ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Guest » July 13th, 2005, 5:39 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Glenn Bishop » July 13th, 2005, 5:55 pm

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=

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Glenn Bishop » July 13th, 2005, 6:13 pm

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."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Guest » July 13th, 2005, 6:48 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Glenn Bishop » July 16th, 2005, 7:40 am

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?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 16th, 2005, 8:58 am

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...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tabman » July 16th, 2005, 9:51 am

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Glenn Bishop » July 16th, 2005, 10:00 am

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?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 16th, 2005, 11:52 am

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!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Glenn Bishop » July 16th, 2005, 12:21 pm

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!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete Biro » July 16th, 2005, 1:42 pm

I think this thread should be published in a little book.
Stay tooned.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 16th, 2005, 3:14 pm

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ryan Matney » July 16th, 2005, 4:03 pm

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.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 16th, 2005, 4:35 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ryan Matney » July 16th, 2005, 5:46 pm

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. ;-)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Guest » July 17th, 2005, 9:55 am

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 17th, 2005, 4:41 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Guest » July 18th, 2005, 3:38 am

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 18th, 2005, 6:19 am

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...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby David Alexander » July 22nd, 2005, 10:27 am

[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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 22nd, 2005, 11:05 am

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. ;)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Larry Horowitz » July 22nd, 2005, 2:18 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby David Alexander » July 22nd, 2005, 8:28 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 25th, 2005, 5:29 am

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?]
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 25th, 2005, 6:36 am

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 25th, 2005, 7:53 am

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 25th, 2005, 8:13 am

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.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 25th, 2005, 9:06 am

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?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 25th, 2005, 9:43 am

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.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 25th, 2005, 12:38 pm

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?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 26th, 2005, 3:24 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 26th, 2005, 9:42 pm

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ryan Matney » July 27th, 2005, 12:36 am

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.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 28th, 2005, 3:08 pm

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".

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » August 23rd, 2005, 3:26 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » August 23rd, 2005, 9:27 pm

$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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » August 24th, 2005, 10:24 pm

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?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » August 25th, 2005, 6:07 am

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!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » August 27th, 2005, 4:53 pm

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.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Guest » September 28th, 2005, 4:42 am

Has anyone found anything on that Hoyle reference?

Andrei


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