ERDNASE

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Geno Munari
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Geno Munari » July 1st, 2012, 8:04 am

I doubt very, very much that Nick D. was Erdnase. I saw him play on a few occasions at the Stardust when the Bank was still in operation at the Stardust Hotel and at the Dunes in 1964 in the poker room.

There are many reasons in my opinion that would negate the candidate as writing the EATCT that I will not get into here. Jimmy Grippo's brother Jan Grippo actually wrote a screen play on the story of Nick the Greek that never hit the screen

But still great that theories are still emerging.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ian Kendall » July 1st, 2012, 8:34 am

"Dandalos then moved back to Chicago where he lost almost everything on card and dice games.Without a doubt Dandalos was a master at card games and other forms of gambling."

Irony much?

Athan
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Athan » July 1st, 2012, 9:17 am

Ian

Maybe the way i wrote it in the post seems like that but it wasn't my intention. In fact Dandolos during his lifetime made lots of millions from gambling($500 million according to some websites).But he was a passionate gambler and near the end of his life this high roller ended up playing $5 limit poker.I am sure that every proffesional gambler has his ups and downs in his carreer.

Again i am just pointing out some coincidences(most probably) that in my imagination Dandolos would fit Erdnase's profile.As Geno mentions above he has seen him play some times and has his reasons that Dandolos couldnt have been the writer of The Expert and i must say that i believe him. Anyway there are other candidates mentioned before that indications link them with Erdnase.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 24th, 2012, 1:05 am

Hi All,

I just noticed a rather interesting old advertisement which I had never heard of before -- for The Expert at the Card Table. The advertisement was in a booklet that was offered in an auction back in 2010. The booklet was an Atlas Trick and Novelty Co. item, and the street address was (from the images) 113 W. Illinois St., Chicago, Ill.

On what appears to be the front cover of the booklet, it says, in part: How to Do Tricks With Cards by Salvail. The seller indicated that the item was an undated 10-page catalog, so I don't know how much Salvail material was included.

The full-page advertisement for the Erdnase book was headed, Another New Book of Great Interest to Conjurers. The price for The Expert at the Card Table was stated as 25c.

The advertisement also says:

PUBLISHERS ORIGINAL PRICE, $2.00

(That may not be exact, because the image is a little unclear.)

Details above are based on the listing and on the images that were included there.

--Tom Sawyer

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 24th, 2012, 12:26 pm

THIS 1906 advertisement in Billboard from Atlas refers to Savail. I'd bet the item you linked to is early -- 1905, or soon after.

And HERE is a profile of Savail. And his Obituary.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 27th, 2012, 4:57 pm

Hi All,

Clay Shevlin (who, by the way, has been a friend of mine for multiple decades) showed clearly -- in an earlier post -- certain problems with the nine blocks proximity argument, regarding the distance between the Atlas Trick and Novelty Co. and E.S. Andrewss dwelling on Austin Avenue in early 1903. (I believe that Richard Hatch was the first to determine the relevant addresses and to draw attention to that proximity.)

Although I do find the proximity interesting, another problem with it (it seems to me) is as follows. Again, the following are basically opinions.

First, in general, if E.S. Andrews (the railroad man) really was Erdnase, and if he lived close to any magic dealer, I pretty much assume that is a simple coincidence, which proves nothing relating to the authorship question. Well, it might be more than a coincidence if (for example) I knew that Erdnase selected that exact residence. (I might assume that he had some reason for selecting it -- the reason being, perhaps, to live near a magic dealer.)

At least, that is what I pretty much have to assume, in the absence of any information suggesting that Andrews intentionally moved to a place near Atlas, or that Atlas set up business there because the proprietor knew Andrews was living in the area.

But that is nothing like the present situation. In the present case, Andrews simply moved into his parents dwelling there on Austin Avenue, in October 1901, months before the book was published. (See Richard Hatchs Reading Erdnase Backwards.) The apparent reasonable assumption (though I dont know for certain) is that the Austin address was chosen by his parents completely independent of any writing of The Expert at the Card Table. Yes, it is possible that there is a more involved factual situation (unknown to anyone) that would demolish that assumption, but that seems unlikely.

If Andrews had moved to that Austin Avenue address in early 1903, then I would probably think, Hey, he moved there so that he would have easy access to a dealer who might sell his book. But no--it appears that the fact that Andrews lived near the Atlas Trick and Novelty Co. is nothing more than happenstance.

Anyway, the foregoing is part of how I myself view the proximity argument. The above is a quite simplified treatment. Also, the foregoing comments are kind of inextricably wound-up with other aspects of the situation -- but I have not gotten into that above.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 28th, 2012, 2:50 am

Hi Tom, thanks for continuing to share your opinions and insights on this topic. I really appreciate and value your thoughts and have learned a great deal from your scholarship. Just to make clear my own opinion on the proximity issue of Atlas in 1902-1903 and E. S. Andrews at the same period: I do believe that the proximity was accidental. Atlas happened to have its location on the same street, same side of the street as E. S. Andrews' parents (they had been there for some years already), into whose home he moved when transferred from Denver to Dekalb, Illinois by the railroad in October 1901. What I suspect is not so accidental (if E. S Andrews is Erdnase) is that Atlas wound up with copies of the book when E. S. was transferred to San Francisco by the railroad in Feb/March 1903 (working from memory so don't have the exact dates, but it was essentially within a month of when Atlas began to advertise copies at half price). My only explanation for why Atlas would choose to devote ad space in the Sphinx and elsewhere (Police Gazette, that we know of) to this title, previously only advertised once (that we know of) in the Sphinx (from Vernelo at full price a few months earlier) and even offer to send a brochure of the contents, is that Atlas had recently obtained a quantity of copies on very favorable terms. Why Atlas and not Vernelo or Roterberg or Burlingame? If the author was not (as I believe) part of the magic fraternity (his own words in the legerdemain section indicate his distance from the magic community), it would make sense for him to dump unsold copies on the most convenient magic dealer, which for E. S. Andrews would have been Atlas. And the fact that they end up with these copies at the very moment he moves from that location to the West Coast neatly explains his motivation and timing of the sale (not wanting to drag them with him). I find the overall circumstantial case ("right" name, right age, possible relationship by marriage with Dalrymple, in Chicago at the right time, evidence of card playing activity, association with Denver as recalled by Hugh Johnston, interesting profession) strengthened by the timing of the Atlas ads (just when he leaves Chicago) and the location of Atlas at that time (closest magic dealer to him). Certainly not proof by a long shot, but I find it hard not to like him!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 29th, 2012, 11:01 am

Sperber's Checklist of Conjuring Catalogues lists a 1901 catalog from Atlas, and other undated copies that likely are soon after.

Has anyone specifically examined these for possible listings of Expert?

There has been some discussion of Atlas as primarily a dealer in "slum" magic, and that it may be out of character of them to be selling a book like Expert, and thus their offering of the book is of some small significance. My own cursory look at contemporary ads (Billboard, Sphinx, etc.) shows that, yes, they did advertise a number of "pitch" products, but the also advertised apparatus and other items we'd associate with a "standard" magic store. A detailed examination of their catalogs from 1902 - 1905 or thereabouts might be interesting in this context.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 29th, 2012, 6:00 pm

Richard Hatch:

Thank you for the kind words and also for your further explanation of your views regarding the addresses on Austin Avenue!

--Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 29th, 2012, 6:30 pm

Hi All,

In the March 17, 1906, issue of The Billboard, there is an Atlas Trick and Novelty Co. advertisement. It says, in part:

We are the oldest in the country. Goods always on hand. Successor to M. Inez and Victor Novelty House. Our new book is a peach.


I may have tossed in a few periods that are not quite obvious from the image on the internet. In view of the date, I don't think their "new book" was the S.W. Erdnase book.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, the item described at this link may imply some kind of a connection between William J. Hilliar and the Atlas Trick and Novelty Co.

--Tom Sawyer

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 29th, 2012, 8:05 pm

It's refreshing that Tom has regenerated serious academic discussion in this thread, inspiring Bill and Richard to respond :)

Personally, I've never thought that Richard's observation about the geographical proximity had anything to do with any predisposition to Andrews having any sort of desire to be near Atlas.

Rather I had envisioned a man, living where he did, out and about ........walking to a bus, taking in the night air, walking his dog, or just generally noting the various business in his neighborhood while going about his day to day business (as we all do, and come to know our neighborhoods like the backs of our hands).
In his travels he would have invariably noted the business called Atlas Trick and Novelty Co.

At a later time, when he wanted to dispose of his remaining inventory of EATCT, he wandered a few blocks and engaged in a discussion with the Atlas Trick and Novelty Co. to determine their interest in remaindering his books.

One could then posit that Atlas said "yes", they were interested in his books, and from there we get the vector leading to Atlas making EATCT available for sale.

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 30th, 2012, 1:20 am

Roger, thank you. --Tom

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 30th, 2012, 11:05 am

For those who are keeping score, HERE is another early advertisement for Expert -- from Sept 5, 1903.

And I just noticed that this thread has received over a MILLION views. Wow.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 31st, 2012, 1:16 am

Hey, thanks for finding that, Bill! The Billboard ad text is identical (though the typography is different) to what Atlas had in The Police Gazette a few months early (March 28, 1903). Curious that they are still (in September) saying the book has 204 rather than 205 pages. Wish someone would turn up their advertised "List of Contents free". In answer to your earlier inquiry about checking Atlas Catalogs from the period, I have checked all those I have found in the major magic catalog collections I have had access to (Sperber, Ray Goulet, and George Daily come to mind) and have not found anything of interest (yet!) on this topic, alas.
Again, to me the fact that Atlas is flogging the book aggressively (Sphinx, Police Gazette, Billboard) at half price strongly implies that they took stock of a goodly quantity on very favorable terms in February 1903. Did they get them from the author and supply Drake, or did Drake get them and supply Atlas (E. S. Burns)? And who did the Mahatma Offices get their copies from (advertised at the $1 price on Feb. 1st, two weeks before the Sphinx Atlas ad)? Atlas' proximity to one of the candidates (Edwin S. Andrews) and the ad campaign and price drop coincident with his transfer to the West Coast inclines me to think that Atlas got them from him (if he is Erdnase) and supplied both Mahatma (who beat him to the punch with their ad) and Drake (and Roterberg, who took over his inventory when they bought out Atlas shortly thereafter. Atlas later re-opened at the old Roterberg address when he moved, but Roterberg continued to offer the first edition copies on wholesale terms off the $1 price to other dealers as late as 1911, so I assume he got and kept most of the Atlas stock...)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 31st, 2012, 1:23 am

... and therein lies the real secret to the identity of Mr. Andrews.
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magicam
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 31st, 2012, 2:19 am

Richard Hatch wrote:... Again, to me the fact that Atlas is flogging the book aggressively (Sphinx, Police Gazette, Billboard) at half price strongly implies that they took stock of a goodly quantity on very favorable terms in February 1903. Did they get them from the author and supply Drake, or did Drake get them and supply Atlas (E. S. Burns)? And who did the Mahatma Offices get their copies from (advertised at the $1 price on Feb. 1st, two weeks before the Sphinx Atlas ad)? Atlas' proximity to one of the candidates (Edwin S. Andrews) and the ad campaign and price drop coincident with his transfer to the West Coast inclines me to think that Atlas got them from him (if he is Erdnase) and supplied both Mahatma (who beat him to the punch with their ad) and Drake (and Roterberg, who took over his inventory when they bought out Atlas shortly thereafter. Atlas later re-opened at the old Roterberg address when he moved, but Roterberg continued to offer the first edition copies on wholesale terms off the $1 price to other dealers as late as 1911, so I assume he got and kept most of the Atlas stock...)


Again, what evidence do we have that the author actually sold copies of EATCT?

Seems to me that McKinneys bankruptcy may have better explanatory power re the timeline noted by RH.

From an earlier post:

magicam wrote:In summary, with the limited knowledge at my disposal, vis--vis Andrews presence in Chicago I do not see any significance to Atlas sales of EATCT. But to the extent that one wants to argue that Atlas sales of EATCT was at all unusual (and I dont think it was), there seems to be a very plausible reason for this which has nothing to do with Andrews. Accepting, for the sake of argument, that Atlas sales of EATCT was odd, the fact that Atlas was selling the book at half price suggests that whoever was handling the wholesaling of EATCT really wanted to see the book sold in as many stores as possible. Are there any facts to support such a motivation to wholesale to any possible retailer? Yes. McKinneys adjudicated bankruptcy in late January, 1903. Sure, the facts are circumstantial, but from Adrian Plates comments we are told that McKinney sold copies of EATCT. If thats true, would it not make sense for a financially-troubled McKinney to get copies of EATCT in the hands of as many Chicago-area dealers as possible in late 1902 and January, 1903, and possible in early February, 1903? If the heavy discounting of EATCT started in February, 1903, such timing would tie in neatly with McKinneys bankruptcy.

And if McKinney was the one selling copies of EATCT, both retail and wholesale, this might also provide a clue to the business arrangement that he had with Erdnase.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 31st, 2012, 2:46 am

magicam wrote:
Again, what evidence do we have that the author actually sold copies of EATCT?

Seems to me that McKinneys bankruptcy may have better explanatory power re the timeline noted by RH.


Hi Clay, I fully agree that if McKinney did indeed have a large inventory of The Expert on hand when they declared bankruptcy, that could have been one source of the half price copies. The newspaper notices announcing their pending bankruptcy mention a law firm that had an inventory list of their assets. Wish someone in Chicago could track that list down!

I don't see evidence, though, that the half price copies were widely distributed coincident with the bankruptcy. I don't think Vernelo, who was first to advertise the book to magicians (at full price in November 1902), advertised the book at half price, nor did Roterberg until after he acquired Atlas, as best I can tell. It is not yet clear when in 1903 Drake began to advertise the first edition copies (at $1). Other companies did offer the book at half price not long after the Atlas ads, but Atlas is clearly the leader in focusing attention on the book at that price in its ads, with the exception of the very small mention in Mahatma that "scooped" Atlas by two weeks. The others, like Mahatma, mention the book at that price among many other offerings. Atlas has ads featuring the book and nothing else (and not limited to the magical press) and offering to send a list of contents free (an offer I don't believe any others made). To me, Atlas' priority and focus on the book are significant, and their address and proximity to one of the candidates of interest.

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magicam
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 31st, 2012, 3:42 pm

Richard, in the spirit of rigorous debate

Lets step back for a moment. You wrote that McKinneys stock of The Expert (assuming he had any copies, which is clearly an assumption, although not unreasonable if Adrian Plates comments are correct, and there is no reason I know of to doubt Plates assertion or to imagine why Plate would conjure up such a fact out of thin air) could have been one source of the half price copies. Why stop at accepting the possibility that McKinney could only have been one source? How about the possibility that McKinney was the only source? Is it unreasonable to hypothesize that McKinney was the distributor of The Expert on behalf of the author, or that the author sold the entire stock of copies to McKinney and thus cashed out shortly before or after publication? I think such theories are entirely reasonable.

To me, Atlas' priority and focus on the book are significant, and their address and proximity to one of the candidates of interest.

Weve already addressed the proximity issue. I agree that it could be relevant, but see no compelling evidence to suggest that it is relevant. But the question is, how is Atlas' priority and focus on the book incompatible with the theory that Atlas acquired McKinneys entire stock of TEATCT? You seem to imply that the lack of widespread distribution somehow undercuts the theory that McKinney held the entire stock of The Expert or that Atlas bought all of McKinneys stock in bankruptcy liquidation. I dont see how that is, though. Please explain if that is indeed one of your points.

To me, its not at all unreasonable to postulate that (i) McKinney owned or controlled the entire stock of unsold copies of The Expert and (ii) when he went bankrupt, Atlas bought such stock for a song, which would in turn enable Atlas to wholesale some of the copies to others. The fact that Atlas was arguably more aggressive in marketing copies of The Expert is not at all inconsistent with the foregoing.

Finally, you argue that Atlas is clearly the leader in focusing attention on the book at that price, to which my counterpoint would be: Well, what of it? What, if anything, does that prove or imply? Could it be that this was simply a marketing choice made by a company? Perhaps other companies simply didnt feel moved to promote The Expert so heavily? Is that so unusual? (I dont think it is.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 31st, 2012, 4:13 pm

Clay, I have no problem with McKinney having the entire inventory of the book, distributing it, and selling copies on favorable terms to Atlas (and possibly others) as a result of the bankruptcy. But I also see no evidence of this yet, other than the one known copy that Adrian Plate apparently obtained from them (and the copy owned by Galloway). My basic working assumption is that the mysterious author (and publisher) of the book was initially selling copies, since his stated purpose in writing it was that he needed the money. The fact that we don't yet know how or to whom he was selling copies (possibly only to McKinney, but that seems unlikely to me. McKinney was a printer, not a publisher or bookseller) doesn't mean he wasn't doing so.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 31st, 2012, 5:04 pm

I have no problem with McKinney having the entire inventory of the book, distributing it, and selling copies on favorable terms to Atlas (and possibly others) as a result of the bankruptcy. But I also see no evidence of this yet, other than the one known copy that Adrian Plate apparently obtained from them

Sure there is! Its not direct evidence, but rather good circumstantial evidence: the timing of McKinneys bankruptcy and the very nature of bankruptcy proceedings. The timing of McKinneys BK and the heavy discounting of The Expert are just about perfect. By their nature, bankruptcies are about liquidating the bankrupts estate, which nearly always means selling for pennies on the dollar. Seems pretty clear that Atlas bought a stock of The Expert cheap.

Richard, I think your willingness to accept alternate theories is admirable it is, indeed, a necessity for historical scholarship. But I think its a mistake to indulge to any significant degree the assumption that the mysterious author (and publisher) of the book was initially selling copies. To my knowledge, there is absolutely no evidence of that, circumstantial or otherwise. What evidence, direct or indirect, exists other than the extremely weak inference drawn by the title-page statement, Published by the Author that the author actually sold copies of his book?

It is also, in my view, a mistake to place too much weight on the veracity of the authors statement that he was writing the book for the money. It is also perilous to equate making money with obtaining a living wage. It appears that the candidate E. S. Andrews was gainfully employed throughout the period in question were his wages so poor that he couldnt earn a living? Did he really need the money, or was he simply seeking to supplement his income and stating his reason therefor in the book?

It seems reasonable to assume that the author knew quite a bit about gambling and cheating, and somehow ran in, or was closely associated with, the inner circles of gamblers. It also seems a given that The Expert laid bare many of the gamblers subterfuges then in vogue. Doesnt it stand to reason that the physical well-being of the author would be in peril if gamblers found out that he wrote a book exposing their secrets? Seems to me that the author would have good reason to remain anonymous and steer clear of association with the book. That he wrote it for the money is at least better nominal reason than I wanted to screw all my gambling friends/associates.

That McKinney was a printer and not a publisher per se means little to me. That he was clearly associated with the author in some manner means much more. Do we know anything about how the author paid for the printing and binding of the book? Have any facts been adduced in this area? Given the reasonable assumption that author anonymity might have been very desirable considering the expos nature of the book, why would it be unreasonable to guess that McKinney played some role in the distribution from the start?

On a side note: have we assumed that McKinney bound the book as well? Has anybody explored what company may have bound the book, or made any inquiry into binders that McKinney used? Compared cloth and stamping styles to other contemporary publications in Chicago? Perhaps there are clues there?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 31st, 2012, 5:48 pm

magicam wrote:
It appears that the candidate E. S. Andrews was gainfully employed throughout the period in question were his wages so poor that he couldnt earn a living? Did he really need the money, or was he simply seeking to supplement his income and stating his reason therefor in the book?

It seems reasonable to assume that the author knew quite a bit about gambling and cheating, and somehow ran in, or was closely associated with, the inner circles of gamblers. It also seems a given that The Expert laid bare many of the gamblers subterfuges then in vogue. Doesnt it stand to reason that the physical well-being of the author would be in peril if gamblers found out that he wrote a book exposing their secrets? Seems to me that the author would have good reason to remain anonymous and steer clear of association with the book.


The train agent E. S. Andrews was a widower supporting two teenaged children, a second(non-income producing) wife and an invalided father and aged mother. I think he could have used the money.

Magicians seem to think that the author of the book was in danger of violence from the gambling community for having written the book. I have never heard from anyone in the gambling community who felt that was even remotely likely. I don't think gamblers view exposure the way magicians do. As the author states up front, the book would not "curtail the annual crop of suckers" nor was that his stated intent. Gamblers don't seem to have cared about the book one way or the other.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 31st, 2012, 8:57 pm

Hi All,

I have found the recent comments above (relating to the Atlas Trick and Novelty Co.) to be interesting and educational.

The following is from the "Answers to Correspondents section of William J. Hilliars Magic & Magicians column in the November 1, 1919, issue of The Billboard:

Van Hoven billed himself as the Dippy Mad Magician, and made a great hit with his nut style of magic. He is at present a big feature in England. We believe he originally came from Chicago, in fact Friend Burns of the old Atlas Trick & Novelty Co., told us once that Van Hoven when a kid used to come around his store every paynight and invest most of his salary in tricks.


This would be Frank Van Hoven and E.S. Burns.

Richard Hatch discusses Atlas's E.S. Burns in I think a number of places, including his article "Reading Erdnase Backwards."

Hurt McDermott discusses Burns in his Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase as well as in his article "Erdnase in Chicago."

It seems to me that the stronger the connection between Hilliar and Atlas, the more likely it is that Hilliar had some role in the book's creation.

I do not have a link to the page with the quoted text, but you can easily find it by going to the Fulton History website, then going to a search page, then searching for (for example):

Hilliar Hoven Friend Burns Atlas

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 31st, 2012, 11:19 pm

^^^ Interesting, Tom. I believe Hilliar had the background to write or provide information for such a book, although if memory serves, his physique would not appear to jibe well with that of the person Smith recalls meeting in the hotel room.

Richard, thanks for the info. I agree, a man in Andrews position would likely have found the extra income useful.

I dont know how deeply you have explored the possible repercussions accruing to an author of a gambling expose in that era, so I must take what you say at face value. The only quibble Ill raise is with the comment that [g]amblers don't seem to have cared about the book one way or the other. You have been circumspect with the expression of that view, and appropriately so in my view, for how can there be any reasonable certainty that there was either indifference or antipathy in the inner circles of gamblers? If gamblers did resent the publication of The Expert, it seems highly unlikely that they would have publicized it why call attention to something that could adversely affect ones living?

Lets assume for a moment that Andrews is our man. If I recall correctly, Andrews spent a considerable amount of time traveling as part of his career. So when it comes to the assumption that he sold copies of his book, how practical would it be to handle sales and distribution while on the road? Did he sell copies individually? If so, how? Did he approach people on the train to sell this book? And if he were wholesaling copies, how practical would it be to fill orders to dealers while he was traveling? Given Andrews career, it does not seem unreasonable to postulate that he would have asked someone else to wholesale and/or sell the book for him. McKinney would have been an excellent candidate for that, because Andrews already knew the printer, who was clearly familiar with the book trade; moreover, Andrews would not have to face or answer any questions from someone new as to where the book came from or who S. W. Erdnase was.

I dont know if the research has been done, but it seems to me that if Andrews were the author, we should be able to find evidence of copies of his book being offered for sale by dealers located in the major towns and cities along the routes frequented by Andrews in his work.

Finally, to those reading my comments to Richard, I want to make clear something that Richard already knows: I have great respect for Richards research, and no matter how pointed my comments, they are made in the spirit of vigorous debate and a desire to fully vet the facts and theories in play about the author of TEATCT. As Im sure Richard would attest, attacking a theory, including questioning the very foundations which underpin it, from all possible angles can only make such theory stronger if it has any legs to it, or at least expose its potential weaknesses.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 31st, 2012, 11:28 pm

magicam wrote: Doesnt it stand to reason that the physical well-being of the author would be in peril if gamblers found out that he wrote a book exposing their secrets? Seems to me that the author would have good reason to remain anonymous and steer clear of association with the book.



Not so much. Only a few years before (1896), also in Chicago, Henry Royal (aka "Kid Royal") started his second career as a gambling exposer, giving lectures not only to educate the public, but to expose those behind the gambling rackets (both the gambling bosses, and the civic officials who accepted bribes and otherwise tolerated the vice). "The gamblers and their political allies made every effort to prevent me from getting [an amusement license to give lectures]." His lectures included demonstrations of cheating techniques, gaffs, and a confessional (although his talks were not religious).

Royal went on for several years in a very public and non-anonymous manner that included writing, publishing and selling "The Only Reformed Confidence-Man and Gambler That Exposes and Executes Confidence and Gambling Tricks" (Chicago: 1896).

Royal did his exposes all over the country Chicago, NY, Atlantic City, Minneapolis, Baltimore, St. Louis, etc. He was much less anonymous than Erdnase, and much more of a rabble-rouser; some of his statements seemed calculated to incite those whose methods he was exposing. "I was 'done' by the gamblers of Chicago, and I am after them because they 'did' me."

I think that the way that Royal operated overtly, exposing the same type of secrets in the same environment that Erdnase would, argues against the theory that Erdnase needed anonymity for his own safety. Further, Royal did make money as an exposer. Perhaps Erdnase intended to follow up on his book with a lecture tour (that never panned out).

[Note: For a while, I was _very_ interested in Royal as a "person of interest" in the Erdnase mystery. He was from Chicago, used pseudonyms, skilled in gambling sleights and magic, wrote a book that included card sleights that was self-published, and had a publishig/writing background having worked at a newspaper in Atlanta. But after I read his book, I realized that the writing style and content had nothing to do with EATCT, and that the likelihood that Royal was Erdnase was very small. But I continue to think it possible, if not likely, that Erdnase may have seen Royal speak, and read his book.]

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » August 1st, 2012, 12:05 am

Bill, I dont know how important the anonymity for safety argument is and am not sure that its worth pressing much more. It seems a given that cheating was a shadowy culture and rough justice could be meted out in that world, so to me the matter of an exposers personal safety seems a natural concern. In any case, besides offering some possible distinctions to Royal's situation in your good post, Ill pose a fairly obvious follow-up question:

If not to avoid backlash from the gambling community, why did the author of The Expert wish to hide his true identity? David Alexander had a plausible answer for his candidate, but what of Andrews motivation?

Whether they are valid or not, I can see potentially important distinctions between Henry Royals situation and that of The Experts author. For starters, how much of the real work was exposed in Royals lectures and book? Was Royal exposing state-of-the-art methods of cheating? Second, if harm came to Royal, people in gambling circles would probably be suspected. But if harm came to the anonymous Expert author, who would suspect gamblers if they didnt know he wrote The Expert? IMO, its much easier to get away with a crime if the motives therefor are unknown.

Edit:

In a prior post, I wrote:
"I dont know if the research has been done, but it seems to me that if Andrews were the author, we should be able to find evidence of copies of his book being offered for sale by dealers located in the major towns and cities along the routes frequented by Andrews in his work."

I meant to write the following:

"I dont know if the research has been done, but it seems to me that if Andrews were the author and engaged in the sale and/or distribution of his book, we should be able to find evidence of copies of his book being offered for sale by dealers located in the major towns and cities along the routes frequented by Andrews in his work."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » August 1st, 2012, 1:50 am

Clay I can't fundamentally disagree I have no idea how much Erdnase may have feared repercussions. All I'm doing is offering a counter-example of someone who would seem to have put himself at even greater risk, but didn't let that stop him from working under his own name. I just don't think "it stands to reason" is a good way to argue much of what is said about either side of so many of the issues that come up in the Erdnase mystery. So much of it is supposition. You can take a particular set of facts and draw one circumstantial conclusion. I can look at the same set, add a couple of new facts or look at the old ones from a slightly different perspective, and draw a different one. I don't think that makes either of us wrong (although we certainly could both _be_ wrong).

Hurt McDermott has offered the theory that it was dangerous to publish EATCT in any city other than Chicago because of the Comstock laws. That made perfect sense to me, until I started to realize that gambling literature was offered in other cities at that time with no action against the non-anonymous authors or publishers publishing in NY may not have been all that dangerous. You've suggested that McKinney offered Atlas the stock of EATCT as part of his bankruptcy, and that is just as valid an explanation of Atlas having a bunch of books for sale as the proximity to Edwin Andrews. Again, a reasonable conclusion, but it begs the question of why McKinney would go to Atlas, rather than the other magic dealers in Chicago, none of whom other than Vernelo (that we know about) offered it for sale at that time (and I agree with Richard, Atlas was pushing it harder than Vernelo). Richard has described Atlas as a dealer in pitch and slum products, which they did, but they also offered items consistent with a mainstream retail operation. When I got a sneak peak at Marty Demarest's article, my first reaction was "case closed", but on reflection I backed down from that enthusiasm. On those four separate issues associated with Erdnase (as well as many others), I've been on the side of two different conclusions at different times because I've learned new things about the issue, or reconsidered old things in a newer light.

I think we only know 1% of anything about Erdnase or his book (other than the actual text, itself). We know so little, that when we find out anything new, it has the potential to completely upset everything that we thought we knew before. Even though we think we know a lot about Edwin S. Andrews or Wilbur E. Sanders, remember that it all can be summarized in a few paragraphs. I can think of at least 3 other "E S Andrews" who lived in 1902 that I started researching, and when I was able to accumulate a bare minimum of information about them, I started finding similarities to what I suppose Erdnase must have been like. There are many similarities between Edwin or Wilbur and Erdnase because we know enough about Edwin and Wilbur to find similarities not so much because either Edwin or Wilbur _is_ Erdnase. If we find out more about E. S. Andrews from Wisconsin who later became an insurance executive with Hartford Insurance, I'm sure some of it can support the conclusion that he could have written Erdnase. Likewise the newspaper printer E. S. Andrews whom Richard has mentioned in the Forum.

My post of earlier tonight was mainly intended to get on the record some interesting things about Kid Royal. This one is mostly to discuss how fragile (to me, at least) are the conclusions we have drawn about Erdnase they could so easily be overturned by a single "real" piece of data (a signed contract, a cancelled check, a contemporary letter saying "so and so wrote Expert", a signed inscription from the author, publishing records, etc.) And such new conclusions would in no way call into questions the facts we base the old conclusions on we weren't wrong up until then, we just didn't know.

And I need to correct something I said earlier that Kid Royal's book was published in Chicago. I was going from memory, and upon reflection, it may have been published in NY (some online evidence indicates that, at least, and I'm too lazy and tired right now to dig out my copy and check).

As far as your question:

If not to avoid backlash from the gambling community, why did the author of The Expert wish to hide his true identity? David Alexander had a plausible answer for his candidate, but what of Andrews motivation?

As I think I've mentioned before, are we sure the author wanted to be anonymous? If his name truly was "E S Andrews", the pseudonym is weak. "Erdnase" is contrived under any circumstances true anonymity that did not wish to draw attention to itself would go for "John Smith" or "James Jones" or the like. The illustrator's name is there in black and white while Smith's recollections of 45 years later didn't answer all of Martin Gardner's questions, I'll bet he could have been much more informative in 1903. The copyright application leads to an easy to find Chicago printer. Who's to say that E. S. Burns or William Hilliar or Roterburg or Vernelo or other Chicagoans active in magic didn't know who wrote EATCT? The identity of Erdnase may have been an open secret in a small Chicago subset of either the magic or gambling community, and it is simply an accident of history that nobody who knew who he was back then bothered to write it down somewhere that we can find today.

Sam Clemens used a pseudonym but he didn't want to be anonymous.

Here's something to consider the publisher of the Centennial edition of EACTC wished to remain anonymous. What conclusions can we (or should we) draw from that fact? Is he scared of repercussions? Would it embarrass his family or a professional reputation? Is he publicity shy?


And finally, let me say "Amen" to the final paragraph of your post #271369 above.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 1st, 2012, 7:57 am

What does the graph of all this research and conjecture look like? Are there some nodes of conjecture that are very high in degree (nummber of fact-nodes) that could be priority research items? Are there some people that are referenced in so much of the conjecture (again high degree) that they might be worth seeking out in terms of diaries/correspondence?

Whether or not the graph also presents an updated Mayan calendar is besides the point.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » August 1st, 2012, 5:53 pm

Ah, Jonathan, once again applying centrifugal force to a fixed circle And BTW, the Mayans may well regard your phrase updated Mayan calendar as a double pleonasm.

Bill, I take your points about a weak pseudonym. But I still wonder: why bother? And whos Sam Clemens?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » August 1st, 2012, 6:12 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote: Are there some nodes of conjecture that are very high in degree (nummber of fact-nodes) that could be priority research items?


Jon -- the point of my post above was to say that if we have many clues about an individual with respect to Erdnase, it is because we have a lot of source material about that individual to search, not because a lot of random relevant facts all point to that individual.

To rephrase in Jon-speak, yes there are many fact-nodes about W.E. Sanders. You are suggesting (I think) that therefore research should focus on Sanders. But research has already focussed on Sanders; which is why we have many fact-nodes. You are reversing cause and effect.

One of the problems of Erdnase research is that what we know is driven at least as much by what research resources are available, as by the questions we'd like answered. When the two overlap, we are happy, but the intersection is small and almost random; it seldom lies on the places that are really informative.

Edwin Andrews lived in Chicago, Colorado, and California, all of which have extensive digitized newspaper databases. That is one reasonwhy he is a strong candidate. Not the only one, but a big one.

magicam wrote: Bill, I take your points about a weak pseudonym. But I still wonder: why bother?

Well, that's the $64,000 question, isn't it?
And whos Sam Clemens?

Mark Twain

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 1st, 2012, 6:52 pm

Hi magicam, folks,

Re: "Who's Sam Clemens?": You may go to see Mark Twain or read works by Mark Twain but Sam Clemens is the guy who gets paid. :)

This entry into the larger dialog is about adding tools to the project.

I was shown something by a student in an anthropology course where they were asked to group artifacts and come to some conclusions about which are from the same culture and which might be from other cultures. To do that they were asked to build a table of characteristics and put check-marks in the column for each applicable for each item and then sort/group the rows to make our cases. I was asked to write a program to help do some sorting.

The graph approach mentioned earlier is similar - where each person, place or thing introduced gets a node, a point on the graph, and every connection, textual, physical or hypothetical becomes a line between two of those nodes. Some nodes will have lots of connecting edges and some will have next to none. The same kind of analysis as done using a table for the artifacts can then proceed and cases made for each path between the text and the person in question can be "weighed" in a sense.

All reads lead to Erdnase?

-J

PS and maybe not BS:
First, per agreement with our host I'm not going to distract from historical explorations or justify things using occult tools from other fields. I'll challenge stories that seem "just so" but I'm done suggesting authors from other species, planets, dimensions or why the text could be evidence of the big bang... on this thread. As another Jon likes to put it, "forward".

I'm about done with the story of the text per se. Some time ago I discussed the narrative here of "finding the ideal author of a text" and its relation to works by Eco and Borges. JLBorges had much to say about interpreting text by mis-attribution of authorship in his tale of Pierre Menard and the text of Don Quixote. He (Borges) also discussed the importance of the reader's needs in how a historical character is to be perceived in his tale "Three Versions of Judas". I'm fine with folks creating their ideal writer for the text as their preferred author. It's telling and that's fine too.

Last time around I discussed how applying Occam's Razor leads to "the printer (or his immediate circle) did it". That such a tale does not meet other's demand that the claimed model for the images was necessarily the same person as the contact for the printing as well as the sole author of the text is understandable. That's about the mythos desired by some in this community. One could distract by arguing rhetorically "Was someone named Kilroy the author and the artist for all those graffiti found?" - but not here/now on this visit to the thread. Let's leave off textual analysis and Occam's Razer which may cut too deep for some and instead explore using another tool used by researchers.
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on August 1st, 2012, 7:21 pm, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: sometimes parenthetical deserve their own paragraphs

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » August 1st, 2012, 8:57 pm

Jonathan raised some points (in the "nodes" post earlier today) that I think really were not addressed. I think he was raising the issue of whether there are some good topics for research that are for some reason being ignored, and that he suggested criteria that might be used for determining what should perhaps be explored.

It does occur to me that overall the "search for Erdnase" does seem quite unorganized -- again, overall. Some people are undoubtedly very organized in their own search activities. (I am not, though.)

Back in June 2005 there was a little discussion (on this thread) of possibly tracking down the records from Erdnases bank. I have wondered whether anyone ever followed up on that. Maybe a broader idea was to check with all of the likely banks.

I'm not sure why the whole "Seely" (and the possible Dalrymple connection) issue hasn't been answered unequivocally one way or another. I don't know much about genealogy, but I was under the impression that such questions were generally not impossible to find answers to. I gather that that issue (regarding the railroad man's wife) has been there for well over a decade.

Also, I kind of wonder about the E.S. Andrewss (the railroad mans) descendants. I would have thought them rather easy to track down. I guess I am wrong on that. But I dont think I have even heard of anyone attempting to find them.

IMPORTANT: I am not even remotely criticizing anyone in this post. And I am not in this post challenging anyone, and I am not here asking anyone to do anything, or suggesting that they do anything!

I would have thought that certain things would have been discussed a little more -- even if it is just people saying, "I haven't done this [for such and such a reason]."

Oh, also, the comments above may reflect incomplete knowledge on my part. (Maybe people have discussed these things in detail, for instance.)

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » August 2nd, 2012, 12:54 am

Tom Sawyer wrote:Also, I kind of wonder about the E.S. Andrewss (the railroad mans) descendants. I would have thought them rather easy to track down. I guess I am wrong on that. But I dont think I have even heard of anyone attempting to find them.

The one photo I have of E. S. Andrews came from the widow of his last surviving heir (a grandson). She knew nothing about the book but did provide me with a copy of a short letter he had written to his infant grandson. Other than providing a sample of his handwriting, it didn't seem too useful (content was not relevant to compare with Erdnase, alas).

Similarly I tracked down and spoke with two grandchildren of James DeWitt Andrews, a candidate I favored early on. Only one of the two had met him, and that was when she was an infant. Neither knew anything about the book.

I think at the time (this was about 10 years ago), I expected the grandkids to tell me that they had the original manuscript or a signed first edition or some other compelling clue. I was disappointed that was not the case in these instances, but you never know what you'll find until you look...

I also tried to track down bank records, which led me to the archivist of Bank One, the successor the the First Bank of Chicago (working from memory here, but I think that was the Bank. It was one that M. D. Smith though the check he received might have been written on). Alas, I was told that no records from that period would have survived the many business changes, which was certainly disappointing. Jay Marshall had made similar inquiries at Chicago banks in the 1950s on behalf of Martin Gardner, with null results, but he was focused on Milton Franklin Andrews accounts and came up empty.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » August 2nd, 2012, 1:55 am

Richard Hatch -- thanks for the great reply!

I saw that photo in your article, "Reading Erdnase Backwards," as well as in Hurt McDermott's book on Erdnase, and wondered where that photo came from.

It's a fabulous photo!

Thanks for that other information as well -- I was aware of little, if any, of it.

I suppose it is possible (though I am sure you have thought about this) that other relatives of Andrews might have some interesting information.

I am in possession of quite a number of old (like maybe 70 to 100 years old) photographs of relatives of my own, taken in Norway. (To be clear, the photos are of some of my own relatives.) I seriously doubt that any of my Norwegian relatives would know I have them. (My mother's parents were born in Norway.)

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » August 2nd, 2012, 2:31 am

Bill Mullins wrote:
CHS wrote:And whos Sam Clemens?

Mark Twain

And who's Mark Twain?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Edwin Corrie » August 2nd, 2012, 6:10 am

Wait, didn't Mark Twain write about Tom Sawyer, who's writing about Erdnase? I'm confused...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Geno Munari » August 2nd, 2012, 7:44 am

You have probably seen this, and if so sorry to be repetitive.

Geno

http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/www/drak ... logue1903/

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » August 2nd, 2012, 9:16 am

Geno, although the catalog is listed as a 1903 Drake catalog, if one examines the entries, two books are listed in it as new for 1904 and one is listed as new for 1905! So I would have dated it as late 1904 or early 1905 based on those entries. Curious that it does not include (that I could see) Erdnase...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 2nd, 2012, 9:49 am

Maybe I missed these items:
Are there diary/letter references to folks learning the blind shuffles from someone of even remotely similar descrition to the author of the text?

Are there contemporary reviews of the book? - dialog about its utility?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » August 2nd, 2012, 3:23 pm

Hi All,

Concerning that "1903" Drake catalog, the "350-352 Wabash" address may place it around 1906 or later.

It looks to me as though it is a Drake catalog from the back of one of the books published by Drake. Not including the series of law books, it looks as though it lists 45 or so books.

Anyway, I consider such catalogs (in the back of many Drake books) to be more like regular advertisements, even though Drake calls the "1903" one (in the very first word) "Catalogue." (That may have been semi-routine for such lists.)

The actual original Drake catalogs for that early era that I have seen (in volumes of PTLA) were, as I recall, much larger format than the typical 12mo or so Drake book (such as The Expert at the Card Table). As I seem to recall, they may have been printed on glossy paper, and perhaps with colored ink. (Some Drake advertisements actually picture a catalog with a regular cover.)

I imagine that actual freestanding Drake catalogs from the early 1900s would be considered scarce or even rare -- outside of libraries which have originals of the relevant volumes of PTLA. Of course, bound-up in PTLA, I guess they are not freestanding.

On the other hand, the ones in the backs of books are overall extremely common -- but the point I am trying to make is that I don't think that there is much similarity between the two general types.

A "Catalogue" in the back of a Drake book with a 1902 copyright date (Photography Self Taught) has six pages of illustrated advertisements for books, followed by a rather plain listing of about 100 books (all of which were "Practical Mechanical Books for Home Study"). I think their formal catalogs listed a larger number of books.

Another advertisement in the photography book shows the address 1006 Michigan Avenue. From The Editor, May 20, 1916, it looks like Drake moved there (the 1006 address) in 1916 -- so now I wish I had chosen an earlier book to discuss in this post.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » August 3rd, 2012, 3:55 am

Hi All,

I thought I might mention at this time one of the reasons why I am not convinced that E.S. Andrews (the railroad man) is S.W. Erdnase.

I will start out by saying that there are some quite good arguments that support the proposition that he was Erdnase, and many of them were developed at some length by Richard Hatch in his article Reading Erdnase Backwards, and many have been discussed in some depth on this thread -- and elsewhere, for that matter.

Also, I am not super-comfortable about the views stated in this post -- I am just not all that sure of them. I think they are plausible, but they are pretty subjective. I guess that some of the comments below are based to some extent on stereotypes, or preconceived views on what S.W. Erdnase should look like.

Anyway, the point I want to mention in this post has to do with the photograph of E.S. Andrews and his family. The photograph was discovered by Richard Hatch, as discussed recently on this thread. The places I have seen the photograph are:

1. Richard Hatchs article Reading Erdnase Backwards

2. Hurt McDermotts book Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase (a less-cropped version of the photograph, though it does not show any of the people to a greater extent)

I suppose that the first issue that may exist is whether the photograph has any probative value whatsoever in connection with the authorship controversy. Some people might say that it has no such value whatsoever, because, hey, it just shows a man and his family, and that, ipso facto, such a photo can't prove anything as to whether he wrote the book. (I suppose that a photograph could show certain physical attributes that might render it highly unlikely that a person portrayed could have written the book. But I am speaking generally.)

On the other hand, I think such things are a matter of degree. If you had photographs of people with certain widely varying occupations, you might be able to tell which person was which at a glance (depending on the occupations). I know there are probably many exceptions which make it hard to generalize, but one were a guitar-player in a rock band, and the other were a professional weightlifter, I imagine that typically you would be able to tell which was which from typical photographs.

So, maybe it is a matter of degree. In the case of the E.S. Andrews photograph, the indicators -- if they exist -- are apt to be somewhat subtle.

There is essentially nothing about the photograph, in my mind, that supports the idea that this E.S. Andrews was Erdnase. Maybe if it were a photo of Andrews and his pals, hanging around the railroad station, that would be different. But no, it shows him, next to his (second) wife, with his daughter and son. A family like that doesnt usually just appear without significant time and effort by (I would suppose in this case) both parents, and a reasonable conclusion might be that Andrews spent a lot of time with his family, and not in practicing card sleights.

I realize that wonderful families have been raised under widely varying circumstances. I am just saying that from this photograph, I infer that both parents were closely involved in raising the children. The main reasons I say this are perhaps too subtle and involved to easily go into in this post.

I have seen enough old photographs to be of the opinion that something of the personality of the people depicted sometimes shows through, even in somewhat serious, posed photographs. Admittedly, this often could be my imagination. But I think it does in this case -- and I cannot easily reconcile that with the personality of S.W. Erdnase as apparently (or possibly) demonstrated by certain aspects of Erdnases book.

I guess that most people interested in the Erdnase authorship questions have seen photographs of W.E. Sanders and Milton Franklin Andrews. Such photos seem of a completely different genre from the E.S. Andrews photograph. I dont particularly think either of them (W.E.S. or M.F.A.) is Erdnase, but at least (to my mind) the photographs of them are consistent with the idea that they could be Erdnase.

As to concrete things, it seems pretty plain that, in the photograph located by Richard Hatch, Dollie (Andrewss second wife) is smiling. It also appears to me that Andrews is smiling slightly. And his daughter seems to have the trace of a smile. This all seems inconsistent with some of Erdnases often dry, and sometimes (I believe) negative, way of expressing himself.

Now that I have read through the foregoing, I see that it only scratches the surface and may not be very persuasive. But I think it sketches the basic idea. The photograph does not fit my idea of S.W. Erdnase, and it does not fit my idea of S.W. Erdnases family.

In another post, I may get into certain things I have read about E.S. Andrews which seem to support the above view of who he was. In other words, I am not basing the foregoing strictly on my interpretation of the photograph -- I think my interpretation has been colored by some things I have read.

Also, I fully realize that photographs can be very deceiving. But if the Richard Hatch photograph is to be treated as being even in the least bit helpful in resolving the S.W. Erdnase authorship questions, well, then it must mean something, even if the suggestions it makes are extremely weak and unconvincing. And to me, even if ever so weakly, it suggests that E.S. Andrews is not Erdnase.

--Tom Sawyer


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