow game.

Larry,
I wrote an 8,000 word article, the cover story of the January 2000 Genii that profiles a candidate for the identity of Erdnase that takes this aspect into account in the creation of a profile. Clearly, the writer was university educated. He was also skilled in solving problems and articulating his solutions in writing, something that does not come easily or quickly, but with experience and practice.

While Mark Twain was a "fine writer," his was not the style of a university-educated writer. His was the style of a popular writer who learned his craft writing for newspapers of the day.

David Alexander

Richard Hatch | 07/10/05 11:18 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Clearly, the writer was university educated.
I'm probably naive in thinking that such literary profiling is not as scientific as DNA matching. It seems to me that such profiling is, at best, probablistic in nature, with the degree of probability unspecified ("Clearly" implies 100% certainty on this issue). Perhaps Mark Twain was not the best example, but there are many others. Joseph Conrad wrote in a very dense prose style without benefit of a college education and English was not his first or even his second language. Herman Melville left school at age 12 and certainly wrote sophisticated American prose. My point is simply that I do not believe we can know with certainty that the mysterious author "S. W. Erdnase" necessarily attended college. One might argue that it is likely, but to say that it is "certain" likely excludes some interesting candidates, including possibly the actual author.
I highly recommend David's excellent GENII article to anyone interested in this topic, but I don't think that the profile developed there must be accepted uncritically. Here's an example of how I believe the profiling is based on probabilities rather than certainty: In that article, David argues that the author is college educated and therefore from a well-to-do family and therefore a Northerner, since the wealth of the South was destroyed during the Civil war. I apologize if I have oversimplified the argument, but I think that is essentially what is stated (please correct me if I am wrong!). If we turn that logic around, it implies that no one from the South went to college for several generations, which I find very hard to believe.
Certainly one is more likely to sound college educated if one actually has the benefit of such an education, but I think we all know people who sound better educated than they are and others who sound less sophisticated than their backgrounds would suggest. Con men, in particular (and I am not suggesting that the author necessarily was a con man!), are often able to pass themselves off as doctors, lawyers, even judges and surgeons, without any formal higher education at all (Frank Abagnale, of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, being a recent example of the type). Personally, I find such profiling fascinating and a useful guide, but I do not yet find it compelling. In this specific case, I think it is not a question of whether the author was "well educated" (I would characterize all the authors cited as being "well educated", in my opinion), but how he came by that education: was he self taught, as the majority of his generation were, or did he have benefit of higher institutional education? I consider it still an "open" question. And though it is not likely entirely relevant here, I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain:
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

Pete Biro | 07/11/05 09:05 AM | link | filter

Perhaps S.W. wrote poorly but had an educated feller setting the type and editing? :)

Jonathan Townsend | 07/11/05 09:32 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Perhaps S.W. wrote poorly but had an educated feller setting the type and editing? :)
Pete, that approach makes more sense than searching for a single author for the text. Houdini and Downs were not the best of writers, yet who they were does come across in what is known of their writing. Likewise we have some of Karl Germain's words in longhand to consider.

I hold that "ERDNASE" is a composite work, with at least two components and perhaps more than a few hands in the writing. In some ways I find the work analogous to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein where the author purports to one agenda and identity ...

With a nod to Mr. Hatch above, I'd be surprised if a textual analysis could produce anything close to DNA type match/mismatch results with similar confidence levels.

Glenn Bishop | 07/11/05 09:51 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by david walsh:
Hi Glenn,

Its hard to tell but I think you may misunderstand the description of the stock in the book.

The following is partly why Im not sure you are getting the text right:

This will come clearer as you read but the reason being is that the sets of two, three or four dont even have to be of kind.
David.
First of all it is wrong to make these above assumptions about the text in Erdnase. Not only do I find it insulting but I also find it very closed minded. Have you ever used this 12 card fancy stock on a real game of cards? Have you ever played cards like draw poker or five card stud?

I don't claim to be an expert at cards or magic.

But you might try and set up a safe game and try out the moves as I have. Because this is how I came to this idea toward the 12 card fancy stock in Erdnase. I still think it makes a great demonstration to sell the book. But I do not see Erdnase or any card shark using the 12 card fancy stock in any real game of cards. As with many moves in this book.

And I have met with a few advantage players and sessioned with them.

He doesnt expose the hop or the gamblers palm and the palming is only on the magicians FULL palm. I also feel that Erdnase might have been employed as a spotter in the gambling halls of his day and then decided to write a book to help him do lectures and perhaps make more money. If he was successful at that it is lost in time for now - until someone finds the clues.

Guest | 07/11/05 10:52 AM | link | filter

Glenn,

I can assure you no insult was meant, Im not sure what it is thats insulted you, but none was meant in any part of what I said.

Its hard to tell from your quoting of my post what you refer to, this is because you have taken a few bits from here and there and quoted them together, and as a result misquoted me. I never put them in that order or in that relation, so again Im not sure what has offended you.

All I have done is seen your first mention of the use of the shuffle (in February) and offered a change of thought from someone who knows otherwise. Then in your more recent description of using the stock it seems to me that you have read it wrong or dont understand it. Again I mean no insult or harm in anyway by saying this, I just mean (and meant) to offer help. Perhaps you do understand the example given in the book and it just hasnt come across that way in your post, it is possible but it doesnt look that way.

I can assure you that I understand the description exactly as written and I also understand the real world use of the shuffle to a fuller extent. I think I made this clear enough in my examples in my reply post. Perhaps if you do understand the move correctly you could take the time to check these out and see where I am coming from.

Perhaps you could read the Erdnase text again and see if perhaps I am right and you havent picked it up correctly. Perhaps even do this and if you have understood it read your post again and see why it looks like you dont understand it to someone who does when reading it.

The bottom of the deck being in play is somewhere in particular that you should take note on when doing this.

Im also glad you mention the full palm and the hop in the text. They are very related.

The palms have been designed to immediately follow on from an overhand shuffle, they flow so beautifully from the shuffle to the cut and to the cut replacement with the cards actually being palmed for such a very little time.

These palms have been designed specifically for one purpose only, to combat the cut.

There is mention of holding out during the deal, but even this is related. The palms flow from the shuffle to the cut and to the deal in perfect naturalness and complete econemy.

If you run an overhand shuffle, even an honest one, and pause for an instant as the cards are about to be adjusted into dealing position and look where they are, they sit in perfect position for the bottom palm first method (preferably with addition from the final paragraph) to be done as they are moved to a dealing position. No cop or gamblers palm could be made this economical, natural and uniform with the honest counterpart for this use. If you look at the top palm first method you will also see the exact same, the timing of the palm is a little different but the action is the same, the honest adjustment from shuffle to dealers grip, the bottom palm under this cover and the top palm as the same all look identical, they flow and they fit in with the strictest of card table surroundings. Its details like this that make me believe that Erdnase wasnt just knowlegable about cheats moves or even a run of the day cheat, the highest order is what I see.

Perhaps thats why theres no mention of the hop, with a system this good, there is no need to do one. I suppose thoughts like this can help the thinking if why what is and what isnt in the book is the way it is, but I dont think whats not in the book can be offered as proof that Erdnase wasnt a cheat, If everything was in there it would still be being wrote, I think what is in there is a better place to be looking, even if not to be finding out who wrote it, but for learning about the finer points of card handling and structure.

In nothing I have said do I mean offence, there is something that I feel I have to say in relation to your last post though. That is in your reference to your safe games and your assumed questioning about me (someone you dont know from Adam).

I dont want to hear about your safe game set ups again, and I dont want to be asked questions of that nature and in that manner.

Sorry to be blunt there, but I feel just. Hopefully we can we live with that and carry on.

David.

Glenn Bishop | 07/11/05 11:43 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by david walsh:
Perhaps you could read the Erdnase text again and see if perhaps I am right and you havent picked it up correctly.
David. [/QB]
Moves in magic and theory are not a right or wrong issue with me. When a person learns from a book it is open to the interpretation of the reader.

So to me there is little right or wrong in the written world and only things that are different. The right way to do a move in performance at the card table and in a magic show is the way that it works. I would say that what works in the application of the move is the right way to do it!

So basically if I have read your posting - is that YOU think I am wrong and Erdnase in both the moves of the 12 card stock and he WAS a card shark cheat. And Erdnase DID do the 12 card fancy stock at the card table.

I can live with that!

Guest | 07/11/05 12:10 PM | link | filter

"I would say that what works in the application of the move is the right way to do it!"

Glenn Bishop.

Taking the above quote into account and by your saying that the way you have read the move it doesn't work, it seems that we agree and you also think you are wrong, I'm glad we got that cleared up.

It's up to you of course, but perhaps you may like to study the move further and try to interpret it in a different way, one that does work. I originally posted my thoughts on this for no other reason than that of helping, you are welcome to study these along with it if you wish.

David.

Jonathan Townsend | 07/11/05 12:38 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
...Moves in magic and theory are not a right or wrong issue with me. When a person learns from a book it is open to the interpretation of the reader.

So to me there is little right or wrong in the written world and only things that are different. ...
Umberto Eco wrote two books on that issue. In the first he suggested that the reader play an active role in the process of learning from a work, as you implied. However, in the second book, The Limits of Interpretation he was more conservative in approach as text taken out of its original context has little to no meaning of itself. What may be sensible in one place may be of no utility in another.

Have folks considered the book with its sections reversed and a different introduction? What then if the card table were a selling point expanded and emphasized to a attract a different audience?

Glenn Bishop | 07/11/05 01:43 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by david walsh:
Taking the above quote into account and by your saying that the way you have read the move it doesn't work, it seems that we agree and you also think you are wrong, I'm glad we got that cleared up.
David. [/QB]
No what I said was that I read the move learned it the way I learn things and then did it under fire and worked it out so it will work under fire - for me.
Originally posted by david walsh:
It's up to you of course, but perhaps you may like to study the move further and try to interpret it in a different way, one that does work. I originally posted my thoughts on this for no other reason than that of helping, you are welcome to study these along with it if you wish.

David. [/QB]
Not interested. I have my ways of doing things and they work and my audiences like them. And as I said I like to test things under fire.
Originally posted by david walsh:
I originally posted my thoughts on this for no other reason than that of helping, you are welcome to study these along with it if you wish.

David. [/QB]
No I don't think so. If you were interested in just helping me you most likely would have sent me an e-mail. But it seems that you want to insult and slam me - my theory and profile of what I feel who Erdnase might have been - card shark or magician.

And how he might of used his moves in a real game.

This is not the first time I have run into this kind of thing. Paul Chosse and I went at it in the cafe last year. And I quote "He said I would not know fast company if it passes by me".

Basically I do not care if people feel that I am wrong and they are right. If you want to insult - it doesn't bother me at all. It is just one more voice in one more forum - doesn't change my opinion and insulting others has little to do with any Erdnase Theory!

Temperance | 07/11/05 01:59 PM | link | filter

Get a grip Glenn. David's not insulting you, he just disagrees with you, which is kind of the whole point of a discussion forum. If everyone agreed with each other it would just be a load of people saying "yes", "quite so!", "I agree entirely", "well said", etc.

Guest | 07/11/05 02:10 PM | link | filter

I don't see any point in taking this any further Glenn, sorry for mentioning it.

It's not my loss.

David.

Guest | 07/11/05 02:40 PM | link | filter

While I don't want to comment on Erdnase as a card cheat vs. a magician, I do want to add that in my opinion Erdnase was not able to do every move in the book. The main spot of evidence comes from the bottom deal. The description of the bottom deal, in my opinion and others, is the most poorly described item in the book.

From what I can tell it is written from the perspective of someone who has not spent a significant amount of time learning the deal. The latter part of the description adds amendments to the earlier portion of the description in a way that seems like the author decided that there was more to add after learning more about it. The lack of time spent learning the deal may also be the reason for the bottom deal having the most errors in the book. It is possible that he forgot to correct all of them after a further study of the deal.

The two lines of argument above reinforce each other. They are, however, speculative. The more convincing piece of evidence comes in comapring the bottom deal to holding out during the deal. Looking at the photograph, only the first finger is at the outer edge. The held out cards are likely to be dealt from the bottom during the draw. This would require a change of grip in the middle of the deal, a procedure that would not provide a consistent mode of play. While this would likely fly in many real games, it is contrary to Erdnase's approach.
My guess is that he learned the bottom deal and holding out during the deal from different sources. It is either possible that a) he never used the hold out during the deal or b) he never used either move.
I am somewhat inclined to lean towards the latter conclusion, given the poor description of the bottom deal when compared to other items in the book.

I think the tendency to believe Erdnase could do and would possibly use everything derives from the modern magicians' ideal of the, what one friend calls, "super cheat". don't think there's any need to believe that Erdnase could do every trick in his book. After all, even among modern experts, not all of them can do everything they publish.

Glenn Bishop | 07/11/05 03:35 PM | link | filter

Most of the cheats I have met have only know a few moves. Yet Erdnase is packed with moves and ideas - many of them I think were new at the time. Some were not.

If Erdnase was a cheat I tend to think he used the bottom deal. And Palmed and held out the needed cards to get past the cut.

Years ago in one of the copies of Erdnase I think he also talked about dealing thirds. I think I gave this copy away to someone but IF Erdnase could deal thirds that would have been also useful to get a hand.

The book I feel is written from the point of view of a lone card shark. That also is a mystery because I feel that it is much easier to get the money if you have others - or partners.

If Erdnase was a lone card shark - why would he want to work that hard?

Also life on the road for a lone card shark would be both rough and dangerous because in those days it was very dangerous to travel alone - because of hwy men and the fact that it is also very expensive.

Having partners would be a safer way to travel in those days. That is if Erdnase did travel in his life as a card shark - that is if he was a card shark.

One more thing about the drawings and the theory that the may be drawn by more than one artist. If this theory is true I would suggest that Erdnase needed more drawings just before the book went to press. Perhaps he had a few done by a local artist.

Just some theory!

Guest | 07/11/05 04:15 PM | link | filter

Someone just mentioned that all the cheating

books were about poker .Poker and blackjack more

likeky get the most gambling action maby rummy.

I have a book im my collection that I wamt to

call your attention to. " Cheating at Bridge '

by Judson J. Cameron....1933....hard back 188

pages 23 photo plates . I bought it in 1996 in

a secong hand book store. Its not just a knockoff

of Erdnase ....... Mike Walsh

Pete Biro | 07/11/05 04:23 PM | link | filter

Dai Vernon once told me (and another source said the same) that more crooks cheated and made more money hustlng BRIDGE than Poker.

Pete Biro | 07/11/05 04:26 PM | link | filter

NOt sure if I posted this before, but....

Persi took me into Ace Sport Works in NY City some time ago... and we waited while a guy was describing to the man behind the counter how he wanted a deck of cards marked.

The counter man said he'd never heard of the setup and wanted to know what the game was.

The guy said, "It's an old family game and I want to bust my uncles."

Heheheh :eek:

Guest | 07/11/05 04:39 PM | link | filter

Pete...I heard but second hand that 30's-40's

Ocean liners had very wealthy people who liked to

play bridge.........Mike

Guest | 07/11/05 08:12 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
NOt sure if I posted this before, but....

Persi took me into Ace Sport Works in NY City some time ago... and we waited while a guy was describing to the man behind the counter how he wanted a deck of cards marked.

The counter man said he'd never heard of the setup and wanted to know what the game was.

The guy said, "It's an old family game and I want to bust my uncles."

Heheheh :eek:
Yes, you did mention, in 2003 , but in the 2003 version, the quote waa
"It's a game I play with my dad and his brothers!"
What happened to all those gaffed card makers Scarne wrote about, , anyway? The only place I know you can get good stuff is Cards by Martin. I ask for entertainment purposes only, of course.

Guest | 07/12/05 07:30 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
[David. [/QB]
This is not the first time I have run into this kind of thing. Paul Chosse and I went at it in the cafe last year. And I quote "He said I would not know fast company if it passes by me".

[/QB][/QUOTE]

Glenn,

You are using my name to lend some sort of credence to whatever your position is. Please stop. You are quoting me incorrectly, and out of context. In addition you are bringing up old news that I thought we had put to bed long ago. Apparently you don't feel the way you said you did in private e-mails to me. Please DO NOT use my name in your posts on this subject unless you'd like me to respond in detail...

Best, PSC

Jonathan Townsend | 07/12/05 07:59 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
...Ace Sport Works in NY City some time ago...
As best I can recall, the place was on 12th street and fifth avenue. A nice short walk from Forbidden Planet and a great place to buy decks by the case. They may even remember the guy who would want a split case of Tally Ho's, blue back circle and red back star design. They had dice and the card trimmers there too. Anyone know if the place still exists?

Glenn Bishop | 07/12/05 10:26 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by pchosse:
Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
[David.
This is not the first time I have run into this kind of thing. Paul Chosse and I went at it in the cafe last year. And I quote "He said I would not know fast company if it passes by me".

[/QB]

Richard Hatch | 07/12/05 11:08 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Perhaps S.W. wrote poorly but had an educated feller setting the type and editing? :)
Hi Pete! It strikes me as extremely unlikely that a typesetter would be able to turn something poorly written into a masterpiece. Indeed, David Alexander has convincingly argued (in his GENII article) that the textual errors (typographical and technical) are evidence of the lack of an editor.
I would also argue that if we take his famous final statement in the preface that he published the book because he "needs the money" at face value (as I do, and I recognize that others do not!), then it seems unlikely that he could have afforded the luxury of a professional editor.
Personally, I find the style sufficiently confident, compelling and consistent to favor the "lone writer" theory. I don't believe anyone suggested the possibility of an editor until Milton Franklin Andrews was found wanting in the literary department, based on the surviving lengthy confession/alibi letters he wrote, though Edgar Pratt had suggested to Martin Gardner that James Harto had a hand in adding the legerdemain section. For many reasons, I'm skeptical of that claim, though I do accept the strong possibility of a relationship between Harto and the author of the book.

Glenn Bishop | 07/13/05 04:23 PM | link | filter

On page 23 he mentions his bottom deal as "Greatest Single Accomplishment" and then later on in the book page 52 he explains the bottom deal.

And it is not the best write up of a move in the book. Dai Vernon in Revelations mentions that this description is one of the few technical errors in the book.

I find that very interesting that the "Greatest Single Accomplishment" is explained that way in Erdnase text.

Guest | 07/13/05 04:57 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Darren Hart:
Glen

Please post where Vernon says that in Revalations. Thanks

Darren Hart
Better yet, what edition of Erdnase contains the "Third Deal"?

Guest | 07/13/05 05:39 PM | link | filter

I'm not sure "errors" are evidence of the lack fo an editor. There are plenty of magic books published with multiple editors that have more errors than Erdnase. I think it also depends on the editor's background and approach. Most of the errors are finger positions, so it is likely that they would not be caught if the editor was not working through every item in the book.
The ease with which these errors could be missed is further supported by Diaconis's statement in Revelations that Vernon asked him to find the 3 technical errors in the book. Given that Vernon carefully and repeatedly studied the book and still missed two of the errors, it is plausible than an editor could have missed all 5, especially if he didn't have a background in magic.

He doesn't describe his bottom deal as the greatest accomplishment, but rather bottom dealing in general. He also, to the best of my knowledge never claims the method of bottom dealing as his own.

With regard to the bottom deal being his own, I would argue against it being his own. I previously drew attention to the nature of the description. I'll add a few more notes on it. Erdnase comments "Like acquiring many other feats, a perfect understanding of the exact manner in which it is performed will avoid the principal difficulties." Erdnase is readily willing to comment on what he thinks is the best version and does not seem to be humble in laying claim to anything. The phrasing of the sentence quoted above makes it seem as if he is aware of only one method of bottom dealing. Contrast this with the second deal, where he provides two methods.
I also find it odd that the only place in the book that Erdnase describes the so-called Erdnase grip is with the Bottom Deal and the first method of Second Dealing. He never provides any reason why this grip is superior in these cases. The fact that the second Second Deal uses a more typical grip without any explanation for the difference, I believe is indication that he is collecting material from different sources.
The bottom deal and first second deal likely came from the same source. Given the inconsitency of the grip with the rest of the items in the book without any justification for the change (especially in light of the holding out while dealing (moving from all 4 fingers on the side to two on the front is a distinct shift), and no suggestion of an alternate method or the superiority of this method, I am inclined to believe that he did not use the bottom deal. (Note that I am not commenting on the validity of the grip but rather it being out of place in the context of the rest of the book.)

One might, however, say that he has bottom deal envy, given his praise of the move.

Oh and Paul I belive the third deal is in the same version that Vernon believe had photos.

Glenn Bishop | 07/13/05 05:55 PM | link | filter

About the third deal I am not sure because I have purchased and given away at least a hundred copies of the soft bound book Expert at the card table over the last 20 years. It is one of the books that I have given to many students of magic as a Christmas gift.

So I have only my memory to go on. I brought up that question in the magic caf and here is the link that might answer that question about the third deal Paul!

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... =2&start=0


http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=

Glenn Bishop | 07/13/05 06:13 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Darren Hart:
Glen

Please post where Vernon says that in Revalations. Thanks

Darren Hart
Revelations Dai Vernon Wrote,

Few present day experts use or recommend the method of bottom dealing described by Erdnase; their chief objection being the position of the pack in the hand and the difficulty of concealing the movement of the third finger.

We may say, however, that the above grip is of constant utility to card men. When the cards are thus held, are spread between the hands easy, without discernible movement, to slip the bottom card along bottom of the fan - a move of constant utility. Further, properly executed, the deal can be incredibly deceptive. Aim for a "soft take" avoiding sharp actions associated with other approaches.

The technical description contains one of the books few errors. The third paragraph should begin, "The third finger and thumb do the work."

Guest | 07/13/05 06:48 PM | link | filter

Just another thing to add since Vernon's comments on the deal seem to be prominent in this thread at the moment. On the Revelations video series Vernon mentions that the Erdnase Deal is only good if you have large hands. In The Gardner-Smith correspondences, one of the details that Smith feels fairly sure about is that Erdnase's hands were not large in size. The deal was likely not well suited to his hand size.

And Darren it's on (of all pages) p. 52.

Glenn Bishop | 07/16/05 07:40 AM | link | filter

Someone paid money for an add for Expert at the card table in the sphinx magazine. Could any records of this transaction like a check or a record still exist in the sphinx office files?

And would the sphinx office files still exist in storage?

And could that lead to a clue as to who Erdnase was?

Richard Hatch | 07/16/05 08:58 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Glenn Bishop:
Someone paid money for an add for Expert at the card table in the sphinx magazine. Could any records of this transaction like a check or a record still exist in the sphinx office files?

And would the sphinx office files still exist in storage?

And could that lead to a clue as to who Erdnase was?
The first mention of the book (which was available for sale in March 1902, the same month the first issue of THE SPHINX was published, in the same city, Chicago) is in the September 1902 issue, a single line mention by editor Wm. Hilliar (in his last issue as editor). He simply states that a book entitled THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE was recently published (no mention of the author or place of publication) and that it contains some material of interest to magicians (hardly a strong editorial plug, as claimed by Busby/Whaley on the assumption that Hilliar helped edit the book, which came off the presses half a year earlier). The first known advertisement for the book is a quarter page ad in the November 1902 SPHINX which quotes the preface, omitting the famous final line about needing the money. This ad was placed by Vernelos, the Chicago magic store that published the SPHINX. The second ad for the book in THE SPHINX is in the March 1903 issue, a small ad that, for the first time, describes the contents, and offers the book at half price, just $1. This ad was placed by E. S. Burns (Emil Sorensen), owner of the Atlas Trick and Novelty Company. I do think this advertisement may offer some clue to the book's provenance. It may be a coincidence, but Atlas was located at 295 Austin Ave, and a 41 year old travelling agent with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad had been living just 9 blocks south on the same side of the same street for the previous year, and was transferred to San Francisco the month before the advertisement appeared. His wife shared the same maiden name (Seeley) as the mother of Louis Dalrymple (to whom the author told the illustrator he was related). His name? E. S. Andrews...

Tabman | 07/16/05 09:51 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
It may be a coincidence, but Atlas was located at 295 Austin Ave, and a 41 year old travelling agent with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad had been living just 9 blocks south on the same side of the same street ...
Holey smokes!!! You just gave me the shivers!!

-=tabman

Glenn Bishop | 07/16/05 10:00 AM | link | filter

Great work Richard. Could you please post what kind of a job would a railroad agent do on the railroad?

Thank you in advance and thank you for the great work you have done in finding out who Erdnase was?

Richard Hatch | 07/16/05 11:52 AM | link | filter

Hi Glenn. Hi Tabby. Thanks for your continued interest and input on this topic. First, this particular E. S. Andrews (Edwin Sumner Andrews, 1859-1922) is just one of a half dozen or more interesting candidates. He happens to be my personal favorite, but Todd Karr's con man (who appears to be a different fellow than this one, though that is not entirely clear), David Alexander's W. E. Sanders, Chicago attorney James Andrews, and Martin Gardner's Milton Franklin Andrews are all strong candidates for various reasons. Obviously, they didn't all write the book, possibly none of them did, so their strengths will in most (possibly all) cases prove to be coincidences once the case if definitively solved.
A railroad "travelling agent" is not a "travel agent." He is not selling tickets for travel on the train. Instead, he seems to have been a kind of "trouble shooter," visiting potential clients, soliciting business. Necessarily he would have spent a great deal of time traveling on the train to visit those clients. Naturally, that would have given him an opportunity to observe and even participate in card games, as well as practice his sleights on an "Erdnase" table, like the one you make, Tabby. At the time Edwin Sumner Andrews was living on Austin Ave in Oak Park, Illinois (Austin runs North-South and divides the enclave of Oak Park from Chicago. In other words, he was living on the Oak Park side of the street, Chicago was on the opposite side), he was actually the travelling agent for the C&NWRR based out of DeKalb, some 50 or so miles due west from him by rail. His home was just 1/3 of a block south of the Oak Park station for his RR, so he could have gotten to downtown Chicago (where the illustrator met him, and the printing was done) in about ten minutes by rail. David Alexander has pointed out (in his January 2000 GENII cover story) that the hotel room in which the author met the illustrator was apparently unheated in the wintertime, an unlikely situation even in a cheap Chicago hotel, implying that the author may not have been staying in that room, but merely using it to meet the illustrator. Makes sense if he lives just ten minutes away, but didn't want the illustrator to know that... This E. S. Andrews was living in Chicago from about 1887 till 1896. Richard Hood wrote Martin Gardner in 1946 that his father, Edwin C. Hood (founder of the famous H. C. Evans gambling supply company) knew the author of the book quite well when the author was living in Chicago in the mid-1890s. E. S. Andrews got promoted from clerk to travelling agent in 1896 and was transferred to Denver where he remained until October 1901. He was then transferred to DeKalb, but lived in Oak Park with his father in law, an invalid civil war veteran and railroad baggage handler, at the Austin Ave address. He was himself a widower with two teenage children, a second wife (the former Dollie Seeley, who had been head of stenography for a large Chicago company. Perhaps he dictated the book to her?), and two aging parents in the same household. My guess is that he needed the money! Arriving in Chicago in October 1901, he could have opened a bank account (the artist said he was paid with a low numbered check on a large Chicago bank), contacted the printer, met with the illustrator, and finished the manuscript in time for submission to the copyright office in early March (the two copies of the book were received at the Copyright Office in Washington on March 7th, 1902). The big mystery to me, no matter who the author was, is how he distributed and advertised the book. Until it enters the magic community some six months after having been published, we know nothing about this. Surely he didn't wait that long to start selling copies. My guess is that he took out classified ads using a PO Box in sporting men's publications, like the Police Gazette, but to date no such ad has been found. His move to San Francisco in February 1903 neatly explains the drop in price on unsold copies when he left town, if, in fact, Atlas was the distributor, rather than, for example, Frederick J. Drake (from whom Atlas could have obtained them, rather than vice versa). McKinney, the printer, went bankrupt in January 1903, and may also have had unsold copies that someone (Drake?) obtained at that time. Perhaps court records of the sale of McKinney's assets exist that would clarify this... His death in California in 1922 would explain why the copyright was not renewed in 1930. But these could be coincidences. He is the age remembered by the illustrator, and the one photo I have of him indicates he is, unlike Milton Franklin Andrews, relatively short of stature, also as recalled by the illustrator. But even though he seems a near perfect circumstantial match, I have no evidence of writing ability (or the education it implies) nor can I put a deck of cards in his hands, nor conclusively demonstrate his relationship to Dalrymple. So I'd say the case is still wide open!

Glenn Bishop | 07/16/05 12:21 PM | link | filter

Richard I am so incredibly knocked over and excited by your information on Erdnase that you have done and the stuff that you just posted. Thank you very much you have really done some outstanding work on this and I really hope you do a book on it - because I would buy it in a second.

Thank you for the more info on the railroad agent job.

But would that put him into contact with magicians to? Because according to contracts I have of both my Dad and Jack Gwynne that the managers of the acts pushed the acts not to drive cars but to ride the rails. In fact it is mentioned in some of the contracts I have had in my files. This was quite a few yeas after Erdnase.

Did most of the acts of those days ride the rails too? Would this bring Mr. Andrews in contact with magicians too as well as card sharks?

And would this job also most likely put him in many towns with the saloons and card games that he could have gone into because he had time on his hands?

Would that give him the education in cards to write this book?

Thanks again Richard - fantastic work on Erdnase!

Pete Biro | 07/16/05 01:42 PM | link | filter

I think this thread should be published in a little book.

Bill Mullins | 07/16/05 03:14 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
I think this thread should be published in a little book.
I think the author of the little book should be:

O. R. Ibetep

Ryan Matney | 07/16/05 04:03 PM | link | filter

Richard,

Is your man the only one that has a true backward spelling of S.W. Erdnase with no rearranging of letters as in other possible candidates that have been suggested?

That's a very strong circumstancial case. If you ever get him anywhere near a pack of cards I'd buy into your guy being the author.

Richard Hatch | 07/16/05 04:35 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Ryan Matney:
Is your man the only one that has a true backward spelling of S.W. Erdnase with no rearranging of letters as in other possible candidates that have been suggested?
Ryan, there are several other E. S. Andrews candidates of interest. Todd Karr has found an E. S. Andrews (discussed elsewhere on this thread) who was pulling a collection agency scam in the midwest from about 1901-1907 I believe. A great source of information on him can be found at the following site:
Is this Erdnase?
There are several other "E. S. Andrews" from the period that might be of interest, though the ones I have looked at tend eventually to develop "problems" as far as trying to identify them as Erdnase goes (wrong places at the wrong times, that kind of thing). Initially I was quite fond of Chicago based attorney James Andrews (jamES ANDREWS also gives the author's name when you reverse it and drop a few letters). But my investigation of him led me to the more interesting E. S. Andrews outlined above. I think if any of the candidates could be closely linked to Dalrymple, that would be compelling evidence. Or if one's writing style was a close match to the author's...
David Alexander argues that the simple backwards rendering of the name is not a good match for someone as clever as the author, since it is too transparent, which led him to his more complex anagram candidate. W. E. Sanders. I would tend to agree if I were convinced that the author wanted total anonymity, but I'm not. If he did, putting the illustrator's real name (rather than a fake one or none at all) on the title page was surely a huge error in judgement. Anyone in 1902 could have tracked down and interviewed M. D. Smith and quickly gotten enough information to identify the author. The fact that no on did so until Martin Gardner tracked him down in 1946 (who knows how many clues he had forgotten in those 44 years!) is an accident of history, not proof of the author's desire for anonymity.
Incidentally, the earlist identification in print I have found that S. W. Erdnase = E. S. Andrews is a Leo Rullman column in THE SPHINX in November 1928.

Ryan Matney | 07/16/05 05:46 PM | link | filter

Thanks for the reply, Richard. I also don't believe the author wanted to remain anonamous for all eternity.

After all, how many magicians have you met that didn't want some credit for their own work (and maybe even the work of others)? It's not in card man's character to refuse credit entirely. ;-)

Guest | 07/17/05 09:55 AM | link | filter

I originally e-mailed this to Richard Hatch as I was uncertain about whether it did or did not deserve mention (or re-mention, as it is) in this thread. Having been encouraged by Mr. Hatch to post it, I am doing so, and hoping that this will prove useful to someone.

Erdnase makes the following observation in the bottom dealing chapter, paragraph right below fig 25 that: "Hoyle makes a point of instructing that a dealer should always keep the outer end of thed eck, and the cards, as dealt, inclined towards the table."

It might be a noteworthy point, I haven't a clue what the avalibility was for that material which Erdnase points to (of Hoyle's). This HAS been brought up but not taken into account as far as dating and profiling are concerned, maybe because this means absolutely nothing.

Regardless, this is an excellent topic and I hope it will continue to grow.

Andrei

Bill Mullins | 07/17/05 04:41 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
David Alexander argues that the simple backwards rendering of the name is not a good match for someone as clever as the author, since it is too transparent, which led him to his more complex anagram candidate. W. E. Sanders. [/QB]
I'm not wholly in agreement with this argument, because it only makes sense when going from "Erdnase" to "Sanders". But this is not what the author did -- he went from "Sanders" (or "Andrews") to "Erdnase". If the original author's name was E. S. Andrews (or JamES or CharlES or *** ES), then Erdnase makes sense -- simple reversal. But if the original author's name was W. E. Sanders (as is Alexander's candidate), then the "Erdnase" name is more contrived. Alexander solves this by pointing out that "Erdnase" translates from "Earth Nose" in German, and his Sanders had a mining background, but this still seems a stretch.

I look forward to hearing more from David Alexander's analysis of Sanders' diaries, as he indicated in his Genii article.

Guest | 07/18/05 03:38 AM | link | filter

Andrei, I've also been curious about the "Hoyle/outer end inclined toward the table" addition in the bottom deal description.

To deal with the cards in this position at an average sized table in an average sized seat can be quite a strain on the fore-arm that holds the deck. Everyones different of course; but for me (and in my hands) I have found this strain to come across un-natural in the way that anything straining tends to do.

I have found the bottom deal description to be my favourite part of the book, this is partly due to how hard the author found describing the move.

Regarding a previous comment about this being because he couldn't do it. I believe he could do it, I have sat down and struggled to describe technically challenging moves (that I can do fine) and came out with results that include mistakes such as wrong fingering positions (and other things) as a result of struggling with it.

The move was engineered to work in perfect consistency with the second deal (although there is a little hurdle needing tackled before this can be got) and with a top deal too. I believe that a person who thought this detail to be of massive importance had already used and experimented with many deals before getting to his final outcome.

it's thinking of someone who was very profficient at what he done.

I recon it's also obvious from the "Hoyle" comment that he never tilted the deck forward as he dealt. He mentions before it that he used a sleight up and down movement, I think he was maybe aware of some degree of finger flash in his own deal. It is possible, but also very hard to iradicate finger flash for the Erdnase bottom deal. I recon this is why he felt compelled to add the optional inclined positioning. I also recon he was fully aware that it may come accross a tad un-natural, perhaps that's why a name was attahced to it when in general names aren't attached to anything else in the book.

I'd also like to hear if anyone has any thoughts (or know's) about how this comment came to be, where it came from etc. I know nothing of Hoyle and have often wondered if this was a personal piece of advise offered when a finger flash was seen or even someing Erdnase had read elsewhere.

David.

Richard Hatch | 07/18/05 06:19 AM | link | filter

Can anyone reference an edition of Hoyle that contains the advice about keeping the outer end of the deck pointing down? I have checked several editions of Hoyle without success, including several edited by R. F. Foster, who some (Jerry Sadowitz and Peter Kane) believe helped edit THE EXPERT. Couldn't find the reference...

David Alexander | 07/22/05 10:27 AM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Hatch:

David Alexander argues that the simple backwards rendering of the name is not a good match for someone as clever as the author, since it is too transparent, which led him to his more complex anagram candidate. W. E. Sanders. I would tend to agree if I were convinced that the author wanted total anonymity, but I'm not. If he did, putting the illustrator's real name (rather than a fake one or none at all) on the title page was surely a huge error in judgement. Anyone in 1902 could have tracked down and interviewed M. D. Smith and quickly gotten enough information to identify the author. The fact that no on did so until Martin Gardner tracked him down in 1946 (who knows how many clues he had forgotten in those 44 years!) is an accident of history, not proof of the author's desire for anonymity.
*******


I do not argue for Erdnases wanting total anonymity, as clearly, he didnt. Had he wanted total anonymity he would have simply left the authors name blank or used by An Anonymous or Reformed Gambler. He did neither, but putting his name on the title page of the book in a disguised form was important.a way of demonstrating his superiority.

Putting Smiths name on the book was not an error. Should anyone have talked to Smith (who could easily have pointed them to McKinney) all they would have learned was that Erdnase doubtless used the name Andrews in his dealing with his printer and illustrator. His working name, E.S. Andrews, would be easily accepted by McKinney and Smith as legitimate, as would the pseudonym on the book, his working name spelled backwards. No one ever bothered to get past the first fake name. (My candidate was playing with anagrams of his name when he was a teenager.) As Mr. Andrews paid his bills, what did McKinney care? It was just another vanity job in a career of printing all sorts of things. For Smith, it was nothing special, a simply job he did quickly, collected his fee and moved on.

As Ive said before and will state here, again, publishing a book is not a fast way to money. Ask anyone in the niche publishing business and theyll tell you. In this case, it was a several-month process from a manuscript that took a long time to compile and write, probably years.

McKinney was not the publisher, he was the printer. Consequently, the job would be paid in advance before McKinney did anything. The job would then be typeset using something similar to a Linotype machine, a process that would take time. (This was years before photo offset.) There would be a plate for every page and cuts for every illustration put into the plate. This would take time. A skilled Linotype operator being able to typeset a certain number of pages a day. Printing historians tell me ten to fifteen would be a reasonable estimate. Then there was proofing, either by McKinney or Erdnase, should he be around. The project, done over the holidays of 1901, took many weeks, presuming that McKinney worked it into his printing schedule on a timely basis. They didnt drop everything they were doing just to work on this one project.

And then there was the sales and distribution of the finished book. A mind like Erdnases, with his ability to analyze and describe, his clear education and sophistication, would not seem to be the type who would spend the money necessary to print a book without having an idea about what he would do with the book once it was in his hands. That the first mention of the book in the magic press of the day wasnt until many months later suggests that even though Erdnase was familiar with the magic of the day, the amateur magic scene was not his target audience. The use of a pseudonym would all the author to sell the book himself, should he wish to, as something rare and privately printed. Magic has had a number of privately printed and circulated (and expensive) manuscripts floating around for years. Who knows how many copies of Expert were sold to real or wannbe card mechanics for well beyond the $2 cover price? (That cover price in 1902 dollars equates out to around $40 to $50 today. If Erdnase sold them directly, he wouldnt have had to sell many to recoup his investment, but, at this point, we do not know how he disposed of the first print run, nor how many were in the first print run.)

No one was seriously looking for Erdnase until Martin Gardner stumbled on Smith forty-plus years after the fact. Anyone could have looked him up in Chicago prior to that. He was a long-time illustrator with plenty of credits, but no one bothered. Simply put, no one cared that much about who Erdnase was to put in the relatively minor effort to track down the illustrator to begin the quest.

Afterwards, people uncritically accepted what Gardner posited until recently when Gardners work was questioned. It is clear that several conclusions Gardner made are unsupported by the evidence. Essentially, Gardners thesis that Milton Franklin Andrews was Erdnase rests entirely on the assertions of a supposedly retired gambler named Pratt. I believe Dick Hatch has shown persuasively that Pratt simply fed Gardner nonsense and that Gardner ran with it without any supporting evidence or verification of Pratts claims. Indeed, the evidence strongly suggests that Pratt was never a gambler at all and that he was just an old man blowing smoke at Walter Gibson and Martin Gardner.

Jonathan Townsend | 07/22/05 11:05 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
...A mind like Erdnases, with his ability to analyze and describe, his clear education and sophistication, would not seem to be the type who would spend the money necessary to print a book without having an idea about what he would do with the book once it was in his hands. ...
Projection, and ill founded conjecture there. A presentation of good research is easily tainted when the discussion shifts from the physical evidence to the mental imagery of the author. Not everyone imagines the same thing. I for one, imagine a temperance leader, probably female collecting gambling secrets from the strung out losers who have hit rock bottom and sharing some of their old ways as part of their recovery process. So many possibilities for good stories here. Perhaps Jerry Sadowitz got a time machine and decided to pull a prank. At least when we stick to the evidence we can agree about what is known and leave the conjecture to the storytellers. Right, Colonel Mustard, in the bar, with a deck of cards. ;)

Larry Horowitz | 07/22/05 02:18 PM | link | filter

Jonathan,

This is the second time either you or someone else has written about not using conjecture in this discussion. I say without some conjecture, we have nothing to discuss.

We have to act as resonable people discussing the evidence we have and where it may lead. The conjecture gives us further avenues for research.

I believe conjecture as to reasonable human actions can be made. If I yell FIRE in a theater, it's reasonable to think everyone will run out. You would imply that's an erronious assumption because there may be two or three people that day looking to commit suicide given the oppourtunity. They would run into the fire. Of course it "could" happen, but I wouldn't bet on it!

We may never reach a conclusion that exhausts all avenues. And we may never know for FACT the identity of the author. But this is still the best thread in magic.

David Alexander | 07/22/05 08:28 PM | link | filter

Well Jonathan, if you can read Erdnase and only come away seeing him as a frustrated female temperance worker,and not as a well-educated, analytical and experienced writer able to articulate his thoughts in an organized manner, I guess theres no point in further discussion with you.

And, of course, I do look forward to your in-depth research on this subject so we can see your skills at historical research.

Jonathan Townsend | 07/25/05 05:29 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Well Jonathan, if you can read Erdnase and only come away seeing him as a ... female ...,and not as a well-educated, analytical and experienced writer able to articulate his (sic) thoughts in an organized manner, I guess theres no point in further discussion with you....
I saw this late Saturday and held off on a retort in the hopes that we would see an edit to this post quoted above.

I understand this subject is emotionally charged by those who venerate Vernon etc.

My post offered four or five options for the book's authorship. In previous posts I suggested other options. The option that seems to have irked is the one where a temperance leader, perhaps a woman, collected the stories and methods as part of a reformation cause. Sorry to see sexist attitudes are blinding some to the works of half our species. In retort I point out Mary Shelly's Modern Prometheus and suggest that until we have ONE author and ONE editor we are not well served by projecting our prejudices into the past. Have we considered the author may have been black? How about a Chinese guy? When we filter the past through our prejudices we may wind up not learning what was but instead burying the good works of others under additional layers of denial.

It helps to stay open minded and look for clues. Yes I have studied the text. I'm working from the text, and curious about its origins. Hence my comments about moving sections around. I also support filtering out the highbrow language as editorial contribution. I feel the language inconsistent where the sleight descriptions which are, to my eyes, lacking in meter, flow and much detail. In seems to me that when one DOES a thing and wishes to describe what one DOES, one tends to use language of position, force and flow instead of external language of where things appear to be and how they appear to move.

I will refrain from pointing a finger at this community for it's lack of similar attention to the provenance of works and lauding of those who have "borrowed", like Braue et al. How about some energy fixing up Expert Card Technique to show some lessons have been learned? ECT in particular is ripe for a cleanup as some of those who knew the ones whose material which was "borrowed" are still alive. In the mean time, please don't ask for my respect regarding authorship and inventorship while condoning despicable acts and lauding those who have done and probably continue to do such things.

That said, let's keep a focus on the book, and what is known of its provenance thanks to much laudable and significant research by some who want the pertinent facts and are treating this matter as an historical investigation.


[It took about a dozen edits to get this post sorted and polished. Can we expect much different of the book in question?]

Richard Hatch | 07/25/05 06:36 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
The option that seems to have irked is the one where a temperance leader, perhaps a woman, collected the stories and methods as part of a reformation cause. Sorry to see sexist attitudes are blinding some to the works of half our species. In retort I point out Mary Shelly's Modern Prometheus and suggest that until we have ONE author and ONE editor we are not well served by projecting our prejudices into the past. Have we considered the author may have been black? How about a Chinese guy?
I would just point out that the illustrator, Marshall D. Smith, when interviewed by Martin Gardner some 40 plus years after the fact (Gardner described Smith's recollections as quite clear, however, despite his age and the passage of time) recalled meeting with a clean-shaven, slight, short (possibly as short as 5'5", not over 5'7"), middle aged (40-45 years old) white male with no hint of a foreign accent. Unless he met an imposter, I suggest this description serves as a useful guide for candidates. Even allowing for distortions due to the passage of time (perhaps he was slightly older or younger, shorter or taller, for example), it seems a stretch to think the artist might have been mistaken about the gender or race of his employer. That said, at least one theorist has argued that the fact that the artist recalled the author as short, slight, clean shaven and having hands "softer than any womans" could be explained if he was, in fact, dealing with a woman. I think that unlikely.

Bob Coyne | 07/25/05 07:53 AM | link | filter

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Sorry to see sexist attitudes are blinding some to the works of half our species.
It's bad form (and close minded) to accuse people of being sexist just because they don't subscribe to your inane theory that Erdnase might have been a female temperance worker. It's also very presumptive to suggest that people are in "denial" about the possibility that Erdnase was black, chinese, or female. All the evidence and probabilities point toward him being a white male. Perhaps you're the one in denial.

Jonathan Townsend | 07/25/05 08:13 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
...your inane theory that Erdnase might have been a female temperance worker. ... All the evidence and probabilities point toward him being a white male. Perhaps you're the one in denial.
I thought the option ( not testable so not a theory ) about Jerry Sadowitz using a time machine was more inane. Then again, perhaps Mary Shelly was just a pen name for her husband? If it irks some that the author(s?) of a work might be unlike what they imagine... that speaks to who they are.

Getting ad-hominem does not increase the general level of respect or admiration in the community. If you want to argue with me about something, fine. If you want to ask about my motivations or how I come to conclusions or how I find possibilities in context, also fine. Denial is an inner-world term and perhaps we can discuss that too though let's do that off this thread where the focus is a thing, a book in particular.

As to reading in general...sometimes it seems we have folks who missed the line about gilding gold and painting the lily, and want to hold gilding the lily as absurd.

Bob Coyne | 07/25/05 09:06 AM | link | filter

Jonathan Townsend wrote: Getting ad-hominem does not increase the general level of respect or admiration in the community.
I couldn't agree more. Your post characterized others as being sexist, close-minded, and in denial, not to mention the off-topic rant about Expert Card Technique. This thread has been one of the best on the forum. Why ruin it?

Jonathan Townsend | 07/25/05 09:43 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
...Your post characterized others ...
Accusing me of less than positive intent and respect for my peers in magic is not gonna work here. Sure I'm a little playful with the textual studies. I hoped citing Borges and Eco would let folks know that I know. Then again I'm all for respecting history and those who DID the things we look back upon through the study of history.

My interest is in finding out more about "erdnase". To that end I have taken some trouble to ponder the work and consider some options that may offer avenues to explore. All that magic and all those sleights. All from what we might call the school of hard knocks? All that wonderful writing and all at once? From where?

Am I writing to defend myself here? Nope. I can see that the ECT cleanup may be beyond some folks still. Till that project is done and published we have a black mark on our history and a faulty foundation/stepping stone for students. There (ECT) is a piece of history we can restore and admire when restored. That is the topic... connecting to our history. The process involved is one generation removed from the data needed to do the same for "expert". Yes, a plan of action and perhaps a training ground for the next generation of historians among us.

"Expert" is something that was neglected in its time. Did one person write "expert"? Surely the conjuring section would be harmless to sign as an author. Why then was it included in work without a proud author? A mystery, or at least a puzzle that sent me into the text for themes in content and style.

Any record of a book signing tour? Any diaries discussing authors parties and boasting? Any editor coming forth to discuss how they polished the book? Any "amended" copies of the book turned up with notes by students of the author? Any copies of the "artifice" section alone as a separate work distributed a few years before the book? A few questions about things that may have left traces in written or oral history.

Bob Coyne | 07/25/05 12:38 PM | link | filter

btw, the suggestion that we should consider whether Erdnase might have been African American made me recall this passage from the introduction of Expert at the Card Table:

A colored attendant of a "club room," overhearing a discussion about running up two hands of poker, ventured the following interpolation: "Don't trouble 'bout no two han's Boss. Get yo' own han'. De suckah, he'll get a han' all right, suah!"

I think it's almost certain that Erdnase was a white male, and the above quote is compatible with that. But maybe it sheds light on the locations and types of club rooms where Erdnase worked? i.e., Were black attendants common in club rooms in all areas of the country?

Bill Mullins | 07/26/05 03:24 PM | link | filter

Carl Sagan said something like: "Extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence".

Given what we "know" about Erdnase, any speculation that he wasn't a white male is extraordinary.

I put "know" in quotes, because a certain amount of figuring out who Erdnase was will be based on data that is not abolute. I agree with Richard above that the evidence is that he was a middle aged white man. But the evidence is the 40-year old memory of an old man. Is it reliable? Is any other "information" that we can obtain reliable? Either we are blue-sky speculating, or we are doing an historian's research. If we keep the two trains of thought separate, fine. But no historical data to date leads to a woman or a black/chinese man, and to reject the possibilities outright is entirely consistent with the data at hand. Such suggestions are only speculations at this point, and somewhat wild ones at that -- given the INFORMATION we do have.

If Jonathan or anyone else can come up with evidence to the contrary, so much the better, and it should be considered.

magicam | 07/26/05 09:42 PM | link | filter

Jonathan:

I've read many of your posts, here and elsewhere on the 'net, and perceive you as one who tries to provoke thought. That's almost always a good thing if offered on point (or thereabouts!) and in good faith.

If your point was to counsel against "runaway speculation" (as I would term it) in the course of research on Erdnase's identity, point taken. As Bill Mullins wrote, if you or anyone else "can come up with evidence to the contrary, so much the better, and it should be considered." But in this case, I don't think there's been much (if any) truly wild speculation on this thread, at least from those who have given serious thought to the matters in question. Larry Horowitz hit the nail on the head, IMHO. Paraphrasing him, in matters unknown, without [reasonable] speculation, fewer ideas could be "vetted" or explored.

I've never perceived you as one who tries to "sabotage" or create stinky threads, so I give you the full benefit of the doubt and assume that you viewed your comments as relevant and worthy of consideration. But with all due respect and based on what has been written by folks whose opinions I give credence to, IMHO most of the identity options you offered, while perhaps theoretically possible, actually injected elements of "runaway speculation" into the conversation.

To echo others, this is one of the best threads I've ever read on the internet and I'd hate to see it stray off point, no matter how well intentioned the "sidebars" are.

Clay

Ryan Matney | 07/27/05 12:36 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
btw, the suggestion that we should consider whether Erdnase might have been African American made me recall this passage from the introduction of Expert at the Card Table:

A colored attendant of a "club room," overhearing a discussion about running up two hands of poker, ventured the following interpolation: "Don't trouble 'bout no two han's Boss. Get yo' own han'. De suckah, he'll get a han' all right, suah!"

I think it's almost certain that Erdnase was a white male, and the above quote is compatible with that. But maybe it sheds light on the locations and types of club rooms where Erdnase worked? i.e., Were black attendants common in club rooms in all areas of the country?
It could provide insight into the types of clubs Erdnase worked. It could also say lot about why it's unlikely that the text in 1902 was written by a Chinese or Black man. And then, it could just be a joke and not a real story at all and to that end make it even more likely the author was white.

It seems to me what Jonathan wants to discuss might have more place in a philosophy class than a converstaion on the man who was erdnase.

By the way, Jerry Sadowitz DOES have a time machine.

Bill Mullins | 07/28/05 03:08 PM | link | filter

This thread is in another topic. I'm bringing part of the discussion here:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Two years earlier, in 1900, Jamieson-Higgins also published JACK POTS, STORIES OF THE GREAT AMERICAN GAME by Eugene Edwards, an early classic on American Poker.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eugene Edwards / S.W. Erdnase

VERY close.... Curious, has this 'lead' been followed before?
The WORLDCAT internet database (mostly academic and research libraries) shows copies of the book in 12 libraries:
CA SOUTHWEST MUS, BRAUN RES LIBR
CA UNIV OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
DC LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
IL UNIV OF ILLINOIS
LA LOUISIANA STATE UNIV
LA TULANE UNIV COLL ANALYSIS
LA TULANE UNIV
MA BOSTON COLLEGE
NV UNIV OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS
OH OHIO STATE UNIV, THE
RI CRANSTON PUB LIBR
TX UNIV OF TEXAS, AUSTIN, HARRY RANSOM

and a microfilm edition at:
MI MICHIGAN STATE UNIV

The same author, Eugene Edwards, is also listed as having written:

Title: A million dollar jack pot :
and other poker stories /
Author(s): Edwards, Eugene. ;
Illustrator: Morgan, Ike, ;
Publication: Chicago : Jamieson-Higgins Co.,
Year: 1901

which may be a re-issue. [Note: Morgan also illustrated the first book.]

It is in two libraries:
IL UNIV OF ILLINOIS
OH OHIO STATE UNIV, THE

Title: Tom Custer's luck :
and other poker stories /
Author(s): Edwards, Eugene. ; Morgan, Ike, ; (Illustrator - ill.)
Corp Author(s): Jamieson-Higgins Company. ; (Publisher - pbl)
Publication: Chicago : Jamieson-Higgins Co.,
Year: 1901

OH OHIO STATE UNIV, THE
AB UNIV OF ALBERTA


Title: Ante - I raise you ten :
stories of the great American game /
Author(s): Edwards, Eugene.
Illustrations: Ike Morgan
Publication: Chicago : Jamieson-Higgins,
Year: 1902, 1900

NV UNIV OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS
NY NEW YORK STATE HIST ASN


Ike Morgan was a fairly prolific illustrator. He did "The Woogle-Bug Book" by L. Frank Baum, which is in a common 1978 facsimile edition, for those who want to get a look at his style and compare it to Marshall Smith's.

Or, you could go here and look at an online copy of another book illustrated by Ike Morgan. [note that apparently H.M. Caldwell bought out Jamieson-Higgins for this version].

This page seems to imply that Jamieson Higgins was subsumed by Hurst & Co about 1903; I can find no books after 1903 that were listed as published by J-H, and they don't show up in newspaper databases after that date.

I found a 1901 ad for Jamieson-Higgins; one of their titles was "Fun with Magic" by Geo. Brunel.

Chicago IL census records for 1910 show a Eugene P. Edwards, at 754 Lincoln Park Blvd (probably a rooming house), age 47, occupation muddled but looks like "treasurer".

Bill Mullins | 08/23/05 03:26 PM | link | filter

Gardner on Erdnase:

"On the Way to "Mathematical Games": Part I of an Interview with Martin Gardner" by Don Albers, _College Mathematics Journal_, 1 May 2005, Volume 36; Issue 3; p 178
I had an interesting experience recently with a magic book called The Expert at the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase. If you spell that backwards you get E. S. Andrews. The book is a classic and I had a first edition of the book that I bought for about five dollars when I was quite young. A couple months ago, Richard Hatch, who runs a magic rare book store in Texas, came out to see me to see if I had any books that he might want to buy and then resell. I had a copy of this first edition, which I mailed to him before he came out to see me. He got very excited and angry with me because I hadn't insured it. I didn't know it had any special value. So he put it up for auction, and the book sold for over $2,000, to his surprise and mine. I don't even know who bought it. But the early magic books are now quite rare.

Richard Hatch | 08/23/05 09:27 PM | link | filter

$2,000?! Gardner's copy actually sold for over $10,000 (on eBay in February 2000, I believe). Probably just a measure of how little interest Gardner has in material things! And I wasn't "angry" with him for sending it to us uninsured, just rather surprised when it unexpectedly showed up one day in my mailbox, sent parcel post uninsured with a note suggesting we might want to sell it for him! I suggested to him that we sell it on eBay and explained what that involved, and he suggested perhaps it might be more interesting if sold with his correspondence with Marshall Smith and Edgar Pratt, and some of the other documents regarding his pursuit of this mystery. I agreed, and it was my own reading of those documents that stimulated my subsequent interest in the mystery.

Brad Jeffers | 08/24/05 10:24 PM | link | filter

Prehaps Gardner considered that $2000 was for the book and $8000 was for the other material.

What do you think, Richard? How much did the Marshall and Pratt letters contribute to the final price?

Richard Hatch | 08/25/05 06:07 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Brad Jeffers:
Prehaps Gardner considered that $2000 was for the book and $8000 was for the other material.

What do you think, Richard? How much did the Marshall and Pratt letters contribute to the final price?
Hard to say. His copy was in very poor condition, so aside from the provenance and Marshall D. Smith's signature on the title page, I wouldn't have appraised it for much. We did have an unsolicited pre-emptive offer of $3,500, I believe, for the book alone from a gambling collector, which we obviously declined. I don't believe that collector actively participated in the online bidding. As is often the case on eBay, the high price was the result of a last minute "spike" by the unsuccessful underbidder. I think it is very difficult to assign an objective value to historical documents, such as the Pratt and Smith correspondence. The winning bidder was a television writer whom we had not previously heard of, nor have we since!

Bill Mullins | 08/27/05 04:53 PM | link | filter

Just ran across a newspaper article from a couple of years ago, that indicates a movie about Erdnase may be in development.

'Calendar Girls' heralds new era of comedy; Nigel Reynolds
The Daily Telegraph 08-16-2003
[Nick] Barton [CEO of Harbour Pictures] says that he even has the playwright David Mamet involved in another idea - this time from the United States.

Harbour has bought the rights to a book, Erdnase, which is about a later 19th-century magician who was America's Most Wanted serial killer.

Working as a consultant on the film, which is called Sleight of Hand, is the American magician and actor Ricky Jay. He is the husband of the line producer of Calendar Girls, Chrisann Verges, and is also a regular in Mamet films.

"Ricky has had discussions with David about writing the screenplay for Sleight of Hand and although nothing has been signed he has expressed real interest," says Barton.

Guest | 09/28/05 04:42 AM | link | filter

Has anyone found anything on that Hoyle reference?

Andrei

Guest | 09/29/05 12:40 PM | link | filter

I just finished reading the Genii issue featuring David Alexanders new light on the identity of Erdnase. It was a great read and had me convinced.

When can we expect a follow up feature? It has been five years now. I would be interested in reading about any further information Mr. Alexander may have collected.

I would also like to read Richard Hatchs most recent conclusion on the topic.

Richard Hatch | 10/21/05 02:08 PM | link | filter

Thought I would mention that today is Martin Gardner's 91st birthday. I just spoke with him and he sounds very good. A few weeks ago Gary Plants gave him a lesson on the Plants Shuffle, about which he is enthusiastic.

Ryan Matney | 10/21/05 02:34 PM | link | filter

Happy Birthday Mr. Gardner!

Karl Fulves just gave a rave to Gardner's new book of science experiments. Amazing he is still turning out work.

Richard, so Martin still meets/sessions with magicians?

Richard Hatch | 10/21/05 03:17 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Ryan Matney:
Richard, so Martin still meets/sessions with magicians?
Well, since he has moved to an assisted living center in Norman, Oklahoma (about 3 years ago), he has been visited by Jamy Ian Swiss, Bob White, Gary Plants, Randi (several times), Joshua Jay, and no doubt some others I don't know about. His dentist there, Dr. Tom Todd, is a magician. He's quite a private person, but seems to enjoy interacting with magicians on occasion. Magic is still an active and creative interest for him.

Bill Mullins | 11/07/05 02:10 AM | link | filter

ERDNASE IN NON-MAGIC POP CULTURE

Modesty Blaise studies EACT by Erdnase in _Dead Man's Handle_ (by Peter O'Donnell, 1986). Darwin Ortiz points out in _The Annotated Erdnase_ that Scarne, Zingone, and Rosini discuss the "merits of the Erdnase one-hand shift" in _No Coffin for the Corpse_ (by Clayton Rawson, 1942). Amy Tan's _Saving Fish From Drowning_ (2005) has a character named E. S. Andrews, who uses card tricks to assert power over Burmese tribesmen.

Any other non-magic notices of Erdnase?

Tommy | 11/19/05 01:58 PM | link | filter

I just read this and I don't know why I mention it here, apart from the fact that I am a gambler and know the world of pro gamblers is small, most of us know each other, sort of.
Well I was just wondering if this diary mentions someone who might fit the bill. Also this guy Michael Carey might give us a tip or two on how to search for Erdnase, maybe. I know its a long shot but I told you I was a gambler. I think it would be appropriate to find Erdnace by chance. I would like read the diary of a gambler from the time of Erdnase in any event.
Are any of you guys from Alaska.

FRIDAY, APRIL 15
1:45 to 3 p.m.

THE SEARCH FOR BILLY PORTER - From 1901-1903, a gambler kept a diary of his activities in the mining camp of Rampart on the Yukon River. The lengthy diary survived because Alaska journalist Michael Carey's father found it and kept it. The diarist recorded details of his business, scenes from his community, holiday events and celebrations. He said much about his frontier surroundings. But he never revealed his name. So who was he? In this workshop, Michael Carey will explain how he found out who the gambler was, when he was born, when he came to Alaska, what he did after he left Rampart for Fairbanks and how and where he died, a surprise ending. "The Search For Billy Porter" is an example of historical detective work, emphasizing research techniques that can be used by reporters, historians and genealogists.

http://www.pressclub.alaskawriters.com/schedule_05.html

Bill Mullins | 11/20/05 07:33 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by COOPER:
From 1901-1903, a gambler kept a diary of his activities in the mining camp of Rampart on the Yukon River.
With Erdnase, one is reluctant to rule out anything with certainty. But unless the gambler's diary shows him to be in Chicago sometime in late 1901, or during 1902, it probably isn't Erdnase. That would have been the time he was arranging to have his book published in Chicago.

But it's fun running these leads down, and I'm trying to find a copy of the article from the Anchorage Press that starts here that Michael Carey wrote, to see if it sheds further light. Who knows?

Bill Mullins | 11/21/05 12:08 PM | link | filter

The speaker in the above-mentioned talk, Michael Carey, was kind enough to send me a full copy of his article (which is more or less the same as the talk) on Billy Porter, the gambler who wrote the diary. It's not likely that he was Erdnase, but there are some parallels that do make him intriguing. From his article:

Billy's voice is mature, experienced and worldly. Nobody would expect a gambler and barman to be a moralist, and this one does not wrestle with moral issues or questions about human nature. . . Billy seems to have spent at least a year in the Yukon Territory before settling in Alaska. Canadian border crossing records show William H. Porter entering the Yukon from Skagway April 24, 1899. He is not in the 1900 U.S. Census for Rampart, but a story in the Alaska Forum suggests he was in Rampart by the spring of 1900. . . . Billy says nothing [in his diary] about cheating . . . . The territorial laws of 1899 banning gambling never threatened Billy's business, at least according to the diary. His card and dice games, including roulette, were played openly at The Reception. . . .
In reference to his business acumen
During late 1902, Billy's interest in The Reception waned. It was easy to see why. In August, Billy and bartender Nelson compared their income and expenditures for the previous eight months. They found The Reception was losing money, a discovery that left Billy feeling "very much blue." Billy never explains why he lost money. Popular belief has it that selling liquor to frontier miners was a sure thing. Not at The Reception.
This is consistent with a person who "needs the money".

Billy's story does not end well
On June 29, 1912 the Record Citizen reported a local jury found Billy Porter insane. He suffered delusions of grandeur, promising friends gifts of $500,000 or more from imaginary mining properties north of the Yukon River. . . . He was sent to the Mt. Tabor Asylum in Portland, Oregon (later Morningside), a private hospital that for more than 60 years held a federal contract to care for mentally-ill Alaskans. . . .Billy Porter died at the Mt. Tabor Asylum December 7,1913. His death certificate says Billy, now divorced, succumbed to "paralysis" and was buried in Multnomah Cemetery. A 1914 clipping Rex Fisher found in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported his death under the headline "Billy Porter Is No More," noting in a sub-head "Was Well Known and Popular In Fairbanks In The Earlier Days." The term "paralysis" could mean many things. Here's what it probably meant: syphilis.
Further research by Carey, after his article, revealed:
I now believe, in addition to what I wrote, that Billy Porter was born in Milwaukee in October 1862, the son of a vessel master who sailed the Great Lakes. Billy grew up in some affluence in the Milwaukee suburbs. I have him into the early 90s working and living in Milwaukee. He is an agent for several freight companies, including American Express. About 1895, he disappears. I believe he went to Calif and from Calif went to Alaska - or the Yukon, Canada - in the gold rush.
So he was from the midwest, he was literate and a writer, he was a gambler. His history could explain why Erdnase never reappeared after his book. But the timelines are wrong for a book to have been published in 1902 -- the only way they work is if the book and its illustrations were completed sometime in the 1890's, and then the publisher sat on it until 1902. And I can't find any way to scramble the letters of William H. Porter into S. W. Erdnase.

If there is a lesson in Porter's story that informs Erdnase research, it is that there were a bunch of gamblers in the United States in 1900. Running them all down would not likely be a productive path to identifying Erdnase, although some subjects may be tantalizingly close.

Billy Porter's diary is now in the collection of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks:
CATALOG ENTRY.

Tommy | 11/21/05 08:14 PM | link | filter

Thanks very much Bill and thanks MR Carey.

The very thought of Erdnase, with his brilliant mind, ending up like that is not a pleasant one. I am happy it was not him now. But feel sad for poor old Billy.

Bill Mullins | 11/27/05 05:59 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Can anyone reference an edition of Hoyle that contains the advice about keeping the outer end of the deck pointing down? I have checked several editions of Hoyle without success, including several edited by R. F. Foster, who some (Jerry Sadowitz and Peter Kane) believe helped edit THE EXPERT.
From an article about Foster giving some talks on bridge at Bullock's Tea Room in Los Angeles (LA Times, 9/18/1927, p. 32):

"EXPERT ON CARDS TO TALK HERE

Mr. Foster needs little exploitation as he is internationally known and followed by bridge students. He has written many books on card games, his "Complete Hoyle" having gained for him the title of "Father of Bridge." "Foster on Auction Bridge and "Foster's Bridge Tactics" have been widely read and followed . . .

Mr. Foster was secretary of the Knickerbocker Whist Club of New York for many years. He was also card editor of Vanity Fair. His articles in that magazine have been eagerly read by thousands of people monthly. He was also card editor of the New York Sun and Tribune for more than twenty years.

Mr. Foster's master of the science of cards comes from the endless analyzing of thousands of card hands until his deductions are proven to him conclusively.

His keen wit evidenced in his lectures is a delight to his hearers.

Mr. Foster observes cannily (being Scotch) that after learning to value a card hand, psychology plays a big part, in being able to read one's partner and opponents. . . .

The Pellman system for memory training and concentration was also in Mr. Foster's work. . .

He designed the marble work for the interior of the Congressional Library at Washington, D. C. He also designed the interior of the Chicago Public Library, and is in addition a writer, traveler and inventor."

I hadn't been aware until now that he had written about cards in Vanity Fair, or the NY Sun/Trib. Studies of his writings there may prove interesting, when compared to EACT. The comments about psychology, when dealing with opponents, and his wit, also seem relevant in the study of EACT.

I wonder what his inventions are -- I don't think you can search the Patent Office's database by name, that far back.

Here are articles, which I don't have copies of, about or by Foster:

Title: R. F. Foster
Personal Author: BRADLEY, William Aspenwall
Journal Name: American Magazine
Source: American Magazine v. 69 (April 1910) p. 767-8
Publication Year: 1910

Title: Hopeless case
Journal Name: McClure's Magazine
Source: McClure's Magazine v. 32 (January 1909) p. 261-6
Publication Year: 1909
Subject(s): FOSTER, Robert Frederick, 1853-

Title: In self-defence
Journal Name: Bookman
Source: Bookman v. 21 (April 1905) p. 210-13
Publication Year: 1905
Subject(s): FOSTER, Robert Frederick, 1853-

Title: Good guessing at bridge
Journal Name: American Magazine
Source: American Magazine v. 68 (July 1909) p. 220-6
Publication Year: 1909
Subject(s): FOSTER, Robert Frederick, 1853-

In addition to numerous books about games and rules, he wrote a novel called "Cab No. 44" (1910), and non-fiction books "The coming faith: an answer to the eternal questions : whence? whither? and what for?" (1925); "Foster's rational method of recollection ... " (1906)

Richard Hatch | 11/27/05 07:19 PM | link | filter

Thanks, Bill. I hadn't seen that 1927 article, nor some of the others you cited. I do have CAB 44 which is not too hard to locate online, and also his COMING FAITH which includes the only photo of Foster that I've been able to find. I found a number of amazing (to me) coincidences in researching Foster that make him a "person of interest" in the author search: his expertise on gaming (his 1897 Hoyle with its sections on cheating are what lead Kane and Sadowitz to conjecture that he ghostwrote or edited THE EXPERT for Erdnase), his membership (off and on) in the Society of American Magicians, a book on "Word Circle Puzzles" he wrote, about a kind of ciruclar crossword puzzle he invented. In the introduction he makes passing reference to a book written by someone under a pseudonym, with the author's true name only being revealed much later through the first letters of paragraphs in the book, or something along those lines. In CAB 44 one of the protagonists uses the name "Milton Fletcher" and is an Englishman who plays cards and billiards. Milton Franklin Andrews used the alias "Milton Franklin" and was a billard playing cardshark who sometimes passed himself off as an Englishman... Foster claimed to have had an ex-journalist roommate in Texas at one point who was an expert bottom dealer. Foster was born and raised in Scotland, leaving open a possible relationship with the Dalrymple family (also from Scotland). And he was quite short and slight in stature, in line with the artist's recollection. But I do consider all of the above merely coincidences at this point. His writing does not strike me as sounding much like Erdnase, and he points out in his 1897 Hoyle the blatant dishonesty of the house at Faro, whereas Erdnase denies it, taking the opposite view. It seems unlikely that he would have consorted with magicians, as he did, without revealing his hand in writing the book, given its iconic status by that time (the early 1930s). But I still consider him "a person of interst" and welcome any additional information on him. Thanks!

Bill Mullins | 11/27/05 07:52 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
But I still consider him "a person of interst" and welcome any additional information on him.
Check your email for more . . .

Guest | 01/27/06 04:09 PM | link | filter

I bought my copy of EACT in 1972, and it's been with me ever since.
I began reading it over and over again long before the internet was about, and my opinions were formed without outside influence.
I had, and have, always assumed the author to be a gambler, not a magician.
The language he uses in the initial chapters prior to going into the sleights is one of a love for the taking of chance. It's a hard, if not impossible, love to fake.
His language when speaking about the fact that gamblers love to gamble even more than they love to win is something that only a gambler would know how to put into words.
In light of the many pages on the internet, and in this thread, I'd have to say that I still believe him to be a gambler, but in the same sense that I play poker, study magic, and peruse magic history, I believe him to be a gambler who would have most probably had a love of magic and magicians, to the point of knowing one well enough to ask them to author the chapter on tricks.
Taking out the tricks chapter, the hundreds of times I've read the rest of the book, it's always been one voice to me. I've never heard anybody else in the text.
The wit, the insight, the clever twist of wordplay, the absolute love of cards.....It would have been great to sit down over a beer with this guy.

Richard Hatch | 02/08/06 10:53 AM | link | filter

Late last night I stumbled across the earliest advertisement of EATCT outside the magic community known to me. It is a classified advertisement in the "Sporting" section of the NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE issue of March 28, 1903. Here is the exact text of the six line ad:
"THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE.
The greatest and most up-to-date book on winning out at cards. 204 [sic] pages; 101 illustrations. Price $1.00. Worth its weight in gold. List of contents free. ATLAS NOVELTY CO., 295 AUSTIN AVE., CHICAGO"
A couple of points are worth noting: Clearly this is still a first edition of 1902, since the Drake editions did not come out until 1905. The wording is different than Atlas' advertisements in THE SPHINX at this time, which began to run in the February 1903 issue. Both ads have the mistake of 204 pages. Both offer the book at half the cover price of $2. This ad clearly targets the would-be unethical player and it is at the top of a column advertising marked cards, loaded dice and other club room accessories. To me, this ad strengthens my suspicion that Atlas (owned by E. S. Burns, real name Emil Sorensen) somehow acquired a goodly supply of first edition copies at a very favorable price early in 1903. He was willing to increase his investment in them by paying for advertising in THE SPHINX (based, like he was, in Chicago) and NATIONAL POLICE GAZETTE (based in New York). As noted earlier in this thread, one possibility (the one I favor) is that he obtained copies from the author. There was an E. S. Andrews living on the same street, 8 blocks south of him, a traveling agent for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, who transfered to San Francisco in February 1903 and may, therefore, have been motivated to unload a quantity of unsold books before moving. This is the same E. S. Andrews whose wife's maiden name was Seely, the same maiden name as the mother of Louis Dalrymple, to whom the author said he was somehow related. But that scenario remains conjecture at this point. James McKinney went bankrupt in January 1903 and his assests may have included unsold copies of the book (he had been selling the book, though on what terms with the author is unknown). Gardner says the plates and unsold copies of the book were acquired by Frederick J. Drake, but I have not independently been able to confirm the details, though Drake was advertising first edition copies at $1 in its own publications beginning in 1903, prior to releasing it under their own imprint in 1905. So the fact that Atlas was at 295 Austin and an E. S. Andrews was living at 113 S. Austin may prove just another coincidence. Possibly Atlas obtained copies from Drake. Possibly vice versa. Burns sold his company and assets to Roterberg a short time after this, and Roterberg did wholesale first edition copies to other magic shops around the world, again indicating a goodly supply, which he continued to advertise as late as 1911.
Anyway, for me, one of the fundamental mysteries remains the early marketing of the book. Who was the author's intended market and how did he attempt to reach them? I'm hoping that a still earlier advertisement for the book will help crack this case. If anyone knows of other advertisements from this period, please let us know (the first SPHINX mention of the book is in September 1902, first SPHINX advertisement in November 1902, first Atlas advertisement in the SPHINX in February 1903 with the price drop to $1 noted. MAHATMA and other magic periodicals begin to advertise the book at $1 at this point as well).

Guest | 03/21/06 10:40 AM | link | filter

I just want to say thanks to Richard as well, for perhaps making this the most interesting thread in all of magic.

Guest | 08/12/06 03:56 PM | link | filter

Hi, everyone: I've posted my latest research on conman E. S. Andrews on Magical Past-Times

See also the announcement of this new material in the Buzz section! Thanks!

Guest | 08/14/06 02:39 AM | link | filter

I should start by saying that I know nothing about the subject outside of reading the book (which I am not well studied on) and reading the comments here. Thus you can take everything I say with a grain of salt, this is more a caution and collection of sense, hopefully common sense than thorough research.

First, I'd be interested in knowing what else Gazzo was interested in posting.

Second, I find it very likely that the book was not written, or at least not initially compiled within a period close to the publication. With most books, in my experience, they get pieced together over time. If you look at the works by Marlo as an example his notes over years were gradually gathered together and then published, but they took the form of notes initially. Thus, I find it highly likely that at least some of the book was written well before 1901. What wouldn't surprise me in the least is that it was written or at least drafted in some sort much earlier and then completed in a relatively short time period, possibly hastily. This might or might not fit with the objective of making money.

Third, I don't think the notion that it takes time and money to make money off a book necessarily dismisses the notion that one might make money by writing a book. On the contrary, I think there is a distinct lack of understanding regarding how much you make writing a book and how long it takes to produce. Likewise, I think that if the book was already mostly created and would simply require the assembly of various notes taken over a period of time the process would come much more quickly and the mindset of the author could easily be "I've got this all here, I might as well make some money off it, I could use the money".

Fourth, I don't think we can take the statement "if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he need the money" to be "I am in immient need of money. I'm speaking here from personal experience, I know several months before I need money that I will need money, at least in most cases. Say you had what is essentially a book you compiled and you lose your job. You are aware that you'll need to find a new source of income, thus you could consider writing the book which is nearly done anyway and releasing it, possibly to buy some time, possibly to start a new career aside from whatever you were doing before. There are any number of reasons you might "need the money", in fact it would be much like the possible actions of Pratt suggested earlier in this thread. Namely, he had something at his disposal and he decided to make use of it at a time when he was "down on his luck" so to speak.

Fifth, I do not think this author fits the profile of someone who was in any way wealthy. Along these lines, I don't think it fits the profile of someone who is working a steady job that is reasonably profitable at the time. As I see it there are two possible motives behind the preface. First, a sort of honesty explained above. Second, total sarcasm. Perhaps it is just me, but I don't see someone who is comfortably off and not totally sarcastic writing this statement. Granted, you can't rule out the possibility, but for me personally, I deem it unlikely.

Sixth, I think one of the most interesting questions is "why did he write it?" I personally think the view that he was some kind of enthusiast (I'll get into this later), already had the material together and sought to benefit from it for the sake of convenience along with a need that was perhaps not immient makes some of the best sense.

Seventh, regarding the authorship, I find the case for multiple authors very weak, though the possibility of multiple contributors quite another matter. The issue is in the style of writing, which I consider consistent enough to suggest a single author. (On the other hand, a separate author solely for the second section is another possibility, particularly with regard to the notion that one person wrote it, but someone else contributed the second section (or vice versa)). I find the single author theory quite pausible on the basis of the statements themselves "published by the author", a single title, and the statements within the preface referring to the writer. While these can all be faked I find it unlikely that they were. I even consider the second portion to come from the same author in part due to the familiarity with the material in both sections. Not impossible without it, but close cooperation would seem very necessary for the process to function. Adding a second author also complicates the process, makes the trail more messy, raises questions of creditting, of the illustrations from both parts etc. Ultimately then, I consider it most likely, nearly certain that we are talking about a single author (again, this says nothing for contributors).

Eighth, any book requires revision of the text and any revision can leave errors. I recently saw a book that went to press from a major publishing house that had an error on the cover which is a pretty big deal, so I don't think that the pressence of errors does anything to indicate a lack of editors. Simply based on writing experience and examining the writing of other authors I find it highly likely that the author would have had someone else read over the book prior to publishing it. This is not the same as hiring an editor which is a completely different matter especially given the limited market of a book of this nature. Given either of the earlier stated motives I find the notion that a professional editor was hired highly suspect and unlikely.

Ninth, I don't subscribe to the "super cheat" theory at all. I don't think Erdnase profile fits that of a cheat very well. Having made this remark I'm not suggesting he didn't gamble and I'm not suggesting he didn't cheat at one time or another, I am suggesting that he wasn't what I would consider a professional cheat, that he obtained his livelihood in this manner. I think often we tend to take either extreme and this may not be wise. There are simply too many reasons why portraying Erdnase as a professional cheat doesn't fit, one of the easiest is the question of money. If he needed money, this isn't a good way to get it, if he didn't need the money but he was a cheat then why did he write the book? Next, there is the issue of the content. In my view based on a wide range of experience and ideas, knowing a multitude of cheating techniques as well as magic techniques doesn't fit the profile of a professional cheater at all. Far more likely, he was a card enthusiast, little more and little less, by which I mean that he might have cheated on a couple of occasions (this could help to establish some experience), but not extensively and not professionally. Likewise, he was probably not a major magician of any sort though again it is possible, likely I would say, that he had performed some tricks from time to time. He is evidently familiar with magic material too familiar in my view not to have some association with magic, though I highly doubt this was in a full time professional position. In terms of cards I am nearly totally convinced that his interest was that of an enthusiast rather than a worker.

Some have argued for the perfection of the Erdnase methods. I disagree on two accounts. First, I simply don't agree the methods are the most expedient in many situations. Second, I don't think a lot of students accurately portray the work but rather elevate it to a status beyond what it is, reading a lot into it that isn't present. The text is notoriously absent of subtleties, the descriptions are really not terribly good (possibly a testament to the writing ability rather than the card handling ability, hard to say). Often I think we start working with material, modify it a little, then modify it some more and make it something good, then go back and say "you're supposed to do it this way", then credit the author who never said any such thing. I really don't think we can accurately do that and I am definitely not convinced that Erdnase was some superb and superbly brilliant card handler. Clearly he contributed a lot and worked a lot with cards, but beyond that I remain skeptical.

Tenth, I think the subject of Mr. Smith is most interesting in the puzzle. First, I don't think we should discount the possibility that he might not have illustrated it, but I find that possibility remote due primarily to the crediting at the beginning of the text and the fact that there is apparently no other illustrator by that name whom we are aware of. This brings us on to his account with which I am not intimately familiar, but I find several points particularly interesting and some almost useless. In the useless category, I'd start with the weather, it's too easy to blur together various memories and conjure memories here. I'd also question a number of details regarding the physical description among other things. The points I feel are most worth noting are those that would stand out. In other words, this individual did hundreds of jobs, what things will make this one different? The issue is that you are far more likely to remember unique experiences than familiar ones. With this in mind, the hands and focus on accuracy rather than artistic merit would be a good start. I find it unlikely that most of his other clients were asking for either of these things so they are probably accurate. Now regarding photographs and the idea of tracing them, I find this so unlikely that I'd dismiss it almost entirely for a number of reasons. I consulted a relative who is an artist and has studied this sort of thing extensively. When I raised the issue with him he immediately stated that it would be a bad idea to trace photographs of the hands as it would give you an unnatural look, he talked about a "flat" look, he said sketching from photographs would be the way to go if you were to go from photographs. He assures me that the upper bound on how long it would take a skilled artist is 15 minutes per illustration, this is based on his own abilities and the abilities of many artists and instructors he knows. He gave me the example that one of his intructors for what he called "life drawing" gives 20 minute demos in which he will sketch a face or something similar and he is explaining the process as he goes, meaning he could do it quicker. When prompted he informed me that hands are slightly easier than the face but not a huge amount. He suggested it was unlikely that it would take longer than 15 minutes each, definitely no longer than 20, probably no less than 10 to get an extremely accurate depiction. Contrary to what others might state, the illustrations in the book are not particularly good or accurate. They serve the purpose but are certainly not exemplary for the most part. Given that the artist recollects doing sketches then going to ink them I find it unlikely that photographs were used. While it is possible that he might have used them, I find the accuracy of his memory on this point which would be somewhat different than usual, fairly accurate, so I'd say that you could all but dismiss the idea of there being photographs when you account for the artist's testimony, the logistics, and the cost.

Next, I find the comment made by the individual that he was a reformed gambler quite interesting. As I mentioned earlier, I would suspect based on the work and a number of other considerations that he probably had contact with both the magic world and the gambling world, but was neither a professional cheat nor magician. I'd liken this in many senses to the fact that Walter Irving Scott dabbled in magic but would have been totally unknown within the world of magic. On the other hand, the likelihood that Erdnase was a gambler (note the difference between a gambler and a cheat) as quite another matter, most notably due to the testimonial of the artist. Again, this is something that would stand out, I doubt he meets any reformed gamblers in his regular cycle, and the interest in gambling and its lure comes across in the writing. The difference between being a gambler and a cheater also explains a difference in need for money, you can get money as a cheat, you can't necessarily as a gambler, you're just as likely to lose it. (I think you'll find that the preface heavily bolsters this viewpoint. "To all lovers of card games it should prove interesting, and as a basis of card entertainment it is practically inexhaustible...it may enable the skilled in deception to take a post-graduate course in the highest and most artistic breaches of his vocation." Note, we actually don't know about those who are the deceivers, we assume they are cheats, they could be magicians, but that seems unlikely. However, note the statement regarding the "artistic branches of his vocation". Again, I assert very heavily that this was the interest of Erdnase himself, more of an artistic study than a practical one and the practical application only being related as it concerned the context for the artistic. Simply stated, he was an enthusiast, his interest was sleight of hand with cards, as with anyone he would have had interest and experience outside of that, but as the material relates to him, this was the foundation and I think you'll find as you read the book that this is the type of person who would write it, study it etc.)

Likewise, the recollection of the individual's name as "Andrews", coupled with other evidence to suggest this is the case is quite likely accurate(note, we still have to explain why he used the pseudonym, which makes for another interesting question).

I find many details of the setting for the meeting questionable. Unless the place was an excessive dump in which case I think he would have remember it, or palatial, in which case I think he would have remembered it, I doubt many details of the room can be trusted. Likewise, I don't think we can really trust that the room wasn't heated or given the normal treatment, whatever that was, for such a hotel. If there was ice on the walls, he would have remembered, recalling that it was a little cold could have a lot to do with personal feeling and not setting.

The presentation of a few tricks is interesting, again it implies the author's involvement with magic.

One thing that stands out here. I find it unlikely that he lived nearby and rented a hotel room to protect his identity. There are a number of reasons for this. First, any lack of habitation in the room would have stood out (this isn't a strong argument). Second, he said he would go ink it and then come back, presumably over a course of two weeks. Now apparently he didn't go to various locations but continued to return to the hotel. It's not like he would have called up a local number in Chicago to say "I'm done and want to show you the pictures I can meet you in 2 hours" in those days. In other words, it seems like Erdnase was probably spending his down time at the hotel, while if he lived nearby he would have gone there when he wasn't meeting the artist. This just doesn't fit, though it does cause us to wonder what exactly he was doing for those two weeks while the pictures were being made. It is likely that he might have been working on the book at the time, meeting with people etc. and setting up meetings with the artist say at specific times (for example each evening). Frankly, again, for someone who needs the money renting a hotel room for 2 weeks doesn't seem very economical, again, why the big need to hide your identity like that, I'm sure there were other places they could have met.

A couple notes here. The timeframe could be off, his apparent recollection was a couple weeks but this is one of those points that is likely to get confused over 40 years, it won't stand out in his mind, so it could have been much shorter. Another point I don't think you can trust from someone who made thousands of illustrations in his day is the number. A hundred might seem high, but I don't think we have sufficient grounds to question it...with one exception. There is the question of the difference in drawings (two or three sessions over several months as suggested by Mr. Kaufmann really doesn't fit with the testimony) and more notably, the placement of copyrights.

In regards to naming the apparent relative of Mr. Andrews. This would stand out, hence why he would remember it...with one exception, he could be confusing two separate instances, still, I think that connection seems like a good one.

Eleventh, the question I mentioned earlier, why the secrecy, why the pseudonym? The first option that comes up is the issue of perhaps being somewhat ashamed of the work, this might reflect well for a reformed gambler. Might have lost a lot of money gambling, reformed himself but found himself needing money and so decided to publish some material, but didn't want others who knew of his gambling past to know that he was profiting from that side of things again. This is just one of the many possibilities, but I don't think we should dismiss the possibility that there is a certain shame, that perhaps he doesn't really want the work associated with his name. Of course this raises the question of why he would use Erdnase if Andrews was his name? I think this might be illustrated psychologically in a sort of dual feeling for the work. He is an enthusiast, thus he is clearly proud of his accomplishments. He is a reformed gambler, someone who might have had problems in the past and his shame doesn't have to do with himself, but with how others (perhaps a wife or kids) might perceive it. Thus, he gets a sort of dual satisfaction, the easy association of the work, which is his passion, to his name, but at the same time distance for the sake of those who know him and might be disappointed in him. That's the first possibility. The second is the Sanders reference cited by Mr. Alexander. I must admit, I don't give Mr. Alexander's suspect much credibility based purely on the name without even looking at any of the other details, until you mention that this guy was interested in anagrams, that to me changes everything. It can be something clever and fun to do, a puzzle of sorts, and maybe he wants his name associated with it, maybe he doesn't. I think the big issue with a candidate like Mr. Alexander's is "why did he write it?" Many of the earlier options make more sense. Then there are issues of a lack of professionalism within the dealings with the artist etc. At that point you'd also want to match a physical description, I can't recall if Mr. Alexander did that or not. One thing a candidate that was playing around with anagrams has going for him aside from the possibilities of the name, is the curiosity. This was certainly a curios person who worked with cards enthusiastically and came up with the material. Not necessarily brilliant by any means, but curious, someone who would fiddle. There'd be a lot of holes left to fill, but that's a possibility. Again, let's ask, why not use your real name? As a gambler, you might not want to get the reputation of a cheat, so there is that possible reason for witholding your name. I'd be interested in hearing other theories. One more might be the association with the upper class, it wouldn't be considered a high brow pursuit if you will. I think ultimately from what I can tell it boils down to potentially one of two things, possibly a combination. First, he was concerned about the public associating the work to him. Second, he wanted to make it a puzzle, something fun for him.

Twelfth, why didn't he claim the money later on? Along those lines we have the issue of the attempted reprinting under a different name, why did it change? Here I find an interesting contradiction (note, I could be misunderstanding the situation so someone can correct me if that's the case). If he is around and stops them from giving credit to a non-existant author, why wouldn't he also come forward to claim the money? At some point he didn't claim the money, there needs to be an explanation for that. Looking back to my earlier profiling, I'd suggest, either the monies are so little that they aren't worth the trouble, or he no longer needs the money. Again, think back to the earlier profile I did of someone who is not primarily a cheater or a magician, he is perhaps down on his luck and tries to make some money selling this book, probably without much success, he moves on, he finds another source of income, he no longer needs the money so he doesn't worry about it much. Alternatively, he moves away, there isn't a lot of money anyway, and collecting is too much trouble. Third, he dies or is otherwise unable to collect (prison etc.) It would help me greatly if someone to clarify when it was that he apparently stopped collecting the money and most significantly, whether it was before or after the attempted printing under another name. If it was after, there isn't a huge problem, if it was before, we have a huge problem to address.

Twelfth, this is another point regarding his character, again, I am hugely advocating that he was mainly a card enthusiast, maybe a gambler, maybe not, almost certainly not a cheat, almost certainly not a professional magician, but also someone who is acquainted with cheating and someone who is acquainted with magic. I'd like to quote from the introduction "Some of us are too timid to risk a dollar". Interesting reference here, a seeming inclusion of himself, maybe just a literary device, maybe not. He apparently contradicts the statement later on by saying he was cheated, then again, that could be one of the rare occasions he took the risk. To further support this assertion we have teh statement "Some one has remarked that there is but one pleasure in life greater than winning..." Again, note that he isn't making this claim but attributing it to someone else, almost as though it was explained to him.

I find references in the next paragraph interesting as well, starting with the reference to the colored attendent in the "club room" (note the quotations, speaking as though it might not be much of a club room) and also the reference to poker. An interesting question here, the colored man's statement was "Don't trouble 'bout no two hen's, Boss." My question is, who is he talking to? It could be a fabricated story, but it doesn't sound that way to me. It could have been passed down or related to Erdnase, but I have to wonder, was it something said to him? Was it something he overheard? If so, who was the statement being made to? I think this whole situation is worth some investigation, the idea of that setting, the game, the attendant etc. Another interesting reference here is to the stock exchange, and the comment about manipulation vs. speculation, is this a statement of experience or observation? What kind of person would say this? Also, there is the statement "so to make both ends meet", I find this interesting, I was always under the impression that it's "ends meat". Another point here, "and incidentally a good living". This makes me question upper class origins for our author as I find it unlikely that he'd consider cheating as providing a good living. By the standards of the middle class, perhaps, but by the standards of the upper class? No. Honestly, in this situation, in this paragraph he sounds to me like an observer not a practitioner.

Again, the next paragraph might change things, maybe observation, maybe not. I'll go on to quote a larger section from the next paragraph that may shed more light:

"We have not been impelled to our task by the qualms of a guilty conscience, nor through the hope of reforming the world. Man cannot change his temperament, and few cards to control it."

Depending on whether you read this as an observation or a personal sentiment changes everything.

"We have neither grievance against the fraternity nor sympathy for so called "victims"."

Again, clearly some kind of experience, but is it one of observation or involvement?

"A varied experience has impressed us with the belief that all men who play for any considerable stakes are looking for the best of it."

Again, interesting comment on the "varied experience".

"though we sorrowfully admit that our own early knowledge was acquired at the usual excessive cost to the uninitiated".

So he lost money, the question becomes, what followed?

"as in this case the entire conduct must be in perfect harmony with the usual procedure of the game. The slightest action that appears irregular, the least effort to distract attention, or the first unnatural movement, will create suspicion..."

This is an interesting statement, simply because it seems a bit romantic to me. Romantic the way magicians romanticize the world of card cheats.

Obviously by later accounts he has had some experience, but again, it largely appears romantic, more like Vernon's pursuit of the field I think than someone whose profession is the question...or at least that is how I read it and judge it based on the circumstantial evidence. I'd further bolster this viewpoint by statements like "the expert professional disdains their assistance...", not to say that the statements don't have some validity, but rather it comes across as the pursuit of the romantic. Likewise for some later comments.

Fourteenth, is the issue of not renewing the patent, why not? Several possibilities. One, he didn't know he had to or should. Certainly he wouldn't have received any notice due to an address that wasn't valid anymore. Second, he was dead. Third, he didn't care. It's a question worth asking though...then again, I'm not sure how much an explanation would benefit us.

Fifteenth is the interesting question of the market for the book. Honestly, I don't think he particularly had one. I think it makes more sense from most perspectives that he wanted to sell it to whoever would buy it. He saw an opening (he remarks on the lack of books on the subject), he had seen the sales of other books by reformed gamblers, he hoped to do the same, he might not have had much of a concept of the marketing necessary. The issue of the advertising in Sphinx also has another side to it. True, no matter what, he had the books for some time before the ads came out (possibly at the suggestion of a magician friend?), but you should account for the delay between the time when the ads were submitted and when the publication came out. As everyone should know, you typically have a month or so, sometimes more, lag time. Either way, the question is interesting, what did he plan and what did he do? Selling to gambling houses might have been one avenue he intended to pursue. Another possibility is that he became otherwise occupied and unable to promote the book for a couple months after the publication. Ultimately, it doesn't sound like he was a marketing genius. I think this point would be very telling.

Sixteenth, the question of this character in terms of education. I am not at all convinced or even persuaded that he was university educated, I see little reason to believe that. No reason to suggest that it isn't the case, simply no reason to suggest that it must be the case. He is clearly intelligent. The book is mostly quite appealing, well written, and concise. This doesn't necessarily imply any special education though so it's an uncertainty. I'd point out that an author can write within a persona, other writings don't have to match this one in style.

Seventeeth, this is the interesting question of people who apparently knew Erdnase. Apparently, someone was introduced to Erdnase after a performance, I'd be interested in knowing more about that. Granted, it proves nothing, it could be a joke, but it is worth looking into, partially for a physical description, partially in terms of the timeline, which is quite important. There was also that magic shop owner or whoever it was that was mentioned. How did they meet? What was their association? Could it be that they met after the writing of the initial book and the planned sequel was an idea put forward at that time? Just random ideas.

Once again returning to the illustrations, I must disagree that they are so incredibly accurate, a quick look for example at the pinky in figure 2 indicates otherwise. In talking with an artist about the subject they said for anyone who is good proportions etc. are a non-issue. Now, this serves little point except perhaps that another artist, perhaps Erdnase himself, was involved, as well as the reality that we might glorify the work more than it deserves. Alternatively, this might be more evidence of a relatively short period being necessary for the sketching, again, ideas.

Something of note is the organization, which is quite good, methodical at worst I'd say, which might tell something about the character of the author.

Finally, I don't accept the conman theory very strongly, simply because I don't buy the character as fitting into that mold. The author doesn't strike me as a con man. This is purely speculation of course, but I think part of the issue revolves around the question of money, he doesn't strike me as someone who is thus motivated and thus running around pulling cons to gain said money. Likewise, I don't buy that he was of the upper class due to his viewpoint on the sums involved and on the money when he refers to purchases etc. Added to this is the apparent company he kept, middle class seems much more logical. However, on the subject of the con man, if that was his primarily occupation it might explain some of the need for money and inability to gain it quickly in other means, it also might explain a methodical approach to some extent.

I feel the Andrews connection is pretty strong, only in rare occasions like the Alexander case would I consider otherwise and even then, skeptically, I also would be very likely to dismiss any reference to andrews without the E. S. without some kind of strong explanation, hence doubt in the Milton Franklin case, but these are of course merely ideas, musings and conjecture, hardly hard analysis born of constant research.

I do repeat though, I'd be interested in hearing what more Gazzo has to say on the subject.

Guest | 08/14/06 01:01 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Todd Karr:
Hi, everyone: I've posted my latest research on conman E. S. Andrews on Magical Past-Times

See also the announcement of this new material in the Buzz section! Thanks!
THIS PAGE with a listing of the Charles Brandon Commercial Co., from an 1899 Denver city directory may be of some interest to those following Todd Karr's research. [Note: there is no listing for Charles Brandon or his company in the 1910 Denver city directory.]

THIS PAGE , from the same directory, may be of even greater interest.

Guest | 08/14/06 01:13 PM | link | filter

I was reading Drey's comments until I got to:
First, I don't think we should discount the possibility that he [Marshall Smith] might not have illustrated it
We should completely discount the possibility that Marshall Smith did not illustrate EATCT. If we can't trust the first hand account of someone who remembers the event, then we can't trust any data at all, and there is no sense in trying to do anything other than read the book.

Guest | 08/14/06 08:04 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
THIS PAGE , from the same directory, may be of even greater interest.
Bill, thanks for posting this. It not only shows Edwin S. Andrews, the C&NW Travelling Agent who I've been tracking in Denver (he was there from roughly 1895-October 1901... I don't have my detailed notes in front of me), but also another "E. S. Andrews" who is listed as a "collr" which I am guessing is "collector" and therefore possibly Todd's candidate. His address, 1750 Stout, is likely a boarding house and might be so listed in the directory. Also, since this is the 1899 Directory, perhaps he was still there for the 1900 census would would give us more information on him...

Guest | 08/14/06 09:04 PM | link | filter

There is an Edwin S. Andrews listed in the 1900 Federal Census living in Denver. He is 41 years old. He lists his occupation as a traveling agent for the Railroad. It also shows him to be married with several children. In addition it states they he has been married for 17 years.

Guest | 08/14/06 09:40 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Dan Mindo:
There is an Edwin S. Andrews listed in the 1900 Federal Census living in Denver. He is 41 years old. He lists his occupation as a traveling agent for the Railroad. It also shows him to be married with several children. In addition it states they he has been married for 17 years.
Yes, that is Edwin Sumner Andrews (1859-1922, I believe, not looking at my notes). I have tracked him in all the available census records, city directories (Chicago pre 1895, Denver 1895-1901, Oak Park, Ill 1902, San Francisco and other California cities thereafter) and train records I have been able to find and have a very good time line on him. He makes a very nice circumstantial fit to the author's profile: right age, approximately correct stature, moves to Chicago in the late fall of 1901, leave in February of 1903 when the price on the book was cut in half by Atlas Novelty Company just a few blocks north of his Oak Park residence, his wife's maiden name (Seely) the same as Dalrymple's mother's maiden name, etc... You'll find much information on him in earlier postings on this thread. But the case in his favor remains entirely circumstantial at this point...

Guest | 08/14/06 11:19 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Bill, thanks for posting this. It not only shows Edwin S. Andrews, the C&NW Travelling Agent who I've been tracking in Denver (he was there from roughly 1895-October 1901... I don't have my detailed notes in front of me), but also another "E. S. Andrews" who is listed as a "collr" which I am guessing is "collector" and therefore possibly Todd's candidate.
Page 97 of the directory is a list of abbreviations, and yes, "collr" is collector.


His address, 1750 Stout, is likely a boarding house and might be so listed in the directory.
The Sanborn Fire Insurance MAP for 1903 shows a hotel ("hotel office", I believe it says, probably for the St. Nicholas Hotel) at that address. It must have been a residence hotel. Note that the Albany Hotel is at the southwest end of the block. Edwin Andrews resided there in 1898, according to the CITY DIRECTORY for that year (Karr's E. S. Andrews is not on the scene, if it was in fact him.) Likewise 1897. Neither is there in 1896.

In 1896 , neither is there. In the 1900 listing, Edwin still lives on Lafayette, and E.S. is not listed.


Charles Brandon's collection agency/company shows up only in the 1899 directory. He's not in 1898 at all, and in 1900 there is a Charles Brandon listed as a teamster. No way to tell if it's the same guy.

In 1901, Edwin S. is still there, still living on Lafayette. No Charles Brandon as an individual or a company.

In 1903, neither Edwin S. nor E. S. Andrews is listed, but there is a "Brandon Loan and Collection Co."


Also, since this is the 1899 Directory, perhaps he was still there for the 1900 census would would give us more information on him...
Edwin S. Andrews (Hatch's candidate) is listed in the 1900 CENSUS as being at 1750 Stout, on the corner of 18th and Stout. This is the same address, the office of the St. Nicholas Hotel, that E. S. Andrews (who may be Karr's candidate) lived at just a year earlier.

If there weren't completely separate listings for Edwin S. and E.S. Andrews in the 1899 city directory, you could make a reasonable case that Hatch's candidate and Karr's candidate were the same person -- the coincidences of geography in 1897 - 1900 Denver are just too strong. But it is possible that the St. Nicholas and the Albany Hotels are both managed out of 1750 Stout, and share a common business address.

Guest | 08/23/06 08:38 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Richard Hood wrote Martin Gardner in 1946 that his father, Edwin C. Hood (founder of the famous H. C. Evans gambling supply company) knew the author of the book quite well when the author was living in Chicago in the mid-1890s.
Was there a real person, H. C. Evans? Or is Edwin C. Hood <=> H. C. Andrews a reversal-pseudonym, a la Erdnase?


Originally posted by david walsh:
Andrei, I've also been curious about the "Hoyle/outer end inclined toward the table" addition in the bottom deal description.

To deal with the cards in this position at an average sized table in an average sized seat can be quite a strain on the fore-arm that holds the deck. Everyones different of course; but for me (and in my hands) I have found this strain to come across un-natural in the way that anything straining tends to do.
Yes, it would be taxing to hold a deck with the front end pointed downward from a seated position. However, if you were standing, it would be much easier. Who stands and deals at a card table? Magicians.


Originally posted by David Alexander:
As Mr. Andrews paid his bills, what did McKinney care? It was just another vanity job in a career of printing all sorts of things. . . .

McKinney was not the publisher, he was the printer.
Were the other books from McKinney "vanity" books? As I recall from their titles (I don't own any), they seem to be more consistent with McKinney being a regular publisher, possibly with editorial input.

Guest | 08/23/06 02:32 PM | link | filter

Bill, according to Whaley's MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE,there was no individual named "H. C. Evans" involved with this firm, that was the name that Edwin C. Hood chose for his gambling supply business, using the same initials as his own, but reversed. If Hood and Erdnase were intimates, as claimed by son Richard, perhaps Hood's reversal inspired Erdnase's search for an appropriate pseudonym. Certainly it indicates that such reversals and wordplay were not unknown in that industry.

I have to date only been able to obtain one other McKinney publication, a children's book issued the same year as THE EXPERT. It was printed, not published, by McKinney. I have no indication that McKinney ever acted as a publisher (with financial interest in, or editorial control over a publication), rather than a printer. Which is not to say that he might not have taken some work on special terms to help a friend, rather than requiring full payment in advance or upon completion. We know that his partner Wm. Galloway had an interest in gambling and kept a copy of the book (now in the Jay Marshall collection). Edwin S. Andrews grew up on a farm in Minnesota where his nearest neighbor was an Irish immigrant named Patrick McKinney and the printer was the son of Irish immigrants with a brother named Patrick McKinney who worked for him. But I think that is likely a coincidence...

Guest | 08/23/06 03:23 PM | link | filter

I have long wondered, but wondered again since reading "The Vernon Touch" and seeing Vernons statements about his father bringing home a copy of EATCT but telling Vernon he was to young to read it how Vernon could have such specific memories about the event and still folks can't find any record of the Canadian copyright for the book.
Vernon states that when he saw it in a bookshop window, he knew right away what it was and that he had to have it.
Knowing what it was also supports his memories of having seen it when his father showed it to him.

Many researchers have looked (most recently a lengthy search by David Ben) for any hint of this copyright being registered with what was then the Ministry of Agriculture, but none have found the slightest footprint of Erdnase.

Vernons memories are very specific, and are twofold, his father bringing the copy home, and he himself seeing a copy in a bookstore window and knowing what it was.

I wonder if Vernon was influenced and his memory clouded over time by the implied Canadian copyright in the front of the book, or if perhaps a piece of paper containing the handwriting of Erdnase sits, undiscovered or perhaps misfiled somewhere in Ottawa.
Being in Canada, and perhaps not so inclined to conceal his identity, he may have even used his real name.........naaahhhhh!

I'm sure Chris has already looked but I sure hope somebody is going over Jay Marshall's collection with a fine tooth comb for things Erdnase prior to even thinking about selling any of it, perhaps for something even Jay didn't know he had.
It might be that it's from someplace just like Jay's archives that we'll get our next clue.

Guest | 09/17/06 11:26 PM | link | filter

this is the best forum on the net ever. relating to anything. period.

Guest | 09/17/06 11:44 PM | link | filter

Drey wrote:
Fourteenth, is the issue of not renewing the patent, why not? Several possibilities. One, he didn't know he had to or should. Certainly he wouldn't have received any notice due to an address that wasn't valid anymore. Second, he was dead. Third, he didn't care. It's a question worth asking though...then again, I'm not sure how much an explanation would benefit us.
The book was copyrighted, not patented. There is a big difference. The government does not send you a notice to tell you when your copyright has expired. You are expected to take care of those details, yourself. All of this is spelled out in the forms that you fill out when you file for a copyright.

Guest | 09/18/06 02:05 AM | link | filter

could vernon seeing eatct in a shop window not have been a second hand shop?

Guest | 09/18/06 04:10 PM | link | filter

In David Bens book about Vernon he says that the book that Vernons father mentioned was not Erdnase but another book on gambling that was illustrated with photos. That would explain why the copywrite for Erdnase isn't in the records, may not have been copywrited in Canada.
Steve V

Guest | 09/24/06 06:09 PM | link | filter

A nice first edition copy of Erdnase just sold on eBay for $2,677.87. Here's a link:
Erdnase First Edition on eBay
This may be a record for a copy without other features (such as Vernon signatures, etc.).

Guest | 09/26/06 11:58 AM | link | filter

I think that everybody (indlucing myself) is guessing what Vernon might have seen in the window.

Although false memories are commonplace as we all get older, Vernon told this story more than once during his life, and pretty much told it the same way each time.

I tend to agree with Ben's (and others) assessment that it likely wasn't EATCT that Vernon saw that day, altough I have nothing beyond a gut feeling to back that thought up.

Guest | 10/26/06 12:17 PM | link | filter

The latest auction for a first edition copy just ended at $3400.

ebay: 2090102

Guest | 10/26/06 12:45 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by silverking:
I think that everybody (indlucing myself) is guessing what Vernon might have seen in the window. ...
Anyone asking Vernon's Son about this?

Guest | 10/26/06 07:24 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by daniel1113:
The latest auction for a first edition copy just ended at $3400.

ebay: 2090102
Plus 22.5% buyer's premium, brings the total price paid up to $4,165, plus applicable sales tax or shipping. Another record price...

Guest | 11/20/06 08:50 PM | link | filter

I wonder if anybody can comment on Gazzo's thoughts regarding Fig.69, and the heart shape on the back of the hand. (or Gazzo if you happen by!)

Specifically, what does Gazzo think it might mean or indicate, and why does he think "69" has importance here as well.

It occurs to me that in fact, very few people could have seen the heart in question.
Having read Dick Hatch's post mentioning Gazzo's thoughts earlier in this thread, I looked in my Powner edition, no heart.....I looked in my KC Card edition, no heart.......I looked in my Drake paperback edition, no heart.
I find the heart in my Canick 2002 edition, which faithfully re-creates the first edition.

From what I can see, this only leaves the Drake hardcovers in Green (with the hands), the Plum cloth cover, and the Blue cloth cover that the heart could possibly be seen in.
And in the first edition of course.

When exactly does the heart dissapear from the book?

I have to tell you, looking at that heart gave me the chills. It's probably the most completely out of place element in the entire book. A heart, plain as day on the back of a gamblers hand. I would be inclined to agree that it means something beyond a drawing aid.

For folks who have any of the Drake hardcovers above, can you confirm if the heart is in your edition?

Also, I don't have a Flemming paperback edition. If anybody does, could you look and see if the heart is in any of those editions?

I say again, I get chills looking at Fig.69 and the heart on the hand.
It's a shame more folks can't get a look at it, I'm sure it would drum up even more thoughts as to what it could possibly mean.

Guest | 11/23/06 11:11 PM | link | filter

silverking,

I cannot comment on the heart, other than to say that it is indeed striking. It is also one of the reasons that I would recommend the facsimile edition of EATCT to anyone that is really curious about the identity of Erdnase. There are so many details that are either unintelligible or completely missing from many of the later editions. I was shocked at how much better the quality actually was when I first opened my copy.

Also, I realize that the Erdnase being a pseudonym for Milton Frankly Andrews has already been brought to question many times; however, while reading from "The Man that was Erdnase" over the past week, there was one particular fact missing from Busby's book that struck me as being particularly important. Erdnase has often been credited with being the first person to utilize a close-up pad. Not only did M.D. Smith confirm this (I believe this is correct, but I do not have most of the Erdnase research here with me), but the pad/table is shown in many of the drawings within EATCT. Yet, I cannot find a single source that describes Milton Franklin Andrews using a similar pad or table.

It could have been a detail that was simply overlooked by many of Andrew's acquaintances, but I still think it is interesting to note.

Guest | 11/24/06 06:50 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by daniel1113:
Erdnase has often been credited with being the first person to utilize a close-up pad. Not only did M.D. Smith confirm this (I believe this is correct, but I do not have most of the Erdnase research here with me), but the pad/table is shown in many of the drawings within EATCT. Yet, I cannot find a single source that describes Milton Franklin Andrews using a similar pad or table.
A close-up pad is a magician's tool, not a gambler's. If you could find reference to him using a close-up pad, that would be strong evidence that he was a magician. But if you found explicit evidence that he practiced conjuring, that would be a much stronger argument for him being Erdnase than the other arguments offered to date.

Larry Horowitz | 11/24/06 11:01 PM | link | filter

While I have always believed our author was a magician, gamblers were known to travel the trains with portable card tables, which could be rested on the knees of players. These could very much resemble close-up pads.

Guest | 11/25/06 04:27 AM | link | filter

As a devoted fan of Martin Gardner, I was most disappointed in the book about Erdnase. Martin had a distictive and beautifully lucid writing style that disappeared in that book. You know what they say about any animal designed by a commitee. For what it is worth, my Dad who was probably more familiar with Erdnase than anyone alive, never believed for a moment that his lifelong hero and idol was a common criminal and murderer.

Guest | 11/25/06 09:42 AM | link | filter

I think Dai has many today who would agree with his assessment that Milton Franklin Andrews and Erdnase were two different people.

From the pen of Andrews:
"When I was a little boy in knee pants I read dime novels the same as most crazy little boys do with the result that I committed a few thefts to raise money to go west and be a cowboy and hunt buffaloes"

From the pen of Erdnase:
"We betray no confidences in the publishing of this book, having only ourselves to thank for what we know. Our tuition was recieved in the cold school of experience. We've started in with the trusting nature of a fledgling and a calm assurance born of overweening faith in our own potency"


The known writings of Andrews are almost to a word simplistic examples of mundane thoughts.
The known writings of Erdnase aren't.

Guest | 11/25/06 10:18 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by silverking:
...The known writings of Andrews are almost to a word simplistic examples of mundane thoughts.
The known writings of Erdnase aren't.
Interesting assessment. Would you offer a quote or citation from the known "Andrews"?

Guest | 11/25/06 11:35 AM | link | filter

A question to David Alexander: You published an very interesting article a number of years ago on a new candidate for Erdnase -- W. E. Sanders. But I haven't heard anything more about him since. Do you still believe he is the most viable candidate? Have you or anyone else uncovered any more evidence in his favor?

Guest | 11/25/06 11:36 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Originally posted by silverking:
[b] ...The known writings of Andrews are almost to a word simplistic examples of mundane thoughts.
The known writings of Erdnase aren't.
Interesting assessment. Would you offer a quote or citation from the known "Andrews"? [/b]

Guest | 11/25/06 01:14 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
The entire case that Andrews was Erdnase rests on the word of a supposed retired gambler, Pratt. Nothing else. The argument is circular.
Exactly. Although the book is interesting and informative regarding MFA and his supposed crimes, the link to Erdnase is very weak, and completely non-existent with the removal of Pratt's questionable statements.

Guest | 11/25/06 02:13 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
A question to David Alexander: You published an very interesting article a number of years ago on a new candidate for Erdnase -- W. E. Sanders. But I haven't heard anything more about him since. Do you still believe he is the most viable candidate? Have you or anyone else uncovered any more evidence in his favor?
I believe that my profile, done as an excercise in deductive logic and using the book and observations of Smith the illustrator, still stands as a reasonable description of the person who was Erdnase. Most importantly, the person who wrote the book was an educated person and an experienced writer who had a practiced writing "voice."

The task was to find a candidate that fit the profile without changing the profile. That I believe I did.

The intelligence behind the writer's words belie the idea that a simple reversal of his name would shield his identity, so I do not accept the proposition that Erdnase is someone named "Andrews," although I believe that since my candidate played with anagrams when he was a child, it is well-within the realm of possibility that he used "Andrews" and a way of concealing his identity when dealing with the printer and those who bought the book, a way of protecting his prominent Montana family. Using "Andrews" on checks and the reversal of the name on the book would have been readily accepted by the printer and Smith and would have stopped anyone cold from finding out who he really was should inquiries have been made.

In the interim, I have developed other circumstantial evidence that supports my candidate - why no one in the magic community ever heard of him, etc. I even located his step-grandson and learned the two reasons why he was not doing card tricks for anyone.

And one other tidbit...my candidate's family was related to Louis Dalrymple the famous cartoonist, part of the conversation that Marshall Smith recalled having with Erdnase on that cold winter day in December, 1901.

The problem with historical research is that those unfamiliar with the work demand a "smoking gun," when, often, all that is in hand or ever will be in hand, is a most-likely scenario, a persuasive circumstantial case that goes beyond a number of interesting coincidences.

Due to demands on my time I have not finished my research and probably won't for a few more years but, to date, I have as yet to see any other candidate that I find more likely or persuasive than mine, although I am more than willing to be persuaded by evidence.

Guest | 11/25/06 10:23 PM | link | filter

David, where and when was the article under discussion published in which you discuss your candidate?
I don't have it and after reading your last post, I want it!

Jon, as David pointed out, the quote I used was from the Busby and crew book TMWWE.

Guest | 11/26/06 12:11 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by silverking:
David, where and when was the article under discussion published in which you discuss your candidate?
I don't have it and after reading your last post, I want it!
Cover story of the January 2000 GENII (volume 63, issue 1). An excellent and thought provoking article!

Richard Kaufman | 11/26/06 08:27 AM | link | filter

Call the Genii office: six bucks.

Guest | 11/26/06 12:18 PM | link | filter

The article grew out of a presentation I made at the 1999 Los Angeles Conference on Magic History. Richard asked for it, so I expanded it with the information I had at the time. I think it came in somewhere between 7,500 and 8,000 words.

I did not dwell on Milton Franklin Andrews as Erdnase because I think Dick Hatch's research has thoroughly demolished that idea, notwithstanding that there was NO evidence other than Pratt's claim that MFA was Erdnase. From what I recall, Dick learned that it was unlikely that Pratt was what he claimed he was, so we're left with a case of an old man "pumping up his resume," so to speak.

What I never understood was the inability of the writers of The Man Who Was Erdnase to recognize the circularity of their argument, which seems painfully obvious.

Guest | 11/26/06 01:15 PM | link | filter

How about the idea that Andrews itself was the false name used by the writer and he just played off the false name and his real name is nothing simular to either Andrews or Erdnase?
Steve V

Guest | 11/26/06 01:54 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Steve V':
How about the idea that Andrews itself was the false name used by the writer and he just played off the false name and his real name is nothing simular to either Andrews or Erdnase?
Steve V
If I understand your post, Steve, that was my point. While "S.W. Erdnase" is "E.S. Andrews" backwards, it is also an anagram of "W.E. Sanders," my candidate.

Erdnase clearly wanted his identity hidden, so he used a false name, but if he wanted to remain anonymous, he would have used the pen name, by "A Refored Gambler," or some such. He didn't.

Using the name "Andrews" on his checks, after pointing out the reversal of his name on the book to the printer, allowed him to work at a distance with the printer or anyone else, paying by check. Since it was around the Holidays, it seems unlikely he would have stayed in Chicago for the full typsetting of the book since that would take too long as it was set on a Monotype or Linotype machine.

If I recall correctly, the book wasn't copyrighted until February of the next year, a process that required two copies of the finished, bound book. Certainly not a project that was done in a hurry.

Of course, his real identity could not be penetrated because those people only knew him as "Andrews."

I don't believe anyone connected with the book's production knew who Erdnase really was, nor would they probably have cared since it was just another job, a guy paying to have a book printed, a vanity production.

It was probably not the first time something like that had happened at McKinney's shop. It still happens today. Most printers don't pay that much attention and just do the job and cash the check.

Guest | 11/26/06 02:39 PM | link | filter

The Wikipedia entry on Erdnase has the following line, which was news to me:
"Research for an upcoming documentary has uncovered correspondence between noted physicists and authors Stanley Wesley Stratton and Robert Andrews Millikan on the subject of conjuring and crooked gambling. In 1896 Stratton suggested a textbook on the subject. Further evidence suggests that Millikan and Stratton hired Professor Hoffman to write the book based (partly) on notes they provided."

Sounds extremely farfetched and a likely hoax to me, but does anyone know anything more regarding this claim?

Guest | 11/26/06 03:03 PM | link | filter

The great problem with the Wikipedia is that anyone can post anything to it and not give citations. All entries should be viewed with a careful eye.

First off, where is the evidence that either, or both, were amateur magicians?

Second, what is the evidence to support this claim? It isn't footnoted or cited, supposedly discovered by unnamed people for an upcoming "documentary" that has no reference.

If those two world-famous men (Stratton became president of M.I.T.) did this, who was their source for the material? And who was the guy paying McKinney and Smith for their work? Prof Hoffmann in disguise, all the way from England to hire a small-time printer to print a book under a false name? Please!

This is nonsense on it's face.

Guest | 11/26/06 03:10 PM | link | filter

David Alexander writes: In the interim, I have developed other circumstantial evidence that supports my candidate - why no one in the magic community ever heard of him, etc. I even located his step-grandson and learned the two reasons why he was not doing card tricks for anyone.
That sounds very intriguing. Any chance you'll be revealing any of that new evidence any time soon? :-)

I don't have your article in front of me now, but I think you mentioned that there was more to go through in his diaries. Have you found any passages which sound like Erdnase? i.e. similarities in writing style and "voice" between Sanders and Erdnase?

Guest | 11/26/06 03:31 PM | link | filter

Bob,

I hate to be coy about this, but I'm not in a position to reveal much detail just yet. I want to nail down a few things before I publish again.

The great problem is that old records, especially social records, simply don't exist. My candidate was at Columbia School of Mines and belonged to a fraternity. There doesn't seem to be any record of their social activities extant, although I haven't gone through every edition of the Columbia school newspaper, if it still exists. It would be fantastic if there was a line in a campus newspaper about how everyone enjoyed "Willie's card tricks," which would nail it down for me.

German was a required course for mining engineers. Thomas Sawyer pointed out in his notes on Erdnase that "Erde-nase" means "Earth Nose" in German. Earth nose...mining engineer? It would be a major find to learn if there was an informal group of guys who called themselves the "Erde-nases."

Examining the papers of his fellow graduates from that year might reveal some vital information, but I do not have the time at the moment to follow that research thread.

When my biographical subject, Gene Roddenberry, was a student at Los Angeles City College in the late 1930s, he was president of a small service club, The Archons. That name would reappear decades in the future in a Star Trek story, The Return of the Archons. I only learned about it by accident when I found a single piece of paper that indicated Gene was a member and that the club existed at all. So, strange things can happen in a man's life.

Guest | 11/27/06 01:33 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
The Wikipedia entry on Erdnase has the following line, which was news to me:
"Research for an upcoming documentary has uncovered correspondence between noted physicists and authors Stanley Wesley Stratton and Robert Andrews Millikan on the subject of conjuring and crooked gambling. In 1896 Stratton suggested a textbook on the subject. Further evidence suggests that Millikan and Stratton hired Professor Hoffman to write the book based (partly) on notes they provided."

Sounds extremely farfetched and a likely hoax to me, but does anyone know anything more regarding this claim?
First of all, his name is Samuel Wesley Stratton.

Millikan's papers are at the Caltech Archives in Pasadena. There is a published, online finding aid HERE . Stratton only appears once, in a folder of messages congratulating him on being awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.

Stratton's papers are at MIT, but there doesn't seem to be a finding aid available.

I can't find a reference to either of them having an interest in magic, card tricks, or gambling.

Guest | 11/27/06 05:58 AM | link | filter

Thanks, Bill. Certainly sounds like a hoax posting to me. I'm guessing someone did a title search on "Wesley Andrews" (since "wES ANDREWS" reverses to "S. W. ERDNASEw) and found the physics textbook they co-authored in 1898 while both were at the University of Chicago and came up with this. Certainly the purported Hoffmann involvement is easily dismissed based on his own later published commentary on the book and the numerous stylistic differences between Erdnase and the many Hoffmann books, especially when the same sleights are discussed. But IF there is contemporary correspondence between the two physicists on such a topic, then the fact that both were in Chicago during the period just prior to the book's publication there in 1902(Stratton appears to have left shortly after 1900, Millikan remained there for many years), would make them "persons of interest" on this topic.

Guest | 11/27/06 06:07 AM | link | filter

Sometimes, it is better to not find out how a trick was done. An absolute mystery is better remembered than finding out it was just a thread stetched across the stage. In this respect it may be better that the mystery of Erdnase never be solved. This whole thread shows how hard many of you have worked to solve this puzzle. If his true identiy were known, it would be relegated to a subject of less interest. There used to be an old radio show named "I Love a Mystery." No one loves a mystery better than magicians.

Guest | 11/27/06 07:23 AM | link | filter

How much effort was expended to seek out the author back around 1920?

Wondering as this would be when the book was getting popular and the author was likely still alive to appreciate any such attention.

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 11/27/06 08:27 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
How much effort was expended to seek out the author back around 1920?

Wondering as this would be when the book was getting popular and the author was likely still alive to appreciate any such attention.
I'm digging through some of the magazines now, Jon. I'll let you know what I find. I did come across this in The Magic Wand for January 1911:

"To the Editor of THE MAGIC WAND.

DEAR SIR,-Professor Hoffmanns articles, "Some Useful Card Sleights," which deal with Mr. S. W. Erdnases book, "The Expert at the Card Table" are very interesting. I have studied the book at some length, and I quite agree with the Professor, that Mr. Erdnases knowledge of card manipulation must be extensive and peculiar. Cannot Mr. Erdnase be prevailed upon to write another book on the subject? I am sure it would be greatly appreciated by the ever growing multitude of wielders of the
wand.

Yours, etc.,
R. H. TOWNSEND.
Peshawar, India."

Have any relatives in India, Jon? ;)

In other news, the English magician Graham Adams seems to have spent a lot of time studying the book, even releasing a limited amount (six copies) of his own notes entitled "Erdnase -- His Book" around 1930 or so. It doesn't seem as if he spent much time tracking down the author, though.

The November 1928 Sphinx notes the reversal of the name, and the February 1929 issues includes this note in "The Books of Yesterday" by Leo Rullman:

"The most mysterious figure in the realm of magical literature, whose one contribution to the subject is still, after twenty five years, one of the classics, is S. W. Erdnase, author of "The Expert at the Card Table." No other work, in my opinion, packs so much concrete information, of use to the manipulator of cards, as this little volume. Who was S. W. Erdnase? Very little practical information concerning him is available. The magicians do not know him. The publishers of the hook have not been in touch with him for many years, as the copyright was purchased outright, and no royalties figured in the transaction. It has been said that his real name was E. S. Andrews, which in reverse order produces the pen-name under which he wrote. Whether he was an American is not known. However, it may be noted that while he coyprighted the book in England and Canada, the holder of the American copyright is the firm of Frederick J. Drake & Company, of Chicago. The following quotation from the preface of his book merely serves to emphasize the mystery surrounding the man whose identity has been so closely guarded: ..."

-Jim

Guest | 11/27/06 11:16 AM | link | filter

There are also some of Stratton's papers (correspondence, a file regarding his appointment as a professor) in archives of the Univ. of Chicago (in the collection of William Rainey Harper). There are also some letters from Millikan in the same collection.

Guest | 11/27/06 02:57 PM | link | filter

[The November 1928 Sphinx notes the reversal of the name, and the February 1929 issues includes this note in "The Books of Yesterday" by Leo Rullman:

"The most mysterious figure in the realm of magical literature, whose one contribution to the subject is still, after twenty five years, one of the classics, is S. W. Erdnase, author of "The Expert at the Card Table." No other work, in my opinion, packs so much concrete information, of use to the manipulator of cards, as this little volume. Who was S. W. Erdnase? Very little practical information concerning him is available. The magicians do not know him. The publishers of the hook have not been in touch with him for many years, as the copyright was purchased outright, and no royalties figured in the transaction. It has been said that his real name was E. S. Andrews, which in reverse order produces the pen-name under which he wrote. Whether he was an American is not known. However, it may be noted that while he coyprighted the book in England and Canada, the holder of the American copyright is the firm of Frederick J. Drake & Company, of Chicago. The following quotation from the preface of his book merely serves to emphasize the mystery surrounding the man whose identity has been so closely guarded: ..."[/QB]
This is a good example of bad or no research being used to sound authoratative. Rullman claims the copyright was purchased outright by Drake "with no royalties involved," but gives no citation or source for this supposed fact. If Drake told him this, he was lying.

In any event, this is not correct. While Drake published the book, he did NOT own the copyright. How can I be so sure? Because when the copyright came up for renewal in 1930, Drake did not renew it.

Drake apparently tried once, early on, to copyright the book under a different name - "Robert Erdnase" - and had to back off that for some undetermined reason. Perhaps he got a letter from the real Erdnase or his lawyer suggesting that stealing a copyright wasn't such a good idea.

In any event, Drake's actions indicate that he did not own the copyright so when 1930 turned to 1931, the New Year saw Erdnase's work pass into the public domain....although Drake was probably not anxious to advertise this fact.

Interesting to note that Drake waited seven years before selling the plates to the next publisher, the plates being the only thing Drake had to sell.

And on the two physicists and their book, this is wrong in so many ways, but before I would spend 90 seconds on this nonsense someone would have to show me that they were amateur magicians in the first place. Again, no source for the claim is cited, which makes me suspicious in the first place.

Guest | 11/29/06 02:53 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by silverking:

From what I can see, this only leaves the Drake hardcovers in Green (with the hands), the Plum cloth cover, and the Blue cloth cover that the heart could possibly be seen in.
I have the Drake plum cover and the Drake blue cover, and the heart is in neither of them. It's in the Dover edition though (!?)

Guest | 11/29/06 04:04 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by willmorton:
Originally posted by silverking:
[b]
From what I can see, this only leaves the Drake hardcovers in Green (with the hands), the Plum cloth cover, and the Blue cloth cover that the heart could possibly be seen in.
I have the Drake plum cover and the Drake blue cover, and the heart is in neither of them. It's in the Dover edition though (!?) [/b]

Guest | 11/29/06 07:03 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Walder:
I have the Powner edition dated 1944 - the heart is clearly visible
Bob
[/QB]
That's interesting Bob, your 1944 version would be only two years after Powner got their hands on the plates.
My 1975 Powner edition (the last Powner) has no heart.

I've got a few more Powner editions from varying years coming my way from recent purchases, I'll be interested in seeing exactly when Powner took the heart out.

It could be quite a chore determining where the heart shows up and where it's been removed.

As an aside, after much searching I finally got my hands on an edition of "The Gardner-Smith Correspondence".
It's my opinion that when all of the letters are read in context, and combined with thoughts about the phone conversations, this book actually strengthens the thought that Milton Franklin Andrews certainly wasn't Erdnase.

It's obvious when reading the letters that Gardner really wants Smith to make a match, and that Smith (who appears to be quite an amicable fellow) would dearly like to oblige Gardner, but simply can't bring himself to.
His memories DON"T read like those of an old man trying desperately to please his interviewer, but those of somebody who is quite sharp, and is simply remembering someting from decades ago.

The single biggest surprise in reading this book of letters and thoughts (and one that hasn't been mentioned elsewhere that I've seen) is that M.D. Smith appears not to have been beyond demonstrating his ability to sling an unsolicited racial slur, it was surprising to read.

I must admit that seeing for the first time the actual line in the facsimile of Smiths letter to Gardner where he says for the first time that he in fact did do the illustrations for "The Expert at the Card" Table caused me to read it a few times with a smile on my face.......I can only imagine how Gardner felt when he first read it.

It took me over a year of constant searching to find a copy of "The Gardner-Smith Correspondence", and it was certainly worth while making the effort.
In an edition of 250 the struggle seemed just to find somebody who had one, let alone one for sale!

Richard Kaufman | 11/30/06 03:35 PM | link | filter

Okay, I've just finished cleaning up this thread.
DEREK, please don't post here again.

Guest | 11/30/06 04:43 PM | link | filter

OK Richard this your show and I am outta here.

Guest | 11/30/06 08:10 PM | link | filter

Thank you, Richard.

Guest | 12/01/06 02:02 AM | link | filter

I'm an ignoramous in these matters, but it does seem to me that if the author really was W.E Saunders, he would be much more likely to pick the plausible anagram E.S. Andrews as his pen name than the weird looking S.W. Erdnase. You'd need to find quite compelling evidence of the use of the use of "Earth nose" to make that theory compelling. IMO.

Guest | 12/01/06 04:01 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by DomT:
I'm an ignoramous in these matters, but it does seem to me that if the author really was W.E Saunders, he would be much more likely to pick the plausible anagram E.S. Andrews as his pen name than the weird looking S.W. Erdnase. You'd need to find quite compelling evidence of the use of the use of "Earth nose" to make that theory compelling. IMO.
I've often thought that too. The simple reversal of letters is only obvious when it's pointed out, and it fits so well that it seems more plausible than the idea of a partial anagram of W.E. Saunders (the "u" would have been easy enough to fit in - Erdnause would have been no more bizarre than Erdnase).

The "Erde + Nase" = "Earth Nose" idea also seems far-fetched to me. I've never come across the term in German, though maybe we'd need to ask a native speaker who knows the mining industry.

Guest | 12/01/06 06:07 AM | link | filter

David's candidate is a W. E. Sanders (not Saunders), so the anagram is exact (no "u" to drop). He explains the psychological profile behind the preference for Erdnase over Andrews on the title page in his excellent GENII cover story.

Guest | 12/02/06 02:41 AM | link | filter

Sorry, the misspelling is my fault - clearly such an ignoramous that I can't copy a name over without making a mistake.

Guest | 12/08/06 12:45 PM | link | filter

Having finally got my hands on David Alexanders Genii article on his hunt for Erdnase only a few days after getting both the Gardner/Smith letters and (finally) a copy of "S.W. Erdnase-Another View" I'm pleasently drowning in all things Erdnase.

David's article threw me for a loop, it reads like a novel you can't put down.
I can only imagine seeing both David and Dick at the Magic History Conference where this was first presented. Apparently the room was absolutely entranced, and the two presentations were so powerful that there wasn't anything with enough "oomph" to actually follow them, the day ending after their breathtaking presentations. According to the report in Genii of those presentations, they were the strongest of the conference....and that was the year they did "The Mascot Moth"!

Between Dick's Magic Magazine article, and "Erdnase-Another View"....and then reading the Gardner-Smith letters for myself, that done after comparing the Milton Franklin writings in "The Man Who Was Erdnase" with those of the the man we DO know to be Erdnase in EATCT, I'm now firmly in the camp that rejects Milton Franklin as even a potential candidate.

What I find amazing is how the circumstantial evidence surrounding both David and Dick's two (different) candidates can be so strong as to potentially steer an Erdnase hunter happily down the road of either candidate.

As I looked at the two pictures of W.E. Sanders in Davids Genii article, one taken at a young age, and one quite a bit older, I must admit that I wondered if I was finally looking into the eyes of the master himself.

Richard Kaufman | 12/08/06 01:46 PM | link | filter

None of the supporters of any candidate can put a deck of cards into his hands. Until that's done, I'm not convinced of ANY of the candidates brought forth so far.

Guest | 12/08/06 03:16 PM | link | filter

Our Mr. Erdnase might have made it extremely difficult to place a deck of cards in his hands.
Following his own advice, he may not have demonstrated even the slightest skill with a deck of cards in front of another person.

But I completely agree that this IS a story first and foremost about playing cards, demanding the protagonist actually be shown to be holding them in his hands, preferably demonstrating capabilities of a sort that would be worthy of comment from somebody present at the time.

Guest | 12/08/06 05:27 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
None of the supporters of any candidate can put a deck of cards into his hands. Until that's done, I'm not convinced of ANY of the candidates brought forth so far.
It is very easy to put a deck of cards in the hands of Milton Franklin Andrews. The fact that he was a known card cheat with the last name Andrews living at the time the book was published and deceased shortly thereafter (explaining why he never revealed himself publicly as the author) are the primary strengths of his candidacy. I still consider him viable, myself, though he is far from my favorite, for reasons outlined earlier in this thread and elsewehere.

Richard Kaufman | 12/08/06 05:55 PM | link | filter

Obviously my statement excluded Milton Franklin Andrews since he was a known card cheat. I was referring to the parade of new possibilities.

Guest | 12/18/06 07:24 PM | link | filter

I am so apologize. May be this is not interesting or somebody know before. Time to time I read how peoples interesting when first time appeared information about Erdnase. I find "Bibliographies of works on playing cards and gaming" 1905 and on number 488 we can find Erdnase. May be this is first bibliography.

Guest | 12/19/06 01:31 PM | link | filter

A clarification - I don't believe that the German play on words, "erde-nase" (earth nose) is a mining term. It could have been an in-joke amongst the mining students at the School of Mines when my candidate was attending Columbia in the 1880s.

Second, I don't understand why Dick still consideres MFA viable, given his telling demonstration at the 1999 LA Magic History Conference where he had two people stand...one the size that Marshall Smith remembered and the other the size that MFA was. The disparity in size was striking. As Dick pointed out at the time, it would be hard to make that sort of mistake.

Guest | 12/19/06 09:42 PM | link | filter

Please, mr. David Alexander. I understand that my opinion means nothing, but looks like experiment should be little another. Peoples should recall what was length of man what they meet 40 years ago. Compare two peoples what stay close very much easy. Easy say what difference on size, but if you ask full length, you will be surprise on how differ be numbers. (I know lady who suppose Tom Cruise 180 sm.) Also, do not forget, most time they sat on chears and made pictures. If Erdnase sat on big chear and Smith on little, on brain of paintist can be not correct supposition.

I am so apologize if this opinion not interesting.

Guest | 12/19/06 10:52 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Second, I don't understand why Dick still consideres MFA viable, given his telling demonstration at the 1999 LA Magic History Conference where he had two people stand...one the size that Marshall Smith remembered and the other the size that MFA was. The disparity in size was striking. As Dick pointed out at the time, it would be hard to make that sort of mistake.
I do consider Milton Franklin Andrews a viable candidate for Erdnase. While the fact that he was not the size recalled by artist M. D. Smith when interviewed by Martin Gardner 45 years after the fact was the key feature in making me question that theory, it relies entirely on the memory of the artist at an advanced age many years later. I happen to believe Smith's memory was pretty good, but I have to admit, I don't really have an independent way to judge his memory. If we accept Smith's claim that he was the book's artist (and I do, but not everyone does... Vernon questioned it after interviewing Smith in Chicago, as he found his recall of the job disappointing), and his recollection that the man he met was the author (Smith himself conjectured that perhaps he had met someone other than the author, when confronted with the height discrepency, but he dismissed the likelihood of that, as do I) and that that man was in the 5' 5" to 5' 7" range, or at least shorter, rather than taller, than Smith, then we can conclusively rule out MFA. Personally, I think Smith did illustrate the book, did meet the author and his recollection as recorded by Gardner strikes me as both clear and honest. Which is one of many reasons I think MFA was likely not the author. And as Smith is our most credible eyewitness of the author, I give his testimony a lot of weight, so I favor a short man with sharp features, small hands and in the 40 to 45 year range. But I am not in a position to state conclusively that Smith might not have been mistaken on the height issue, or the other things he recalled. Which leave the door open to MFA and many others. To date, MFA is the only known card cheat from the period to have been proposed, and for many that and the fact that his name was Andrews carries a lot of weight. It doesn't convince me, but I am unwilling to dismiss him entirely.

Guest | 12/20/06 12:06 AM | link | filter

[/QUOTE]I do consider Milton Franklin Andrews a viable candidate for Erdnase. While the fact that he was not the size recalled by artist M. D. Smith when interviewed by Martin Gardner 45 years after the fact was the key feature in making me question that theory, it relies entirely on the memory of the artist at an advanced age many years later. I happen to believe Smith's memory was pretty good, but I have to admit, I don't really have an independent way to judge his memory. If we accept Smith's claim that he was the book's artist (and I do, but not everyone does... Vernon questioned it after interviewing Smith in Chicago, as he found his recall of the job disappointing), and his recollection that the man he met was the author (Smith himself conjectured that perhaps he had met someone other than the author, when confronted with the height discrepancy, but he dismissed the likelihood of that, as do I) and that that man was in the 5' 5" to 5' 7" range, or at least shorter, rather than taller, than Smith, then we can conclusively rule out MFA. Personally, I think Smith did illustrate the book, did meet the author and his recollection as recorded by Gardner strikes me as both clear and honest. Which is one of many reasons I think MFA was likely not the author. And as Smith is our most credible eyewitness of the author, I give his testimony a lot of weight, so I favor a short man with sharp features, small hands and in the 40 to 45 year range. But I am not in a position to state conclusively that Smith might not have been mistaken on the height issue, or the other things he recalled. Which leave the door open to MFA and many others. To date, MFA is the only known card cheat from the period to have been proposed, and for many that and the fact that his name was Andrews carries a lot of weight. It doesn't convince me, but I am unwilling to dismiss him entirely. [/QB][/QUOTE]

Smith's memory was good enough to remember a cold snap that happened on the day he met Erdnase, a day I was able to determine by examining weather records. It wasn't that cold a month before or a month after, so I think I pinpointed the day. For me, that validates Smith's memory as being accurate.

Second, this was a simple job that did not require much of Smith's time as the pictures were traced from photos, not drawn from life. The logistics of Smith drawing them from life don't work out and I won't go into the details here, but as my wife is an accomplished artist and has illustrated two magic books, she understands the process as do I.

Had Smith drawn exclusively from life, it would have been a two-week job, easily. He didn't remember that and doubtless recognized what he'd done when Vernon and Gardner showed him the book, but by them Martin Gardner had pronounced him the "Dean of Magic Book Illustrators" or some such title.

It is also important to remember than no one who interviewed Smith was a trained historian, a trained interviewer and I suspect that Smith, who originally thought he'd drawn 30 or so pictures, realized that he'd traced photos when he saw the book and simply didn't want to disappoint these men who were being so nice to him by explaining what he'd really done.

Vernon could only have been disappointed because Smith, the only person we believe with a high degree of confidence actually met and talked with Erdnase, didn't remember much, because as I've explained earlier, there really wasn't much to remember.

He met a client, demonstrated some of his work to establish his level of skill, was shown a few effects by the man, charmed by him you might say (as befitting someone used to working with employees or hired hands) a personal connection was made with Erdnase claiming to be related to Dalyrmple. A price agreed, a deadline doubtless set, and the deal was made.

It was a nothing job for Smith, a day or so doing the tracing with a light box, and he was on to other things. He probably delivered the finished drawings to be turned into cuts and the photos to the printer a day or so later. His office wasn't that far away. He may or may not have ever seen Erdnase again. Apparently he did not remember having to do anything over.

I believe that Erdnase may have used the name Andrews as an acceptable ruse to hide his identity from his illustrator and his printer since the reversal of his name into Erdnase would be understood to be an acceptable pseudonym.

The fact that we have a large sample of MFAs writing easily eliminates him from consideration as Erdnase since anyone with experience writing and editing will quickly see that MFA was incapable of writing up to the level that Erdnase exhibits. For that, and several other reasons that you yourself have uncovered, MFA should be ignored as any further consideration of him only muddies the waters.

Guest | 12/20/06 09:47 AM | link | filter

Let me preface this by saying that I too believe M. D. Smith to have had quite a good memory and am guided by his recollections in evaluating possible candidates. Having said that, let me play "devil's advocate" in defense of the Milton Franklin Andrews theory:

Originally posted by David Alexander:

Smith's memory was good enough to remember a cold snap that happened on the day he met Erdnase, a day I was able to determine by examining weather records. It wasn't that cold a month before or a month after, so I think I pinpointed the day. For me, that validates Smith's memory as being accurate.
Smith recalled that it was "a bitter cold winter day," not necessarily the only such day, when he first met Erdnase in an uheated Chicago hotel room. He did not describe it as a cold snap. Assuming the illustrations were prepared in the winter of 1901/1902 (an assumption with which I have no problem, but an asummption none-the-less), I believe you searched the weather records and identified the only day in December 1901 fitting the "bitter cold" description that month by Chicago standards and then argued that must have been the date on which Smith met Erdnase. I consider that proof of your ingenuity in investigating this case, rather than a validation of Smith's memory.
Smith thought the hotel was on the SE corner of Congress and State, but there does not seem to have been a hotel at that location then (He was more certain that it was on the east side of State Street, and there are several good candidates in the neighborhood at that time). He thought he did about 30 illustrations, there are 101 in the book as published (possibly even more were done and not all used...). He did not recognize the illustrations, but claimed to recognize his handwriting under them ("Fig. 1", "Fig. 2"...). He agreed he must have met with the author at his hotel on several occasions, but only had vivid recollections of the first, and getting the check in payment later. He could not recall either the amount of the check or the bank it was written on (other than recalling that it was a large Chicago Bank). He did not recall the man's name as "Andrews" until prompted by Gardner. I don't bring these up to argue that his memory was bad, why should he remember those things 45 years later? I'm grateful for the things he did recall and willing, at this point, to accept them at face value. But I am also willing to concede that his recollection at an advanced age, many years after the fact, could be wrong. That is what Gardner ultimately concluded when faced with the discrepencies between the artist's recollection and the MFA facts (age, height, etc.).
Again, playing devil's advocate: Smith recalled meeting a clean shaven man with fair hair. The published photo of W. E. Sanders as a youth shows him clean shaven with fair hair, but the published adult photo in your GENII article shows him with a large black beard (head covered by a hat). Obviously he could easily have been clean shaven rather than bearded when meeting with Smith, and certainly there are fair haired men with black beards, but if it turns out that W. E. Sanders as an adult was always bearded and/or had dark hair, does that rule him out as a candidate, or simply call into question Smith's memory on that point?

Originally posted by David Alexander:

Second, this was a simple job that did not require much of Smith's time as the pictures were traced from photos, not drawn from life. The logistics of Smith drawing them from life don't work out and I won't go into the details here, but as my wife is an accomplished artist and has illustrated two magic books, she understands the process as do I.
As mentioned earlier in this thread, I asked Steranko, who certainly knows a thing or two about illustrating and card handling, to examine the illustrations and weigh in with an opinion on several points (multiple artists theories, size of hands, drawn from life versus from photos) and he was unable to conclude that the illustrations were traced from photos. In fact, he pointed out the difficulty and expense (and time needed) at that time to have 101 technical photos made. I concede the possibility that Smith may have worked from photos, but he did not recall (or admit to) doing so, and the book's title page specifically states "drawn from life". If he did trace them from photos, then it goes to the question of Smith's memory or honesty or both. If he didn't recall that detail or prevaricated about it, why should we believe him on the issue of height, age or room temperature?

Originally posted by David Alexander:

The fact that we have a large sample of MFAs writing easily eliminates him from consideration as Erdnase since anyone with experience writing and editing will quickly see that MFA was incapable of writing up to the level that Erdnase exhibits.
I agree that when I read the confession/alibi letters that MFA wrote, I have a hard time hearing the voice of Erdnase. Others (and not just Busby and Whaley) do hear hear that voice, reflected in his use of such terms as "expert". But most of those in the MFA camp seem to feel a need, given MFA's lack of education and those letters, to bring in an "editor." Busby proposed Bill Hilliar, Jerry Sadowitz R. F. Foster. I think it premature to bring in an editor at all at this stage, indeed, I consider it unlikely that a self-published book by an author "needing the money" (David, I realize we disagree on whether that statement is accurate or merely ironic) would have had an editor/ghostwriter. But I would also point out that the confession/alibi letters were written for a very different audience, under very different conditions, than the book. MFA was being hunted by the police on multiple murder charges. He confesses to the attempted murder of his Australian gambling partner, who he claimed had attempted to rape his girlfriend, then provides alibis for the other murders of which he was accused, including that of his own longtime consort. He is willing to negotiate surrender with the police under certain (rather strange!) conditions. I think such a letter, written in haste, under unbelievable pressure, possibly under the influence of illness (mental or otherwise) and/or drugs could reflect a very different voice than a technical treatise on card manipulation written under very different circumstances for a very different audience several years earlier, possibly by the same man. Unlikely, perhaps, but hardly impossible.

Originally posted by David Alexander:

For that, and several other reasons that you yourself have uncovered, MFA should be ignored as any further consideration of him only muddies the waters.
Milton Franklin Andrews was the first credible candidate to have been proposed for Erdnase and was for many years the only such candidate. For that, and other reasons, I consider him the "benchmark" candidate against whom others should be judged. I confess that I like several others much better at the moment, but absent conclusive evidence one way or the other, I am willing to concede that MFA is not only "viable" but the "candidate to beat" in the search for the truth on this issue.

Guest | 12/20/06 11:45 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Stepanov Oleg:
I am so apologize. May be this is not interesting or somebody know before. Time to time I read how peoples interesting when first time appeared information about Erdnase. I find "Bibliographies of works on playing cards and gaming" 1905 and on number 488 we can find Erdnase. May be this is first bibliography.
Oleg, thank you for this interesting early citation. Is that Jesse Frederic's Bibliography? Does it give any publication details on the book, such as date and place of publication? Thanks!

Guest | 12/20/06 12:09 PM | link | filter

Dick Hatch wrote: Let me preface this by saying that I too believe M. D. Smith to have had quite a good memory and am guided by his recollections in evaluating possible candidates. Having said that, let me play "devil's advocate" in defense of the Milton Franklin Andrews theory:
quote:
________________________________________
Originally posted by David Alexander:

Smith's memory was good enough to remember a cold snap that happened on the day he met Erdnase, a day I was able to determine by examining weather records. It wasn't that cold a month before or a month after, so I think I pinpointed the day. For me, that validates Smith's memory as being accurate.
________________________________________
Smith recalled that it was "a bitter cold winter day," not necessarily the only such day, when he first met Erdnase in an unheated Chicago hotel room. He did not describe it as a cold snap. Assuming the illustrations were prepared in the winter of 1901/1902 (an assumption with which I have no problem, but an assumption none-the-less), I believe you searched the weather records and identified the only day in December 1901 fitting the "bitter cold" description that month by Chicago standards and then argued that must have been the date on which Smith met Erdnase. I consider that proof of your ingenuity in investigating this case, rather than a validation of Smith's memory.

David Alexander in italics -

I searched the weather records for the month before and the month after. The date I pinpointed was the only bitter cold day, a decided cold snap. Smith was a Chicagoan who had experienced Chicago winters. I took him at his word and found the day. Since the book was copyrighted the following February, that is about the time the book would have begun production, given the holidays and the speed at which a Linotype operator can create plates and cuts can be made. This was not photo offset, but a far slower process. Back when I was actively investigating this I spoke with a printing museum who gave me a time frame on making the book.

Smith thought the hotel was on the SE corner of Congress and State, but there does not seem to have been a hotel at that location then (He was more certain that it was on the east side of State Street, and there are several good candidates in the neighborhood at that time). He thought he did about 30 illustrations, there are 101 in the book as published (possibly even more were done and not all used...). He did not recognize the illustrations, but claimed to recognize his handwriting under them ("Fig. 1", "Fig. 2"...).

Smith did not recognize his drawings because they were not his normal work. They were traced from photographs.

He agreed he must have met with the author at his hotel on several occasions, but only had vivid recollections of the first, and getting the check in payment later. He could not recall either the amount of the check or the bank it was written on (other than recalling that it was a large Chicago Bank). He did not recall the man's name as "Andrews" until prompted by Gardner.

Here we have a major problem in that none of the people interviewing Smith were professional (or even experienced) interviewers. I was not present. You were not present, but we do know that Gardner and Vernon were anxious about getting information, or more accurately, validating their own ideas about Erdnase. Lawyers call it leading the witness.

Vernon had an opinion about Erdnase, but Martin Gardner had a specific candidate. Certainly Gardners letters to Smith over the years pushing him to remember Erdnase as taller give evidence that Martin had an agenda that he wanted Smith to validate. It is to Smiths credit that he only moved up an inch over the years and after several letters. Gardner was hardly an unbiased investigator. I've conducted hundreds of interviews and well know the dangers in inserting information into a question and how quickly people can pick up on what the interviewer wants to hear.

I don't bring these up to argue that his memory was bad, why should he remember those things 45 years later? I'm grateful for the things he did recall and willing, at this point, to accept them at face value. But I am also willing to concede that his recollection at an advanced age, many years after the fact, could be wrong. That is what Gardner ultimately concluded when faced with the discrepancies between the artist's recollection and the MFA facts (age, height, etc.).
Again, playing devil's advocate: Smith recalled meeting a clean shaven man with fair hair. The published photo of W. E. Sanders as a youth shows him clean shaven with fair hair, but the published adult photo in your GENII article shows him with a large black beard (head covered by a hat).

My source has no date for the photo of the bearded Sanders. As he worked in mining camps all over the West, the beard is to be expected. And, if he normally grew a beard while working the camps and shaved it off when he went to Chicago, if many who saw him during his work saw a man with a beard, shaving it would have provided an extra layer of disguise and anonymity.

Obviously he could easily have been clean shaven rather than bearded when meeting with Smith, and certainly there are fair haired men with black beards, but if it turns out that W. E. Sanders as an adult was always bearded and/or had dark hair, does that rule him out as a candidate, or simply call into question Smith's memory on that point?
quote:
________________________________________
Originally posted by David Alexander:

Second, this was a simple job that did not require much of Smith's time as the pictures were traced from photos, not drawn from life. The logistics of Smith drawing them from life don't work out and I won't go into the details here, but as my wife is an accomplished artist and has illustrated two magic books, she understands the process as do I.
________________________________________
As mentioned earlier in this thread, I asked Steranko, who certainly knows a thing or two about illustrating and card handling, to examine the illustrations and weigh in with an opinion on several points (multiple artists theories, size of hands, drawn from life versus from photos) and he was unable to conclude that the illustrations were traced from photos. In fact, he pointed out the difficulty and expense (and time needed) at that time to have 101 technical photos made.

I have traded emails with Jim on this. Like most books, this was probably an on-going project done over several years. The photos would have been taken over time, not all at once, as the book was probably written a section at a time. I believe I have evidence that strongly suggests the reference photos were taken at different times, but that's something for another day.

I concede the possibility that Smith may have worked from photos, but he did not recall (or admit to) doing so

As I pointed out earlier, Smith would not have admitted to such a pedestrian operation since these nice, enthusiastic men were paying him so much attention and Gardner had anointed him Dean of Magic Illustrators. Why disappoint them? Smith almost certainly had to know was the truth, especially since he did not recognize his own work when he saw it. That would seem to me strong evidence that he did not draw the figures from life, regardless of what the book claims.

and the book's title page specifically states "drawn from life". If he did trace them from photos, then it goes to the question of Smith's memory or honesty or both. If he didn't recall that detail or prevaricated about it, why should we believe him on the issue of height, age or room temperature?
quote:
________________________________________
Originally posted by David Alexander:

The fact that we have a large sample of MFAs writing easily eliminates him from consideration as Erdnase since anyone with experience writing and editing will quickly see that MFA was incapable of writing up to the level that Erdnase exhibits.
________________________________________
I agree that when I read the confession/alibi letters that MFA wrote, I have a hard time hearing the voice of Erdnase. Others (and not just Busby and Whaley) do hear hear that voice, reflected in his use of such terms as "expert". But most of those in the MFA camp seem to feel a need, given MFA's lack of education and those letters, to bring in an "editor." Busby proposed Bill Hilliar, Jerry Sadowitz R. F. Foster. I think it premature to bring in an editor at all at this stage, indeed, I consider it unlikely that a self-published book by an author "needing the money" (David, I realize we disagree on whether that statement is accurate or merely ironic) would have had an editor/ghostwriter.

Needing the money is the author being self-depricating, and is part of his writing "voice." Self-publishing a book in those days was time-consuming and expensive. It was a project of several months, not including the time actually spent writing it, which probably involved years. Ive pointed out elsewhere other ways Erdnase could have made more money faster had he actually been a reformed gambler. The book was written for other reasons, made clear I think, by Erdnase in the early pages of the book.

But I would also point out that the confession/alibi letters were written for a very different audience, under very different conditions, than the book. MFA was being hunted by the police on multiple murder charges. He confesses to the attempted murder of his Australian gambling partner, who he claimed had attempted to rape his girlfriend, then provides alibis for the other murders of which he was accused, including that of his own longtime consort. He is willing to negotiate surrender with the police under certain (rather strange!) conditions. I think such a letter, written in haste, under unbelievable pressure, possibly under the influence of illness (mental or otherwise) and/or drugs could reflect a very different voice than a technical treatise on card manipulation written under very different circumstances for a very different audience several years earlier, possibly by the same man. Unlikely, perhaps, but hardly impossible.
quote:
________________________________________
Originally posted by David Alexander:

For that, and several other reasons that you yourself have uncovered, MFA should be ignored as any further consideration of him only muddies the waters.
________________________________________
Milton Franklin Andrews was the first credible candidate to have been proposed for Erdnase and was for many years the only such candidate. For that, and other reasons, I consider him the "benchmark" candidate against whom others should be judged. I confess that I like several others much better at the moment, but absent conclusive evidence one way or the other, I am willing to concede that MFA is not only "viable" but the "candidate to beat" in the search for the truth on this issue.

Sorry, but as evidence you yourself have uncovered, Milton Franklin Andrews was never a credible candidate and is not the candidate to beat. The entire argument for him being Erdnase rests on the word of an alleged retired gambler that you have discredited. Martin Gardners work in this was sloppy. Martin never followed through to validate what he was told. He accepted Pratts word on the matter uncritically and without question, hardly indicative of the man who said, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Further, Gardner ended up arguing with the one person we believe actually met Erdnase when that persons memory failed to support what Gardner believed.


MFA was the only candidate for many years because people accepted Martin Gardners argument from authority and did not examine it critically. Both you and I have demonstrated that Gardners work was sloppy and without merit in this matter. Simply put, Andrews was Erdnase because Gardner accepted Pratts word that he was. The argument is circular as many others have recognized. Early on in my investigation I climbed off the Milton Franklin Andrews Merry-Go-Round. The argument is circular and a waste of time to pursue.

Guest | 12/20/06 01:41 PM | link | filter

David, Smith remembered he met Erdnase on "a bitter cold day." You found such a day. I don't see how that validates Smith's memory, since it provides no independent verification that they met on that day. Had Smith said they met on the only cold day in December 1901, then finding that there was in fact only one such day would lend weight to his recollection, but that's not what he said. I don't doubt that they did meet on a bitter cold day, by the way, and I do find your pinpointing such a day ingenious. But I don't see how that argues strongly in favor of Smith's powers of recollection. (On the other hand, details such as the fact that Smith kept on his overcoat in the hotel room, while Erdnase did not, do strike me as good evidence of both his recall and the fact that it was cold when they met). If they did indeed meet in the winter of 1901 (and I suspect they did), then your use of weather records to pinpoint the date is admirable, but I don't think it proves much about Smith's recollection.

Originally posted by David Alexander:

Vernon had an opinion about Erdnase, but Martin Gardner had a specific candidate.
At the time Gardner tracked down Smith in December 1946, he had no specific candidate in mind. Shortly after meeting Smith he came up with a "James Andrews" who wrote an article about a fortunetelling con (later reprinted in CONJURERS MAGAZINE). According to a letter Gardner wrote the Canadian copyright office early in 1947, Smith had "recalled" the author's true name as "James Andrews." Alas, the latter claim is not reflected in their surviving correspondence nor in Gardner's current recollection of what happened 60 years ago. I suspect Gardner recognized that "James Andrews" reverses to S. W. Erdnasemaj", found the article and saw some stylistic similarities to Erdnase (pointed out in the Conjurers article) and coaxed the "recollection" out of Smith. But if Smith did independently recall the author's name as "James Andrews", I would find that hard to ignore. Only several years after meeting and interviewing Smith did Gardner develop the Milton Franklin Andrews theory and return to question Smith in correspondence about it.

Originally posted by David Alexander:

Sorry, but as evidence you yourself have uncovered, Milton Franklin Andrews was never a credible candidate and is not the candidate to beat. The entire argument for him being Erdnase rests on the word of an alleged retired gambler that you have discredited. Martin Gardners work in this was sloppy. Martin never followed through to validate what he was told. He accepted Pratts word on the matter uncritically and without question, hardly indicative of the man who said, Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
The fact that Pratt's testimony on MFA is not credible does not invalidate that theory. If, as I believe, Pratt did not know MFA personally (as he claimed he did), then he and not Gardner should be given credit for developing the MFA theory. The theory could still be true, though it loses the weight of the testimony of a supposed colleague (Pratt), who claimed to have known him personally and been told about his book before it was published. Gardner himself was very skeptical of Pratt's claims and it was only after he obtained what he believed to be independent validation of them that he accepted Pratt's claims (Pratt was the first to tell Gardner of Harto's claimed involvement with Erdnase, which two Harto associates then validated to Gardner's satisfaction... I personally take Harto's claimed association with Erdnase seriously, though I am skeptical of Pratt's claim that Harto contributed material to THE EXPERT. Regardless, the Harto connection does not validate the MFA theory, but it did render Pratt's testimony credible for Gardner).

Originally posted by David Alexander:


MFA was the only candidate for many years because people accepted Martin Gardners argument from authority and did not examine it critically. Both you and I have demonstrated that Gardners work was sloppy and without merit in this matter.
I'll agree with the first sentence above, but must take strong exception to the second. Gardner is the pioneering figure in the tiny field of Erdnase research and deserves a huge amount of credit and respect. He was the only person even to think of looking for the artist, whose name had been on the titlepage since 1902. His interviews with Smith produced information which I consider fundamental. He researched and wrote the first detailed account of the book's early publishing history, pinpointing McKinney as the printer. Were it not for Gardner's work, there would likely be little interest in this topic today. For all that, and much more, I am extremely grateful.

Guest | 12/20/06 02:21 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Oleg, thank you for this interesting early citation. Is that Jesse Frederic's Bibliography? Does it give any publication details on the book, such as date and place of publication? Thanks!
Dear mr. Richard Hatch.
Yes, this is Jessel Frederic's Bibliography. Information only name, 1902 and "Canada copyright". If you wish I can send you image of this page.

BTW. From first number of 2007 year's magazine "Casino Games" will be published my translation of Erdnase with my comments. This is first time in Russia. So, now I bacame one of "The Man Who Translate Erdnase". :-)))) I still remember I promised for your collection my book, when it will be published. But from magazine publications we just check my translation on errors. Unfortunatelly our problems not like on "Star Wars" by Hatch-Alexander. Our problems little low level like "What mean Erdnase when wrote Cassino and Casino"? :-)

Guest | 12/20/06 02:45 PM | link | filter

Oleg, thanks (please call me Dick). Congratulations on your pending translation. I would very much like a copy for my collection. Can I purchase the magazine version in the meantime? If so, let me know how best to do so.
Also, if you can send a scan of the Jessel entry, it would be most welcome. Thanks!

Guest | 12/20/06 04:11 PM | link | filter

When I talked to Gardner many years ago he insisted that McKinney was the publisher. I had to argue several minutes to correct him, that McKinney was never the publisher, only the printer. He didn't seem to understand that.

Gardner also, according to you, after you explained your research, dropped his confidence in MFA being Erdnase from 90% to 60% and then, because neither of us came up with anything "new," according to what you told me, raised it back to 90%. That didn't make any sense to me then and it doesn't now. What you learned did not suddenly evaporate or become invalid.

You write:
The fact that Pratt's testimony on MFA is not credible does not invalidate that theory. If, as I believe, Pratt did not know MFA personally (as he claimed he did), then he and not Gardner should be given credit for developing the MFA theory. The theory could still be true, though it loses the weight of the testimony of a supposed colleague (Pratt), who claimed to have known him personally and been told about his book before it was published. Gardner himself was very skeptical of Pratt's claims and it was only after he obtained what he believed to be independent validation of them that he accepted Pratt's claims (Pratt was the first to tell Gardner of Harto's claimed involvement with Erdnase, which two Harto associates then validated to Gardner's satisfaction... I personally take Harto's claimed association with Erdnase seriously, though I am skeptical of Pratt's claim that Harto contributed material to THE EXPERT. Regardless, the Harto connection does not validate the MFA theory, but it did render Pratt's testimony credible for Gardner).
_________________________________

I don't find that reasonable at all. The fact that Harto may have claimed to various people that he was the one who wrote the magic section of Expert means nothing and I am unaware of any evidence other than what some people claimed Harto claimed. If this was echoed to Gardner by Pratt, it, in no way validates what Pratt may have claimed about Andrews.

In historical research, weight is given to likelyhoods, what is more likely than some other theory. Not all theories have equal weight or equal likelyhood of being correct. I think just looking at the material you've developed, not counting in what I think is a more likely theory of who Erdnase was and a candidate that fills that theory, you, on your own, have rendered the theory that Milton Franklin Andrews being Erdnase Highly Unlikely.

It is reasonable to believe that the book was being made ready for publication in December, 1901 because it was copyrighted in early 1902, a process that required two bound and printed copies of the book be submitted with the application.

The day Smith remembered would be unlikely to have happened much earlier, but if necessary, I suppose I, or you if you're so curious, could pull the weather records for June, 1901 through December, and examine them to see if there was another really cold day earlier than the one I found. I think I examined November 1901 and January, 1902, although it's been a while since I looked at my notes and everything is packed for moving.

I reasonably figured that the illustrations were done within a reasonable time frame with Erdnase getting them ready while or just before the book was being typeset, a process that would have taken a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, we do not know McKinney's work load a the time and where in his printing que the book would have been placed. Once the illustrations were delivered by Smith, cuts would have been made to insert into the appropriate pages. This also would have taken time. I don't believe McKinney's was a large shop.

It seems reasonable to assume the book was printed and bound not much later than January, 1902 and two copies and the copyright application were duly sent off. Perhaps it was all sent off a bit earlier as we do not know the backlog at the copyright office and how long it would have taken for the application to have been processed. If longer to process and grant copyright, it pushes the date back to late December, making my date more likely. That Smith remembered the weather of the day and then the cold hotel room (not an unheated hotel as Gardner later wrote), keeping his coat on during his interaction with Erdnase all works to validate what he remembered.

Guest | 12/20/06 04:28 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
The fact that Harto may have claimed to various people that he was the one who wrote the magic section of Expert means nothing and I am unaware of any evidence other than what some people claimed Harto claimed. If this was echoed to Gardner by Pratt, it, in no way validates what Pratt may have claimed about Andrews.
I have not found any credible evidence that Harto made such a claim. Pratt is the only one who claims that, and he was both confused (claiming it was added at the publisher's insistence, rather a strange claim on a self-published book) and untrustworthy on other points. So I don't take that claim very seriously. But two individuals who knew Harto very well both confirmed that he had dealings with Erdnase, though neither is explicit on the nature of those dealings. One thought he saw correspondence between Harto and Erdnase, the other recalled seeing a notebook for a proposed sequel. Neither said that Harto claimed to have written the legerdemain section, only Pratt makes that claim. I have no problem at all with Harto having had some contact with Erdnase. Clearly Harto claimed to have had such contact and I have no basis on which to deny it. I would consider it a plus if a credible candidate could be shown to have had contact with Harto. None of the current candidates currently fall in that category, but I still consider it an open question. Regardless, it has no bearing the MFA issue, other than it being the detail than convinced Gardner of Pratt's bona fides.

Guest | 12/20/06 05:24 PM | link | filter

MFA is an unlikely candidate, but I think Richard's point is that he can't be excluded. (Although I do agree, being unlikely, he is not the best path to follow).

Just because Smith said it was a bitter cold day, doesn't mean it was the coldest day that year. It's entirely possible that the hotel room was colder than he was used to it being indoors (if he kept his coat on) and that was what influenced his comment (an emotional memory) rather than the actual temperature outside.

On the issue of illustrations: The claim that he wouldn't want to disappoint Gardner and Vernon by saying they were drawn from photographs is incredibly hypothetical. If it were true, why then did Smith claim he didn't remember doing all the illustrations if he really wanted to keep the image Gardner and Vernon had of him?

David or Richard, maybe you can answer this one:
Was "Drawn from Life" a phrase that would increase sales of a book at the time? If not, why would it be included if photos were used?

Guest | 12/20/06 05:51 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Aaron Lee Shields:

David or Richard, maybe you can answer this one:
Was "Drawn from Life" a phrase that would increase sales of a book at the time? If not, why would it be included if photos were used?
Aaron, I think that is an excellent point. I don't understand why the author would say "Drawn from life" on the title page if they were not, nor do I see why he would mention the artist's name on the titlepage, if he were obsessively concerned with maintaining anonymity, as David argues. Neither the method of illustrating nor the artist's identity would seem to have any bearing on sales of the book. Of course, David argues that sales were not the author's primary motivation (because David does not believe that he needed the money), but I still don't understand why he would add that statement to the titlepage: "Over One Hundred Drawings from Life by M. D. Smith."

Guest | 12/20/06 06:10 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Aaron Lee Shields:

On the issue of illustrations: The claim that he wouldn't want to disappoint Gardner and Vernon by saying they were drawn from photographs is incredibly hypothetical. If it were true, why then did Smith claim he didn't remember doing all the illustrations if he really wanted to keep the image Gardner and Vernon had of him?

David or Richard, maybe you can answer this one:
Was "Drawn from Life" a phrase that would increase sales of a book at the time? If not, why would it be included if photos were used?
We do not know in what order Smith made his comments to Vernon, Gardner and the others when they met him. He may have made a simple observation of a job he'd done 40+ years before, before he saw the book, the illustrations and the number he did.

Then he saw the book and realized what he said and had to follow through with it. I don't think he deliberately lied, just that he may have said things to keep his hosts happy. The problem is, none of the participants were trained in interview techniques and could have lead Smith in their questioning. I don't think it "incredibly hypothetical," just in line with how people are and what they do.

It was obviously important to Vernon, Gardner and the others and Smith was an old man who was getting incredible recognition for an inconsequential job he did in the early part of his career.

Re: "Drawn from Life" - you could make a stretch that drawing from a photo is drawing from "life." It certainly wouldn't be the first magic book to stretch a claim.

I have no way of proving, but think it likely that Erdnase showed up with photos and learned from McKinney that the cost of printing photos would be prohibitive and that they would not necessarily print that clearly, given the quality of the paper he chose to print on. So, far less expensive were line drawings made from the photographs that could be turned into cuts. Who was to argue that they weren't "from life," since no one knew who Erdnase was and it probably added to the preceived value of the book.

I don't believe Harto ever communicated with Erdnase.

I will grant the possibility of Harto saying to friends that he was "in contact" with Erdnase to build himself up because people do that. They pump up resumes, they inflate experience, people do a variety of things to make themselves look more important.

I just heard a Broadway star make mention that over the years she's figured that something like 50,000 people must have been in her theater on opening night because that's how many have come up to her over the years and told her how much they enjoyed her show and, of course, they always add that they were there on opening night.

Guest | 12/20/06 06:24 PM | link | filter

With regards to the hotel room, I like David's printed theory that Erdnase was actually staying in ANOTHER room in the hotel, and, with his stuff all laid out, clothes, personal posessions, maybe books and personal papers.....he simply went down to the front desk and asked for another room in which to meet Smith, this to keep his privacy and maintain the masquarade that confounds us to this day.

If the room had been unbooked for a few days the heat would have been off (hotels STILL do this today) and being an old boiler system even after being turned back on probably would have taken the better part of the day to heat the room back up.

Smith remembering the cold hotel room is SO vertical in it's scope (it's such a FINE point) that it's hard for me not to give hiim full credit for the accuracy of the memory. Of course if you accept that the cold hotel room memory could might be that accurate, then you may have to make the next step to thinking that his memories of that day as they were shared with Gardner stand a chance of ALL being quite accurate.

Guest | 12/20/06 06:24 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
... but I still don't understand why he would add that statement to the titlepage: "Over One Hundred Drawings from Life by M. D. Smith."
I don't either. Then again, it doesn't strike me as blatantly odd. In fact, to my eyes and ears the "from Life" phrase has a nice ring to it. Do we know that Erdnase was competely responsible for titling the book and designing the title page? (perhaps he was.) Is this phrasing typical for illustrated books of that period? Or it is somewhat unique? Many have complimented Erdnase for his writing skills, so maybe this was just a well turned phrase for simply informing the reader of the illustrated nature of the book?

Clay

Guest | 12/20/06 06:31 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
QUOTE]Aaron, I think that is an excellent point. I don't understand why the author would say "Drawn from life" on the title page if they were not, nor do I see why he would mention the artist's name on the titlepage, if he were obsessively concerned with maintaining anonymity, as David argues. Neither the method of illustrating nor the artist's identity would seem to have any bearing on sales of the book. Of course, David argues that sales were not the author's primary motivation (because David does not believe that he needed the money), but I still don't understand why he would add that statement to the titlepage: "Over One Hundred Drawings from Life by M. D. Smith." [/QB]
Good grief! Smith's name on the book would have no effect on the annonymity of the author because if someone sought out Smith way back then, what could he tell them? He would give them the name he was given which was almost certainly NOT Erdnase's real name. Same for McKinney, the printer.

They knew Erdnase as probably a guy who used the name "Andrews" since it reverses so nicely to the pseudonym on the book, but this was a self-published book and they were paid in advance. What did they care who the author really was, if they even bothered to ask themselves that question? The checks cleared. The bills were paid so they did the job. Like any other printer I've ever known, that was the end of it as far as they were concerned. It was just another customer in a long line of customers. We see the book as special because we're interested in the subject. Obviously, neither the printer nor the illustrator were. Just another day at the office as far as they were concerned.

Dick, you cannot make the statement, "Neither the method of illustrating nor the artist's identity would seem to have any bearing on sales of the book," since neither you nor I nor anyone knows how many books were printed by McKinney for the author, how many books were sold, who the original market was, how that market was reached, or how many were sold in the months before the first ad appeared in the magic press...unless you've uncovered information that you haven't published.

Saying the drawings were "made from life" as well as the name of the artist adds authenticity to the book and would almost certainly help sales. I would have thought that self-evident. It's called "hype."

Guest | 12/20/06 07:18 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Smith's name on the book would have no effect on the annonymity of the author because if someone sought out Smith way back then, what could he tell them?
Given how good Smith's recollection seems to have been 45 years after the fact, I'm guessing an interviewer of Smith in 1902 (when his name appeared in the book, and Smith was listed in the Chicago directories as an artist) could have elicited much additional useful information including but hardly limited to:
1. The name and dates they met at the hotel
2. The bank on which the check was drawn
3. The name used by the author
4. An accurate physical portrait
5. A precise recollection of the nature of the author's claimed relationship with Dalrymple

And that's just for starters. Who knows how much additional information he could have provided? I think it would not have been nearly as difficult then to have tracked the author as it is now.

The book was copyrighted c/o McKinney and McKinney was selling copies of the book, so had an ongoing relationship of some kind with the author and could likely have also provided much useful information.

Your claim that the author likely used the alias "Andrews" with McKinney seems based on your profile that has the author requiring absolute anonymity. I'm not at all convinced that he did and I think his use of the artist's real name (which had no commercial value) supports that view. Why not put illustrated by R.Hatch or D. Alexander or someone completely fictitious?
I personally find the simple "E. S. Andrews" reversal a completely satisfying solution, and several attractive candidates with that name have been investigated, including at least one who was the age recalled by the artist, who arrived in Chicago just a few months before the book was published there (though he had lived there earlier, as recalled by Edwin Hood's son), had a wife whose maiden name was the same as Dalymple's mother's, stayed in Chicago during the intial sales period of the book, and moved out of state the very month the book was "remaindered" (in this case, dropped in price from $2 to $1) by a company living on the same street, indeed the same side of the street, just few blocks north of him. All possibly coincidental, but just as possibly the foundation of a good circumstantial case.

I don't know how many copies of the book were printed in its first edition, but I am currently tracking nearly 80 copies and it is certain there are a fair number floating around that I don't yet know about, and given the cheap paper and binding, equally certain that a good number have not survived. So I would guess (and that's all it is admittedly) an initial print run of 500, possibly more. Possibly some were printed but not bound, a fairly common practice at the time I believe.

I do think a key question that remains unanswered is the author's intended market for the book and the efforts he took to reach it. The author's preface suggests it was intended to be of interest "to all lovers of card games," quite a large market, then as now. Did he advertise it to that community? If so, when and how? I'm optimistic that he did something to advertise it that will provide further clues to his identity.

Guest | 12/20/06 07:33 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:

Saying the drawings were "made from life" as well as the name of the artist adds authenticity to the book and would almost certainly help sales. I would have thought that self-evident. It's called "hype."
It's not "hype" if it is true, as I and I suspect more than a few others believe. If the author had gone to the great expense and effort to bring 101 or more photos with him to Chicago, why not advertise and benefit from his use of the technology by saying: "with over 100 drawings accurately traced from precise photos of the author's hands," for example? Why is "drawn from life," if untrue, a more compelling sales pitch? Illustrations "drawn from life" would be less accurate, and in a technical work of this nature, less appealing, I would think. And I see absolutely no reason to include the illustrator's true name on the book, especially if anonymity was desired. Smith himself never even saw the book until Gardner showed it to him 45 years later, and he's probably one of the few at the time who would have recognized his name and purchased a copy on that basis.
Incidentally, Smith did not recall getting "paid in advance." He recalled getting a check when the work was completed, and he hesitated to take it, not knowing if the stranger's check would clear. But it did and he never saw him again.

Guest | 12/20/06 07:46 PM | link | filter

FWIW, between "drawn from life" and "with over 100 drawings accurately traced from precise photos of the author's hands," for me it's an easy vote for the former!

Guest | 12/20/06 07:58 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Magicam:
FWIW, between "drawn from life" and "with over 100 drawings accurately traced from precise photos of the author's hands," for me it's an easy vote for the former!
Actually, Clay, I'll concede that rhetorical point, but I suspect Erdnase could have made it sound more appealing, if true!
Paul Fleming in his introduction to the Fleming edition of Maskelyne and Devant's OUR MAGIC argues for the superiority of the "ilustrations made, with infinite patience, by Jeanne McLavy, from halftone prints which often failed to reveal details mentioned in the text." Again, I suspect Erdnase could have said it much better... Also, I think the relative novelty at the time of the author's claimed (by David) use of the photographs could easily have been made a "selling point".

Guest | 12/20/06 09:44 PM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Given how good Smith's recollection seems to have been 45 years after the fact, I'm guessing an interviewer of Smith in 1902 (when his name appeared in the book, and Smith was listed in the Chicago directories as an artist) could have elicited much additional useful information including but hardly limited to:
1. The name and dates they met at the hotel
2. The bank on which the check was drawn
3. The name used by the author
4. An accurate physical portrait
5. A precise recollection of the nature of the author's claimed relationship with Dalrymple

David Alexander's responses in italics...

Presuming that the author had not cautioned the artist and the printer not to talk about him, or that they would talk to you in the first place, you would have found the following:

1 A false name at the hotel that would have lead you nowhere.

2 A bank that would probably not give you any information about one of their depositors. If you did manage to penetrate bank discretion (highly unlikely) the account would almost certainly be under his false name that again would tell you nothing. Statement could be left to be picked up by him or sent to some city c/o General Delivery. End of trail.

3 The name used by the author which was almost certainly a false name. If not, why the "artifice, ruse and subterfuge" on the title page?

4 An accurate physical portrait of a man with no name in a country of 75 million people, and if my candidate, a man whose associates probably knew with a beard for much of the year. /I]

[I]5 A relationship that may or may not have been real used to establish rapport with the artist.


And that's just for starters. Who knows how much additional information he could have provided? I think it would not have been nearly as difficult then to have tracked the author as it is now.

The book was copyrighted c/o McKinney and McKinney was selling copies of the book, so had an ongoing relationship of some kind with the author and could likely have also provided much useful information.

As Ive written before, the author paid by check so that his business could be conducted by mail, managing sales and such by long distance, making it unnecessary for him to spend time with McKinney.

You claim the use of the artists real name had no commercial value, but how do you know? Thats just an opinion. Erdnase obviously had a different opinion because Smith's name is on the fly title. Smith may have cut the price for his work if he was given credit and forgot all about it. Erdnase was an amateur publisher, so who knows what went into his decision making processes? Why does the book have two titles? I think the fly title has a message that you ignore.

Your claim that the author likely used the alias "Andrews" with McKinney seems based on your profile that has the author requiring absolute anonymity.

You misstate my position...again. As I've always said, Dick, I do not believe the author required "absolute anonymity." If he had, then "By An Anonymous Gambler" would have hidden his identity forever. As Ive said many times, his name is on the book if you care to look for it.

I believe the author probably used the name "Andrews" because as a simple anagram of "S.W. Erdnase" it would have been readily accepted by the artist, author, bank manager, whoever he came into contact with.


I'm not at all convinced that he did and I think his use of the artist's real name (which had no commercial value) supports that view. Why not put illustrated by R.Hatch or D. Alexander or someone completely fictitious?

I personally find the simple "E. S. Andrews" reversal a completely satisfying solution, and several attractive candidates with that name have been investigated, including at least one who was the age recalled by the artist, who arrived in Chicago just a few months before the book was published there (though he had lived there earlier, as recalled by Edwin Hood's son), had a wife whose maiden name was the same as Dalymple's mother's, stayed in Chicago during the intial sales period of the book, and moved out of state the very month the book was "remaindered" (in this case, dropped in price from $2 to $1) by a company living on the same street, indeed the same side of the street, just few blocks north of him. All possibly coincidental, but just as possibly the foundation of a good circumstantial case.

Lots of other people have accepted the simple answer and gone down blind alleys. A man named Andrews (one of the most common names in the US) living in the neighborhood is proof of nothing. If he lived nearby, there would be no need to pay by check as that was fairly unusual for the time. He would have paid cash. Also, I see no evidence presented that this individual has the requisite education to write like Erdnase or the requisite time to develop the material in the book. Was the book truly remaindered or did that company simply aquire a smalll supply for one reason or another?

By the way, I've learned that my candidates family is related to the Dalrymple family through an uncle, or so I was informed a few years ago by someone off a genealogy bulletin board.

I don't know how many copies of the book were printed in its first edition, but I am currently tracking nearly 80 copies and it is certain there are a fair number floating around that I don't yet know about, and given the cheap paper and binding, equally certain that a good number have not survived. So I would guess (and that's all it is admittedly) an initial print run of 500, possibly more. Possibly some were printed but not bound, a fairly common practice at the time I believe.

Five hundred copies is just a guess. It may be accurate or it may be way under or way over. How many runs were made? We don't know. How many copies went into paper drives during WW I and WW II? We don't know. We do know that the book was a pulp book and not meant to last. I fail to see what determining the number of surviving copies will tell you.

I do think a key question that remains unanswered is the author's intended market for the book and the efforts he took to reach it. The author's preface suggests it was intended to be of interest "to all lovers of card games," quite a large market, then as now. Did he advertise it to that community? If so, when and how? I'm optimistic that he did something to advertise it that will provide further clues to his identity.

I think further research into how the book was marketed is a good direction to go.

Guest | 12/20/06 10:08 PM | link | filter

. I fail to see what determining the number of surviving copies will tell you.
[/QB]
I don't think it's a huge stretch to wonder out loud if one of the surviving copies, whereabouts currently unknown might not have a salutation from the author. Perhaps to a friend, perhaps in the authors actual name.

It doesn't even have to be a salutation from the author, it could just as easily be a note written by the buyer to himself...."purchased from W.E. Sanders, March, 1902.

That's just me dreaming out loud, but it's probably worth knowing where all the first editions are located, who owns them, and what might be written in them, if anything.

Guest | 12/20/06 10:26 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
I fail to see what determining the number of surviving copies will tell you.
I'm tracking first edition copies for several reasons:
1. It puts a lower bound on the number of printed copies. Obviously, if I know of 80 surviving copies, he must have had at least that many printed. Likely considerably more. How many more is a guess, as I stated. But having some idea of how many copies were initially printed would give some indication of his ambitions for the book, which I would consider useful and interesting information.
2. In tracking and inspecting first edition copies (the only copies with a direct link to the author), I'm hopeful that additional clues about his identity will be revealed. I wouldn't be surprised if a copy inscribed by the author didn't surface at some point, and I would find that quite interesting. I know of the existence of one copy that has the name "E. S. Andrews" inscribed on the titlepage. But I don't know the current whereabouts of that copy, and so have not had a chance to examine it. I would be interested to compare that handwriting to the writing samples of Erdnase candidates, though I recognize the name may very well have been added by someone other than the author at a much later date. It was only by inspecting one of several first edition copies at the Library of Congress that I learned that McKinney was a direct source of copies (in this case, the copy sold to Adrian Plate in New York). That was new information to me. How did Plate, in New York, learn that copies were available from McKinney, in Chicago? I don't know, but I'm optimistic that someday we may.
3. It's a fun hobby!

Guest | 12/20/06 11:17 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
A man named Andrews (one of the most common names in the US) living in the neighborhood is proof of nothing.
I agree it proves nothing and believe I clearly stated that it could just be an odd coincidence, but I would like to point out that Andrews is NOT one of the most common names in the US, and I don't believe it ever has been. In the 1990 census, it ranks as the 183rd most common last name, with only an estimated 134,298 people in the U.S. having that last name at that time. In a country of nearly 250 million people (at that time), that's not many named Andrews. I thought this had been discussed earlier in the thread, but wasn't able to locate it if it has. At one time I had the 1900 census information on the number of people in the US named Andrews. Looking at the frequency of male first names that began with the letter E, and an estimate of the popularity of the middle initial S (probably the most fudged factor in my equation!), I estimated that there were likely something on the order of two dozen white adult males named E. S. Andrews in the US in 1900. The fact that two years later, at the exact moment needed, one of them was living in Chicago (well, technically, across the street from Chicago, on the Oak Park side of Austin Ave), with the same age as recalled by Smith, with a wife possibly related to Dalrymple, less than a mile from and on the same street as the Atlas Novelty Company (the rather obscure slum magic dealer who first offered the book to the magic community at half price the very month he got transferred to California), and that he worked as a travelling agent for the Chicago and Northwestern Railraod, a job that would have allowed him ample opportunity to develop the skills displayed by the author were he so inclined... well, it struck me as pretty darn interesting. Can I put a deck of cards in his hands? Nope, not yet. Can I show he has the voice of the book? Nope, not yet. But I personally find the circumstantial case for him pretty compelling, though I am admittedly biased by the way I stumbled across him and then developed the information I have on him. I consider Todd Karr's E. S. Andrews pretty interesting, too, though at this stage, still pretty undeveloped in terms of details regarding him. But definitely a promising "person of interest". And I find W. E. Sanders pretty interesting, too.

Guest | 12/21/06 12:20 AM | link | filter

HERE is a page from H. C. Evans' 1929 catalog, offering EATCT.

Guest | 12/21/06 05:28 PM | link | filter

When I made mention of inscriptions inside the front cover of a first edition I was simply repeating something Dick had mentioned to me on the telephone one day.

It's Dick's original thought, NOT mine.

Guest | 01/11/07 03:09 AM | link | filter

I'm wanting to order some back-issues of Genii, and wondered if anyone can tell me any issues which have Erdnase features in (David Alexander's articles for instance). Also, any other decent gambling related features. Thanks!

Pete Biro | 01/11/07 10:22 AM | link | filter

Dave/Richard: I wish you two had been on the O.J. Simpson prosocuting team!

Guest | 01/11/07 11:54 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by willmorton:
I'm wanting to order some back-issues of Genii, and wondered if anyone can tell me any issues which have Erdnase features in (David Alexander's articles for instance).
David's excellent article is the cover feature of the January 2000 issue (vol. 63:1). Available from the Genii offices and other dealers (I know we like to keep copies in stock at H & R!).

Guest | 01/13/07 07:41 PM | link | filter

There's an ellusive first edition of "Expert at the Card Table" on the Random Treasures auction right now.

I guess of note is that it's had a bit of work done to it, although it has original cover boards but new endpapers.

It's currently at $440.00.

http://www.randomtreasuresauctions.com/ ... RowStart=1

Guest | 01/16/07 08:02 PM | link | filter

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... =2&start=0


On that thread near the bottom is a post by Jason England, he talks about a copy of expert at the card table with a picture of Erdnase, he's posted an image too on the post, do you guys think this could be the actual photo?

Guest | 01/16/07 09:02 PM | link | filter

No, but I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I need to sell fast. Email me for details. ;)

Guest | 01/23/07 12:09 AM | link | filter

they also say on that thread that vernon meet him, and /or hoffinger!! I was under the impresion that j england knew what he was talking about.

Guest | 01/23/07 02:38 AM | link | filter

Jason posted that with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

Guest | 01/26/07 05:54 AM | link | filter

Cardsharping and forgery are things that one can easily associate with a conman. They are things that he might learn in his career. Indeed I can state, as fact, that: a conman, a cardsharp and a forger can be just one person and own a legit printing business as a front. Printing machinery is large and needs be hidden if one is using it to forge documents and the best way to hide it, is in plain sight, as a legit a printers. Based of my experience, it would not surprise me to find, that the printer, who printed the book, was Erdnase himself. I dont know but has the printer been eliminated from the enquiry?

Guest | 01/27/07 01:50 PM | link | filter

Thanks in part largely to this thread, I just received my first copy of EATCT. I thumbed through it trying to decide if I was going to treat it like I typically do magic books and pick out the pieces I want to learn or go through it in great detail like the many previously listed card masters.

In flipping through the pages and taking an initial pass at a number of the moves... I began to wonder if the 'from life' quote has been completely skewed into the large debate as to whether they were drawn free-hand or traced from photos. Perhaps all the mystery writer was saying is that it is possible in real life and he was able to do all of the moves with the precise execution that they are described with. As far as I am concerned, some of these appear to be fantasy. ;)

Guest | 01/29/07 11:39 AM | link | filter

An interesting factoid that gives a flavor of Chicago in Erdnase's time...from The Big Con by Professor David W. Maurer:

"It has been estimated by one informant that in Chicago alone in 1898 there were, to his personal knowledge, more than two hundred ropers working for five permanent and protected monte stores alone; there were hundreds more roping against unprotected stores which ran 'on the sneak,' while the railroad lines running into Chicago were infested with mitt mobs. And similar conditions prevailed in new Orleans, San Francisco, New York City -- in fact, in any city which was a railroad center."

It was a very different world than today.

Kevin Baker | 01/31/07 04:06 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by silverking:
[QB] There's an ellusive first edition of "Expert at the Card Table" on the Random Treasures auction right now.

I guess of note is that it's had a bit of work done to it, although it has original cover boards but new endpapers.

It's currently at $440.00.

Hello silverking,

Does that lower the value of the book?

Regards,

Kevin

Guest | 01/31/07 10:50 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Kevin Baker:
Originally posted by silverking:
[QB] There's an ellusive first edition of "Expert at the Card Table" on the Random Treasures auction right now.

I guess of note is that it's had a bit of work done to it, although it has original cover boards but new endpapers.

It's currently at $440.00.

Hello silverking,

Does that lower the value of the book?

Regards,

Kevin
Kevin, in principle, any deviation from new mint condition will influence the value. In some cases, such as an interesting signature of historic import, it might increase the value, but in this case the noted deviations would be considered blemishes by most collectors, I think. That said, the book just sold for $2988 plus 20% buyer's premium, for a combined total of $3585 plus tax and shipping if relevant, indicating how desirable first editions of this work have become....

Kevin Baker | 02/03/07 10:22 AM | link | filter

Thanks Richard. It appears this book has become far more desirable and valuable in the recent past.

Regards,

Kevin

Guest | 02/22/07 10:50 AM | link | filter

All I have been able to glean from Richard Hatch's research is this:

While some people, such as John Fisher and the people at Bloomsbury's, believe that Edward S. Andrews was the "real" S.W. Erdnase, others believe that Edwin S. Andrews is a much more viable candiate.

In other words, to paraphrase an answer given on an examination by an elementary school student,
S.W. Erdnase was not E.S. Andrews, but another person of the same name.

Guest | 02/23/07 12:44 AM | link | filter

Please, I am very much apologize.
I have questions on book of Erdnase, but I do not know where I can ask it. The problem, my questions can be not clever. This is not history of subject. Probably this is my bad understanding of English. If somebody know another place on this Forum where I can ask such questions, I will be happy to move post. But I suppose some of questions can be solved many years before by group of peoples who interesting this book?

On LEGERDEMAIN section, on chapter SHIFTS and paragraph "The S.W.E. Shift" we can read:

"With the deck face up it makes an instantaneous "transformation," and the position of the deck permits the operator to get a glimpse of the index without being observed."

Please, what it means? I understand first part. I understand second part. But I do not understand ",". If parts connected should be "glimpse with the deck face up". Or second part should be like "and, when the deck still face down, the position of the deck permits the operator to get a glimpse of the index without being observed."

On same place but "The Longitudinal Shift":

Now the deck is ready for the shift, but the right hand may be withdrawn without disclosing the break at the inner corner, or the fact that the little finger runs between the packets. The left thumb and finger hold the packets firmly together and the deck could not have a more innocent appearance.

Which "finger" means on second sentence? Little finger from first sentence or this is just typo and should be "fingers"? For me this is important because on my language "little finger" only one word and this is not finger (like thumb on English).

Please, I am apologize for strange questions.

Guest | 03/01/07 10:29 AM | link | filter

NB: The Bloomsbury auction of John Fisher items has just added a notice stating that the copy of Erdnase in their first lot (with the very scarce Graham Adams manuscript on Erdnase) is NOT a first edition, though they don't specify further which edition. Obviously this makes a huge difference in the value of this lot. I'm hoping to get more information, but it may be too late to post before the sale actually ends. Here's a link:
Erdnase lot in John Fisher Auction

Guest | 03/01/07 06:43 PM | link | filter

So what eventually happened, I must admit I had no idea what was going on with that auction software.
It appears as if somebody got it for a couple of hundred bucks, although that doesn't make sense because each item in the lot was worth more than that.
Anybody?

Guest | 03/01/07 07:48 PM | link | filter

I couldn't get the live auction to work like it normally does (truly live). I didn't even notice the second part of the auction - the non-first edition copy of EATCT. If I had seen that, I may have bid on that item... not bad for ~$250.

Guest | 03/01/07 08:19 PM | link | filter

Even if it was the Drake plum or blue cover, it was certainly worth more than a couple of hundred dollars.
I don't think anybody even got a bid in. It started off a few days ago with a "1" beside the number of bidders, and finished up with the same "1" beside the number of bidders.

Potentially two of the three items could have been worth $500.00 (or much, much more!) each.
I tried to bid and couldn't get the "bid" button to become active at any time before, during, or after the auction!

Guest | 03/02/07 03:02 AM | link | filter

It was a 1905 Drake hardback with an Olive Green cover, as far as I could tell from the description given to me over the phone by the auction house staff if was not the pictoral cover. I was the second highest bidder at 3200. I would have gone higher if it was that first edition...

Marco Pusterla | 03/02/07 06:34 AM | link | filter

Lot one sold for 3,400 + 19% premium to a floor bidder. I left the auction towards the end (other 50 or so lots still to go) and that was the highest price any lot went for.

Guest | 03/02/07 07:00 AM | link | filter

Yep, I was the phone bidder who stopped at 3200 :)

Guest | 03/02/07 08:14 AM | link | filter

...and beaten only by the Robert-Houdin mystery clock which went for a snip at 4,600.

Marco Pusterla | 03/02/07 08:15 AM | link | filter

:) Your bidding made the lot a lot more interesting (pun intended ;) ). Including the buyer's premium, the lot went for more than $7,800... not bad...

Guest | 03/02/07 08:31 AM | link | filter

I know :) If I wasn't bidding, the guy who won it would have got it for a lot less :) I didn't find out it wasn't a first edition until the auctioneer called me five minutes before the auction began, so I didn't really have much time to plan my max bid amount :)

Guest | 03/02/07 09:11 AM | link | filter

I just recieved an email from the auction house giving me the confirmation to bid (to late though).

I was so upset that I couldn't bid, because I thought the lot went for $280!

I thought, man, what a steal!

They emailed me to let me know it sold for much MUCH more then that, and was way out of my price range. Whew. Now I'm not so sad I missed the chance.

Guest | 03/02/07 11:01 AM | link | filter

So I wonder what the value of the Drake edition was, exclusive of the other two Erdnase lots?
The Sawyer book is worth about $130.00 (or at least it was a few months ago when I got mine), so that means the Drake edition and the S.W. Adams books comprise the rest of the over $7000.00!

With only 6 copies of the Adams book out there (although I think there were two more kept by the author) how does that $7000.00 break down between the two books?

I'm trying to figure out not only what the Adams book was worth individually, but also what the Drake edition was worth individually.

Does anybody know if the "Dai Vernon" inscription on the Drake edition was Vernon's actual signature, or just the result of somebody making a written reference to Vernon?

Guest | 03/02/07 11:08 AM | link | filter

It was Vernon's signature, and he also wrote (in brackets) 'Apologies' directly underneath Erdnase's name on the title-page.

My guess is that the larger part of the deal was because of the Adams' notes (as far as I know it isn't even available as a facsimile, like the other '6 copies only' Erdnase book) and the Vernon signature.

Guest | 03/02/07 11:16 AM | link | filter

Do we know if the purchaser was a floor bidder (who had a chance to inspect the lot) or an absentee bidder, who likely did not know exactly what was included? The information that the copy of Erdnase was not the first edition was posted very late and may have been a factor. The Adams title was clearly perceived by the auction house as being the chief item of interest (and presumably value) in the lot, since it was the only one prominently featured in the lot title and description. I have been told that the Vernon name was written in capitol letters on the title page, though it may have been his characteristic signature, which would have added interest and value to this copy. Although many of the Drake hardbacks are harder to find than the true first edition, they do not currently command the same interest for most collectors or fetch the high prices. But it is very hard to parse the relative values of this lot, or any such lot, unfortunately. And what was included among the tantalizing "other material relating to the identity of Erdnase, the Andrews murder investigation, and his death"? Can someone who was at the sale enlighten us?

Guest | 03/02/07 11:20 AM | link | filter

The guy who won the lot was a floor bidder. I didn't get a chance to inspect the lot as I live miles from London and bid by phone. However, the auctioneer asked permission to publish my name if I won the auction, so - if the winner granted his permission - someone (Dick :) ) might be able to quiz him about what was included in the lot exactly .

Guest | 03/02/07 11:27 AM | link | filter

Thanks, Will!

Guest | 03/02/07 11:59 AM | link | filter

I am told that Bill Kalush won the Erdnase lot.

Guest | 03/02/07 12:25 PM | link | filter

If it was Bill, he must have been after the Adams material because he already owns quite a few first editions of "Expert"!

Guest | 03/02/07 12:46 PM | link | filter

Hmmm... The Conjuring Arts Research Center already owns Jay Marshall's copy of the Graham Adams' manuscript (inscribed to Bill by Jay on 10/14/94), so I would be surprised if he spent that kind of money for a second copy...

Guest | 03/02/07 02:06 PM | link | filter

I've been reliably informed by someone at the auction that Bill Kalush was bidding on this lot, but dropped out at about 2,000 and that the winning bidder is a card enthusiast who works in the financial markets in Hong Kong.

Guest | 03/07/07 04:23 AM | link | filter

Just found a very rare edition of Erdnase on Ebay, currently priced at next to nothing:

Item Number 140093332172

Erdnase - Fireside Edition

According to the Busby book the stock was recalled and destroyed after it was published, hence very hard to find.

Ian Kendall | 03/07/07 04:54 AM | link | filter

I met with Gordon Bruce on Monday who said he dropped out at 1900. The amusing thing was his description of the Adams books as 'terrible' but there are only six copies...

Take care, Ian

Jason England | 03/10/07 04:02 AM | link | filter

Heres something interesting regarding The Expert At the Card Table by S. W. Erdnase (at least to me).

I was reading the 1933 gambling classic Cheating at Bridge by Judson J. Cameron when I ran across these statistically improbable sections of matching (or near-matching) text.


CAB p. 7: It is quite generally known that much deception of various kinds is practiced in card games.

EATCT p. 13: Of course it is generally known that much deception is practiced at cards.


CAB p. 7: There is a vast difference between the hocus pocus and the accompanying talk and unnatural gestures of the card magician, as used in mystifying or amusing his audience, and the practices of the expert card sharper in his pursuit of ready money at the card table.

EATCT p. 11: There is a vast difference between the methods employed by the card conjurer in mystifying or amusing his audience; and those practiced at the card table by the professional.


CAB p. 7: To acquire a perfect understanding of the maneuvers used by the professional card sharper and the exact manner in which they are executed requires considerable study and a lot of practice; therefore the reader who desires a thorough knowledge of the tricks that can be used against him should take a pack of cards in hand and work out each maneuver as it is described until he thinks he could recognize it being used in a card game.

EATCT p. 11-12: But a perfect understanding of the risks that are taken may aid greatly in lessening the casualtiesand the reader desiring a complete understanding should take the deck in hand and work out for himself the action as it is described.


CAB p. 7: The object of this work is not to make the innocent player a vicious one, nor to transform the pasttime-player into a professional; not to enlighten the naturally crafty, who have the disposition to cheat but not the skill, but it is brought forth wholly for the purpose of engendering caution in the unwary and trustful, and it is hoped that it will demonstrate to the novice that he cant beat others at their own game.

EATCT Preface: It may caution the unwary who are innocent of guile, and it may inspire the crafty by enlightenment on artifice. It may demonstrate to the tyro that he cannot beat a man at his own game, and it may enable the skilled in deception to take a post-graduate course in the highest and most artistic branches of his vocation. But it will not make the innocent vicious, or transform the pastime player into a professional; or make the fool wise, or curtail the annual crop of suckers.


CAB p. 14: A long experience has convinced the author that, whenever the stakes are considerable, there is always someone in the game who is looking for the best of it, and they invariably find it.

EATCT p. 10: A varied experience has impressed us with the belief that all men who play for any considerable stakes are looking for the best of it.


CAB p. 14: In speaking of professional gamblers or expert manipulators, the author does not refer to proprietors or captains of gambling houses.

EATCT p. 11: When we speak of professional card players we do not refer to the proprietors or managers of gaming houses.


CAB p. 19: Were all players dependent on luck, the result of their scores would be about the same in the end.

EATCT p. 9: Were all gamblers to depend on luck they would break about even in the end.


CAB p. 19: The vagaries of luck or chance do not enter into his consideration, since successful manipulation is more profitable than mere speculation.

EATCT p. 9: However, the vagaries of luck, or chance, have impressed the professional card player with a certain knowledge that his more respected brother of the stock exchange possesses, viz.--manipulation is more profitable than speculation.


CAB p. 20: Having become a past master in his chosen profession, he can laugh at Lady Luck and defy the laws of chance, because his fortune is at his fingers ends, varying only with his skill and the fatness of the losers purses.

EATCT p. 23: He has become a past master in his profession. He can laugh at luck and defy the law of chance. His fortune is literally at his finger ends.


CAB p. 22: The deportment of the successful gambler is usually as finished as his skill in manipulating the cards; his sangfroid is proverbial, for without it the ability to control the cards would be nearly worthless. He is quiet, unostentatious, gentlemanly and reserved, and expresses no emotion over either gains or losses.

EATCT p. 22: The deportment of the successful card player must be as finished as his skill. A quiet, unostentatious demeanor and gentlemanly reserve are best calculated to answer his purpose. Especially the entire suppression of emotion over gains or losses, Without ability to control his feelings the "advantage player" is without advantage.


CAB p. 23: He is careful to observe uniformity of action at all times, and it is an inviolable rule that there be no departure from his customary method of performing each artifice attempted, particularly in the manner of holding, shuffling, cutting, or dealing the cards, and also in the necessary conversation in carrying on the auction.

EATCT p. 22: The inviolable rule of the professional is uniformity of action. Any departure from his customary manner of holding, shuffling, cutting or dealing the cards may be noticed, and is consequently avoided.


CAB p. 26: Skill alone in handling the cards does not of itself always insure success.

EATCT p. 22: Ability in card handling does not necessarily insure success.


CAB p. 26: The expert manipulator considers nothing too trivial which might in any manner contribute to his success, either in avoiding or allaying suspicion, in the intricate manner of carrying out each detail, or in leading up to and executing any maneuver; for should he possess excessive vanity, the temptation to show off or give exhibitions to supposed friends is very great, and likely to trip him up.

EATCT p. 25: The finished card expert considers nothing too trivial that in any way contributes to his success, whether in avoiding or allaying suspicion, or in the particular manner of carrying out each detail; or in leading up to, or executing, each artifice.

See also in EATCT p. 23: Excessive vanity proves the undoing of many experts. The temptation to show off is great.


CAB p. 26: Althougth a skillful manipulator may be suspected, detection in any particular artifice is almost impossible, and in most cases absolute proof of the act is wholly wanting.

EATCT p. 24: But though under certain circumstances a past-master at the card table may be suspected, detection in any particular artifice is almost impossible, and proof of the act is wholly wanting.


CAB p. 27: A perfect understanding of the advantages taken by the majority of experts should greatly aid in lessoning ones losses.

EATCT p. 11: But a perfect understanding of the risks that are taken may aid greatly in lessening the casualties.


CAB p. 63: The cut has always been the bte-noir of the cheater, and it always will bewere it not for the formality of the cut he would have everything his own way.

EATCT p. 109: The greatest obstacle in the path of the lone player is the cut. It is the bet noir of his existence. Were it not for this formality his deal would mean the money.


CAB p. 87: If an expert were asked what single artifice gives the greatest advantage, he would unhesitatingly decide in favor of second dealing.

EATCT p. 23: If requested to determine from what single artifice the greatest advantage is derived we would unhesitatingly decide in favor of bottom dealing.


Ive no doubt that there are many other similarites to be found in Mr. Camerons work, but those are the ones I ran across in about an hours worth of browsing. Aside from the few instances mentioned in The Annotated Erdnase regarding Frank Garcia, does anyone else know of this sort of flagrant plagiarism of Erdnase?

Jason

Guest | 03/10/07 05:45 AM | link | filter

Jason, if somebody has access to plagiarism detecting software (similar to what turnitin.com offers) one could feed into it the electronic versions of the most important works of cheating at games & gambling. This should give you a fairly complete overview of who swipped from whom.

Best,
Chris....
www.lybrary.com

Larry Horowitz | 03/10/07 11:39 AM | link | filter

Of course now the question must be asked.....

Could Judson J.Cameron be plagerizing himself?

Guest | 03/10/07 04:24 PM | link | filter

Marshall D. Smith related to Martin Gardner that Erdnase was about 40, and not over 45 when they met in the Chicago hotel room to begin the drawings for Expert.

If the bridge book was written in 1933, and they were authored by the same person, that person would be about 70 to 75 when he wrote the bridge book.

All that's needed to answer your question is to know how old Judson J.Cameron was when he wrote the bridge book.
Doing a simple search for that information, I don't find anything, but I'm sure somebody will know more about Judson and how old he might have been in 1933 when the bridge book was published.

Guest | 03/10/07 05:29 PM | link | filter

Cheating at Bridge was published by Dorrance & Co., a subsidy publisher (aka a vanity press) still operating out of Pittsburgh, PA (CAB was published in Philadelphia). Perhaps they still have records relating to this book?

Neither the catalog of the Library of Congress nor the online master card catalog WorldCAT shows any other books written by Judson J. Cameron or Judson Cameron. Searches of several online subscription newspaper archives don't yield anything useful either.

CAB has a 1933 Dorrance edition, and a 1973 Gambler's Book Club edition (which may be evidence that the copyright was never renewed). The Copyright Office's online search capability is offline over the weekend -- the copyright record might give something interesting about the author (was J.J. Cameron a pseudonym?)

There are several Judson Camerons in the Ancestry.com index of Censuses that go through 1930, but none of them indicate that they are the author of the book in question.

Guest | 03/10/07 05:52 PM | link | filter

Dorrance also published Thurston's "autobiography"

Guest | 03/10/07 11:24 PM | link | filter

Since Erdnase self-published ECATCT, why would he turn to a vanity press to publish another book 30+ years later?

Sounds to me that Judson J. Cameron found material that he liked in Expert and helped himself. Certainly not the first time that's happened, but common enough with amateur writers.

Regardless, that's a nice bit of research, Jason.

Guest | 03/11/07 07:51 AM | link | filter

While I agree with David, that this is probably just somebody copying from a prior work with related material, the argument that "30 years ago he self-published why would he use a vanity press later" is very weak. 30 years is a long time where circumstances can dramatically change.

Best,
Chris....

Guest | 03/11/07 08:06 AM | link | filter

Bill,

I checked the copyright renewal records and there is no renewal for "Cheating at Bridge" or any J. Cameron. One could lookup the original copyright registration record in 1933 for further info.

Best,
Chris....

Guest | 03/11/07 09:52 AM | link | filter

Anyone who uses a vanity publisher is someone who doesn't know anything about publishing or someone who has had their manuscript turned down by regular publishers and has more ego and money than common sense which should tell them to revise their work.

Vanity "publishers" regularly charge huge sums to print crap. They have little respect within the industry because most in publishing and book selling know who they are and pay scant attention to books published by them.

There is one small but supposedly "regular" publisher who has charged several authors $30,000 each for their books to be published. When that news leaked out, their standing in the publishing community dropped.

One vanity press hustle is to charge for printing and binding but to only bind 100 copies, keeping the rest of the printed matter "in storage." Experience has shown them that the typical vanity press author will only ever want 100 copies or so. After a few years of paying "storage fees" they usually agree to have the remaing "books" pulped...at a fee, of course.

Larry Horowitz | 03/11/07 11:02 AM | link | filter

Just to throw more wood on the fire,

When the book was published and when it was written are not always the same.

How were vanity printers of 1930 different then today?

Guest | 03/11/07 01:25 PM | link | filter

A clarification if I may, Larry.

Vanity presses hold themselves out to be publishers, not simply book manufacturers. There are any number of companies around the world who are in business to produce books. When I owned a small publishing company I used several as do most publishers who do not own their own printing plants.

Vanity presses hold themselves out to be publishers and prey on the ignorant and naive. The cost of producing a book through a vanity press and through a normal book manufacturer is far different.

There is a huge difference between a vanity press book and something self-published. Expert was self-published and did not come from a vanity press.

As best I understand it, the vanity presses of those days and the vanity presses of today operate with the same hustle.

Guest | 03/21/07 08:36 AM | link | filter

I am so apologize. I steel search inside Erdnase.

I am interesting on "Transformations. Two hands." May be somebody know where was first published Third Method?

Also about Fifth Method. On "Magician's Tricks" by Hatton written that Felicien Trewey was inventor of Colour Change, and on "Expert Card Tecniques" that he invent just this Fifth Method. Who know more deep sources about this subject? May be first book where Trewey invent Colour Change? May be article on magazine? How Lumier's movie "Partie dcart" 1895 with Trewey connected with this subject?

Guest | 03/21/07 10:41 AM | link | filter

...where was first published Third Method?
The third method Erdnase change? I'm pretty sure that was published in Erdnase...

Guest | 03/21/07 01:21 PM | link | filter

If it be so - he wrote it. But he wrote only about Forth Method "The improvement is our own". If we understand that Forth Method is only Third Method with first and little fingers on ends, we realize Third Method was usualy invented before. The difference between Third and Forth so little, that should be only one method with notes, and "made" extra method can only man who WANT INFORM ABOUT HIS INOVATION!

Guest | 03/21/07 06:59 PM | link | filter

No disrespect, but I think you're in the wrong thread for the kind of details you're looking for, you'd be better posting in the "Workers" over on the Magic Cafe, a forum that's crawling with guys who fret over every card move ever published.

Guest | 03/21/07 08:52 PM | link | filter

Regarding Judson Cameron's CHEATING AT BRIDGE (1933) and Erdnase (1902), Jeff Busby in the chapter "Bookmen, Pirates and Ghosts" of THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE (1991) wrote (p. 358): "A close examination reveals the astonishing fact that much was lifted by Cameron from THE EXPERT. It is not simply technique re-explained, but true plagiarism of the original text..." Although he cites but one example, Busby clearly was way ahead of the curve on this information. He discusses several other much earlier "derivative" works, perhaps the most interesting being F. R. Ritter's 1905 COMBINED TREATISE ON ADVANTAGE PLAYING AND DRAW POKER, illustrated with photos, which was apparently the volume that Vernon's father showed him, which Vernon later misrecalled as having been Erdnase (Busby does not make this claim, however).

Guest | 03/22/07 12:50 AM | link | filter

Thanks, Mr. silverking. I will try.

Guest | 03/22/07 01:38 AM | link | filter

Oleg Stepanov wrote:

On LEGERDEMAIN section, on chapter SHIFTS and paragraph "The S.W.E. Shift" we can read:

"With the deck face up it makes an instantaneous "transformation," and the position of the deck permits the operator to get a glimpse of the index without being observed."

Please, what it means? I understand first part. I understand second part. But I do not understand ",". If parts connected should be "glimpse with the deck face up". Or second part should be like "and, when the deck still face down, the position of the deck permits the operator to get a glimpse of the index without being observed."

On same place but "The Longitudinal Shift":

Now the deck is ready for the shift, but the right hand may be withdrawn without disclosing the break at the inner corner, or the fact that the little finger runs between the packets. The left thumb and finger hold the packets firmly together and the deck could not have a more innocent appearance.

Which "finger" means on second sentence? Little finger from first sentence or this is just typo and should be "fingers"? For me this is important because on my language "little finger" only one word and this is not finger (like thumb on English).

-----------

I don't know whether this is the right place for technical details, and I can't help with the question about Trewey, but here are my thoughts on the previous questions:

Re the S.W.E. Shift:
It's not very explicit, but I think he might be saying that if you do the shift with the deck face up as a transformation, the position of the deck allows you to glimpse the index of a card in the middle of the deck and choose one that contrasts with the card on the face. You can therefore avoid changing (for example) the 8 of Hearts to the 8 of Diamonds, which is not very impressive.

Re the Longitudinal Shift:
I think you are right that it should be "fingers" in the plural, because the deck is held closed by the left second, third and little fingers. In the description of the S.W.E. Shift he says:

"This position, like that of the "Longitudinal" [Shift], allows the second, third and little fingers to appear over the top of the deck (...) the other fingers and thumb holding the packet firmly together."

Guest | 03/22/07 05:36 AM | link | filter

>>>Re: the S.W.E. Shift:
>>>It's not very explicit, but I think he might be saying that if you do the shift with the deck face up as a transformation, the position of the deck allows you to glimpse the index of a card in the middle of the deck and choose one that contrasts with the card on the face. You can therefore avoid changing (for example) the 8 of Hearts to the 8 of Diamonds, which is not very impressive.

Ops. Thanks. After reading this I can not understand what I suppose before. :-)

>>>Re: the Longitudinal Shift:
>>>I think you are right that it should be "fingers" in the plural, because the deck is held closed by the left second, third and little fingers. In the description of the S.W.E. Shift he says:
>>>"This position, like that of the "Longitudinal" [Shift], allows the second, third and little fingers to appear over the top of the deck (...) the other fingers and thumb holding the packet firmly together."

Thants too. Not important is this correct or not, important "it can be correct". I am Russian and after reading Hoffmann, Vernon and Ortiz, when I get something supposed like error I always think "It can not be true that I am most clever man in the World and find errors what not find famous specialists". But if somebody who know language better than me agreed "can be not correct" my stress is out.

Thanks again. I have more questions but I afraid here not correct place. I will try find another.

Guest | 03/22/07 11:45 AM | link | filter

Oleg -- even though I'm not able to answer your questions, I enjoy reading them and the discussion they generate. Please continue to participate in the Genii Forum.

Guest | 03/22/07 02:28 PM | link | filter

Dear Mr. Bill Mullins.
Probably this is misunderstanding. I do not want left Genii Forum. I means just, looks like this thread about history and I should ask my questions on another places like History or Close-up...

OK. More errors (or not errors).

Page 66
Then when the right hand has made the next downward motion, instead of drawing off the TOP card with the left thumb...

Am I correct here should be FIRST card, like it calls on TECHNICAL TERMS? So, can it be technical error? Looks like Erdnase confuse on terms what invent.

Page 51
...then as the extra cut is made a convex crimp can be put in the under part by pressing it quickly downwards with right thumb against the table edge as it is drawn out. The ally cuts by the ENDS.

But on THE PLAYER WITHOUT AN ALLY we can read "concave if the player cuts by the ends, and convex if at the sides." So, should here be SIDES?

There are a lot of things what can be calls like typos. Is it interesting too?

Guest | 03/23/07 03:38 AM | link | filter

Although this thread is mostly about historical aspects of Erdnase, I think technical questions are OK too, unless the moderators prefer to have them as separate threads.

Page 66
Then when the right hand has made the next downward motion, instead of drawing off the TOP card with the left thumb...
This does look like a minor inconsistency - as you say, according to his list of technical terms it should be "first card".

Page 51
...then as the extra cut is made a convex crimp can be put in the under part by pressing it quickly downwards with right thumb against the table edge as it is drawn out. The ally cuts by the ENDS.

But on THE PLAYER WITHOUT AN ALLY we can read "concave if the player cuts by the ends, and convex if at the sides." So, should here be SIDES?

I think this is OK. On page 113 (The Player without an Ally) he says "the two packets may be crimped in opposite directions". Depending on whether the other player normally cuts at the ends or at the sides, you have to crimp the two packets accordingly.

In the description on page 51 you start with the whole deck "concaved", so when you cut and make a convex crimp (i.e. in the opposite direction) in the "under part" and then place it on top there will be a gap at the ends of the deck, not at the sides. So the ally can cut by the ends.

Guest | 03/23/07 03:22 PM | link | filter

For all who want to dig deeper into the plagiarism analysis of "Cheating at Bridge" and Erdnase, I have now a digital version (PDF) of Cheating at Bridge available for sale at $5.

Happy plagiarism hunting.

Best,
Chris....
www.lybrary.com
preserving magic one book at a time

Guest | 03/25/07 09:02 AM | link | filter

My suggestion that Stepanov might want to check out the Cafe "Workers" forum to get some answers to his Erdnase card handling questions has nothing to do with not wanting to talk about it in this thread.
His questions are highly technical, and the answers he was getting here weren't......if he got any answers at all.
I made the presumption that he wanted answers to his questions from those who might know.

A quick trip over to the Cafe "Workers" will show you that Stepanov is currently engaging with the likes of Hideo Kato and others.

Personally, I read the 'Workers' forum far more often than I read this Erdnase thread, so I'll actually be enjoying much MORE of Stepanov's thoughts than I otherwise would have if he'd kept asking for input only here.
Peace.

Guest | 03/25/07 11:49 AM | link | filter

>>>>I think this is OK. On page 113 (The Player without an Ally) he says "the two packets may be crimped in opposite directions". Depending on whether the other player normally cuts at the ends or at the sides, you have to crimp the two packets accordingly.
>>>>>In the description on page 51 you start with the whole deck "concaved", so when you cut and make a convex crimp (i.e. in the opposite direction) in the "under part" and then place it on top there will be a gap at the ends of the deck, not at the sides. So the ally can cut by the ends.

I am so apologize. Unfortunatelly I should do not agree with you. Erdnase clearly wrote FULL PROCEDURE "By drawing the deck to the edge of the table the concave tendency can be put in the whole deck first..."

And I suppose "opposite directions" was only regress. So, normal do only one, but if you so ... you can do with both...

Here I come to very much difficult question. Who was Erdnase, how he wrote book, how peoples write books... I made big books and short articles. This is big difference. Big books - high level of links... And this is so difficult to do correct. If you made revolutionary book (like Expert) you should refuse previous ideas. And this is not easy too.

Did Erdnase know bridge? Sure. Why he did not wrote? It was "antiquated moss-covered ruses as well known as nursery rhymes". Can we read "between lines"? What Erdnase "miss" wrote about crimp? Probably - yes.(Apologize for Russian supposition :-)))):
1. Many years ago it was popular across crimp, but now all peoples know it so much that modern expert do not use it. Better bend cards along.
2. If you do crimp for both packs will be easy to see top (blink of sun or lamp), so modern expert do not use it and made bent only bottom part.
Not important is it correct or not (Tuilage was known on 1764), but author mean it when write about crimp. This is inside of book. He "should" be revolutioner ...
But, to be revolutioner not easy, because peoples can say - you just do not know truth what was written on previous books... And unfortunately peoples "made weak" - "the two packets may be crimped in opposite directions".

I am so apologize. May be this is not correct. It was difficult write here so big mesage. But I suppose this is not only technical problem. For example - sleight and slight. What difference between "two authors" and "two printers" (apologize, I do not know how call man who made plates by reading handwritten text). Two different authors use different vocabulary (different words, different forms) but two printers can not write "pack" where written "deck", but they can made different errors if different literacy. "Slight" not only on "LEGERDEMAIN" but last time appear on "CHANGES", so totaly - pages 125-150. It can be another man who made plates. Just supposition.

Guest | 03/27/07 12:36 AM | link | filter

I am so apologize. May be this is not interesting...

Multiple copyrights was not invented by Erdnase. I get book compiled by Albert A. Hopkins "Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions Including Trick Photography" (1897) where 3 copyrights and additionally "All rights reserved".

Also, on magic were not only two "treatises" -"Madern Magic" and "Expert" but Henri Garenne on 1886 wrote "The Art of Modern Conjuring" which was "A Practical Treatise on the Art of Parlor and Stage Magic..."

Just for information.

Guest | 03/27/07 02:19 PM | link | filter

If you are writing a revolutionary book, you don't necessarily reject everything that has gone before. For example, if you assume that all the gamblers had read The Secret Out or some other book that has standard sleights in it, you would be wrong. Erdnase's market was different than many of the previous books, although he did include the section on legerdemain. Perhaps he realized that magicians would look for a book on gambling and that he should include something they would find useful.

If you are writing a book that teaches you how to play a musical instrument, such as the flute, you don't leave out the fingering chart and the scales.

Also, nobody says that Erdnase invented multiple copyrights. And if you think that you have even scratched the surface of pre-Erdnase conjuring books, you are really mistaken. There are at least 1000 major titles that appeared before Erdnase.

Jason England | 03/27/07 03:18 PM | link | filter

Bill,

I think the Russian-English is hurting us a bit here.

I believe that he's referring to the fact that some have called the multiple copyrights in Erdnase "uncommon" for that era; he's not saying that Erdnase was the first.

He's just trying to show that perhaps they were more common that people have indicated.

Or I could be completely off here.

Jason

Guest | 03/27/07 03:28 PM | link | filter

>>>>Also, nobody says that Erdnase invented multiple copyrights.

Apologize. Looks like I was wrong. I just read peoples too much interesting on 3 copyrights. "Invented" was just language form.

Guest | 04/13/07 03:17 PM | link | filter

Here's an interesting EATCT hardcover I've not seen before. Would this be something that a library did as a one off, or is this a published edition?
The owner (who we all know!) has had the book for 40 years...
http://cgi.ebay.com/The-Expert-at-the-C ... dZViewItem

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 04/13/07 03:58 PM | link | filter

Looks like it's a Fleming edition, without the dust jacket. Check out the photos here: http://www.erdnase.com/editions/index.html

-Jim

Guest | 04/13/07 04:02 PM | link | filter

Thank you for that Jim.
You can just see the blue covers where the dust jacket is worn away.

Guest | 04/30/07 12:10 AM | link | filter

On Stanyon's "Magic" I find first advertizing of Erdnase on December 1904 and book prise was 4/6. If I understand well it was pounds. How much it was on dollars than time? All three books of Hoffmann sold by same price.

Guest | 04/30/07 01:41 AM | link | filter

4/6 is actually 4 shillings and 6 pence - or about 22 1/2 pence in decimal currency.

this would equate to about a half dollar at current exchange rate.

Jon/Baph

Guest | 04/30/07 03:07 AM | link | filter

Thanks.
I want Hoffmann on half dollsr. :-)

Guest | 05/29/07 12:44 PM | link | filter


David Alexander

Member # 1398

posted November 26, 2006 02:31 PM |

"German was a required course for mining engineers. Thomas Sawyer pointed out in his notes on Erdnase that "Erde-nase" means "Earth Nose" in German. Earth nose...mining engineer? It would be a major find to learn if there was an informal group of guys who called themselves the "Erde-nases."
Hello David,

just a minor comment if you want to follow this thought: the German plural for Nase (=nose) is Nasen . They would call themselves Erde Nasen or Erd Nasen

Hope that helps.

Guest | 05/29/07 10:03 PM | link | filter

I always considered this "Erdnase" = Earth-nose hypothesis a bit far fetched, but I recently did a google book search on "Erdnase" and several pre-1902 German references came up where it is used. Mostly obscure linguistic texts. I believe in one it was the German equivalent of the term for "pig" in a Japanese dialect...

Guest | 05/30/07 12:00 AM | link | filter

Thank you, Thorsten. I hope to get to where I can do a bit more research into my candidates schooling as a mining engineer and I appreciate the correction on the term I should look for.

Guest | 05/30/07 12:58 AM | link | filter

Richard, I'd be interested to see some of those references if you have the time to post them. It seems far-fetched to me too, and too much of a coincidence on top of the highly plausible anagram explanation(s) of the name, but who knows...

Guest | 05/30/07 03:32 AM | link | filter

I just did a search in Google Books and found a few references to "Erdnase" (probably the ones Richard mentioned). One is as a literal translation of a word in the Ainu language that apparently means "foothills" (= Vorgebirge), another is a literal translation of a slang term for "pig" in some other language ("Erdnase" or "Nase in Erde" = nose in the dirt), and another seems to be an actual German word meaning something like "mound (of earth)".

But even more interesting was this from a catalogue of works on spiritualism, magic and other related subjects:

http://books.google.com/books?id=FboZAA ... ase&pgis=1

Samuel W. Erdnase / pseud. Robert Samuel ??? Is this just a red herring, or did the catalogue author know something we don't?

Guest | 05/30/07 06:40 AM | link | filter

Edwin, that apparent error dates back to a listing by Frederick J. Drake in the UNITED STATES CATALOG: BOOKS IN AMERICA, interim edition of 1902-1905. This is basically a collection of publisher's catalogs. Drake's of 1904 advertised the book under this name, though the book was never published under that name nor did the edition advertised by Drake (45 illustrations rather than 101, 204 pages rather than 205) ever appear. At least, no known copies survive and the earliest known Drake imprint dates from 1905. Did Drake know something others did not? More likely it was, like the other bibliographic information in the entry, simply an error, one which has been propogated by subsequent catalogers. But who knows? Another mystery...

Guest | 05/30/07 07:53 AM | link | filter

I had a feeling someone might have come across that before. And there I was thinking we'd solved the mystery...

Here's something I found about the second edition of Erdnase - but you probably knew about that too:

http://www.surnateum.org/English/surnat ... sances.htm

Search for the word "Erdnase" (near the bottom of the page).

Guest | 05/30/07 09:20 AM | link | filter

Having just searched the british Library - they have a copy as well. here's the listing

System number 001157102
Author ERDNASE, Samuel Robert.
Title Artifice, ruse and subterfuge at the card table. A treatise on the science and art of manipulating cards, etc.
Publisher/year Chicago: Frederick J. Drake & Co., [1902].
Physical descr. pp. 178; illus. 16 cm.
General note Cover title: The expert at the card table.

Shelfmark X.619/6510.

Their X. stacks are usually firsts and rare. When I get it to read, Anyone want me to make a copy<G>

Jon

Guest | 05/30/07 09:28 AM | link | filter

Some folks in another Genii thread talking about the recent release of Erdnase DVD's wonder if it belittles Erdnase to question if, in fact, he himself could do ALL of the material he wrote about in the book flawlessly.

I don't believe the question belittles Erdnase at all.

That it COULD all be done flawlessly has been shown by the likes of Vernon and Freeman (although seen only briefly on video, likely far more often if you lived in LA and were a Castle regular while Vernon was holding court).....but I think it's certainly fair to wonder if Erdnase himself could do it all.

I've pondered the question since picking up the book over 30 years ago and determining just how difficult it would be to do every move in the book flawlessly.

If Erdnase was a die-hard fan or practitioner of both cheating and/or card magic, I don't believe it's a stretch to wonder if he may have had a great deal more knowledge than he did actual skills (I'm not saying he did, only that it wouldn't be a stretch).
I find many magi and card handlers even today usually KNOW far more about card handling than they can actually perform flawlessly....myself included.

I personally have always thought of Erdnase as highly skilled based on how he wrote and what he said in 'Expert', but also thought that doesn't require that he be able to do every single move he writes about 'under the gun'.

I wonder what others think or would care to postulate about Erdnase's actual card handling ability based on what we know to date?

Guest | 05/30/07 09:42 AM | link | filter

A number of listings of Erdnase are incorrect as Drake was not the original 1902 publisher. The author was.

That the author could explain his sleights clearly is not evidence that he could perform them all flawlessly throughout his life. The book clearly is something that was worked up over a period of years. What seems more likely is that he worked up something, developed a high degree of competence to the point that he fully understood what he was doing, wrote it up, took pictures from which the drawings were made, and then moved on. There is subtle evidence that the reference photographs were taken at different times. Some things he doubtless was more facile with than others, some things he kept fresh and others, not.

Guest | 06/01/07 05:58 PM | link | filter

I wanted to take advantage of this forum to discuss the "SWE Shift". I have just finished the Artifice section, and starting the legerdmain section, but i was having trouble thinking of a covering action for the "SW Shift", during a poker game, becuase i know of one magician who blows on the deck, or waves over the deck while doing the shift, but during a poker game those actions cannot be done. So i just ordered Wesley James' 7 DVD and Book Set which is on its way.

If anyone has any tips on the covering motion, or on the shift itself, it would be apreciated!

-John

Guest | 06/01/07 06:49 PM | link | filter

Welcome to the forum, John!

Because of the nature of this thread and the fact that it has become a real jewel of internet interaction, you may find that the moderators ask that you start a new thread on this technical question (perhaps in the "Close-Up Magic" section).

All the best,

Clay Shevlin

Guest | 06/01/07 07:18 PM | link | filter

I have just finished the Artifice section, and starting the legerdmain section, but i was having trouble thinking of a covering action for the "SW Shift", during a poker game
Which is why the shift is not IN the section on Card Table Artifice. It's not meant to be used as a hop. It was designed for card tricks.

Guest | 06/04/07 12:59 AM | link | filter

Do we know Erdnase was an American? Could explain why finding Andrews is so tough.

Guest | 06/04/07 02:08 AM | link | filter

would erdnase have been as a great and treasured book if we knew who he was? i personally dont think it's one of the greatest books written on cards, it might have been good for that generation, but i wouldnt recomend it for todays card learners.

im sure if we knew who he was, the book would be pretty much unknown.

Guest | 06/04/07 07:43 AM | link | filter

Steve, the author gives his nationality as "American" on the first page of the copyright registration form. That, combined with the language, the fact that it was self published in Chicago, and the fact that the illustrator did not recall any signs of a foreign accent (and believed the author was from the East coast) make it extremely likely that he was a citizen of the United States.

Brian, I don't understand your statement at all. Most people thought the book was written by "S. W. Erdnase" and were unaware that there even was an identity issue. Vernon's proselytizing for the book was based on its content, not its mystique.

Jim Morton | 06/04/07 09:14 AM | link | filter

would erdnase have been as a great and treasured book if we knew who he was? i personally dont think it's one of the greatest books written on cards, it might have been good for that generation, but i wouldnt recomend it for todays card learners.

im sure if we knew who he was, the book would be pretty much unknown.
This seems like a good time to quote Aaron Fisher--one of today's "card learners"--on the subject:

"Erdase is my favorite book. It's the book that trained me, with some help from an older magician or two, in the craft of card magic. For my money, there is no better manual to learn the craft of serious sleight of hand with cards."

'Nuff said.

Jim

Guest | 06/04/07 09:32 AM | link | filter

Anyone doing any of the magic from that book? I mean besides Ricky Jay's use of the patter from the Exclusive Coterie for a version of Hofzinser's Power of Belief.

Guest | 06/04/07 10:05 AM | link | filter

Hi everybody:

This thread is absolutely fascinating. Having read all the ideas and theories put forth, I would like to add one little thing.

I have translated Erdnase into Danish (the book is to be published in my language, too, and Richard (Hatch), I have NOT forgotten my promise) and, considering how poor the illustrations in the book are, due to the many reprints from other reprints, I decided to make new drawings.

Since I am no artist, the following is the method I use: I have somebody take photos (colour slides) while I am posing for the shooting. Using a projector, I use a piece of paper as a screen, trace the hands and cards with a pencil, re-trace it with an inkpen, scan it into my computer and place it at the appropriate place in the text.

One thing has surprised me: Several times, I found it impossible to hold my hands and the deck in such a way that the photo (slide) could show the exact position as depicted in the book. In other words, the slide couldn't be super-imposed on the book's drawing in such a way that they register.

My idea is that the artist "cheated" in order the better to show his points.

I am perfectly willing to admit that another possibility could be that my photographer is a poor one. Perhaps others will try out the above, and we may get to know for sure whether the illustrator - whomever he might be - acually used photos. If nobody can superimpose the slide of a drawing and the drawing itself exactly, photos will be out of the question.

Thank you for sharing,
David

Jonathan: I use The Exclusive Coterie all the time - except for the patter. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest card tricks ever, clean, direct, and truly amazing. I have added a few touches of my own but the modus operandi remains the same.

Guest | 06/04/07 10:27 AM | link | filter

I believe that 'Expert' is long past the time when folks could resonably debate as to its value and historical significance.

'Expert at the Card Table' has already established its place in the athenaeum of card literature.

Although anything CAN be debated, this particular book is long past the period where that debate really has any significant purpose.

Guest | 06/04/07 10:33 AM | link | filter

To David Lindgreen,

Since I haven't seen your photographer I cannot comment on his or her quality, but there is a very real reason why you cannot match up. It is also evidence that supports my observation that the reference photos used in Erdnase were taken at different times.

If you will privately email me, I'll give you my observations that should solve your problem.

David Alexaneer
dalexander006@socal.rr.com

Guest | 06/04/07 10:49 AM | link | filter

Re:
I believe that 'Expert' is long past the time when folks could resonably debate as to its value and historical significance.

'Expert at the Card Table' has already established its place in the athenaeum of card literature.

Although anything CAN be debated, this particular book is long past the period where that debate really has any significant purpose
I respect your wish not to discuss the book or its presumed value to students of this craft.

And I hope you can understand that others may not share your opinion or value a perspective based upon such a presumption.

The text is. The author is not. Its previous champion is dead. Some may wonder as to the "intent" of the work and the nature of its ideal reader.

Kindly understand that some of us did read the "erdnase" text critically and while it remains a respected text it is not necessarily Gospel Truth or an ideal pedagogical tool for most students of the craft.

Believe it or not, not all creative, productive and very serious students of this craft have use for "erdnase" per-se and may even worry over its use as a political more than artistic instrument.

Reasonably yours,

Jonathan

Guest | 06/04/07 10:49 AM | link | filter

richard,

as i said, i think it may have been a good book then, and vernon learned from it. i would pick other books in front of it to learn from. people may have thought the authors name real at the time but, i believe the mystery has kept the book alive more than the moves/tricks that are in it.

Guest | 06/04/07 12:19 PM | link | filter

Jonathan:

I use three of his four methods for determining a card merely thought of, on an almost daily basis. I also use the Diagonal Palm Shift from the legerdemain section, and in the past have performed The Top and Bottom Production, which is a fine effect.

Thomas Baxter

Guest | 06/04/07 04:41 PM | link | filter

as i said, i think it may have been a good book then, and vernon learned from it. i would pick other books in front of it to learn from. people may have thought the authors name real at the time but, i believe the mystery has kept the book alive more than the moves/tricks that are in it.
The books has remained popular thanks to Vernon's recommendations to his serious students and their belief that he was right to recommend it. Simply put: Vernon changed magic. His inspiration was Erdnase.

But let me ask you this: if you were begining a serious study of the piano, would you begin by studying the work of Elton John?

Guest | 06/04/07 05:11 PM | link | filter

Perhaps Tiny Tim or Neil Young would have worked better using a guitar comparison.

Comparing "elton john" as pop music piano player to "erdnase" as card player diva does not work out too well on the erdnase side.

Unfortunately the guy who wrote text for "erdnase" took what at this time reads as a condescending tone and mentions but did not teach much of what one needs to learn in the craft, while the guy who wrote text for "elton john" wrote effective sentimental things that have stood for a generation and earned the performer much publicity.

Whatever crew was involved in the 'erdnase' text went away quietly into the indifference of the conjuring community. On the other hand, Reginald Dwight, now Sir Elton John is doing fine, long live the queen. ;)

Guest | 06/04/07 08:42 PM | link | filter

I wonder if this thread has wandered off its LONG standing topic (the longest single thread on the Genii forum), which is the hunt for Erdnase and interesting observations in the text of the book itself which might assist in identifying who he could have been.

I'm not sure its the thread for debates.......unless its a debate about who Erdnase was.

Guest | 06/04/07 09:04 PM | link | filter

Re Jonathan Townsend: quote "Whatever crew was involved in the 'erdnase' text..."
Crew? :confused: :confused: :confused: Seems unlikely to me.

Guest | 06/04/07 09:17 PM | link | filter

Re: the "crew" remark....there is no evidence that there was anyone other than Erdnase involved in the writing of the book.

Guest | 06/04/07 09:58 PM | link | filter

Re: the "crew" remark....there is no evidence that there was anyone other than Erdnase involved in the writing of the book
The idea that there is more than one person involved in the writing of the book is intriguing, and one that has been overlooked just because the available "evidence" suggests otherwise.
I quoted the word "evidence" because, to the best of my knowledge, only a couple of people have actually seen "Erdnase." The fact that only a couple of people met one guy does not rule out a couple or group of people writing the book then one guy acting as a front man.
Of course, I am not by any means an EACT scholar, so if anyone wishes to slap me silly with proof otherwise, please feel free to do so.

Gord

Guest | 06/04/07 11:10 PM | link | filter

Gord, I don't think the suggestion that more than one person may have had a hand in writing the book has been overlooked. James Harto is often cited by some as having had a hand in writing the "Legerdemain" section of the book (though I do not find the evidence compelling) and many of those supporting the Milton Franklin Andrews theory of authorship bring in an "editor" to help him with the writing. "Editors" as diverse as Mark Twain and William Hilliar have been suggested and investigated.

Guest | 06/04/07 11:34 PM | link | filter

Speaking as a published author, editor, and publisher, for reasons I have already articulated in this thread and my Genii article, there is no evidence that Expert is the product of anything other than one man. Indeed, the book itself is strong evidence that there was no editor or ghost writer involved.

Guest | 06/05/07 02:39 AM | link | filter

The illustrations show the same person's hands throughout. That, I think links the two sections and, considering the person who posed for the artist appeared to be familiar with all the material, that is strong evidence to support the view it was one author.

You're welcome,

Joe

Guest | 06/05/07 04:35 AM | link | filter

re the "crew" mention:

Many of the songs that folks remember were co-written by Bernie Taupin and the guy's name was Reginald Dwight. I was working from a parallel on the "Elton John" - "Erdnase" comparison used in the post just above.

I find the "erdnase" text puzzling yet I don't have enough background to decompile, parse and analyze it to offer the sort of analysis I feel it deserves. No "theory" offered as to its authorship. Perhaps some exploration of its mythic nature but no scholarly discussion intended.

As to folks holding onto a dear ghost via a book that the living man used to hold dear... also a separate subject. A much more interesting subject IMHO as the affected are still with us to discuss the matter but none the less its own topic.

Back to the wits, will and advantage play. :)

Guest | 06/05/07 04:55 AM | link | filter

Edwin:

The first entry youve cited was from Harry Prices Short Title Catalogue (1929). While there is much valuable information therein, it is full of mistakes and guesses. Price probably got his info from the source cited by Richard Hatch.

The discussion of Erdnases book in the second link you provided is a good example of someone who (a) bibliographically speaking, doesnt know what theyre talking about and (b) wants to make their library sound really special. I loved this part of the discussion:

There are only two known copies of the second edition (the rarest of all editions). The Surnateum library holds both copies, which differ ever so slightly from each other. ...

The fact that this information can be had on the internet is testimony to the wondrous nature of the world wide web. And proof that what one finds on the internet may lead one astray!

Clay

Guest | 06/05/07 05:12 AM | link | filter

There are only two known copies of the second edition (the rarest of all editions). The Surnateum library holds both copies, which differ ever so slightly from each other. ...

The fact that this information can be had on the internet is testimony to the wondrous nature of the world wide web. And proof that what one finds on the internet may lead one astray!
Considering it's a bizarre magic site the story aspect is just fine and seems appropriate. Not a bad entry from a Tlonist perspective.

Guest | 06/05/07 06:01 AM | link | filter

J.T.,

Are you the webmaster of that site?

CHS

Guest | 06/05/07 06:12 AM | link | filter

The site is a resource for those who know how story/context affects the base trickery in our craft.
Here is some about the folks who contribute content and maintain the place.

I wonder why there's no mention of the pack of cards that came with one of the editions of that book ?

Guest | 06/05/07 09:12 AM | link | filter

Anyone who consults Chelman's website, The Museum of Supernatural History,and believes what is written there, please contact me as I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale at a bargain price.

Pete Biro | 06/05/07 11:19 AM | link | filter

Hey, I bought the Brooklyn Bridge. What gives you the rights to sell something that belongs to me? :D

Guest | 06/05/07 12:43 PM | link | filter

Clay et al.:

I see what you mean. Looks like I'd better stick to origami...

Guest | 06/05/07 02:06 PM | link | filter

No, Edwin, explore!

Mine was a cautionary tale re the internet and authoritative-sounding websites. It was in no way intended as a knock or to discourage you.

As with any mystery, IMO the more people who explore and ask questions, the better off we are.

CHS

Guest | 06/05/07 03:03 PM | link | filter

The bibliography thing looked fairly legitimate and did sound like an interesting lead, but as for the Surnateum website I should have looked at that more closely. It's true that you definitely don't get this kind of thing in the world of origami though.

Guest | 06/05/07 04:17 PM | link | filter

Clay wrote:
As with any mystery, IMO the more people who explore and ask questions, the better off we are.
_____________________________________

Generally yes, but with a caveat. Those new to the subject should aquaint themselves with what has been said/written before, not just chime in with some idea or observation that has already been brought up and discusssed previously.

Guest | 06/05/07 04:52 PM | link | filter

David wrote:
Generally yes, but with a caveat. Those new to the subject should aquaint themselves with what has been said/written before, not just chime in with some idea or observation that has already been brought up and discusssed previously.
_____________________________________

David, I agree, but with a caveat. ( :D ) Sometimes those new to the subject can bring a fresh perspective to what the experts perceive to be a "retread" of an idea, and sometimes such a fresh perspective would not have been forthcoming had the newbie read up on the subject in advance of thinking about it.

C.

[added by edit]

P.S. I'm ever the optimist, David!

Guest | 06/06/07 01:17 AM | link | filter

David wrote:
Generally yes, but with a caveat. Those new to the subject should aquaint themselves with what has been said/written before, not just chime in with some idea or observation that has already been brought up and discusssed previously.

---------------

I've followed this thread from the beginning and wasn't aware that this particular reference had been discussed previously. A forum search shows one post about the Surnateum in 2005, but nothing to suggest the site might have a reference to Erdnase that had been previously investigated. I just thought it might be something new and interesting.

Guest | 06/06/07 07:49 AM | link | filter

Edwin,

I wasn't referencing you in my post. I'm sorry if you read it that way, but I was responding to Clay's idea of "new" observations, not anything posted by you.

David

Guest | 06/06/07 09:42 AM | link | filter

Edwin, you've contributed a valuble bit of information to the thread.

Chelman's site is quite well known to magi who focus on the bizzare style, and many will read this bit on his site about the 'only two copies in the world' editions of 'Expert' in his library and believe what they read, even though it's completely false.

Edwin, you've brought to light that there's still a great deal of misinformation and disinformation about various editions of the book out there.

This thread remains the most authoritative source of information on both the author and the book. When taken with David and Richard's Magic and Genii articles (which are absolutely priceless by the way) on Erdnase, you've got THE most accurate information, which you've now added to Edwin!

Guest | 06/06/07 11:53 AM | link | filter

Thank you, there will be more coming if my next two lines of inquiry pay off.

Leonard Hevia | 06/06/07 04:19 PM | link | filter

Hi Silverking. Can you tell me the issue of Magic that contains Mr. Hatch's article on Erdnase. I have a complete file of Stan Allen's wonderful magazine--but without an index, it could take some time...

Guest | 06/06/07 05:55 PM | link | filter

Does anyone know the phsycology behind the SW Shift? Why The SW Shift rather than a classic or the longitudinal?

If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

-John

Richard Kaufman | 06/06/07 07:41 PM | link | filter

I've seen many excellent cardmen do the SWE Shift and it's always obvious that something has happened. Chris Kenner does it very well with an outjogged card helping on the misdirection, and he also moves his hands at the moment the shift occurs.

Howie Scharzman had a nice way of doing it: as a cut to the table. This helps to hide the odd action.

Guest | 06/06/07 09:31 PM | link | filter

I have a complete file of Stan Allen's wonderful magazine--but without an index, it could take some time...
MAGIC's web site has an index, in downloadable form.

Richard Hatch's article on Erdnase is in the Dec 1999 issue.

Guest | 06/07/07 09:41 AM | link | filter

Be sure to get David's 'Genii' article as well as Richard's 'Magic' article.
Richard and David have different views on who Erdnase might be, and the true Erdnase fan should defintitely have them both.

I read and re-read both articles often. I would have loved to have been at the LA Convention where both authors gave their talks in the same time period....I'm not on the invite list though.

David has some passages in his article that will give you goose bumps as you see just how important the SWE Shift could really be!

Guest | 06/07/07 09:54 AM | link | filter

Thank you for your kind words.

As I gave my paper at the 1999 confernce there were no coughs, rustling of papers, people shifting in their seats or anything of the sort. The room was utterly silent and the audience's attention was almost palpable. It was an interesting experience in a lifetime of doing interesting things.

Although, as was suggested by a friend, it could just have been that the lights were in my eyes and everyone in the audience had simply left and gone to the bar. ;)

Guest | 06/07/07 02:54 PM | link | filter

As I mention David, I get goose bumps just READING the material....I can only imagine how electric it must have been to be sitting at the conference hearing it all for the first time!

David, do you know if yours and Richards presentations might have been recorded and available for purchase?
I've looked for such recordings, but never had luck in finding them.

Guest | 06/07/07 08:50 PM | link | filter

To the best of my knowledge there are no publicly available tapes from the conference for sale.

Richard Kaufman | 06/07/07 09:19 PM | link | filter

No tapes of any Conference event have ever been sold. The only time a tape has been released was the DVD of "Palengenisia" included with last September's (October's?) issue of Genii

Roger M. | 08/13/07 11:10 AM | link | filter

The rather scarce 'S.W.Erdnase:Another View' by Thomas Sawyer is for sale on Ebay.

It doesn't come up for sale that often, this is the second one I've seen in a couple of years.
This is the revised and enlarged version.

I've got a copy, but if anybodies looking for one, here's a tiny link to Ebay:

http://www.tiny.cc/sO0HK

Guest | 08/14/07 02:15 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
ERDNASE IN NON-MAGIC POP CULTURE

Modesty Blaise studies EACT by Erdnase in _Dead Man's Handle_ (by Peter O'Donnell, 1986). Darwin Ortiz points out in _The Annotated Erdnase_ that Scarne, Zingone, and Rosini discuss the "merits of the Erdnase one-hand shift" in _No Coffin for the Corpse_ (by Clayton Rawson, 1942). Amy Tan's _Saving Fish From Drowning_ (2005) has a character named E. S. Andrews, who uses card tricks to assert power over Burmese tribesmen.

Any other non-magic notices of Erdnase?
Just found another:

_The King of the Nightcap_ by William Murray, Bantam Books 1989 (murder mystery) has a snippet available in Google Books:
"her hair and showed her a couple of fine-tuned variations on the Erdnase Shift, I had her gasping with pleasure. "Hell," she said, "this is better than a good lay." "

This is intriguiging, to say the least.

Guest | 08/14/07 02:21 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Stepanov Oleg:
Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Oleg, thank you for this interesting early citation. Is that Jesse Frederic's Bibliography? Does it give any publication details on the book, such as date and place of publication? Thanks!
Dear mr. Richard Hatch.
Yes, this is Jessel Frederic's Bibliography. Information only name, 1902 and "Canada copyright". If you wish I can send you image of this page.
[Later downthread, Richard Hatch asks for a scan of the bibliographic citation.]

See HERE for a page image.

And anyone who would like to compare the writing style of W. E. Sanders, (David Alexander's candidate) might look up:
"The Framing of Rectangular Shaft Sets." by W. E. Sanders. _Engineering and Mining Journal_, vol 77 (10 Mar 1904) p. 396

or

"Mine Timbering" by W. E. Sanders, _Mineral Industry_, vol 8 p. 715 (1899)

or the book
_Mine Timbering_ by Wilbur E. Sanders, Bernard McDonald, Norman W. Parlee and others. pub by Hill Publ Co, NY and London, 1907. (reprints the two articles above)

or
"Montana: Organization, Name and Naming" by W. E. Sanders, Historical Society of Montana, _Contributions_ VII (Helena, 1910) pp. 23-24.

Some biographical trivia on W. E. Sanders:

The Oct 28 1911 issue of _Mining and Engineering World_ says "Wilbur Edgerton Sanders of Los Angeles returned from an eastern trip last week."

The 1902 Butte MT city directory has him living at 534 West Galena as a boarder, and working as a mining engineer for the ACM Company at 508 Hennessy building.

From 1889 - 1891 Helena MT city directories, we know that he boarded at 328 N. Ewing, and listed his occupation as "mining engineer".

From 1880 census:
age 18, born in Ohio, occupation "at school", has a older brother (2 years) James U., a younger brother (8 years) Louis/Lewis P.

From 1930 census:
Age 64, married for 20 years to Henrietta C. Sanders; occupation Mining Engineer, resides at 2909 Regent St. Berkeley CA

(the inconsistencies in ages with respect to the year the census was taken is common in looking people up in old census records.)

The 1885 minutes of the 46th convention of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity says that he was on the crew team, and is currently mining in Arizona (but his mailing address is still Helena MT), and that he was of the class of 1885 at Columbia.

Guest | 08/14/07 04:12 PM | link | filter

And, a c.v. for W. E. Sanders (from _Who's Who on the Pacific Coast_, by Franklin Harper. Harper Publ, Los Angeles, 1913):

SANDERS, WILBUR EDGERTON, Mining Engineer; born, Akron O., Aug 21 1861; son, Wilbur Fisk and Harriet Peck (Fenn) S. Wilbur Fisk Sanders, his father, was first U.S. Senator from Montana. Edu.: public schools, Helena, Mont.; Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N. H.; E. M. School of Mines, Columbia Univ., N. Y. City, 1885. Married, Henrietta Chamberlain Herrick, Aug 8, 1910 at Denver, Colo. Has had practical training in mining in all its branches; also considerable experience along various lines in metallurgical operations; has made mine examinations in Alaska, B.C., U.S, and Mexico. At present, engaged in the examination and exploration of certain mining situations along the Mother Lode Belt. Member: Am. Inst. Mining Engrs., Mont. Soc. Of Engrs., Am. Geographical Soc., Am. Forestry Assn. Contributor to technical journals and for the transactions of Am. Inst. Mining Engrs. Mineral Industry work on Mine Timbering (collaborator). Inventor of mechanical devices. Address: Soulsbyville, Cal.

Note that U.S. Patent #694995 "Car Axle Journal Box" is by Wilbur, and the images of the patent maybe found at Google's patent search.

Guest | 08/14/07 05:55 PM | link | filter

Bill, great stuff, as usual! What most intrigues me about the Sanders' CV is that his 1910 marriage took place in Denver, site of one of the "Erdnase sightings (Hugh Johnston recalled meeting someone introduced to him as "Erdnase" by Del Adelphia backstage in Denver, which would have been about this time).

Guest | 08/14/07 08:11 PM | link | filter

Denver definitely seems to be the center of the Erdnase universe. Earlier in the thread, we established that both your (Richard Hatch) E.S. Andrews and Todd Karr's E.S. Andrews lived there, perhaps a block or so apart from each and maybe even at the same time. And Milton Franklin Andrews spent time there.

Alternatively, W. E. Sanders, your E.S. Andrews, and M. F. Andrews all spent time in the Berkeley CA area, so maybe the East Bay is the key location.

That Erdnase, he sho' do get around.

Guest | 08/14/07 08:13 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
The Wikipedia entry on Erdnase has the following line, which was news to me:
"Research for an upcoming documentary has uncovered correspondence between noted physicists and authors Stanley Wesley Stratton and Robert Andrews Millikan on the subject of conjuring and crooked gambling. In 1896 Stratton suggested a textbook on the subject. Further evidence suggests that Millikan and Stratton hired Professor Hoffman to write the book based (partly) on notes they provided."

Sounds extremely farfetched and a likely hoax to me, but does anyone know anything more regarding this claim?
If you look at the edit history for this article in Wikipedia, you find that this particular nugget was added on April Fool's day 2006. Coincidence? I think not.

Guest | 08/14/07 08:48 PM | link | filter

Wilbur Sander's patent was filed in August 1901 and granted in March 1902, almost exactly the time when the first edition copies were coming off the printing press. Of possible interest is the facsimile of the Wilbur E Sanders signature, which could be compared to the signature of "S. W. Erdnase" on the copyright application (assuming the author filled out the application himself).

Guest | 08/14/07 09:00 PM | link | filter

Another patent this particular Wilber E Sanders filed (in 1913) is 1107846, a Bin.

Guest | 08/14/07 09:06 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Wilbur Sander's patent was filed in August 1901 and granted in March 1902, almost exactly the time when the first edition copies were coming off the printing press. Of possible interest is the facsimile of the Wilbur E Sanders signature, which could be compared to the signature of "S. W. Erdnase" on the copyright application (assuming the author filled out the application himself).
W. E. Sanders was clearly busy being a mining engineer during the period when EACT had to have been written. That's not to say that he couldn't have done it in his spare time (he was still single -- didn't get married until his late forties), but it does tend to make me discount him somewhat as a candidate for Erdnase.

He was all over the West between his college graduation in 1885, and the publication of EACT, so he may have spent time on the road becoming a card expert, and fleecing those he encountered along the way. But to me, EACT represents a "life's work", not a hobby, and I tend to believe that the author's full time job was card play.

I just found out that he (W. E. Sanders) was likely a classmate of Amos Alonzo Stagg while at Philips Exeter.

Roger M. | 08/15/07 09:59 PM | link | filter

A Montana Historical Society document describes Sanders as more than just a mining engineer, including occupations that might seem to give him a lot more opportunity for card play.

A quote from that document:

"He worked in the field of mining as a mine superintendent, a shift boss, an assayer, a laborer, and a mine
owner in Helena, Butte, and the surrounding area".

He would seem to have done some time in a few different types of mining jobs as well as engineering, any of these other positions could possibly open the door to late night card games with different players of varying skills.

Has anybody physically visited the "one lineal foot" of documents that the Montana Historical Society lists as being in their possession, and dedicated to the life of W.E. Sanders?

Guest | 08/16/07 10:27 AM | link | filter

One issue with Erdnase being Sanders is that in the book he talks about how he "needs the money". I'd expect that the amount of income from a niche market book on card technique would be much less than he'd make from his normal occupation of mining engineer/operator. Perhaps the "need the money" bit is just a literary conceit. Or maybe it's part of a non-practical and romantic side of his personality. Interesting that he applied for patents too...maybe part of the same mentality and quest for hitting the jackpot.

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 08/16/07 11:01 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
One issue with Erdnase being Sanders is that in the book he talks about how he "needs the money". I'd expect that the amount of income from a niche market book on card technique would be much less than he'd make from his normal occupation of mining engineer/operator. Perhaps the "need the money" bit is just a literary conceit. Or maybe it's part of a non-practical and romantic side of his personality. Interesting that he applied for patents too...maybe part of the same mentality and quest for hitting the jackpot.
I think David Alexander has already addressed the "needs the money" bit. Basically, he'd probably make better money by actually cheating people than he would by publishing a book detailing the methods of cheating.

One question I'd like to have answered is this: Why would someone who was actively working as a miner in Helena, Montana publish a book in Chicago, IL, 1500 miles away?

-Jim

Guest | 08/16/07 11:17 AM | link | filter

Jim,

Perhaps this is a nit (but perhaps not): I suspect that being a miner and being a mining engineer are very different jobs.

Clay

Roger M. | 08/16/07 11:24 AM | link | filter

Jim, if he did (as is apparent) want to keep his name from being associated with the book, the limited publishing scene in Montana in 1900 could have made getting the book published there difficult if not impossible.
He may even have been recognized by his face in larger Montana cities at the time.

Chicago might have been the closest city where a project like this could be completed in an anonymous fashion.

Also, in 1900 there were a three or four rail lines through Montana that took a direct route to Chicago. For a guy from a family with a bit of money, Sanders would likely travel frequently and in many ways might look at a trip to Chicago as not out of the ordinary, or financially difficult.

Guest | 08/16/07 12:04 PM | link | filter

I believe Blair summarizes several of the concepts first set forth by David Alexander. I look forward to the day when David publishes additional results of his continuing research.

Clay

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 08/16/07 12:07 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Magicam:
Jim,

Perhaps this is a nit (but perhaps not): I suspect that being a miner and being a mining engineer are very different jobs.

Clay
Yeah, you're right, Clay.

And those are all good points, Blair, and I suspected as much. I was mainly raising them as questions that would need to be answered by anyone pursuing this person as a candidate. Like Clay, I'm very interested in seeing the results of David's research.

-Jim

Roger M. | 08/16/07 06:42 PM | link | filter

I too am a big fan of David's work.

Like many, most of my existing knowledge of the Erdnase hunt comes from David Alexander and Dick Hatch's existing research.

Guest | 08/19/07 09:10 AM | link | filter

The house that W. E. Sanders grew up in is now a bed and breakfast -- you can spend the night in Erdnase's house! See HERE.

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
One issue with Erdnase being Sanders is that in the book he talks about how he "needs the money". I'd expect that the amount of income from a niche market book on card technique would be much less than he'd make from his normal occupation of mining engineer/operator. Perhaps the "need the money" bit is just a literary conceit. Or maybe it's part of a non-practical and romantic side of his personality. Interesting that he applied for patents too...maybe part of the same mentality and quest for hitting the jackpot.
It's difficult to know with any certainty what Sanders' financial situation was, but he probably didn't "need the money" at the turn of the century.

1. He had been able to go to an elite Eastern university.

2. He was a member of one of Montana's "first families". His father was a lawyer, his mother came from a respected family as well. They had been members of the professional class since before the States War, in Ohio.

3. He was an engineer -- a profession that genearally had (and has) a middle to upper-middle class career path.

By 1930, though, we can say for sure that W. E. Sanders was not poor. In that year, census records show that his house was worth $13,000 -- more than any other house listed on that census page. Also, he had a live in servant.

Guest | 08/24/07 04:25 PM | link | filter

Bill, that is pretty cool. Here's a photo Mark Twain with W. E. Sanders' father in Helena, Montana in 1895 (scroll down for the photo):
Mark Twain with W. F. Sanders 1895
Maybe Twain did help ghost write THE EXPERT after all!

Guest | 08/24/07 04:45 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
...
Maybe Twain did help ghost write THE EXPERT after all!
How does the tone of Twain's later works compare to the tone of the introduction to the erdnase text? If I read the text with an inner voice of Twain (okay it will be Hal Holbrook) it comes across with a humor that I did not detect earlier.

As a literary conceit it works nicely

Guest | 08/30/07 12:37 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Jim Maloney:
One question I'd like to have answered is this: Why would someone who was actively working as a miner in Helena, Montana publish a book in Chicago, IL, 1500 miles away?
Originally posted by Blair Morris:
Jim, if he did (as is apparent) want to keep his name from being associated with the book, the limited publishing scene in Montana in 1900 could have made getting the book published there difficult if not impossible.
He may even have been recognized by his face in larger Montana cities at the time.

Chicago might have been the closest city where a project like this could be completed in an anonymous fashion.

Also, in 1900 there were a three or four rail lines through Montana that took a direct route to Chicago. For a guy from a family with a bit of money, Sanders would likely travel frequently and in many ways might look at a trip to Chicago as not out of the ordinary, or financially difficult.
The following may be pertinent to the question:
Duluth [MN] News-Tribune, published as The Sunday News Tribune; Date: 11-10-1901; Volume: 23; Page: 5;

"Wilbur E. Sanders, of Butte, Mont., was in the city yesterday. He is preparing a text book on mine timbering."

Using WorldCat (a master card catalog of academic and other libraries) I can't find ANY commercially published books from Montana between 1898 and 1903. I find a couple from Idaho, and (depending on how you define "commercially") 1 from Oregon. I don't think it could have been published locally to Montana.

And this isn't relevant to the question of publishing in Chicago, but is still interesting (and shows that Sanders' character is not so pure that he couldn't be a sharper):

"Ore Thief Convicted" Boise [ID] Statesman Date: 05-28-1897; Page: [1]
"The jury returned a verdict of guilty against W. E. Sanders, charged with grand larceny, the theft of ore from the Trade Dollar mine."

Guest | 08/30/07 01:34 PM | link | filter

As I understand the timeline, Erdnase was in Chicago in Dec 1901 working on drawings for EATCT with Marshall Smith. The book was released soon after, in 1902.

"Made Another Payment. Purchasers of Snow Creek Property Well Pleased" The [Boise] Idaho Daily Statesman 02-07-1904; Page: 11
"On November 1, 1901, the property was leased by W. E. Sanders from the late Thomas McEwen. Mr. Sanders proceeded with development work until April, 1902, when he bonded it to T. W. Davidson and associates for $67,500." [The mine was near Sumpter OR in the Greenhorn district HERE ; photo of mine site HERE ].

M. D. Smith could have been wrong about the dates, but if he was right, I don't seen a mining engineer in the middle of developing a new property in the wilds of Eastern Oregon deciding to drop everything for a couple weeks, take the train to Chicago, develop the illustrations for a book on card sleights, and go back to Oregon and pick back up on the job. If we accept the dates, W. E. Sanders is looking less likely as Erdnase.

Roger M. | 09/01/07 08:29 AM | link | filter

Finding that Sanders had a bit of larceny in his heart is telling!

Mine development in 1900 would have involved rock sampling and subsequent assaying as it does today.
Perhaps Sanders himself wouldn't have been the chap to do the sampling (being hard labour, and perhaps guided by a geologist), and wouldn't have done the assay of the samples either (being that it was his own property).
This might also mean that he wouldn't have to be at or near the mine site to guide the process.

The rock sampling and assaying could have been taking place under his direction, but without him present.

Another possibility is that he was in Chicago on mining business, and took time out from that business to meet with Smith and undertake the drawings.

I enjoy reading your research Bill!

Guest | 09/01/07 11:49 AM | link | filter

Has anyone learned what a mining engineer actually did in those days?

Richard Kaufman | 09/01/07 05:05 PM | link | filter

He engineered in the mines!

Guest | 11/23/07 08:26 PM | link | filter

Here's an interesting link I ran across tonight:

Erdnase Opera Link

Composer Gavin Bryars (who earlier composed some string quartets inspired by Erdnase) and writer Glen David Gold (of CARTER BEAT THE DEVIL fame) are working on an opera called WHO KILLED ERDNASE? Set for a premier next spring. Should be interesting!

Guest | 11/23/07 09:24 PM | link | filter

Since a number of resources have come on line and others are taking up the research, I will give some info that I developed some years back. I compliment Bill for his good work. Time has been scarce for me lately, but some of you may find what I learned to be of interest and spur further research.

Wilbur's book, Mine Timbering, was actually a compilation of articles written by a number of people, two of the articles (as I recall) having been written by Wilbur himself. He was the editor of the book. It was published in 1907 by the Hill Publishing Company of New York and London. As I understand it, the book remains one of the standards on the subject. The book is readily available through used book dealers for $50 - $75. I have a copy in my collection, but it is buried in a box that I havent unpacked yet.

I would observe that Wilbur's articles are dry and direct engineering articles. Only in his personal diaries does he sound like Erdnase. Comparing Wilbur's professional writing and Erdnase will prove nothing.

I have no argument that Expert represents a "life's work," or shall we say 20 years experience, more or less. I never claimed, nor can anyone claim, that the book was written just before it was published. There is no evidence that it was and few authors work that way.

Clearly, Wilbur announced (or simply told friends who let it out to the papers) that he was working on his mine timbering book in 1901, a book that wasn't published until 1907 and was only a compilation of previously published articles. A nice cover for his real project, perhaps and a great excuse to carry around and work on a manuscript.

I've always thought that Expert was written over many years with insights written down as he developed them and tested them in the mining camps where he worked or on the train as he travelled. I have a number of his addresses and he was all over the west.

We do not know if Wilbur was acting for investors or other principals in the Oregon project. He did not necessarily have to stay at the mine to develop it or have his orders carried out. Other business could have very easily taken him East as the train was relatively quick and direct for its day and Chicago was a hub.

Chicago would be, as I've previously explained, the perfect place to publish a book anonymously...and the entire process of getting the book publishing in gear would have just taken a few days. It would not have been a long, drawn out process.

In Butte he would have been too well-known even if the services he needed were available. He had his family to consider as he was a part of Montanas first family. His brother was a noted attorney and his mother and father were still very much a part of Montana society. The Senator died in 1905 and Mrs. Sanders in 1909. The Sanders had the first automobile in the area, an observatory in one house, etc. They were quite well-to-do. One huge scandal involved a family member marrying a cook! With that setting people back on their heels, one could only imagine how the local society people would have reacted to the son of Montanas first family being the author of a book on card cheating.GAMBLING, one of Satans tools to trap the unwary sinner. Proper people and the Sanders were very proper people - simply didnt do those sort of things.

Anyway, Ive learned that his wife was the daughter of the territorial Attorney General in the Colorado area, another reason why he had to keep his past secret. I believe his parents did not die until after Expert had been published and, as I recall, I think his father-in-law was in practice in Berkeley.

Since people are finally digging, I'll release the two main reasons why I don't think anyone heard of him in the magic societies of the day or why he did not attempt to capitalize on the reformed gambler idea: Some short time after Expert was published Wilbur became a Christian Scientist.

A religious conversion and one other thing: For years Wilbur suffered from tinnitus. I have letters of him trying new doctors, always looking for a cure. As he aged he became progressively deaf. On top of being a Christian Scientist, his wife was a Christian Science practitioner. Yet another reason for him to discard his past.

I located and corresponded with Wilbur's step-grandson who visited him at his mine in Northern California in the early 1930s. He said Wilbur was quite deaf and that he had to shout to be understood. He and Henrietta did not live together that much in later years with Wilbur spending a lot of time at his mine.

I had a great fantasy that I would find her relatives and that they would direct me to a trunk in the garage that belonged to her. In it I would find the handwritten manuscript for Expert.

Unfortunately, that fantasy evaporated when I learned how the Widow Sanders died in the late 1940s. She suffered from undiagnosed and untreated Tuberculosis, the bacillus apparently not responding to Christian Science practices. She finally went to a doctor probably somewhat traumatic given her beliefs and he diagnosed terminal TB, giving her only days to live.

She moved into the bedroom of her grandson in the home of her son with whom shed been estranged, the grandson being away at college. True to the doctors diagnosis, she only lasted a few days, dying in some discomfort. She was quickly buried. All her possessions, including the bed, the bed linen, the mattress, essentially everything in the room, was burned. Any possessions or evidence that she might have had that could have contributed to solving the mystery went up in smoke sixty years ago.

She's buried in the Bay Area while Wilbur is up in Montana.

All that and one other thing: some time back someone sent me info linking Wilbur's family with the Dalrymple family. I have to follow that more closely, but it looks good.

Guest | 11/28/07 11:08 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
Smith thought the hotel was on the SE corner of Congress and State, but there does not seem to have been a hotel at that location then (He was more certain that it was on the east side of State Street, and there are several good candidates in the neighborhood at that time).
The current (11/2007) Google Maps/satellite view shows an empty lot with a building under construction at the SE corner of Congress and State.

The 1886 Robinson Fire Insurance Map (available HERE ) doesn't name the building at that corner. It shows the Marvin House and the Congress House almost directly across the street (on the west side of State St.), and Brown's Hotel a half block north on the west side of State. A block south, on the east side of State, is the Globe Hotel.

Bill Mullins | 02/04/08 10:11 AM | link | filter

It's always struck me as, well, odd that the story of Dai Vernon chasing Allan Kennedy and the Center Deal is so well known, but that I've never heard of him ever trying to locate Erdnase.

Did he put any effort into locating/identifying Erdnase? When he met Marshall Smith, what was his reaction? What did he think of Martin Gardner's research? Did he want to continue it?

Did he agree that M. F. Andrews was Erdnase?

(If the answers to these questions is in David Ben's book, forgive me. I need to get off my wallet and buy a copy.)

Gord | 02/04/08 10:53 AM | link | filter

Everyone will be pleased to know that the mystery that was Erdnase has finally been solved.
www.chapters.indigo.ca has a copy of Expert for sale under the name of "Samuel R. Erdnase."
There you have it. We Canadians have figured it out. Hooray for us!


Gord

Pete Biro | 02/04/08 12:51 PM | link | filter

Funny, I thought his name was Jeff Busby Erdnase Senior.

Richard Hatch | 02/04/08 01:47 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
It's always struck me as, well, odd that the story of Dai Vernon chasing Allan Kennedy and the Center Deal is so well known, but that I've never heard of him ever trying to locate Erdnase.

Did he put any effort into locating/identifying Erdnase? When he met Marshall Smith, what was his reaction? What did he think of Martin Gardner's research? Did he want to continue it?

Did he agree that M. F. Andrews was Erdnase?

(If the answers to these questions is in David Ben's book, forgive me. I need to get off my wallet and buy a copy.)
Vernon was very interested in the identity question early on. He apparently learned from his friend John C. Sprong that S. W. Erdnase is a reverse spelling of E. S. Andrews, and Sprong, who lived in Chicago apparently learned this from the publisher at that time, Frederick J. Drake. The exact provenance of this sourcing to Drake is unclear, as some version have Vernon himself pestering Drake for this information while he was in Chicago, possible while cutting silhouettes at the world's fair in 1933. Whether Drake gave this information to Sprong or Vernon or both, and whether Drake claimed it was the author's true name, and whether Drake even knew the author or his true name is all unclear at this point. Some contact between Drake and the author at some point may be presumed, as they advertised first edition copies at $1 starting in 1903 and published their own edition in both paperback and hardback (at 25 and 50 cents respectively) starting in 1905, when the book was still clearly protected by copyright.

Vernon was apparently disappointed by the scant information he was able to glean from Marshall D. Smith, to the point of even questioning his involvement as illustrator of the book in later days. He was impressed with Gardner's research and findings, but Vernon never accepted his friend Gardner's conclusion that Milton Franklin Andrews wrote the book. Gardner believes this was because Vernon could not accept that possibility that his idol was a notorious murderer, but Vernon may have had other good reasons to question the theory.

Vernon also speculated that he might perhaps have met the mysterious author as a youth while studying magic books at the library in Ottawa. A stranger with a red beard engaged him in conversation about card work and gave him some fine points on the pass. Vernon never saw the man again and fantasized that perhaps it might have been the mysterious Erdnase.

These references are from my memory, so may not be entirely precise (I am out of town without access to my library at the moment), but I'm pretty sure most are from the Vernon Touch columns and Persi Diaconis' introduction to REVELATIONS.

Cugel | 02/04/08 02:33 PM | link | filter

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Gord:
[qb] Everyone will be pleased to know that the mystery that was Erdnase has finally been solved.
www.chapters.indigo.ca has a copy of Expert for sale under the name of "Samuel R. Erdnase."
There you have it. We Canadians have figured it out. Hooray for us!

Roger M. | 02/04/08 03:51 PM | link | filter

The "Samuel" reference would be an error made decades ago, which has been repeated over and over again.

It actually shows up in quite a few different places.

Jim Maloney_dup1 | 02/04/08 05:50 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Gangrini:
Gord, try using the code to reduce that URL to a hot link next time. Otherwise it throws off the page settings and makes it a pain in the ass to read the thread.

Can a mod please tidy that up?

Thanks.
It appears that we've having some issues with the URL tag. I'm going to talk to Brad about it.

I should point out that quoting the super-long link does not help matters. ;)

-Jim

Gord | 02/04/08 09:04 PM | link | filter

Sorry guy's, I did use the URL tag but it didn't work so I cleaned it up as much as I could.


Gord

Gord | 02/04/08 09:06 PM | link | filter

Originally posted by Blair M.:
The "Samuel" reference would be an error made decades ago, which has been repeated over and over again.

It actually shows up in quite a few different places.
Does anyone know where this mistake first came up and why?

Gord

Roger M. | 02/04/08 09:40 PM | link | filter

When he acquired the plates from Erdnase, that was the name Fredrick J. Drake registered in the U.S. Catalog as being the original author.
Drake himself may have made the name up.

To be fair, there are some folks who feel that Drake may have been asked by Erdnase himself to specifically use that pen name when he registered the authors name for copyright purposes.

Whichever is true, that's the name Drake used.

The false name was quite successful steering folks off the right track in the hunt for Erdnase for many years, so perhaps its purpose was served.

The name wasn't the only error this initial catalog listing contained.
The same listing says the book had 204 pages rather than 205.
It also promises only 45 illustrations rather than 101.

David Alexander | 02/04/08 09:51 PM | link | filter

Why Erdnase would ask Drake to change the copyright he already owned does not make sense.

Drake got the plates from McKinney who was going bankrupt but McKinney did not own the plates so they could not legally sell them to anyone. Erdnase owned the plates because the book was self-published. The last time I talked to Martin Gardner he didn't understand this point until I pointed it out.

I think Drake tried to re-copyright the work in a name he could own and control, "Robert Erdnase." That was not succesful as somewhere along the way the real Erdnase asserted himself, possibly/probably through an attorney to whom he showed the checks paid to McKinney for typesetting and printing, and Marshall Smith for illustrations, along with the copyright papers.

I don't think Drake ever had direct contact or even know who Erdnase really was.

David Alexander | 02/04/08 10:24 PM | link | filter

Correct that to I don't think Drake had direct contact with or ever knew who Erdnase really was. Certain subsequent actions by Drake suggest that to me.

Roger M. | 02/05/08 01:14 PM | link | filter

David,
Do you think that any action Erdnase might have had a lawyer undertake on his behalf against McKinney might have proceeded beyond a "harsh" letter?

If a letter didn't do the job perhaps some sort of legal process could have been undertaken?

Blair

Richard Hatch | 02/05/08 04:52 PM | link | filter

Leo Rullman, writing in his BOOKS OF YESTERDAY column in The Sphinx in 1929, says that the publisher at that time [Frederick J. Drake] had "not been in touch with him [the author] for many years, as the copyright was purchased outright and no royalties figured in the transaction." This is specific enough that I think it reasonable to assume that Rullman, a trustworthy source on such things, must have gotten this information directly from Drake, likely in correspondence with them on this topic. Whether Drake was trustworthy is another question. Incidentally, an earlier column of Rullman's, in the November 1928 Sphinx, is the earliest published reference to S. W. Erdnase=E. S. Andrews that I have found.

Richard Hatch | 02/05/08 05:15 PM | link | filter

To clarify my earlier post on Vernon's involvement in the search for Erdnase, his Genii Touch column of August 1970 is devoted to Erdnase. There he credits Drake with having told Sprong that S. W. Erdnase was the name "Andrews" all mixed up, which was apparently the first Vernon learned this. He (Vernon) says he (Vernon) subsequently "badgered" Drake "religiously for months" in the hopes of learning more information about "Andrews" but claims Drake told him he could "not betray a confidence" and told him nothing further. It is not clear to me how reliable this account of Vernon's is on this point. I suspect he was dealing with Frederick J. Drake's son, who was later president of the company, rather than Frederick J. Drake himself. The fact that Vernon claims to have spent "months" pestering Drake on this point indicates that it was likely during his prolonged stint cutting silhouettes at the 1933 World's Fair, unless anyone knows of a similar period of time he spent there at an earlier date.
In the same column he discusses Gardner's research and says that he (Vernon) was "fairly certain this Milton Andrews, who was a gambler, was not the one who wrote the book." He also questions whether M. D. Smith was illustrator of the book, based on his weak recollection of the work years later.

David Alexander | 02/05/08 07:20 PM | link | filter

Drake never owned the copyright and did not own the plates. That is clear from the evidence, regardless of his self-serving statement to Rullman who doubtless reported it correctly, but had no understanding of what was going on. Had Rullman does a tiny bit of digging, he would have had an interesting story on his hands. It was all there for them to find...but they didn't.

Richard Hatch | 02/06/08 12:45 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Drake never owned the copyright and did not own the plates. That is clear from the evidence, regardless of his self-serving statement to Rullman who doubtless reported it correctly, but had no understanding of what was going on. Had Rullman does a tiny bit of digging, he would have had an interesting story on his hands. It was all there for them to find...but they didn't.
Hmmm... The claim that Drake obtained the original first edition plates from the presumed printer McKinney comes to us from Martin Gardner, though I have been unable to ascertain his source and verify this claim. Drake was selling first editions at half price in 1903 and it is certainly plausible that they might have obtained the copies and the plates as part of a liquidation of the assets of McKinney's business, but I would classify that as conjecture at present. It seems to me equally possible that they could have obtained the books, the plates and the copyright from a discouraged author who (in his own words) "needed the money." The fact that Drake did not formally file the paperwork to transfer the copyright and did not later renew it is not proof they did not own those rights. Without knowing the details of the author's dealings with McKinney (who not only allowed the author to file the copyright using their address but also sold copies of the book) it is not possible to know who owned the plates, McKinney or the author. Quite possibly the author did not pay his full bill to McKinney (which might have contributed to their subsequent bankruptcy!) and so McKinney claimed ownership of the plates and unsold copies in payment. Obviously, this is speculative conjecture, but so is (I think) the claim that McKinney was merely a printer paid in full in advance with no vested interest in the publication. On what evidence is such a claim based?

David Alexander | 02/06/08 06:39 PM | link | filter

My scenario is based on common sense, how printers and businesses behave, how people behave, and a rational interpretation of the evidence developed so far. People act in their own self-interest and often they see what they can get away with for their own benefit.

The book was, as announced on the fly title, Published by the Author. McKinney was not the publisher and there is zero evidence that he was anything but a printer. Being the printer meant they did the job for a fee. Like every other small printer, they would require the job to have been paid in advance, especially for a stranger, a walk-in off the street. They had to make over 200 individual plates to print the book, a large investment in time and material for a small shop. McKinney almost certainly sent Erdnase to Marshall Smith who was paid for his work by Erdnase. It is highly unlikely that in this instance McKinney acted as a publisher or participating partner. That Erdnase contributed in any way to McKinneys subsequent bankruptcy is without merit.

Drake gives himself away by trying to re-copyright the book under the name Robert Erdnase. If he had the copyright assigned or purchased, there was no need for him to do that. It is possible that Hilliar, who Drake had published, gave him advice about a property Drake could pick up easily, but we do not know, even though The Man Who Was Erdnase claims without a shred of evidence presented, that Hilliar brokered the sale of the plates to Drake. Perhaps all of Drakes actions were done innocently from information supplied by Hilliar. At this remove, no one knows.

I am amazed that you dont see the renewal of the copyright as evidence that Drake did not own it. To think otherwise makes absolutely no sense. It was a property that had been selling well for years and it was in Drakes self interest to renew the copyright IF HE WAS ABLE. I take the lack of renewal as clear evidence that Drake could not renew it because he did not have standing to do so.

I think what happened is that Erdnase was out of touch with McKinney for a period of time and only learned about McKinneys bankruptcy after the fact and Drakes acquisition of the plates and the remaining book stock. All he needed to do was hire an attorney and show the copyright paperwork, the cancelled checks to McKinney and Smith (since he paid Smith with a check it is likely that he paid McKinney with a check or checks), all sufficient evidence to prove ownership of the book.

A letter could have been sent by Erdnases lawyer without ever having to divulge his real identity to Drake. Drake, knowing that he hed been caught out or acting in good faith on bad advice, had no defense. For Drake this was just another title in a large catalog of exploitation material. A defense would have been time consuming and expensive, especially when he would almost certainly lose both civilly and criminally, if charges had been brought. It was simpler and cheaper to settle, so a deal could have been struck for the lease of the plates and a royalty.

I also think that royalty payments were made for a time, easily mailed to whatever bank Erdnase named. One day the royalty checks came back, account closed. Drake has no way to contact his author, but he had no incumbency to hunt him down and pay him money, but he could not do anything else but make sure the accounting was accurateand of course, like any smart publisher, he kept selling the book.

The year 1930 rolls around, copyright renewal is due but Drake has been caught out once before and declines to do anything that would prompt legal action, so the copyright is not renewed and book reverts to the public domain, but Drake continues to sell it, an important point. Seven years later he sells the plates, but by that time photo offset was becoming more financially viable, so a knock off of the title was possible without resetting the entire book. Drake did well with the title and never knew who Erdnase really was, perhaps erroneously thinking it was someone named Andrews to whom he paid royalty and lease payments.

And, I find Drake selling the plates seven years later to be telling because in those days seven years was the time that one could legally assume someone was dead. Doubtless, when Drake sold the property he had the new buyer assume all responsibilities which allowed Drake to keep the royalties and lease payments, a nice bonus on top of the profits hed made over the years. Thats what a good businessman would have done.

It should also be noted that none of the people who interviewed Marshall Smith were anything like trained researchers or historians. This was an inconsequential job for Smith who only recognized the work from the style of lettering he used in numbering the drawings.

Martin Gardner had an agenda in dealing with Smith as is clear from the published correspondence where he is pushing Smith to correctly remember Erdnases height as corresponding with M.F. Andrews, many inches taller than the man Smith remembers. To his credit, Smith did not alter his memory to support Martin Gardners theory, which is wrong in so many ways. After several exchanges over the years, Smith did move his estimate one inch, but that was a long way from Andrewss six feet plus to the man Smith remembered as being 56 or so, as Dick Hatch so ably demonstrated at the LA History Conference.

Richard Hatch | 02/07/08 01:05 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by David Alexander:

The book was, as announced on the fly title, Published by the Author. McKinney was not the publisher and there is zero evidence that he was anything but a printer. Being the printer meant they did the job for a fee. Like every other small printer, they would require the job to have been paid in advance, especially for a stranger, a walk-in off the street.
What is the evidence that Erdnase was a stranger to McKinney? Certainly he could have been, but we really don't know. Erdnase picked McKinney for some reason, perhaps because they were not strangers. My favorite candidate, Edwin Sumner Andrews, was raised on a farm where his nearest neighbor was an Irish immigrant named Patrick McKinney who had a son named James. James McKinney, the printer, was the son of an Irish immigrant and James had a brother named Patrick who worked in his print shop. Probably just a goofy coincidence, but maybe not (McKinney is not a common name). I see no reason to assume the printer did not know who the author was. The fact that he allowed the author to use his address on the copyright registration and sold copies of the book (presumably on behalf of the author) argues otherwise, in my opinion. One of Jay Marhall's first edition copies came from the library of Edward Gallaway, who Busby/Whaley/Gardner tell us was McKinney's typesetter and later his business partner. I doubt many typesetters keep copies of the books they work on, again suggesting more than a "job for hire" in this instance.



Drake gives himself away by trying to re-copyright the book under the name Robert Erdnase.
I am not aware that Drake made any such attempt. The "Samuel Robert Erdnase" mislisting comes from a Drake catalog of 1904 that also listed the book as 204 pages (rather than 205) with just 45 illustrations (rather than 101). I know of no associated attempt to re-copyright the work under that description. Occam's razor would favor the multiple errors as being sloppiness on the part of Drake's advertising department, not dishonesty on Drake's part.


And, I find Drake selling the plates seven years later to be telling because in those days seven years was the time that one could legally assume someone was dead. Doubtless, when Drake sold the property he had the new buyer assume all responsibilities which allowed Drake to keep the royalties and lease payments, a nice bonus on top of the profits hed made over the years. Thats what a good businessman would have done.
I don't think either the sale of the Erdnase plates to Frost circa 1937 (the last dated Drake edition) or Drake's failure to renew the copyright is very significant. Drake transfered to Frost several titles as part of the same deal: Roterberg's Card Tricks, Kunard's Book of Card Tricks and Robert-Houdin's Card-Sharpers. Several of these were copyrighted by Drake in 1902 (the Roterberg and Robert-Houdin) and were continuously in print from Drake up until the time of the transfer to Frost. None of them had their copyrights renewed by Drake. I think it merely reflects a change in the company's publishing interests. They divested themselves of their entire sleight of hand line, including Erdnase


Martin Gardner had an agenda in dealing with Smith as is clear from the published correspondence where he is pushing Smith to correctly remember Erdnases height as corresponding with M.F. Andrews, many inches taller than the man Smith remembers. To his credit, Smith did not alter his memory to support Martin Gardners theory, which is wrong in so many ways.
Gardner first found and interviewed Smith several years before he developed the Milton Franklin Andrews theory and had no agenda at that time. Later he did return to Smith in an attempt to corroborate the claims of Edgar Pratt, who's claims Gardner initially found highly suspect. Only when Gardner obtained weak (in my opinion) confirmation that James Harto had claimed some association with Erdnase (a claim Gardner first heard from Pratt, but which has nothing to do with MFA) did he take Pratt's claims seriously and become convinced of the MFA theory.

Bill Mullins | 02/07/08 11:24 AM | link | filter

Without taking a side on the extraordinarily interesting discussion between Alexander and Hatch, I'd note that some of the points raised might be supportable from the record:

Originally posted by David Alexander:
McKinney almost certainly sent Erdnase to Marshall Smith . . .
Is there any evidence that McKinney (or Drake) ever worked with Marshall Smith on any other project? (I know that Richard Hatch is accumulating other Drake books). Did McKinney and Drake ever work on anything else together?


For Drake this was just another title in a large catalog of exploitation material.
By this, do you mean that Drake had played fast and loose with other copyrighted works in its catalog? Has anyone ever checked this?

Bill Mullins | 02/07/08 11:45 AM | link | filter

Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
One of Jay Marhall's first edition copies came from the library of Edward Gallaway, who Busby/Whaley/Gardner tell us was McKinney's typesetter and later his business partner. I doubt many typesetters keep copies of the books they work on, again suggesting more than a "job for hire" in this instance.
From Census records:

1910: Edward Gallaway, age 41, address 3353 Polk St. Occupation printer, works at a print shop. Born Ohio, mother born Ireland, father born US. Wife Rose (age 37), daughter Julia (age 16), son William (age 7)

1920: Mostly the same. New address: 5420 Harrison St. Still works as a printer at a print shop. Lists both parents as being born in Ireland this time. Son William (age 17) is now an apprentice at a print shop.

1930. Both kids have moved out. Still at the same house; now he owns it and its value is $5000. He is now the proprietor of a print shop. Now his father was born in NY.

I've no idea how close either Polk or Harrison St. was to the McKinney plant.

In 1918, an Edward Gallaway ran for Cook County commissioner. Dunno if it is the same guy.

Richard Hatch | 02/07/08 12:14 PM | link | filter

Bill, thanks, as always, for the great info!
I don't yet know of other links between McKinney and Marshall Smith, or McKinney and Drake, or Drake and Smith. Drake started his business in 1899 and expanded his line of titles greatly in 1901-1903. This included hiring William J. Hilliar to provide a number of titles, including Downs' Tricks with Coins, which Hilliar had ghosted (the reprint irked Downs, whose permission had apparently not been secured, but did not break his friendship with Hilliar), Hilliar's "translation" of Robert-Houdin's CARD SHARPERS (which was a direct reprint of an earlier edition with which Hilliar had had nothing to do) and Hilliar's own MAGICIAN'S HANDBOOK, which was patterned on and in parts plagiarized Selbit's Handbook (which Drake briefly advertised in their catalog). I suspect Drake was duped by Hilliar (who was also in Chicago editing the first issues of the Sphinx for the Vernelos) though they may have knowingly encouraged this thievery. However, they clearly secured Roterberg's permission to publish an expurgated edition of his NEW ERA CARD TRICKS, and commissioned and copyrighted other titles they published. Erdnase is unique among the Drake titles I have seen in bearing the author's copyright, rather than Drake's which would argue in favor of their not having secured the copyright when they began publishing it, but having worked something out with the author. My guess is that Rullman was mistaken in naming Drake as the copyright holder in 1928, rather than merely the publisher at that time. A 1920 guide to publishing for authors states that Frederick J. Drake would buy works outright or pay royalties, so either is possible in the case of Erdnase.

Richard Kaufman | 02/07/08 03:51 PM | link | filter

I've removed a link from Gord's post that was screwing up the layout of this thread and making it impossible to read. I did try using the URL button (Mr. Maloney!), but it wouldn't create an abbreviated link for some reason.

Bill Mullins | 02/07/08 05:09 PM | link | filter

Some interesting articles and classified ads:

Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); Jul 28, 1895; p. 6;
"Says They Were Employes Only.

Treasurer F. O. Bartlett of the Regan Printing House denies James McKinney's assertion
that he and Charles L. Van Inwegen ever occupied official positions in the Regen company.
Van Inwegen embezzled a sum of money from McKinney Wednesday night and left for
Nebraska. "Charles L. Van Inwegen," said Barlett, "never owned one share of stock in our
company or occupied official position. He was employed in the capacity of accountant
only at a salary of $1,200. James McKinney was never manager of the company, but a
solicitor on salary."

Chicago Daily Tribune, 30 Jan 1903 p. 7 (and 31 Jan 1903, p. 7)
"In the District Court of the United States for the Northern District
Of Illinois, Northern Division

IN THE MATTER OF JAMES MCKINNEY, Bankrupt - No. 8577.

Public notice is hereby given that the undersigned, The Equitable
Trust Company, Receiver of said estate, will receive bids for the whole
or any portion of the property of said estate at any time up to nine
o'clock a. m. of the 4th day of February, A.D. 1903.

Each bid must be accompanied by cash or a certified check for at
least fifteen per centum of the amount of such bid.

All bids so received will be submitted to his Honor, Christian C.
Kohlsaat, Judge of said Court, at ten o'clock a. m. on the 4th
day of February, A.D. 1903, for approval or rejection.

An inventory of the property of said estate may be seen at the office
of the undersigned, No. 152 Monroe street, Chicago, Illinois, and
the property is open to inspection at the shop lately occupied by
said bankrupt, No. 73 Plymouth Place, Chicago, Illinois.

THE EQUITABLE TRUST COMPANY
Receiver in Bankruptcy of the Estate of James McKinney."


Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 Feb 1903 p. 11

" New Incorporations. . . .
The McKinney and Galloway company, Chicago: capital, $2,500; printing, publishing and engraving:
incorporators, James McKinney, Patrick J. McKinney, and Arthur Stern."

Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb 27, 1912; p. 19;

"NOTICE --
By virtue of an order entered by the Probate Court of Cook County, Illinois, on the 20th day of
February, A. D. 1912, I, Emma McKinney as administratrix of the estate of James McKinney,
deceased, have this day sold to Robert Mowat, all the right, title, and interest of said estate
in and to the goods and chattels used by said decedent under the name of James McKinney
& Co., in the conduct of a Printing Business, at 618 Sherman st., Chicago, Illinois.

EMMA McKINNEY
Administratrix Estate of James McKinney, deceased.
Dated, Chicago, Feb. 21, 1912."

Richard Hatch | 02/07/08 05:19 PM | link | filter

Yeah, it would sure be interesting to get the inventory list from the McKinney bankruptcy, and find out who bought their stuff. Seems like the court records relating to it might still exist...

Bill Mullins | 02/07/08 05:44 PM | link | filter

And someone with time to kill in Washington DC might want to check this out:

"Frederick B. Duncan scrapbook on Marshall D. Smith, 1944-1966.

The scrapbook, compiled by Duncan, contains 85 pen and ink letters in the form of captioned cartoons by the Chicago painter Marshall D. Smith to Duncan. The art works illustrate the events of their friendship, especially their mutual love "of Chicago,... and anything afloat." Also included are four snaphots of paintings by Smith owned by Duncan, and a typescript and handwritten notes by Duncan about the cartoons and his friendship with Smith.

General Info: Unmicrofilmed; use requires an appointment and is limited to AAA's Washington, D.C. storage facility."

[From the WorldCat database of library catalogs; I assume that AAA is American Art Association or something like it]

Richard Hatch | 02/07/08 09:37 PM | link | filter

Bill, I spent a pleasant afternoon checking out the Marshall D. Smith scrapbook about two years ago. Made photocopies of a few of the illustrations. The only thing I really learned was Smith's middle name... No magical content or Erdnase related stuff. But you never know until you look!

Richard Kaufman | 05/12/08 09:11 PM | link | filter

The deluxe DVD set of The Expert at the Card Table, performed by Allan Ackerman and with all the accompanying goodies, will sell for $129. A bargain considering the number of discs and the extras.
Click on the link at the top of this page to see more.

George Olson | 05/15/08 11:11 AM | link | filter

Richard...

Which link?

Thanks,
GO

Richard Kaufman | 05/15/08 11:27 AM | link | filter

The banner at the top of this page. The ads rotate, so just click your refresh button a few times until the Houdini's ad comes up.

Roger M. | 05/15/08 03:29 PM | link | filter

Ahhh yes, but do you have any specific dates you can tip us on Richard?
There's still no "BUY" button to push.

My money has been sitting in my PayPal account for months now ;)

Richard Kaufman | 05/15/08 04:32 PM | link | filter

Geno is doing it the proper way: taking all the time he needs to make the best product he can. Not rushing it to market. And not taking any money until he gets very close to the release date. At least we now know exactly what's in it and what it's going to cost. To me, $129 is cheap to see Allan Ackerman perform and explain everything in The Expert at the Card Table.

Bill Mullins | 05/30/08 11:42 AM | link | filter

I see from the most recent issue of _Magic_ that Mike Caveney is releasing an updated version of Vernon's annotations to Erdnase, _Revelations_, this summer.

Jim Maloney | 05/30/08 12:10 PM | link | filter

Bill Mullins wrote:I see from the most recent issue of _Magic_ that Mike Caveney is releasing an updated version of Vernon's annotations to Erdnase, _Revelations_, this summer.

He's taking orders now, and it should be shipping by the end of June, according to the website.

-Jim

Joe Naud | 05/30/08 12:27 PM | link | filter

This is great. Thanks so much for the link.
Joe

Green Skittle | 05/30/08 01:43 PM | link | filter

Excellent to see a Revelations reprint, thanks for the link.

Joe Pecore | 05/30/08 01:52 PM | link | filter

Looks to be more then just a reprint. From the website:

This new, over-size book was triggered by the discovery of more than 160 long-lost photographs of Dai Vernons hands that were taken in 1961 specifically to illustrate this manuscript. It is as close as you will ever get to a personal session with the Professor.

Includes: A facsimile reproduction of the entire, original typed Revelation manuscript.

The entire text of The Expert at the Card Table with Vernons annotations inserted at the appropriate places illustrated with the newly discovered photos.

Plus more than 100 pages of added material including Vernons explanation (with photos) of Topping the Deck, Walter Scotts Second Deal and Double Belly Cut, the Ping Pong Shift, The Hop, Allen Kennedys legendary Center Deal and more.

Richard Kaufman | 05/30/08 01:56 PM | link | filter

You'll understand more when you see Jamy's review in our July issue. There is a lot of new material added. The original Revelations text is no different than it was in the original publication years ago, however photos have now been added of Vernon doing many of these things, and lots of new material has been added (though none of it comes from the original Revelations manuscript).

Jeff Pierce Magic | 06/09/08 07:51 PM | link | filter

Lance Pierce wrote:
Vernon told the story several times of how he first came to know of the book. He stated that his father, who worked in the patent & copyright office in Canada, came home one day and told him that they'd received a book on gambling (the Erdnase book), but that he felt Dai was too young to read such as yet. Vernon said that he badgered his father about the book to no avail, but that shortly after, he saw the book on display in a local store and acquired it.

I hope I've remembered this with some accuracy; I'm going back some years here from when I heard the story. It does imply that the book was indeed submitted for copyright in Canada and that it wasn't so much "sold under the counter" (at least not where Vernon found it), but that it was carried rather openly.

Lance

Excuse me if this is just a rehash of a former topic.

On page 99 on "The Vernon Touch" Vernon recounts this story but also says that "about a month and a half later, he saw a copy of the book in a bookstore window. It was a stiff board with a large King of Hearts on it.

Since the King of Hearts cover came a couple of years later on a Drake copy, perhaps from 1905 on, perhaps the copy his father was talking about was not an original copy but a later Drake copy. Does anybody know if the 1905 Drake copies were copyrighted in Canada?

Jeff Pierce

Richard Hatch | 06/09/08 11:40 PM | link | filter

Vernon was mistaken in thinking that the book received at the copyright office was Erdnase, according to those who have looked into this over the years. Another plausible candidate for that book published in 1905 has been found. There is no Canadian copyright record of Erdnase (again, according to several different credible researchers who have looked into this over the years).

Geno Munari | 07/12/08 12:38 PM | link | filter

Here is a NEW STARTLING discovery on Erdnase and M.F. Andrews. Check out this link.

http://houdini.com/includes.cfm?page=press1.cfm

Roger M. | 07/13/08 01:49 AM | link | filter

I'm sorry to dampen any high spirits which accompany this new Ackerman project, but I must register my disappointment and surprise at folks who still trumpet Andrews as Erdnase.

Sadly, as much as I'm a huge supporter of this project, and was one of the very first to pre-order ....it's hugely disappointing to read (yet again) about Milton Franklin Andrews being S.W. Erdnase.

Andrews wasn't Erdnase, plain and simple.

The evidence actually points AWAY in every direction from Andrews, and has done for a number of years now.

For such a high quality project all the way around, this is a definite slip in the area of the identity of Erdnase.

A very large disappointment indeed.....especially in light of ALL the newer and far higher quality evidence pointing to at least three other gentlemen, all of which are far more likely candidates for Mr. Erdnase than Andrews ever was, or ever will be.

Richard Hatch | 07/13/08 02:40 AM | link | filter

Roger, I was also surprised to see the advance materials trumpeting the MFA theory as the though it were the definite solution, but Geno has assured me that he has not edited out my rather extensive criticism of that theory and the information on competing theories, particularly my own favorite(s)... I am hoping that this will help balance things, though I have not yet seen the interview with Bart Whaley or Martin Gardner nor had access to Whaley's new research on MFA, which I look forward to very much. Regardless, I am confident that Allan Ackerman's presentation of the technical material in Erdnase will be worthwhile, having seen him lecture on aspects of it.

Roger M. | 07/13/08 10:34 AM | link | filter

RIchard, I'm relieved slightly to know that a dissenting voice will (hopefully) be on the record, and contained somewhere within the DVD package.

I just find it unusual that with this VERY THREAD being one of the finest sources of information on Erdnase available anywhere, that anybody could seriously continue to postulate Andrews as Erdnase.

I find the work of Dick Hatch and David Alexander to be FAR more realistic and complete than the now debunked work trying to point to Andrews.

There is SO MUCH wrong with the Andrews theory that ISN'T wrong with the theories put forth by Richard and David, and much of that is RIGHT HERE in this thread to read.

Anybody doing any serious Erdnase work cannot simply discount the information presented in this thread. To do so is the "slip" I referred to in my last post.
Also note that there are HUGE differences in physical descriptions between Erdnase and Andrews that are simply "overlooked" in these new proofs attempting to point to Andrews.

Folks just seem to forget that we've got documentation from a man WHO SAT WITH ERDNASE FOR HOURS!!.......and later provided a description of him. That description provided (by Smith) of Erdnase, and the one provided of Andrews couldn't be more different.

Here's to hoping that Dick's most impressive thoughts on the identity of Erdnase don't wind up on the cutting room floor.

As for the Ackerman material itself, I suspect it will be the finest ever seen on this work, and anticipate spending many hours working through the book with Alan.

In the end, I feel strongly enough about this topic to simply remove any and all offending material from the package which too strongly tries to sell "Andrews as Erdnase", and simply stick it at the back of a library shelf behind some books where it will remain likely for a very long time :)

Richard Evans | 08/16/08 12:40 PM | link | filter

I hope this isn't a naiive question, but I wondered whether there was any way of viewing this whole topic with all the users' names restored (the early parts have been anonymised since the last upgrade of the forum). Is there an archive of the thread somewhere?

Thanks in anticipation.

Chris Aguilar | 08/16/08 05:23 PM | link | filter

Richard Evans wrote:I hope this isn't a naiive question, but I wondered whether there was any way of viewing this whole topic with all the users' names restored
Here you go.

Richard Evans | 08/16/08 06:59 PM | link | filter

Thanks, Chris.

Geno Munari | 08/21/08 09:54 PM | link | filter

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Martin Gardner
750 Canadian Trails Dr.
Norman, OK 73072

Re: MFA Erdnase Nulda Petrie

Dear Martin;

I hope all is well with you. Enclosed is a copy of the San Francisco Call, Nov. 7, 1905. I have enlarged the section of the article so that you can read it. This new revelation is beyond a coincidence. Here is my theory.

Milton Franklin Andrews started this whole mystery by using an alias in the form of an anagram. S. W. Erdnase, although an imperfect anagram, it gives the user protection from his or her real identity, and also gives the user a frame of reference with which to recall a fictitious name. If he was bouncing from city to city, the use of anagrams kept the user from making a mistake and giving the wrong name to a person he may have previously associated.

Thus anagrams may be used as a memory tool. A name is often easier to remember if it is in the form of an anagram. For example, if you choose a pseudonym for Geno Munari, you might uses Oneg Iranum, or Moe Rainnier.

MFA used many aliases as his standard modus operandi; William P. Brush, William Curtis etc.

When Bessie Bouton was murdered the police questioned two bystanders (cited in the Colorado Springs Gazette Dec. 22, 1904) I have enclosed a copy for you also. One bystanders name was W.S. Maunder. An anagram of this, although not perfect, is S.W. Erdnase. Interesting, but perhaps coincidental.

But then in the Nov. 7, 1905 story, MFAs lady friend gave her name as Miss Edna Little. Compare that to the real name, Nulda Petrie, and another anagram. The (u) and (r)are not used and a (t) and (L) are added to make the name look correct.

The answer to the puzzle was right in front of our eyes. A simple anagram.

These findings by my research team Don Fineout and myself are completely independent of any other research. I think it is very strong evidence that affirms the wonderful work that Bart Whaley, Jeff Busby and yourself completed.

This is a direct link between MFA and Erdnase. All of your other strong evidence makes MFA the correct candidate. There is no other suspect that is even close.
One theory I have been thinking about is; who are the people that played in the game with Erdnase? Those that played in the game were probably fleeced. It stands to reason that these easy marks were people of prominence and/or had money. If you could identify one of these parties there is a chance that there may be a trail to a description of Erdnase. If one of these suckers was a businessman that could earn money in business, he or she may have had a background check completed on Erdnase. There even might be a picture taken with him. Read on!

I think there is a very great possibility that Erdnase played poker with Lucky Baldwin. Baldwin was an interesting businessman, gambler and racehorse owner. His land holdings in the San Gabriel Mountains reached about 46,000 acres, which later became Arcadia, Pasadena, Monrovia, Sierra Madre and San Marino, California. His ranch also became Santa Anita Racetrack. My wife Penny grew up in El Monte and Monrovia were Lucky Baldwin had a presence. For instance Baldwin Boulevard is one of the main streets in the area. Penny loves horses, as did Lucky Baldwin, and discovered the book about him, Lucky Baldwin, The story of Unconventional Success, by C.B. Glassock. I thank her for this find. Baldwin fits the prerequisites to play with Erdnase. He loved women, loved to gamble, ran with fast company and had plenty of cash. He also traveled via steamships and spent a great deal of time in San Francisco. Baldwin died in 1909.

In Glassocks book there is a picture of Baldwin at the poker table with three other players. The game is in Luckys private quarters in his Baldwin Hotel, San Francisco. Could one of those players be Erdnase? In my perspective one of them slightly does resemble M.F. Andrews.

I would like to release some of this information after I release the video, Expert at the Card Table. I think that you will be in the news again.

Give me a call if you like to discuss this new information.

Very warm wishes,

Geno Munari

Roger M. | 08/21/08 11:57 PM | link | filter

Everybody is welcome to have an opinion Geno, but please don't drastically alter the tone of the thread by declaring that you are on the cusp of confirming the actual identity of Erdnase, especially if it mirrors the Whaley/Gardner/Busby research findings.

It's STILL an ongoing search, and nobody knows the correct answer at this time.

Your claims, connections, and observations above are all quite interesting, but not even close to the final word.

Your claim that "there's no other suspect that's even close" is disturbing in that there has been an immense amount of research done, and the other three well known candidates are most definitely "close".

As mentioned above, you're obviously more than welcome to post your opinions, but refrain from declarations of pending success, as there are still others in this thread taking the entire process quite seriously.

There are also polite members of this thread who continue to refrain from pointing out the obvious errors the above trio of authors engaged in to make the crime fit the scene.

Richard Kaufman | 08/22/08 12:02 AM | link | filter

I think Geno is taking it very seriously. His candidate has (and always has had) the one thing no other candidate has--a deck of cards in his hand. Despite the differences between Marshall Smith's recollection of what Erdnase looked like (and he couldn't even remember having illustrated the book at first), Geno may have done some new research.
More is yet to be revealed.

Roger M. | 08/22/08 12:05 AM | link | filter

I support the search for Erdnase, and I encourage everybody to continue to treat this thread as the fine source of information it is.

Quality research doesn't permit "lines" to be drawn wherever the researcher wants to draw them to ensure that the final conclusion matches the desired outcome.

Roger M. | 08/22/08 12:10 AM | link | filter

The statement "no other candidate even comes close" essentially shoves [censored] in the faces of Richard Hatch, David Alexander, and Todd Karr.

M.D. Smith vividly recalled many very specific details once he was prodded into remembering the scene in the hotel room, it's human nature to recall the basic scene, and then to begin to recall and further fill in all the details.
It's how people remember things.

To just brush aside the fact that M.D. Smith stared Erdnase in the eyes and registered his appearance to memory, and was the only person we know for sure to have done that, could be referred to as "ignoring facts which point in a direction other than the one you want to go".

Deck of cards in the hands or not, the simple, indisputable fact is that MFA doesn't look at all like M.D. Smith recalled S.W. Erdnase looking like.
Sorry, but that's a research problem that's far more difficult to overcome than simply ignoring the fact that it exists.

Richard Hatch | 08/22/08 12:31 AM | link | filter

Here's how I understand Geno's argument:
"S. W. Erdnase" is an imperfect anagram of "M. F. Andrews" (the ES of the first being replaced with the MF of the second). This has been considered a relative weak point (one of several!) of the MFA case. Geno has noticed that MFA's girlfriend "Nulda Petrie" used a similarly imperfect anagram, "Edna Little" as a pseudonym (the P and U of the first are replaced with the L and T of the second). That such a close associate of MFA would use such a pseudonym strengthens the claim that MFA himself might have done so earlier. I have no problem with that logic, but it is hardly "smoking gun" proof. And it does require us to reject the testimony of our only credible eyewitness to the creation of the book, Marshall Smith, who remembered a very different man than MFA.

Jonathan Townsend | 08/22/08 08:05 AM | link | filter

One bystanders name was W.S. Maunder. An anagram of this, although not perfect, is S.W. Erdnase. Interesting, but perhaps coincidental.

But then in the Nov. 7, 1905 story, MFAs lady friend gave her name as Miss Edna Little. Compare that to the real name, Nulda Petrie, and another anagram. The (u) and (r)are not used and a (t) and (L) are added to make the name look correct.

The answer to the puzzle was right in front of our eyes. A simple anagram


Names as "imperfect anagrams" leads to some odd places when one gets swept away by much imagination and a small data set - especially when one has a desired outcome.

Didn't Lewis Carroll/Martin Gardner comment on this as regards the word game where you change one letter at a time to get from a given start word to a given end word? History students will recall efforts to find certain words in the output of a process applied to names - and to find heresy/treason through a reading of text (Richelieu).

Remember there's not so great a textual distinction between insipid and inspired, or santa and satan for that matter ;).

David Alexander | 08/22/08 10:23 PM | link | filter

First of all, an anagram is defined as a word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain.

Now we have the imperfect anagram, a device without a specific definition. Is an imperfect anagram defined as a rearrangement of letters in a word with one letter unused? Two? Three? Can one add two or three letters, dropping others to arrive at the desired result and still call it an imperfect anagram?

On his website in a Press Release Geno takes this nonsense to new heights where he claims:

Scramble the letters around and we derive:

W S MAUNDER
S W ERDNASE
M F ANDREWS

W.S. Maunder is not an anagram for S W Erdnase any more than you can get M F. Andrews out of S W Erdnase. When Geno was adding and subtracting letters to make the evidence fit his theory he forgot to remove the 5 inch difference between Milt Andrews and the memory of the one person we know met Erdnase: Marshall Smith.

And Nulda Petrie - no need to add or subtract letters to get an interesting anagram from her name. One of the 7,300 words and phrases that her name makes up is Painted Lure. How appropriate.

Anyway, this entire approach to evidence reminds me of a great quote from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.

Matthew Field | 08/24/08 06:43 AM | link | filter

While the debate the over the definition of an anagram goes on in the background, I'd like to make a comment about the Prologue to Geno Mulari's production of the Erdnase DVDs with Allan Ackerman.

Geno was kind enough to allow me to take a peek at the prologue to the series, the life of M.F. Andrews. It is one of the best produced short films devoted to magic ever produced. Ernest Borgnine's narration is magnificent -- he sounds like an old-timer reminiscing. And Christie Wessling's direction is feature-film quality. The production values, the set, the music -- stupendous!

Why does this mean so much to me? Because one of the most important things in our art is the concept of respect.

What Geno achieves in the prologue is to present the life of Andrews, the presumptive identity of SWE, as a living history. By giving this a production that looks better than many Hollywood big-budget movies, he is saying to one and all that this man, Erdnase, is someone deserving of our attention and respect for his grand accomplishment.

I can't wait to see the final product, which will probably take me the rest of my life to absorb.

Matt Field

David Alexander | 08/24/08 11:16 AM | link | filter

There is no debate about the definition of what an anagram is unless one is Humpty Dumpty.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

I'm sorry Matt, you're a nice guy, but using the word "presumptive" about M.F. Andrews as Erdnase requires massive chutzpah. The evidence suggests otherwise, which you clearly havent read. Neither has Geno, apparently.

Dick Hatch's work has removed Andrews from consideration. If that weren't enough there's Marshall Smiths description of Erdnase. Smith remained steadfast in his description of Erdnase in spite of Martin Gardners repeated hectoring to change his mind about Erdnases height. As Dick so ably demonstrated with two people in the audience at the 1999 Conference on Magic History, the five inch difference is striking and not something dismissed out of hand.

A film is not historical research as anyone who has seen Oliver Stone or Michael Moores work will understand. You can wrap an empty box with pretty paper and ribbons, but its still an empty box, even if Ernie Borgnine hands it to you.

And "respect" for a murderer and thief just because you think hes the author of a book on cheating? Please, this thread is now wandering further through the looking glass than ever. Whats next, the Attila the Hun Appreciation Society?

Carlo Morpurgo | 08/24/08 11:23 AM | link | filter

David Alexander wrote:First of all, an anagram is defined as a word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain.

Now we have the imperfect anagram, a device without a specific definition. Is an imperfect anagram defined as a rearrangement of letters in a word with one letter unused? Two? Three? Can one add two or three letters, dropping others to arrive at the desired result and still call it an imperfect anagram?



It seems that it was not such an uncommon practice for authors to create a pseudonym by using imperfect anagrams. A 10 minute research on google (imperfect anagram pseudonym) revealed an abundance of material to look at. Starting from:
---
The pseudonyms adopted by authors are sometimes transposed forms, more or less exact, of their names; thus "Calvinus" becomes "Alcuinus" (V = U); "Francois Rabelais" = "Alcofribas Nasier"; "Arrigo Boito" = "Tobia Gorrio"; "Edward Gorey" = "Ogdred Weary", = "Regera Dowdy" or = "E. G. Deadworry" (and others); "Vladimir Nabokov" = "Vivian Darkbloom", = "Vivian Bloodmark" or = "Dorian Vivalcomb"; "Bryan Waller Proctor" = "Barry Cornwall, poet"; "Henry Rogers" = "R. E. H. Greyson"; "(Sanche) de Gramont" = "Ted Morgan", and so on. It is to be noted that several of these are "imperfect anagrams", letters having been left out in some cases for the sake of easy pronunciation. (Answers.com)
----

Not to forget the author Margaret Yourcenar (real name Crayencour, an imperfect anagram). There a few academic articles that might be interesting. I could peek at this one:

"Parisian Nobles, a Scottish Princess, and the Woman's Voice in Late Medieval Song"
Author(s): Paula Higgins
Source: Early Music History, Vol. 10 (1991), pp. 145-200. I am just quoting this passage:
--
One obvious candidate for a potential anagram is the text of the song Bel Acueil le sergant d'amours, the first piece in the Mellon Chansonnier, a manuscript made for Beatrice of Aragon and which bears formal dedications to her elsewhere in the manuscript. Not surprisingly, the song's incipit conceals her name (Example 8). The name itself uses only fifteen of the twenty-five letters in the incipit, but it is possible that the remaining letters form some kind of descriptive phrase (106). According to contemporary practice, a certain amount of liberty was accorded in the creation and resolution of anagrams (107). An anagram was 'imperfect' if many of the letters remained unused, or if letters had to be used more than once. It was considered 'perfect' if all of the letters of the phrase could be used without repetition (108). There were also several degrees of sophistication in anagrams. Imperfect anagrams, like those attributed to Villon, conceal only the name of one person or several people, while others concealed an entire verse or phrase (109).

107 Canel, 'Histoire de l'anagramme', p. 169.
108 Lebegue, 'Les anagrammes', pp. 243-4.
109 See the examples given in Canel, 'Histoire de l'anagramme', pp. 168-71.
---

I guess according to this definition Andrews is an imperfect anagram of both WS Maunders and SW Erdnase....

There's another fairly recent article (2007) by Alastair Fowler (Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh) that could contain information about imperfect anagrams used in the past. Just the one phrase showing up in google tells it: "Besides, imperfect anagrams have always passed muster in authorial pseudonyms, which are by definition intentional". I will take a look at this paper later, when I get hold of it.

Carlo

Roger M. | 08/24/08 01:09 PM | link | filter

S.W. Erdnase:
"...the jars to our pocketbook caused far less anguish than the heartrending jolts to our insufferable conceit".

"Boldness and nerve are also absolutely essential. Ability in card handling does not necessarily insure success. Proficiency in target practice is not the sole qualification of the trap shooter. Many experts with the gun who can nonchalantly ring up the bull's eye in a shooting gallery could not hit the side of a barn in a duel. The greater the emergency, or the greater the stakes, the greater the nerve required".

"We have not been impelled to our task by the qualms of a guilty conscience, nor through the hope of reforming the world. Man cannot change his temperament, and few care to control it".

M.F. Andrews:
"I caught her playing sneak on me and going to the Alhambra Hotel district, in which she became a well known character. We split up several times on the strength of it, but each time I took the bag of diamonds".

"As I realize my life is at stake, and as I am a crack shot, being an old-time bear hunter in the Maine woods, whoever tries to get me, make your will".

"In Holyoke, Mass., I have a wife living. I wish I had a divorce".

"I have consumption, heart failure, lots of crushed ribs and catarrh of the intestines. One month in jail and I would be dead as a herring".


........Anybody who think the same person wrote these samples might consider seeking remedial english lessons.
It's obvious they were written by different people, and when this information is taken in consort with M.D. Smiths memory of what S.W. Erdnase actually looked like, M.F. Andrews as a candidate becomes what he's always been, an obvious distraction in the search for the identity of our friend S.W. Erdnase.

David Alexander | 08/24/08 01:25 PM | link | filter

"Imperfect anagrams" and "potential anagrams." All words can be made into anagrams if one wishes them so, depending on how many letters are to be added or left out.

Roger's observation on the disparity in the skill of writing and the experienced writing "voice" one reads in Erdnase forms part of the evidence that Milt Andrews was not Erdnase.

Then there's that five inch discrepency in height that no one has yet overcome.

Richard Kaufman | 08/24/08 02:15 PM | link | filter

I am now at the point, having reached 50, where being asked to recall the details of things that happened at 10 years of age (the 40 year gap between when Gardner questioned Smith and when Smith drew the illustrations for Erdnase) is something I can relate to. It's easy to misremember things. Some things are pinpoint sharp, others are fuzzy. Still other memories seem exact and clear but in fact are faulty.

It's also easy to underestimate the idea that Smith might not have wanted to disappoint Gardner, Vernon, et al., with a lack of details. And so he made them up.

It's also easy to underestimate the idea that Smith might have purposefully given false information for other reasons.

Carlo Morpurgo | 08/24/08 02:20 PM | link | filter

David Alexander wrote:"Imperfect anagrams" and "potential anagrams." All words can be made into anagrams if one wishes them so, depending on how many letters are to be added or left out.


True, even Alexander or Gardner or Dai Vernon all have "Erdna" inside them, so they can be made into Erdnase by changing a few letters and anagramming the rest. But the point is that it was a practice to create pseudonyms by modifying a few letters of the real name. This alone isn't proof of anything but if other evidence comes into place you can't ignore it. Likewise, you can't use your argument alone to disprove the documented cases of such anagrams being used by past authors.

David Alexander wrote:Roger's observation on the disparity in the skill of writing and the experienced writing "voice" one reads in Erdnase forms part of the evidence that Milt Andrews was not Erdnase.

Then there's that five inch discrepency in height that no one has yet overcome.


I am not in particular for one or the other theory, since I only read this topic sporadically, so I might miss several bits of info. For example, about the writing style, is it disproved that there was a ghostwriter? Is MFA's 9,000-word letter published somewhere?

Also, I am wondering if we could trust Smith's memory: the guy was an illustrator and yet could not recognize his own drawings...

Carlo

Richard Hatch | 08/24/08 02:20 PM | link | filter

Roger M. wrote:....Anybody who think the same person wrote these samples might consider seeking remedial english lessons.
It's obvious they were written by different people, and when this information is taken in consort with M.D. Smiths memory of what S.W. Erdnase actually looked like, M.F. Andrews as a candidate becomes what he's always been, an obvious distraction in the search for the identity of our friend S.W. Erdnase.

This disparity between the writing styles is what virtually requires MFA advocates to ring in an "editor" to polish his prose. Bart Whaley in TMWWE has a chapter giving the results of a computer analysis of the prose styles of Erdnase, MFA and their proposed editor, William Hilliar. The result of that admittedly rudimentary analysis was a match between Erdnase and MFA and Erdnase and Hilliar. Logic should then allow us to argue that Hilliar ghostwrote MFA's confesssion/alibi letters!

Roger M. | 08/24/08 03:14 PM | link | filter

The liberties that Whaley/Busby/Gardner took to arrive at the conclusion they arrived at in the book remain difficult to accept as legitimate research.
That those same liberties are being taken today, and even expanded upon is disappointing at least, and outrageous at best.

Richard K., it's OK to observe ones potential inability to remember details with the passage of time, although for many people recalling vivid and accurate details from events of 40 years previous presents little or no difficulty.
Recall that M.D. Smith brought forward a number of things from his meeting with Erdnase, during which he relayed to Gardner a wide variety of details. (recorded in the Gardner/Smith Letters).
The height and general appearance of Erdnase was mixed with comments about the room they were in, how he got paid, Erdnase's general attitude, Erdnase's card table (which we see throughout the book), and other details that would not only be difficult to "make up", but ones there would be no reason to even put on the record if they weren't legitimately being recalled by M.D. Smith.

As for Smith having reason to misstate details (or outright lie) about what happened during his meeting with Erdnase, we have just as much reason to presume that he had absolutely no reason to misstate or lie about anything as we do to presume he might have.
That the two balance each other out is reason to render them neutral in the absence of information required to place importance on either one of them.

I don't go through life presuming folks to be liars in efforts to render conclusions to match my expectations.
In general, the conclusion that a subject might be lying or telling the truth is assisted by quality research.
There are far more potential lying characters within the "M.F. Andrews is Erdnase" research camp than there are amongst those who continue to examine other candidates. Some of the characters that Whaley/Busby/Gardner used to support their conclusions were of highly questionable character. Many would call them a cadre of lifes losers.

M.D. Smith had no reason to lie or misstate any of his recollections. If anybody has evidence otherwise, they've not presented it here.

To conclude that Erdnase was M.F. Andrews, and then to continue that there is more to support the story which hasn't been released yet is pointless and unhelpful.
If you've got something important for the Erdnase researcher to read, post it (or publish it).
If you're going to tell us all that you've got a secret, but you're not going to share it until you're ready, that's fine.......but spare us all the M.F. Andrews [censored] in the meantime.

If your evidence is nothing more than the basic argument from the Busby/Gardner/Whaley book, then you're presenting nothing new (or helpful) in the search for the real Erdnase.

As for the improper anagrams, they're interesting.
But lets be honest with each other, they're really nothing more than an interesting observation.
They're not at all conclusive of anything.

If Geno had posted suggesting that folks take a look at Nulda's and the other characters names in light of potentially being examples of imperfect anagrams, and then went on to suggest that people were welcome to comment on those observations, I believe that would have contributed some interesting information to the record.

But to present all of this as being definitive proof of M.F. Andrews as Erdnase, and to then go on and disparage all the other dedicated Erdnase researchers by stating that "nobody else even comes close" seems a bit over the top to say the least.

I'd really like to see this thread continue as the source of high quality information on the search for Erdnase that it currently is.
To attempt to end the thread with the claim that M.F. Andrews is Erdnase helps nobody, and makes the entire thread appear to be a waste of time.

You'll note that not a single Erdnase researcher has dared to make the definitive statements that were made in Geno's post.
I hope that this overall caution displayed by most posters to date regarding over-the top statements would remain a cornerstone of this thread.

Carlo Morpurgo | 08/24/08 03:15 PM | link | filter

Richard Hatch wrote:
This disparity between the writing styles is what virtually requires MFA advocates to ring in an "editor" to polish his prose. Bart Whaley in TMWWE has a chapter giving the results of a computer analysis of the prose styles of Erdnase, MFA and their proposed editor, William Hilliar. The result of that admittedly rudimentary analysis was a match between Erdnase and MFA and Erdnase and Hilliar. Logic should then allow us to argue that Hilliar ghostwrote MFA's confesssion/alibi letters!


I am curious as to what parameters were used for the analysis. I guess I will need to read the book.

I would run the same analysis with "The Art fo Magic", written by John Northern Hilliard. In the introduction by Reynolds I read that "Hilliard joined the Chicago Press when he was 17" (so in 1889) and that "later he worked on the Chicago Herald as a drama critic and editorial writer". Could he have anything to do with Erdnase?

Carlo

Roger M. | 08/24/08 03:26 PM | link | filter

It seems to me that the quality of writing in "Expert at the Card Table" goes far beyond editing, or the ability of an editor to "buff" up an inferior writers material to make it read as "Expert" reads.

Erdnase gives us original thinking, most of it seen for the very first time in writing anywhere and presented in what could be described as glorious prose.

To say that this "original thought" is that of M.F. Andrews, and that it reads as it does due to the skills of an editor is difficult, if not impossible to accept.

Richard Kaufman | 08/24/08 03:45 PM | link | filter

There is nothing in Hilliard's prose (who, indeed, ghost wrote Downs' Art of Magic) that would line up with the style of Erdnase.

David Alexander | 08/24/08 05:37 PM | link | filter

Much of this is rehashing discussions that have been gone through before in this thread and elsewhere.

Smith didn't recognize his drawings because they were tracings of photographs because photographs would have been more costly to reproduce and muddy in the execution in any event given the cheap paper he decided to use.

The logistics of having to do 101 drawings individually "from life" has been examined before. The project would have taken several weeks and would have required Smith to take unusual positions with respect to what Erdnase wanted in his illustrations. (See the various Points of View in the illustrations.) Smith didn't remember a multi-day or multi-week project or anything at all out of the ordinary associated with this little job. He remembered one meeting on a particularly cold day in a cold hotel room in downtown Chicago.

When Smith was annointed by Garder as the "Dean of Magic Illustrators" I'm certain the old man did not want to disappoint his new admirers. I'm not suggesting he made things up, but he originally thought he'd only done 30 or so illustrations and only recognized the work as his by the style of the lettering and numbering. As an expereinced artist I suspect he recognized what he'd actually done using a light box and just didn't say anything for fear of disappointing Gardner.

I should also point out that Martin Gardner and those who talked to Smith were not experienced interviewers and not trained historians by any stretch of the imagination. It is unknown how much Smith was lead in the questioning. That, and the fact that Gardner pressed Smith to "re-remember" Erdnase's height to be in keeping with Gardner's candidate, which is hardly the sign of a disinterested investigator who is simply following the evidence.

Also, during one of my conversations with Martin Gardner I discovered that he did not understand that the book had been self-published by the author, thinking McKinney had been the publisher as opposed to being just the printer. I do not know if this was a product of Gardner's aging memory or if he mis-understood that from the beginning. It changes a number of conditions on the creation of the book if one fails to understand that the original edition was self-published.

Comparing the ability of a ten-year-old's memory with that of an adult doesn't apply here. Smith was an adult with his own business when he interacted with Erdnase and it was early in his career when every job was important.

Editor? This has been trotted out before without success. This presumes that the author needed help in expressing himself which is belied by the clear voice present in his writing. And who is this greatest of magic editors/ghost writers...someone so skilled at being able to write the detailed and ineffible into clear and unambigious prose and then never talking about this job or showing up on the magic scene ever again? Sorry, but the idea of an editor just doesn't hold together.

What was clear to me from the beginning was that Erdnase was intelligent, educated, AND an experienced writer able to express himself in personal terms. Every experienced writer knows it takes lots of time and lots of writing to have a "voice." Erdnase has a voice... and it isn't Milt Andrews'.

While it has been some years since I read the Whaley book with its circular argument, my memory of their "computer analysis" was that it was put through a program that produced something from the Flesch Scale, a technique for determining "readability" and nothing else. The Flesch Scale is useless in determining authorship. (Happy to be corrected if I remember this incorrectly.)

What was done by Whaley is nothing like the textual analysis done to "Primary Colors" which determined the author was likely to be Joe Klein, who admitted the same after prodding by others in interviews after denying it repeatedly. The academic who did the analysis does not claim to have a computer that can determine authorship because no such program exists. That should be understood by all.

An editor would almost certainly have removed "conge" and other words to make the prose more readable. I am convinced that we are reading the un-edited words directly from Erdnase himself, not filtered through a ghost writer or editor.

Richard Kaufman | 08/24/08 07:25 PM | link | filter

Okay, I wrote it.
It's time I confessed.

Bob Farmer | 08/24/08 07:29 PM | link | filter

No, I am Spartacus.

Jon Racherbaumer | 08/24/08 08:46 PM | link | filter

You gotta love it!
Conchis (conscious?) in Fowles' THE MAGUS posited that "mystery is energy." And everybody (as the old radio show suggested) loves a mystery. Where's Jimmy Hoffa? Amelia Earhart? Charlier?

Reading the serious research and the circumspect and wild speculations is truly entertaining and...well...energizing. (Someone not long said to me, "How do we know that the guy who met with Smith was not a 'ringer,' sent there by Erdnase?") Hmmmm...

Not since the initial Kennedy assassination have I read so much "fun stuff."

Keep it going...

And, by the way, I agree with Matt Field re the fine film Geno Munari produced and coaxed into being. I hope it encourages others to raise the bar when it comes to production values. Geno bothered to script something, hire actors and crews and editors to create a first-rate film. Sure, it is likely that some will bum-rap it, but the professionalism and caring that went into it will be obvious.

Say what you will, but Geno's entire Erdnase Project is an unmistakable labor of love and for the price--especially if you have not bought anything regarding Erdnase--is an incredible bargain.

Onward...

Carlo Morpurgo | 08/24/08 10:31 PM | link | filter

David Alexander wrote:Much of this is rehashing discussions that have been gone through before in this thread and elsewhere.


Sorry...as I said I did not read this thread regularly, nor have I read anything else other than the recent Genii article. In any case, it's not a bad thing to rehash discussions once in a while -- some new thoughts may develop.

David Alexander wrote:Editor? This has been trotted out before without success. This presumes that the author needed help in expressing himself which is belied by the clear voice present in his writing. And who is this greatest of magic editors/ghost writers...someone so skilled at being able to write the detailed and ineffible into clear and unambigious prose and then never talking about this job or showing up on the magic scene ever again? Sorry, but the idea of an editor just doesn't hold together.


Why would anyone so skilled as a writer do this job and never talk about it? Obviously there is such person, that we know for sure. Could it simply be because it's a book about cheating at cards?

Carlo

Carlo Morpurgo | 08/24/08 10:34 PM | link | filter

Roger M. wrote:It seems to me that the quality of writing in "Expert at the Card Table" goes far beyond editing, or the ability of an editor to "buff" up an inferior writers material to make it read as "Expert" reads.

Erdnase gives us original thinking, most of it seen for the very first time in writing anywhere and presented in what could be described as glorious prose.

To say that this "original thought" is that of M.F. Andrews, and that it reads as it does due to the skills of an editor is difficult, if not impossible to accept.


Suppose that Modern Coin Manipulation and The Art of Magic were authored by S.N. Woldenson, whose real identity is a mistery. Would you argue, by the same token, that the writer was indeed Woldenson himself?

Carlo

bagelsandlox | 08/25/08 12:03 AM | link | filter

Welease, Woger!!!!!!!!!!

David Alexander | 08/25/08 12:17 AM | link | filter

Carlo wrote:
Why would anyone so skilled as a writer do this job and never talk about it? Obviously there is such person, that we know for sure. Could it simply be because it's a book about cheating at cards?
__________________________________

There is a big difference between someone who writes something as personal as Expert and being a person hired to re-write or edit someone else's work.

As I've explained in my article about my candidate (Genii January 2000), there were perfectly good reasons for him not to discuss it with anyone.

Richard Hatch | 08/25/08 01:20 AM | link | filter

Jon Racherbaumer wrote:(Someone not long said to me, "How do we know that the guy who met with Smith was not a 'ringer,' sent there by Erdnase?") Hmmmm...


Jon, Marshall Smith himself raised this possibility in correspondence with Martin Gardner, when the wanted poster description of MFA that Gardner sent him did not agree with his clear recollection of the person he met. Knowing (from Gardner's forwarded information) that MFA was wanted by the law, Smith wondered if perhaps he had sent someone else to meet with him. But Smith almost immediately rejects this possibility, based on the fact that the person he met performed all the sleights in the book (and who but the author could do that?) and seemed to him not to be hiding anything. In fact, MFA was not wanted by the police in the winter of 1901 when the illustrations are presumed to have been prepared, so MFA would have had no reason to send someone else, assuming such a person could have been found. It is virtually certain that Smith did at least some of the illustrations and met the author as part of that task. The real question is to what degree his recollection of those meetings can be trusted. As the only credible eyewitness to the author, I take his testimony at face value. While he is eager to assist Gardner in his research, Smith makes clear distinctions about what he recalls and what he isn't sure of. He is very certain that the man he met and whose hands he sketched was no taller than 5' 7", possibly as short as 5'5", and between 40 and 45 years old, i.e., about a dozen years older than Smith himself (MFA was 6'1" and just two weeks older than Smith). The only linkage of MFA to Erdnase came from Edgar Pratt, whose claim to have known MFA is dubious and whose information on him can be entirely traced to an article on MFA that he read in the Sunday Supplement to the Philadelphia Enquirer ("The Malted Milk Murderer," in American Weekly for May 20, 1945). Several of the statements he makes to Gardner are provably false. Gardner himself doubted Pratt's claims until he was able to obtain weak corroboration for one of them, the claim that Harto had contact with Erdnase, a claim Harto had made to others, which Gardner first heard from Pratt. The Harto claim (which I take seriously) does not link Erdnase to MFA, except through Pratt.

Roger M. | 08/28/08 12:02 PM | link | filter

Dick, would you mind expanding your take on the Harto connection to Erdnase?

All of the Harto papers and library contents were put up for auction. I wonder if reference was made by Harto to Erdnase in any of his papers?

Harto does seem to be one of the more stable sources to have claimed that he knew Erdnase.
I actually hesitate to use the word "claimed", as Harto seems only to have mentioned in passing his association with Erdnase. He doesn't appear to be seeking anything out of the connection.

(I should also point out after re-reading my last few posts that although I disagree completely with Bart Whaley's conclusions in TMWWE, I do think he's a gifted researcher and a skilled historian. I'm likely not alone in preferring that he take his talon's out of MFA as the only candidate and put his talents to work on continuing the search with a wider eye).

Richard Hatch | 08/29/08 12:52 AM | link | filter

Hi Roger, thanks for the request. I thought that perhaps I had expounded on Harto earlier in this thread, but couldn't find the posting if I did (as an aside, is it possible to have the earlier contributions by myself, David Alexander, and others to this thread properly attributed again, rather than remaining anonymous? I notice that some early attributions have been restored, such as Lance Pierce and Richard Kaufman, but not the majority...).
I'll be at the TAOM all this weekend and at Magic in the Rockies next week, so I can't put up much at the moment (still packing) or for a few weeks, so here's an abbreviated answer:
Clearly Harto told several people of an association he claimed to have with Erdnase. Only Pratt claimed that Harto had contributed the Legerdemain section of the book, and Pratt's testimony is questionable as noted in earlier postings. Charles Maly, one of the Harto associates who confirmed for Gardner that Harto spoke of an association with Erdnase, claimed to have seen a notebook of material that Harto was working on as a proposed sequel to Erdnase. If this notebook survived the destruction of many Harto documents by Audley Dunham, it has not yet surfaced, nor have any Erdnase references in Harto documents that have survived. But I take his claimed association with Erdnase as a serious possibility, and one that may lead to further information on the identity question.
I do not think that Harto had much, if anything, to do with the writing of THE EXPERT. If one assumes (as I do, though I recognize it is an assumption and not a proven fact) that the book was assembled shortly prior to publication, Harto's schedule makes his collaboration with the author unlikely. Harto was touring with the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show as a ventriloquist and magician in the sideshow during several seasons prior to the book's publication. They would set up in a new city nearly every day, arriving by train, parading through town, setting up the show, doing the shows, striking the show, loading on the train, and traveling overnight to the next stop on the tour. I traveled to Pawnee, Oklahoma to check the tour route books in the Pawnee Bill Museum for those seasons and the schedule does not much leave much free time to work on a book, unless the primary author was also working the same tour. There was a magician name Andrews from Philadelphia (Pratt's later home) who did later join the Buffalo Bill Wild West show for their tour of Europe, and Harto was also at one time associated with the Buffalo Bill show, but this would have been after the book's publication and I have been unable to develop much information on this particular "person of interest." Another possibility I considered was Charles Andress (whose name reverses to S. S. Erdnase if you drop the rest of the first name reversal), a traveling magician with strong circus and Chicago connections, but I think him an extremely long shot for any number of reasons. I did track down Andress' son and spoke with him by phone a few years back (his father sired him when he was 80 or so!), but he knew nothing about the book and I haven't followed up on that line of inquiry.
Although Harto did get billing as a card magician early in his career (as a teenager) and was respected by his peers for his general knowledge of magic, mentalism and escapes, he does not seem to have been noted for originality in his card work. And the reference to the originality of his patter that is quoted in TMWWE is, in the original context, actually a reference to the originality of his ventriloqual dialogues, which I don't think can be extrapolated to assign him credit for the patter in Erdnase's LEGERDEMAIN section.

Jim Maloney | 08/29/08 07:40 AM | link | filter

Richard Hatch wrote:(as an aside, is it possible to have the earlier contributions by myself, David Alexander, and others to this thread properly attributed again, rather than remaining anonymous? I notice that some early attributions have been restored, such as Lance Pierce and Richard Kaufman, but not the majority...).


I'm fairly certain that's being worked on, it's just that Brad has been busy with other projects.

-Jim

Jason England | 08/29/08 08:27 AM | link | filter

This is directed at David Alexander, although others can feel free to chime in.

What, if any, evidence is there to support the supposition that the illustrations were drawn from photographs?

As an admittedly completely unscientific experiment, I just tried to duplicate Fig. 26 from Erdnase. Mind you, I've never drawn anything in my life. I did what I consider to be a fairly good FINISHED drawing in exactly 2:21 (just under 2 and a half minutes).

Let's make the reasonable assumption that Erdnase had a proper outline of what he needed illustrated. Let's also assume that only the briefest of sketches would actually be needed (and could be properly inked in later). Finally, operating on the assumption that a decent artist like Smith would undoubtedly sketch much faster than a complete novice like me, how is it that you consider it impossible to have all the drawings done in a single, long day?

Let's say that each sketch took 4 entire minutes. 4 x 101 = 404 minutes. Well, 60 x 8 = 480. In an eight hour workday I find it hard to believe that all of the sketches couldn't be done and still leave time for breaks and a brief lunch. Bump this up to a 10 hour day and drop the time a bit (Fig. 26 is perhaps one of the more complicated ones, easier Figs would've taken much less time to sketch) and you are not only well within the possible, you're well within the PROBABLE.

The aforementioned non-scientific elements acknowledged, where exactly am I going wrong here?

Jason

PS: Although I don't remember if Smith mentioned it, a second meeting of some type is a reasonable assumption, if only to drop off the drawings. It's not unthinkable that another few hours could have been spent correcting a few of the Figures that weren't to Erdnase's liking. A brief second meeting like that might not have made enough of an impact on Smith to recall it 45 years later, but could've contributed significantly to the possibility of all the drawings being done without photographs.

David Alexander | 08/29/08 08:39 AM | link | filter

Jason,

I believe I covered this in my Genii article and elsewhere in this thread.

There is a HUGE difference between "duplicating" a drawing that's already done and creating one from life. They are entirely difference processes.

David Britland | 08/29/08 11:15 AM | link | filter

Hi Jason

If Smith's account is accurate then he made detailed sketches of all the positions from life during a single meeting with Erdnase.

I've found that the most time consuming aspect of illustrating magic books is getting the preliminary sketch right. Taking a good photo can also be time consuming. Unless Erdnase had planned every view I'd imagine there would be some discussion about the best angle for each illustration. All time consuming.

But somehow Smith made detailed sketches required for every illustration, sketches that first had to be approved by 'Erdnase', in a single meeting.

I don't find it implausible that he could ink those sketches in the same amount of time. In fact I'd say he could probably ink those sketches more quickly than it took to make them. After all, he could add nothing of his own. There is no further discussion. He couldn't change them in case they wouldn't meet the approval of his employer.

If we want to be sceptical about the time taken to make the illustrations maybe we should wonder whether Smith could indeed have made detailed sketches of all the illustrations in just one meeting. But that calls into question Smith's recall of his encounter with Erdnase.

Richard Kaufman | 08/29/08 11:32 AM | link | filter

Considering the care with which Erdnase wrote the text, I would say it's certainly possible that he had, in his head, plotted out the exact view from which each sketch needed to be made.
If he had photos made in advance and then given them Smith, the drawings could have been made in as little as 10 to 20 minutes each.

Geno Munari | 08/29/08 11:53 AM | link | filter

Very true Richard.

In those days if he would have had photos taken he would have to get a photographer and the process was not so simple as it is today. Also very expensive, however he could afford it. If indeed he did have a photographer where and when were the photos taken. In Chicago? Or some other city? More than likely in a larger city that would have commercial photographers. Could have been a referral from the Chicago printer. Maybe we should look into photographers that were in the approximate area of the printer. I don't recall any investigation into that area of concern.

Jason England | 08/29/08 02:27 PM | link | filter

David Alexander wrote:Jason,

I believe I covered this in my Genii article and elsewhere in this thread.

There is a HUGE difference between "duplicating" a drawing that's already done and creating one from life. They are entirely difference processes.



No doubt about it. But if I shop around at the local art college and can find a guy that can make a nice pencil drawing of me holding a deck of cards in some weird (to him) position in under 4 minutes then your theory is in a world of hurt.

Are you saying that I can't find that guy no matter where I look?

Because you're essentially saying that it can't be done (or more specifically, that it couldn't have been done in Chicago in the winter of 1901).

And remember, all you have to do is average 4 minutes per sketch to make this a one-day job. Some individual sketches would certainly take a bit longer, others a bit less.

As for Erdnase coming prepared for a meeting like that, remember, this is the guy that rewrote what it means to be specific and detail-oriented with regards to gambling and magic books.

I have no problems believing he showed up knowing exactly what he wanted drawn and from what angles. Look at how many of the figures depict exactly what one would see if you were "seated in the usual manner with a looking glass opposite" for hours on end. I can admit that I'm speculating, but I believe Erdnase knew what he wanted drawn.

I'd even go so far as to posit that he might've shown up with crude sketches of some of the more mundane figures already in hand, and only had Smith sketch 50 or 60 of the more difficult ones. Then Smith retired for a week (or whatever) and redrew and inked all 101 before returning to Erdnase for delivery. This might even account for Smith's recollection that he'd done much fewer drawings than the book seemed to indicate to him.

Anyway, you seem married to the idea that there were photographs at this meeting. I'm asking if you have any real evidence, or is this just conjecture on your part.

All we really know is that somehow, Smith and Erdnase managed to get these drawings done in a shorter amount of time than modern experts believe possible given only one (recalled) meeting. But there are at least a few other scenarios that are plausible that don't require photographs:

If they really met more than once and Smith just didn't remember this 45 years later then photos aren't necessary.

If Erdnase showed up with a decent number of crude or (heaven forbid) decent but not professional sketches already done then photos aren't necessary.

If Smith had help in some other fashion then photos aren't necessary.

If there is something else we're all overlooking then photos aren't necessary.

So I'm back to, do you have anything other than conjecture that photos were used? Because you sure talk like you do.

Jason

Richard Kaufman | 08/29/08 02:41 PM | link | filter

If photographs were used, then the following could be true.
At my peak, I could do a drawing from a photo in 10 minutes. At the other end of the spectrum is Earle Oakes, who (working from my photos) spends about an hour on each drawing.

Either way, it could be done in a week with no problem. As to finding someone who could do an accurate anatomical sketch in four minutes--it's unlikely. Not impossible. But unlikely. The anatomy in those drawings is extremely accurate, and all the drawings look like they've been done from the hands of the same person.

Jonathan Townsend | 08/29/08 02:51 PM | link | filter

If photos were used... who's got em? Same for sketches and the reams of paper one is wont to go through getting text into shape for publication.

David Britland | 08/29/08 03:05 PM | link | filter

The title page of Erdnase says the illustrations were 'drawn from life.' And Smith didn't mention seeing any photographs.

If Erdnase made photographs he would have taken them to the meeting with Smith otherwise they wouldn't have served any purpose either as reminders to Erdnase about what the drawing should be or to Smith as guides for his illustrations.

The more I think about it the more difficult the task seems to make all the preliminary sketches in the space of one meeting. But maybe Smith was an exceptionally fast worker and Erdnase knew exactly what he wanted. Or there is some other explanation.

David

Richard Kaufman | 08/29/08 03:24 PM | link | filter

"Drawn from life" sounds better than "traced from photos." Taking photos in 1902 was not an easy business: I believed poses had to be held for a long time due to the length of the exposure required. So, there are arguments to be made on either side of that issue.

It's also possible that Smith may have not wanted to admit he traced the drawings from photos. Many derogatory comments about my own drawings used language that included things like "he just traces them." Of course that's foolish, but that's what some people think.

From my point of view, as the artist, I couldn't care less what anyone thinks, or thought. My only goal was to get a lot of drawings done as quickly as possible at the best quality I was capable of. One of the benefits of using photos is that when you look at the drawings in, say Derek Dingle's book, or David Roth's book, you can recognize them as their hands, and there is always information in the drawings, because they were done from photos, that would not otherwise be there. As much as I admired Joe Schmidt's work, there was simply a level of detail missing from it because it was done freehand.

Joe Pecore | 08/29/08 04:24 PM | link | filter

A bit of information about the state of photography in 1902 from
http://www.boxcameras.com/brown1900.html:

When Kodak introduced the $1.00 Brownie Camera in February of 1900, it was an immediate success, but with one problematic flaw - the shoebox-style, cardboard back wore out quite quickly, leaving the rollfilm inside more susceptible to light leaks. To fix the problem, Kodak engineers created a metal latch to hold a new rear cover in place, and all was well again. The original Brownie Camera was only in production for about two months, and is quite rare today. Eastman Kodak company records indicate that many of these first Brownie Cameras (about 15,000) were shipped to England.

The Brownie Camera with its new back door design would go on to be known as the No. 1 Brownie Camera in 1901.


More info http://history1900s.about.com/od/1900s/p/brownie.htm

Eoin O'hare | 08/29/08 04:47 PM | link | filter

Any artist I know that draws from life will sketch simple, abstracted shapes initially, in order to represent the object being drawn. -When you draw a head you will probably start by drawing an oval.

These shapes are an aid to obtaining the objects correct proportions and construction. Often the shape will require correcting and repositioning, resulting in rough sketches. For illustration purposes these 'roughs' are then inked to produce informative line drawings. The sketch is then cleaned to leave only the line art.

If I'm drawing hands, I'll often quickly block in triangles to represent the palms or backs of the hands to give me the initial sketch to work on.
It looks to me as if Smith used a similar strategy but instead of triangles he used hearts.
Take a look at Fig.69 in The Open Shift. This drawing seems to have partially escaped cleaning, you can clearly see a heart shape on the back of the left hand.

Larry Horowitz | 08/29/08 05:15 PM | link | filter

Jason,

I find some weakness in your suggestions.

To think that 101 drawings could be made in one day would imply no changes. That each and avery drawing was exactly what the author invisioned defies logic. To think that there were only 101 drawings and no ideas that just didn't work or weren't needed defies logic. I can well imagine the artist stating that he could demonstrate a move better from a different drawing view then the author might have envisioned. This might only be found by some degree of trial and error.

I think that a 8-10 hour drawing day would cause enough fatigue that there would be a notible (by experts, at least) change in drawing quality.

On a different note regarding memory:
My father is 94. During the 60's-70's, following some heart problems and a doctor's suggestion, my father had a shot of scotch every night when he got home. Last week in discussions with him, he had no recollection of this. So a meeting to do art work, 40+ years removed, could well be mis-remembered.

Geno Munari | 08/29/08 07:51 PM | link | filter

The more I think about the 101 drawings in Expert, and there may have been more, it seems that Smith had to have more than one meeting with Erdnase. Anyone that has published a book with hand drawn illustrations may agree. There are just two many things that have to be checked and re-checked. Smith may have met with Erdnase on two or three times maybe more. Perhaps more as the communication methods in those times was difficult.

Perhaps Smith forgot those additional meetings. Maybe this has been covered before here. If so sorry. But it is a plausible and consistent theory.

The real bone of contention wih the MFA theory is that Smith was right and the other witnesses are wrong or the investigator has a problem with them. With all due respect facts are facts. You can't pick and choose the facts you like.

But in reality all those who disbelieve the Gardner-Whaley-Busby theory base their reason on Smith's testimony. Yet there are several other witnesses and many other facts that can connect MFA with Erdnase.

David Alexander posted that Hatch's work has dismissed MFA. How so? This position stated as such reads as though it had footnotes and was gospel.

I am not convined 100% about MFA, but I haven't dismissed him.

None of the other candidates however have laid a claim on the authorship of Expert. Why haven't they? Why isn't there any connection to Erdnase via testimony, relatives etc., from these other candidates?

Wouldn't one of the relatives have something to connect the two? I would think so.

Jason England | 08/29/08 07:59 PM | link | filter

Larry,

First of all, I hope all is well with you. Haven't seen you in a few months.

To Erdnase: I agree that doing every illustration (even just the initial sketches) to Erdnase's satisfaction right there at that initial meeting is unlikely. But, I provided a number of scenarios where Smith's memory of the event could be taken essentially at face value and yet you still only have one major meeting. Some method or instance of delivering the finished drawings obviously took place as well of course.

My particular favorite of these scenarios is that Erdnase had some rudimentary sketches already done, and asked Smith to either redraw, or match those drawings in style. This solves the "they didn't have time in one day" problem, as well as providing a plausible (though not perfect) explanation for the peculiar copyright notification on some of the figures.

I'm not saying that this theory is correct by any means, but then that's the difference between me and some others here. I openly admit that this is just a guess on my part. I think it's a viable guess, but a guess nonetheless.

On the other hand, David Alexander writes about photographs as though he's sitting on all 101 as we speak. I simply asked for some clarifications regarding whether or not he has other evidence (even a well-substantiated rumor of photos stemming from the early 20th century might suffice), or if photos is just his favorite solution to the "how could they have pulled this off with just one meeting" problem.

Jason

Richard Kaufman | 08/29/08 08:01 PM | link | filter

It's hard to imagine that Smith could have successfully drawn all 101 illustrations having met Erdnase only once if there were no photographs to either trace from or use as a source of reference.

However, I see no reason to accept Smith's recollections as gospel.

Cugel | 08/29/08 08:06 PM | link | filter

I agree with Jason England on this. There's nothing to say Smith wouldn't have been able to put out decent drawings from life at a good rate. The argument that many artists block out perspective, doesn't mean all artists do so. I worked as a freelance commercial artist doing caricatures and so on when I was in college, for various large and small companies: media promotions, sales and marketing, etc. I have never in my entire life had to block out perspective. I can just draw what I see. (Or at least I could when I was actively drawing on a regular basis).

Yes, I'm aware that this kind of ability is the exception to the rule. But Smith was a hack for hire, a commercial artist plying his trade. What we do know is what Smith recounted to Gardner;

"He placed the board on the table, using it as a surface for demonstrating sleights which Smith sketched rapidly in pencil."

and

"Smith took the sketches home, inked them in, and returned them to Andrews later."

If Smith, the only first-party link who's ever really been quizzed about Erdnase, recalls drawing freehand at a rapid pace, I'm inclined to believe him.

Richard Kaufman | 08/29/08 08:08 PM | link | filter

I don't think the drawings support that statement.

Irving Quant | 08/29/08 08:10 PM | link | filter

To support Jason's guess:

From the Preface: "if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money."

Wouldn't 101 photographs cost a good amount of money to have? then again paying an artist would have also cost money. For all I know, since I haven't really done research on pricing at the time, both could have been affordable. The guy didn't work with a team according to some of you, so can you tell me how a broke card cheat, with no publisher or a banker (no evidence suggesting there was one), gets enough money to put this project together? Erdnase must have known what pictures he wanted before meeting with Smith (either from crude sketches or already memorizing all 101 positions) since to figure out these things during the session would have cost him more money.




On another thought: Now lets say that Erdnase went to a bank and got the cash. Could it be possible put together a price for how much a project like his could have cost and look at bank records in "hit geographic areas where Erdnase could have been from exactly" for somebody that took that approximate amount of cash from a bank? (think IRS?) Just a thought...

Cugel | 08/29/08 08:11 PM | link | filter

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't think the drawings support that statement.


I respect your opinion (and your experience as a commercial artist and publisher), but I don't see why not. It's certain he would have made adjustments and corrections for errors in the inking stage. That's how I worked and, as noted, we have no reason to distrust the primary source (Smith), unless we have doubts about Gardner's accuracy.

Geno Munari | 08/29/08 08:12 PM | link | filter

When Gardner showed Smith the clippings of Milton Franklin Andrews he wrote, "The more I look at the front views, the more I am sure they look like Andrews"

Not a line up by any means but a picture will jog your memory.

Roger M. | 08/29/08 09:09 PM | link | filter

Actually he said "The front views could be Andrews. Can't remember a mustache. The profile doesn't look like him. It's probably the expression. This view looks retouched, or a poor snap shot".

THEN, penciled on the reverse side of the same letter was the sentence "The more I look at the front views, the more I am sure they look like Andrews".
So he didn't say that upon first looking at the pictures.

There seems to me to be enough of a difference between what M.D. Smith said in the actual letter, and then what he penciled in on the reverse to keep the facts straight, and to not confuse the timeline of who said what, when they said it, and where it might be written.

Geno, you you state that some "choose" to believe M.D. Smith over the other witness's.
There were no other "witness's".
M.D. Smith is the only person to have seen S.W. Erdnase with his own eyes.
All the rest of them made statements which implied that they knew him.......and many of those statements are second or third hand.
There is to me quite a large difference between M.D. Smith, with his name clearly written on "Expert" as the illustrator, and somebody making a claim that they knew Erdnase.