ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Richard Hatch
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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Hatch » November 23rd, 2010, 11:50 pm

Ryan, taking the book at face value (assuming the author can be believed...), he clearly had experience gambling as he recounts having been a victim of cheating on several occasions. That does not mean that he was a professional gambler or a card cheat himself, though that is certainly one possibility.

I sense a change in outlook, though not in authorship between the two sections of the book. In the first, he writes as a knowledgeable insider, someone who has been active as a participant and observer. He refers frequently to "the expert" and "the fraternity" in a way that seems to imply that he is himself such an expert, possibly even a member of the fraternity.

However, in my reading of the legerdemain section, he seems to position himself as an outsider: He notes that all the magicians he has seen and all the magic books he has read advise the use of the pass, rather than a more natural system of blind shuffles such as discussed in the first half. In my reading, this places him outside the magic fraternity, an interested "outsider" looking in.

My armchair speculation (and I admit that is all it is!) is that he was a compulsive gambler as a youth until he realized he was being cheated. He then made a careful study of cheating methods and exchanged his compulsion for gambling into a compulsion for manipulation. This does not mean that he became a card cheat himself, though that is certainly possible.

His interest in manipulation extended to card conjuring, as he mentions (as noted above) studying the literature and watching the performances of magicians. He was almost certainly not a professional magician, since we would almost certainly have encountered references to him from colleagues had that been the case. He certainly seems to have had some performing experience, however, given his comments on three card monte (which he favors as an exhibition for entertainment than its use as a con game, even though he places it at the end of the artifice section rather than in the legerdemain section).

His reference to the back palm once having gotten him out of trouble has been speculated by Vernon to have been in the context of a card game, rather than a performance, and that is certainly possible.

So, to summarize, I think he was someone who gambled at one time, got cheated, and became fascinated with all kind of card manipulation as a result. He says he holds not grudges against the fraternity (of gamblers) which seems to imply he was not counting himself as one of them, but he is also not worried that his book will increase their lot. Nowhere does he indicate that his methods should be used to cheat, nor does he even generally provide a context for doing so. Instead, he describes the manipulations involved, which I assume was his own great interest, more than their use to "get the money".

According to the recollection of illustrator Marshall Smith, when interviewed by Martin Gardner in 1946, the author presented himself as a reformed gambler. The tone of the book is, however, not the moral one of other reformed gamblers, writing an expose to warn of the evils of gambling. But if he were himself "reformed" in the sense of being no longer active as a player for whatever reason, that would certainly explain why he wrote a book rather than simply seek out a game when he "needed the money".

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Magic Fred » November 24th, 2010, 2:09 am

This is an excellent analysis. The only real disagreement I would have is that, once understood, it is clear to me that his techniques and systems were refined through actual experience in cheating at cards.

On face value, and given the demonstrations of Mr James and Mr Ackerman, I completely understand why a scholar might happily conclude it to be the work of an armchair enthusiast. Once mastered and seen in context however, it is difficult for me not to be convinced that this is a result of real world experience in cheating.

It is, however, infinitely easier to swallow than a theory of the book being written by a magician with no gambling experience. It just does not stand up to the evidence.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Ian Kendall » December 12th, 2010, 7:15 pm

Apologies if this has been mentioned, but the ever great Richard Wiseman has a new candidate.

http://www.richardwiseman.com/erdnase.html

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Erdnase

Postby Steve Bryant » December 12th, 2010, 9:02 pm

No further info, but Wiseman's contention is quoted in a lovely looking Italian pdf file sponsored by The National Library Braidense.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jason England » December 13th, 2010, 4:29 am

Ryan Matney asked:

"Richard,
What is your stance on authorship of the two sections? You think it's possible the magic section was written by someone else or 'advised' by someone else?"


I've often felt (but I cannot prove) that the minor discrepancies in tone in the two sections of the book can be attributed to the fact that Erdnase wasn't really "writing" the Legerdemain section -- he was largely copying it.

Several of the moves in the Legerdemain section were not original to Erdnase, but had been published in the few years just prior to his book. (The SWE shift, Open shift, Longitudinal shift and a few of the transformations are the exceptions.)

Single-handed shift - it's in Sachs' Sleight of Hand, Hoffmann's Tricks With Cards, and Roterberg's New Era Card Tricks. All predate Erdnase.

Diagonal Palm Shift - Erdnase himself mentions that previous versions are in print, although in my opinion Erdnase's version is far superior to what had come before him. (See Sachs p. 96)

The Palm Change - The move belongs to Adrian Plate. See New Era Card Tricks.

The Double-Palm Change -- Hoffmann's Modern Magic or Tricks With Cards.

First Transformation -- Selbit's The Magician's Handbook

Second Transformation - Selbit and New Era.

Fifth Transformation - Selbit.

The Slide - Here, language gives Erdnase away. Sachs was the only other book from that period to use the word "slide" instead of "glide."

Favorite Sleights for Terminating Tricks - Many of these are right out of Sachs. I suspect that when Erdnase writes of a method being a "favorite" he's not talking necessarily about his own preferences, but the fact that it is a favorite amongst other magicians of the day. Just a suspicion based on the reading.

Of the 13 named effects that close the book, none were original to Erdnase. Most can be found in Sachs, in Roterberg, in Hoffmann, or in other literature of the day.

So...was there another "author" of the magic section? Well, in a sense, yes! In fact, there were several. I believe, though I have no evidence for it in the strictest sense, that having clearly read the magic books of the day (which did include actual descriptions, influenced Erdnase's writing much more than reading the gambling books of the day, which almost never included actual descriptions of the moves. In the first section of the book, his "true" writing voice is more apparent, because he was describing things to a level of detail that hadn't really been done before. In the second part of the book, he was merely re-writing things he'd already read descriptions about. That may have effected the length of his explanations, the jargon used, and the level of detail, just to name a few things. This might be especially true if the gambling section was written first, and the magic section added later as some here suspect.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

Jason

PS: There are several candidates for popular gambling moves that Erdnase didn't include. The Spread is only one.

Others include the tabled Hop, the Countdown, and the strike second deal. All were in use (and already in print) in Erdnase's time.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Roger M. » December 13th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Re: Richard Weisman's new candidate.

It's interesting that, besides Herbert's wifes name forming the anagram "S.W. Erdnase" in reverse, so too does Herbert's sisters name!

Eliza Shipman Andrews

Depending on where Herbert's(and Eliza's) brothers lived and/or worked, this could possibly include Edwin Norton Andrews, Cornelius Andrews, and Alfred Hinsdale Andrews in the list of potential candidates as well.......each of them having a sibling connection to S.W. Erdnase as an authors name (their sisters name reversed).

Even if Herbert is the only one that appears to have lived and worked in that area of Chicago, having both his sisters, AND his wifes name reverse to precisely S.W. Erdnase seems more than coincidence :)

the reference here: http://www.tqsi.com/cgi-bin/igmget.cgi/ ... man?I12838

..........now, who can put the deck of cards into Herbert's (or possibly his brothers) hands?

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 13th, 2010, 12:30 pm

What would it mean for him to write such a book (did he have time/opportunity/context?)
Were that book to be remaindered what else was he doing to support himself?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » December 13th, 2010, 12:44 pm

Wiseman's candidate is not new; he mentioned it in this very thread two years ago: HERE

Jason England used to have a web page with illustrations of the various editions of EATCT. It's gone, but remnants are
HERE

It listed only 1 Spanish edition, a 1992 version from Frakson. The Spanish National Library lists two others, from 2008 and 1998 (also from Frakson).

It listed a 1989 Japanese edition; the Japanese National Library lists a 1990 edition (cataloged erroneously as written by "Samuel Robert Erdnase")

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Re: Erdnase

Postby David Alexander » December 13th, 2010, 5:35 pm

I applaud Jason's research. It has always been my opinion that the conjuring section was there to disguise the books real purpose: a primer on cheating with cards. Jasons observations clearly explain the lack of Erdnases voice in the second half of the book.

This ploy worked reasonably well until the 1930s when a local sheriff seized the plates and stock from a Mid-West printer. That was the one that made the papers. We have no way of knowing how many other local authorities seized copies to give the impression they were fighting corruption, or if any copies were ever seized by anyone else.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » December 13th, 2010, 10:15 pm

David Alexander wrote: This ploy worked reasonably well until the 1930s when a local sheriff seized the plates and stock from a Mid-West printer.


Are you being literal when you say "made the papers"? I've never known the details of the sheriff-seized-the-plates story.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Hatch » December 13th, 2010, 11:53 pm

I would also like to see the documentation on the reported seizure of the plates. Here's what Busby/Whaley says (p. 336) regarding the Frost edition (after Drake and before Powner): "The Frost publishing Company lasted about five years until the firm was forcibly closed and William H. Frost arrested. The plates for The Expert were confiscated by the sheriff." A footnote indicates this information came from undated work notes of Martin Gardner and cites his 1947 and 1951 articles on Erdnase. I asked Gardner about this but he was unable to recall the details or documentation regarding it. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't know what laws would be violated by publishing a book on cheating at cards. I would think it would be protected speech, since it is not "pornographic" or likely to incite a riot, etc. It would be great if this "episode" could be clarified/verified!

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 14th, 2010, 8:26 am

Had the conjuring section been designed as a distraction from the advantage play content one might also expect it to be featured more prominently in the title of the work and perhaps also frame, if not sit entirely before, the table play content - which might as well hide as a sort of appendix to caution the unwary entertainer who might get invited into a game >???

Sceptically,

Jon

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Re: Erdnase

Postby John Bodine » December 14th, 2010, 5:58 pm

i don't have my notes in front of me but further evidence suggesting the author focused efforts first on the Artifice section come from a study of the shifts.

First, he states that a shift has yet to be devised... yet many of the shifts are stated as original to the author. Most of these shifts (all but 1) appear in the Legerdemain section, discarded as not being workable at the card table. Further study of these and one sees that he is systematic in his approach, working the deck in different directions, finding shifts for each type of break/step one might encounter.

Add to this his note that magicians tend to use the shift even though there are better options (overhand shuffle) and it becomes clear to me that his true passion is the card table, moving items from that space to magic only because of the natural crossover and connection based on cards as the common tool.

Add Jason's fantastic work cited above, and i think the existing facts move us closer to a card player, or at least one who seriously studied what goes on at the table, and not a seasoned magician.

johnbodine

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Glenn Bishop » December 14th, 2010, 7:13 pm

Or a magician pretending to be a card player/sharp.

Like that would ever happen.

Cheers!

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 15th, 2010, 10:44 am

From what I've gotten as reports by way of non-magicians, the game breaks up quickly after some attempts to muffle laughter and glances around the table after a casual mention of card tricks. Still getting used to having non-magicians show me their interpretations of strip out shuffles or false deals as they tell me that the person they had at the game that night did them very well.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Geno Munari » December 24th, 2010, 2:03 am

I would like to post a poll, but I don't think the software here allows it anymore, so I poise the question:

Have you read the book by Whaley, Busby and Gardner, The Man Who Was Erdnase, ?

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Marco Pusterla
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Re: Erdnase

Postby Marco Pusterla » December 24th, 2010, 5:02 am

Geno Munari wrote:Have you read the book by Whaley, Busby and Gardner, The Man Who Was Erdnase, ?


Yes!
Marco Pusterla - http://www.mpmagic.com

Ye Olde Magic Mag: magic history and collecting magazine.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jeff Pierce Magic » December 24th, 2010, 10:07 am

Yes I have also.
visit my website at:
www.jeffpiercemagic.com

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Roger M. » December 24th, 2010, 11:22 am

Many times!
(and reference it regularly still).

Richard Hatch
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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Hatch » January 3rd, 2011, 2:29 am

The new Potter and Potter Auction catalog is now available on line and mimics the style of the first edition Erdnase (a copy of which is featured on the front cover). I particularly enjoyed the "Preface".
The catalog can be seen here:

Click here.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Doc Dixon » January 3rd, 2011, 6:53 am

Richard Hatch wrote:The new Potter and Potter Auction catalog is now available on line and mimics the style of the first edition Erdnase (a copy of which is featured on the front cover). I particularly enjoyed the "Preface".
The catalog can be seen here:
http://www.potterauctions.com/LinkClick ... &tabid=949


While we're on the subject of cheeky Erdnase parodies, here is my humbly offered contribution from MonkeyShines Volume 2.

Erdnase preface

Best,

Doc

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 3rd, 2011, 8:42 am

Gambling stuff aside, everyone interested in rare magic books should study the catalogue very closely. It's filled with lots of great books, including signed editions by Vernon and Slydini.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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magicam
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Re: Erdnase

Postby magicam » January 3rd, 2011, 3:23 pm

David Alexander wrote:... It has always been my opinion that the conjuring section was there to disguise the books real purpose: a primer on cheating with cards. This ploy worked reasonably well until the 1930s when a local sheriff seized the plates and stock from a Mid-West printer. That was the one that made the papers. We have no way of knowing how many other local authorities seized copies to give the impression they were fighting corruption, or if any copies were ever seized by anyone else.


Richard Hatch wrote:I would also like to see the documentation on the reported seizure of the plates. Here's what Busby/Whaley says (p. 336) regarding the Frost edition (after Drake and before Powner): "The Frost publishing Company lasted about five years until the firm was forcibly closed and William H. Frost arrested. The plates for The Expert were confiscated by the sheriff." A footnote indicates this information came from undated work notes of Martin Gardner and cites his 1947 and 1951 articles on Erdnase. I asked Gardner about this but he was unable to recall the details or documentation regarding it. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't know what laws would be violated by publishing a book on cheating at cards. I would think it would be protected speech, since it is not "pornographic" or likely to incite a riot, etc. It would be great if this "episode" could be clarified/verified!

Alas, with David Alexander's untimely passing, we may never know the source he used for his comments. But in reading the Busby/Whaley quote, I wonder if either they or Gardner read too much into this information.

For starters, if done legally, the seizure of a person's assets by a sheriff or other law enforcement entity would require a court order, usually in the form of a writ. If researching this purported event, I'd first investigate the records of the court which had jurisdiction if the sheriff was actually the one who did it, it would likely be county records.

The legal seizure of someone's assets could be done under a variety of circumstances, such as (1) pursuant to a voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy wherein the asset confiscation was done to satisfy creditors, (2) pursuant to a singular adjudicated debt wherein the property was seized to satisfy the lone creditor, or (3) to satisfy a tax debt to a governmental entity. The first two examples relate to civil proceedings and thus would not involve arrest. Depending on the circumstances of the tax debt, if fraud were involved, then perhaps both civil (asset seizure) and criminal (arrest for fraud on the government) proceedings could be implicated. An arrest in connection with a purely civil legal proceeding is extremely rare; by the 1930s, the concept of a debtor's prison was long gone and people were not arrested for failure to pay their private debts; the only example of an arrest done in connection with a civil proceeding that I can think of would be an arrest in connection with contempt of court, and that is very rare. If an arrest actually took place and was legal, absent the sheriff actually catching the publisher breaking the law, an arrest warrant would be needed and again, court records may be helpful on this question.

Bottom line: without the underlying documentation in hand, it's difficult to know if these purported events related specifically to EATCT (as David Alexander and Busby/Whaley imply), or something of a broader nature. And as we know, the fact that something is published in the newspaper doesn't make it true. Or there could be spin to the story. Who knows, maybe the newspaper editor didn't like Frost and chose to highlight the confiscation of the immoral EATCT material to leave the reader to infer that the seizure was related to such material, when in fact it wasn't.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Jeff Pierce Magic » January 3rd, 2011, 4:22 pm

Looking through this most recent catalog I noticed two books that used the familiar EATCT upside down triangle on the preface page.

The first gambling book is item #40 on page 11, printed in Chicago in 1890.

The second item number 273 page 51 which also might have a chicago connection printed in 1905.

Both are right around the time of EATCT

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 3rd, 2011, 5:23 pm

Jeff Pierce Magic wrote:The second item number 273 page 51 which also might have a chicago connection printed in 1905.
This book is from Sweden -- not much of a Chicago connection.

I think the upside down triangle motif is just a common design of the era and not much should be read into it.

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magicam
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Re: Erdnase

Postby magicam » January 3rd, 2011, 8:51 pm

The "familiar EATCT upside down triangle" type set-up has been used since books were first printed from movable type.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Roger M. » January 4th, 2011, 1:03 pm

The rare The Story of Erdnase by Wilford Hutchinson Jr is currently on ebay.

One of the original 6 copies, the author a member of the Magic Circle.
I believe there may have been a second run of 6 as well........my memory is hazy though.

Nothing new, and pretty much duplicating what was postulated in The Man Who Was Erdnase, but considered one of the major collectibles by Erdnasophiles who focus on the written word.

Ebay

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm

I just learned that there was a Spanish language version of the Vernon book "Revelation": Here

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Hatch » January 5th, 2011, 7:26 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:I just learned that there was a Spanish language version of the Vernon book "Revelation": Here

Not to be nitpicky, but this is a translation of the earlier edition, REVELATIONS. I have a copy and it is a nicely done paperback, very reasonably priced. Here's a link to the publisher's website for easy ordering:
http://www.librosdemagia.com/catalogo.p ... bsq=vernon

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 19th, 2011, 12:15 pm

Roger M. wrote:The rare The Story of Erdnase by Wilford Hutchinson Jr is currently on ebay.

One of the original 6 copies, the author a member of the Magic Circle.
I believe there may have been a second run of 6 as well........my memory is hazy though.

Nothing new, and pretty much duplicating what was postulated in The Man Who Was Erdnase, but considered one of the major collectibles by Erdnasophiles who focus on the written word.

Ebay


Closed at $1532 -- wow.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 20th, 2011, 2:36 pm

In 1945, the American Weekly Sunday supplement had a "true crime" article about Milton Franklin Andrews, Bessie Bouton, William Ellis and Nulda Oliva. It doesn't reference Erdnase. This is the article that was read by Edgar Pratt and provided fodder for the tales he told Martin Gardner which led to Gardner and Bill Woodfield identifying MFA as Erdnase.

It's online at Google News archives: HERE

By the way, I'm surprised that the article about stylometry and Expert at the Card Table in the most recent Genii hasn't brought any comment.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Richard Hatch » January 20th, 2011, 5:03 pm

Hey, thanks for tracking down that online version. The one reproduced in THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE is very small type and hard to read, plus missing a chunk or two. It took me a couple of years of searching on eBay to pick up a hard copy. Pretty much everything Pratt told Gardner about MFA that is accurate and a few things that aren't are in this article, so my theory is that Pratt read the article (it appeared in the Philadelphia paper, where he lived, and the copy in TMWWE has Pratt's handwriting on the top) and made the deduction that this gambler/cheat named Andrews was Erdnase and started to tell magicians at Kanter's that he knew who Erdnase was, etc. Which lead Gardner to him, and eventually lead Gardner to the same theory. Pratt does not claim in his correspondence with Gardner to have actually known MFA, but that he knew the Taylor brothers (pals of Pratt's from Providence, Rhode Island) who knew MFA. His is (according to him) one degree removed from MFA. What MFA showed the Taylor brothers, they showed Pratt and he later recognized this as stuff in Erdnase. At least, that is his story as I read it. I don't trust Pratt's testimony at all on this issue. And Pratt is the one who made the claim to Gardner that Harto had been involved in adding the legerdemain material, another claim that is suspect, and which the recent stylometry article has some bearing on. I enjoyed the article, to the extend that I understood it!


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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 25th, 2011, 1:23 am

In Dai Vernon's "Vernon Touch" column in Genii, Oct 1970, p.68, he describes putting a trick together on the fly for Dr. J. W. Eliot which requires reversing one card in a deck. He says: "Executing the Erdnase reversal with one hand, I reversed one card on the bottom of the pack while making the gesture."

What is the Erdnase Reversal?

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Denis Behr » January 25th, 2011, 4:08 am

He is probably talking about the one-handed transformation - the one that reverses a card to the bottom.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Philippe Billot » January 25th, 2011, 7:56 am

Also it's probably because Erdnase doesn't write that the card ended reversed on top of the deck and the figure 90 shows the face of the card drawn by the thumb.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 25th, 2011, 12:39 pm

Thanks.

Denis says: "He is probably talking about the one-handed transformation - the one that reverses a card to the bottom." The "One Hand. First Method" Transformation moves a card from the top to the bottom, but the figures (Figs 89 and 90) and the text indicate that the card does not turn over.
In the "Second Method", immediately following, a card does turn over, but it ends up at the top of the deck, not the bottom.

Vernon's commentary in Revelations supports the idea that he was talking about "Transformations. One Hand. Second Method." He says: "this move is extremely useful for secretly reversing a top or bottom card . . ." As described by Erdnase, the move only applies to moving a bottom card to the top into a reversed state. But it is trivial to see how the action could be used to move a card from the top to the bottom and reverse it.

And this (Second Method) is one of the moves that Erdnase claims ownership for "The following process is another of our innovations"

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 25th, 2011, 12:57 pm

In the description of the "Transformations. One Hand. First Method" Erdnase uses the word "fingerends" where I would have said "fingertips." (This is probably something of a typo, as this is the only place that the word appears in the book, but elsewhere he uses the phrase "finger ends" several times.)

The recent stylometric analysis of Erdnase in Genii measured the relative use of common words. Another method of analysis measures the use of uncommon words (I believe this was how Don Foster identified Joe Klein as the author of Primary Colors). Searching other magic writings for "fingerends"/"finger ends" and other less-common words and phrases from Erdnase may prove fruitful in identifying the author.

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Re: Erdnase

Postby Bill Mullins » January 30th, 2011, 1:06 am

First, congratulations to the winner (and consignor) of Lot #9 in today's Potter and Potter Auction. The 1st edition copy of Erdnase went for $5000, plus buyer's premium. I'll continue to be content with my Dover edition. Martin Gardner's copy went for more than $10k, but in included correspondence with the illustrator, Marshall D. Smith. Is this a record price for only the book?

Second, I just ran across an interesting article in Google News Archives from 1903. In it, an anonymous gambler describes how easy it is to cheat magicians at cards, because they think they know so much but it fact don't. "Why, the easiest money I ever made was off those 'now you see it, now you don't' Willie boys." He describes using the pass, second dealing, bottom dealing and riffle stacking a deck to fill out his opponents' and his own hand.

The gambler is never named, and in fact may be a figment of the author's imagination, a device to frame the story. The reason the article is so interesting, though (besides the descriptions of play), is the author of the story (which is reprinted from the New York Commercial Advertiser). His full name is not given, but his initials are (at the end of the article): S. W. E.

I'd love to look over some other issues of that paper from 1902 and 1903 -- I wonder if this person wrote anything else?

Check out the article: HERE

Geno Munari
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Re: Erdnase

Postby Geno Munari » January 30th, 2011, 1:32 am

Good job Bill. This is very interesting. I see that the initials are written in the reverse of what you said, E.W.S. Superb!


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