ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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lybrary
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 12th, 2014, 12:17 pm

Bill, if you read Hurt's book you will find his linguistic analysis of Roterberg. Hurt's conclusion is that Roterberg was not Erdnase based on the linguistics. But he also notes the noun phrases. I myself have not made a detailed comparison with other authors. I don't think I am the right person for this. But being bilingual I am sharing my own observations and my hunch that the author had German roots.

For example, my wife who is a language maven - she speaks several languages fluently and is particularly good with English - constantly complains about my noun-phrases and that my sentences, particularly if I write something formal, use way too many nouns when one could use verbs much more elegantly. In some way, I see Erdnase suffering a similar habit albeit less drastically than my own. At the very least I see him using more noun-phrases than I would expect from a native English speaker. This is me the engineer talking. I am not a linguistic beyond being bilingual.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 12th, 2014, 12:21 pm

Chris, it would seem difficult to be jobless for the length of time it would take to develop the sleights in the book, to perfect them with practice, and then to self-publish a book describing them in explicit detail.

As I noted earlier, this process Erdnase undertook would take years, if not a full decade or longer to develop from an idea to completion.

One would seem to require a source of income for food and lodging, let alone the money required to get the book to market.
The late 1800's were somewhat merciless on the have-nots, with few social safety nets.

I would posit (for a multitude of reasons) that Erdnase had a job, and that it is highly likely he performed that job on a train.

For those who have made the journey through the book with deck of cards in-hand, working on each sleight to perfection along the way ... the decade or more Erdnase would have required to go from concept to completion noted above is simply a given.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 12th, 2014, 12:51 pm

Roger, so you don't think that somebody can scrape out a living gambling with a sleight of hand advantage back then?

Most of the sleight of hand magicians learn is in their teens, if they got bitten by the magic bug early enough. I myself got into magic relatively late in my early twenties. But I learned most of the sleight of hand I do today while being a student. I therefore would assume that most of Erdnase's sleight of hand was learned during his teens while he possibly was still in Germany attending school or doing other things while being supported by somebody. Then he comes to the US, probably tries out different odd jobs, and continues to practice his card skills. Eventually he starts to earn some money gambling. But he could have done any number of odd jobs to survive, all of which could have left him enough time to practice with his cards.

Even if you have an 8-hour job you could fit in an additional 4 hours practicing every day, particularly if you are dedicated and single. On the weekend you can do even more. This would allow you to practice 1500 hours a year. I say plenty of time regardless of what job he did - particularly for a hard working German :-)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » November 12th, 2014, 2:11 pm

is 'an author' necessarily the same as 'the writer' ?

if 'he' needs the money why the reference to 'we'? I realize 'we' is a stylistic convention and do not think that it points to multiple authors BUT is the difference in usage in the preface significant? Did 'erdnase' write the preface? if so, why not 'I' need the money OR maintain the 'we' convention used throughout the text?

do similar Drake prefaces suggest that perhaps this one section was not penned by either the writer or the author but the publisher?

Did smith comment on the language of the man he met? I know that if I found an extra ordinary person with extraordinary gifts who had the making of a book but not the ability to realize it, I might step in as 'the writer'. but I would still feel he was 'the author'. he I would send to the illustrator.

just observations of someone reading the ideas of the experts and seeing lines that are present in these posts albeit not necessarily backed up with the objective historical data.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » November 12th, 2014, 2:18 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote: But why the two days? That is to say, if you have two books to submit for copyright, why not submit them on the same day? Why submit one on Saturday and then wait until Monday to submit the other one?


The Internet has made it possible to submit an application and make payment to the Copyright Office online. Having personally copyrighted material prior to this advance, I remember having to fill out the necessary paperwork by hand, get a money order and package everything for delivery. This was in the mid-90s. I can only imagine how laborious it might have been at the beginning of the century.

I can only surmise that he worked on the first application and submitted it. Then spent the remainder of the weekend finalizing the second. It depends on his method of working. Some might complete both first, others might like to finish one then another to focus on the details.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » November 12th, 2014, 2:48 pm

Image

The PBS program American Experience describes itself as TV's most-watched history series. Admittedly the subject matter may be very esoteric, but it's a fascinating mystery. There are so many elements, with new avenues of exploration being suggested on this forum in recent months.

It would be great if someone would approach a network with a proposal for a program about the search for Erdnase. It's not without precedent as both Steve Cohen and Penn and Teller have had magic history series.

CARC seems like the most likely candidate. PBS may dismiss it as too lightweight, although they have had profiles of individuals in the past (Annie Oakley) and less sombre subjects (Tupperware). The enduring appeal and importance of EATCT to card magic as an art form are arguments in its favor.

Of course, the History Channel is also an option and they seem more willing to accept something of this nature. Though they may require a completed film to be submitted rather than providing funding and resources for its production. If so, Kickstarter anyone?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » November 12th, 2014, 3:17 pm

I think the use of the name "S. W. Erdnase" seems very contrived, and deserves examination on all fronts. There's the backward reading, the German connotation and the word-game approach.

I think it certainly could be an anagram. And the German wordplay even suggests it. From W. H. Cremer, ed., Magic No Mystery, (London, 1876), p. 235, "Tricks with Words":

"No one knows who first mangled a name so as to make an anagram, and probably nobody wishes to know. Like most other things on earth, either very good ones or atrociously bad ones are amusing and delightful.

"Simply defined, the art of anagram-making lies in using the letters of one word to make, by altered placing, such another word as will have increased force by relation to the former. When we find in 'Horatio Nelson' the motto 'Honor est a Niko!' we have something excellently apt, and a credit to the maker. For greater facility, the letters I and j are interchangeable, and, in humorous trials or on great pressure, liberties in the way of phonetic or other misspelling and leaving out of letters may be perpetrated.

"We subjoin some which will serve as models for those caring to seek out the innuendoes concealed in the name of a friend or foe.

"John bunyan: Nu hony in a B
Maria Steuarda: Scotorum regina"

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » November 12th, 2014, 3:30 pm

In 1880, Henry Jones (writing under the pseudonym "Cavendish" published the book Card Essays, Clay's Decisions and Card-Table Talk. The Mar 2 1880 issue of The Bookseller (a trade journal) quoted a review from the London newspaper, The Globe that called Cavendish "an expert at the card-table".

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 12th, 2014, 4:10 pm

lybrary wrote:Roger, so you don't think that somebody can scrape out a living gambling with a sleight of hand advantage back then?


Chris, I do indeed think a cheater could scrape out a living cheating, certainly lots of them did just that.

BUT, my expertise is in hustling/cheating as opposed to magic, and my experience to date (backed up by a generous amount of historical documentation) is that a guy like Mr. Erdnase would very quickly burn games out in his neighborhood, city, and even state.
This was true of cheaters across America. They had to move around in order to ply their trade.

Our Mr. Devol details this transient nature extremely well in his "40 Years A Gambler on the Mississippi".

Erdnase (IMO) wasn't a professional cheater or a professional magician, but could move back and forth seamlessly between the two fields while working a regular job.

I think he cheated to a degree while playing cards, certainly enough that he had to maintain an ongoing search for new chumps, new territory, and new games.
I also think he may have inspired interest from potential marks by showing them a few card tricks to get them interested in talking about cards and card games.

I think EATCT and David Ben and Richard Hatch's work reflects the above thinking extremely well.

The hustlers domain was first the steamboat, and later the train.
Mr. Erdnase was born too late for the steamboat, and I believe he spent a great deal of time on the train as the hustlers venue of choice in the late 1800's.
BUT again, I don't believe Mr. Erdnase was a professional hustler (as noted above), but rather a clever fellow who discovered that his skills with a deck of cards might be put to good use on the trains he regularly worked and traveled on.

A long answer to your question Chris, but shortened up the answer would be "yes, professional cheaters could have scrapped by hustling cards ... but I don't believe Erdnase was a professional cheater".

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 12th, 2014, 4:23 pm

Just a quick thought on all the speculation concerning how much time it would have taken "Erdnase" (if there was such a fellow) to master the material contained in EATCT:

What evidence suggests "he" had mastered it all?

First, a successful cheat would never require so many "tools." Second, for this stuff to pass muster at an actual table - one likely populated with less-than-gentle men - a gargantuan amount of work would be required. Diminishing returns and all...

This is one of several reasons I don't believe the material was sourced from a single individual.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 12th, 2014, 4:49 pm

John, I think this is a very good point. Being able to demonstrate a move for an illustrator and actually using a move under fire are two entirely different things.

I find the occupational argument very weak in general. I think there are many occupations that would allow a passionate and hard working fellow acquire enough expertise to cheat on the side and develop enough expertise to write and demo the material for an illustrator.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 12th, 2014, 4:58 pm

I think there is also a bit of glorification of Erdnase going on. Yes, he clearly was skilled with cards and he wrote a great book, but how good he really was as a gambler or magician isn't entirely clear and for how long he maintained his skills is also not known.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » November 12th, 2014, 5:15 pm

Erdnase claimed to have copyrighted his book in England. I don't think anyone has been able to confirm that he did (it's an open question, since the relevant records were destroyed in WWII). If you want to know what the procedure was ca. 1902, look at this.


JHostler wrote: Assumption 2: The proximity of copyright dates for EATCT (2/17/1902) and Drake's Roterberg reprint entitled "Card Tricks, How to Do Them..." (2/15/1902) is no coincidence.
. . .
My takeaway: There was no Erdnase, or Andrews, or any single author. The book was a house job perpetrated by Drake, compiled from a number of sources - including (but not limited to) Roterberg. The TINE theory.


Some thoughts (and please don't take this as "tomato hurling")

If it was a "house job" by Drake, why did they not publish it as a Drake imprint?
Why did they apply for copyright in the name of "Erdnase"? (And were such statements made under penalty of perjury?)
Is there any known connection between Drake and McKinney at this point, other than geographic proximity? Did Drake use McKinney as a printer for any of their other books?
Is there any known connection between Drake and Smith?

And why do you say that Roterberg's book was copyrighted in Feb 1902? The Catalogue of Copyrights from the Library of Congress includes Erdnase here, but has no entry for Roterberg (if it did, it would be here between Rostetter and Roth.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 12th, 2014, 5:29 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Some thoughts (and please don't take this as "tomato hurling")

If it was a "house job" by Drake, why did they not publish it as a Drake imprint?
Why did they apply for copyright in the name of "Erdnase"? (And were such statements made under penalty of perjury?)
Is there any known connection between Drake and McKinney at this point, other than geographic proximity? Did Drake use McKinney as a printer for any of their other books?
Is there any known connection between Drake and Smith?

And why do you say that Roterberg's book was copyrighted in Feb 1902? The Catalogue of Copyrights from the Library of Congress includes Erdnase here, but has no entry for Roterberg (if it did, it would be here between Rostetter and Roth.)


No hurling taken.

You can find the copyright info for Drake's reissue of Roterberg's book here: https://archive.org/stream/catalogoftit ... r_djvu.txt

Roterberg, A[ugust] Card tricks, how to do them, and sleight of hand; designed for parlor and stage entertainments, for the instruction of professionals and amateurs . . . Chicago, F. J. Drake & company [ c 1903] 3 p. 1., [5]-168p. illus. 17* cm. 6—16197 43584

F. J. Drake &co., Chicago, 111. A 27074, Feb. 15, 1902; 2 c. Apr. 23, 1906.


As to why Drake would initiate or support the "side publication" of a book on cheating: I have no idea. (Actually, I do... several... but it's speculation of the variety that's fueled dozens of other theories.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » November 12th, 2014, 5:40 pm

Thanks for the link. So whoever published/copyrighted Erdnase submitted printed copies in a timely manner (they arrived the following month), but Drake waited four years after submission of copyright application to send in the required two copies of the Roterberg book.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 12th, 2014, 6:44 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
JHostler wrote: ... similarities in the the style and content of EATCT's "Preface" versus those of other Drake publications (when Drake purportedly played no role in the book's development).


This is interesting and something I don't remember seeing. Do you have any examples of these other Drake prefaces that are similar and make you think they were written by the same person as the Erdnase preface?


Note how all begin with a sentence explaining the reason for the book's existence. No slam dunk, but interesting:

http://books.google.com/books?id=_7wyAQ ... se&f=false

https://archive.org/stream/artofcaricat ... 9/mode/2up

https://archive.org/stream/20thcenturyt ... 9/mode/2up

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 12th, 2014, 7:02 pm

lybrary wrote:John, I think this is a very good point. Being able to demonstrate a move for an illustrator and actually using a move under fire are two entirely different things.


He invented most of the moves Chris (and John) ... think about that for a second.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 12th, 2014, 7:15 pm

Roger M. wrote:
lybrary wrote:John, I think this is a very good point. Being able to demonstrate a move for an illustrator and actually using a move under fire are two entirely different things.


He invented most of the moves Chris (and John) ... think about that for a second.


Not necessarily. He just published them. But let's say he did invent them... how much virtually unperformable magic has been published over the last 100 years? A TON. The fact that something makes print has absolutely no bearing on the author's skill or ability to execute.
Last edited by JHostler on November 12th, 2014, 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 12th, 2014, 7:16 pm

lybrary wrote:I think there is also a bit of glorification of Erdnase going on.


There's no "glorification" going on, simply an acknowledgement a genius who created from scratch many card sleights previously unseen, and one who has elevated all card sleights to a height never seen prior to the publication of his book.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 12th, 2014, 7:17 pm

JHostler wrote:
Roger M. wrote:
lybrary wrote:John, I think this is a very good point. Being able to demonstrate a move for an illustrator and actually using a move under fire are two entirely different things.


He invented most of the moves Chris (and John) ... think about that for a second.


Not necessarily. He just published them. But let's say he did invent them... how much virtually unperformable magic has been published over the last 100 years? A TON. The fact that something makes print has absolutely no bearing on the author's skill.


John, I get where you're coming from, I really do - and I don't agree with some of your conclusions.

Let's leave it at that - OK?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » November 12th, 2014, 8:14 pm

JHostler wrote:Note how all begin with a sentence explaining the reason for the book's existence. No slam dunk, but interesting:

http://books.google.com/books?id=_7wyAQ ... se&f=false

https://archive.org/stream/artofcaricat ... 9/mode/2up

https://archive.org/stream/20thcenturyt ... 9/mode/2up



Fascinating. A quick question: in the Smith book, the Preface has Smith's name at the bottom, and is clearly written by the author to the reader. But neither Expert nor the Holford book have the author's name, and they are not written as personal communications. They read like advertisements. They sound like they were written by the publisher.

I have no knowledge of the practices of the day; was it common for prefaces to be written by the publisher? What do the Erdnasen who know much more about this subject than I do think? Who wrote the preface of Expert?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » November 12th, 2014, 10:17 pm

lybrary wrote: Being able to demonstrate a move for an illustrator and actually using a move under fire are two entirely different things.


How true.

The Complete Illustrated Book of Card Magic has 378 photographic illustrations of, "the author's hands demonstrating the sleights for this book".

I don't for a second believe that Walter Gibson was capable of flawless execution of all the sleights and maneuvers in that encyclopedic work.

lybrary wrote:I think there is also a bit of glorification of Erdnase going on.


The glorification is for the book, not for the man.

How can we glorify the man, when we have no idea of who he was, what he did or what he was capable of doing?

All we know for sure is that he was the author of the most influential book of it's kind. A book that has indeed been glorified, and rightly so.

Erdnase the man, anonymously basks in that glory.

Deservedly so!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » November 14th, 2014, 4:29 am

Hi All,

Regarding the "similar prefaces" hypothesis discussed above, it might be noted that "our" Frederick J. Drake passed away in 1912. That date is clear from The Publishers' Weekly.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 15th, 2014, 6:01 pm

Coincidences can really be weird. The January 1965 issue of Genii is the month and year of my birth. Leo Behnke is on the cover with the name "Leo" on the bottom of the front. My month and birth year issue of Genii has my name on the cover! You bet I already put in an order for it!

But as David Alexander wrote in his Erdnase article: "At some point the idea of endless coincidences becomes unreasonable and the evidence, even though circumstantial, becomes overwhelming."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » November 16th, 2014, 3:41 am

Hi All,

The following ties in with some of the discussion above.

At least in the early days, a lot of Drake’s books dealt with “performance-related” subjects, including magic, card-sharping, hypnotism, fortune-telling, and recitations. This applies at least to the period 1905 and before.

If you look at a certain “Index to Second Quarter, 1902” you can see some relevant information. Here is a link:

http://books.google.com/books?id=CP83AQ ... 22&f=false

(You may need to scroll down a couple of pages.)

A quick glance at that index (under Drake) and related information in the larger volume show that Drake submitted over a dozen works for copyright during the first half of the year 1902, including two magic books (not including the Roterberg book).

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » November 19th, 2014, 9:09 pm

Hi All,

I've been thinking about S.W. Erdnase, and the whole authorship controversy.

I was thinking of writing a very brief assessment of the present status of “the Erdnase investigation,” with emphasis on the recent discussion on this thread -- as an introductory segment to this post. I started writing it, but I found myself hedging and qualifying my comments, in part so that I would not cause pointless arguments here. I do recognize that a certain amount of subjectivity is involved, but then again there are some things that tend to transcend subjectivity, becoming . . . objective! To me, anyway,

It does appear to me that different people have different capabilities when it comes to looking at evidence, and it also appears that certain people may not be too concerned about making their arguments in a fashion that is palatable to all those who might disagree. It would be nice for everyone to be able to say, in all cases, “Well, I don’t agree with him (or her), but he (or she) made a good argument for his (or her) position.”

Anyway, I wanted to say a few words in this post about the name of the author as stated on the title page of The Expert at the Card Table. In spite of the attention that has been given to the name, I doubt that it has been analyzed fully.

Boiled down, one can say that the author’s real name is either (a) Andrews, or (b) not Andrews. For a long time, it seemed to me that there was a good chance that author’s name was Andrews, but not necessarily E.S. Andrews. Later, it seemed to me that good arguments could be made that his name -- if Andrews -- was probably E.S. Andrews.

I still developing my views on the subject, but now I am not so sure that I like the argument much that his name was Andrews at all. I was never very sure on that, but now I may be leaning more against that.

Part of this probably has to do with Chris Wasshuber’s recent comments on the meaning of Erdnase and uses of that word that have been mentioned by him. But it also has to do with further thinking that I have done regarding the title page.

It strikes me that there are actually two notable letter-sequences in the context of the author’s name as found on the title page. I have gone into this somewhat on my S.W. Erdnase blog, but below I am explaining it differently. The two key letter-sequences (or letter segments) are as follows:

ERDNASE (which is the surname of the author as stated on the title page)

SWERDNA (which, when reversed, is a frequently suggested surname for the author)

Both of the sequences stated above are present on the title page of the first edition of The Expert at the Card Table. Both make some sense.

But it appears to me that the sense made by the second one (SWERDNA) is weaker than the sense made by the first one (ERDNASE). This weakness is a result of the fact that SWERDNA does not appear on the title page as a discrete unit. ERDNASE, on the other hand, does appear, separate and alone, with nothing added and nothing subtracted.

To arrive at SWERDNA, you need to take ERDNASE, then add SW to the beginning, then subtract SE from the end.

If you allow yourself (1) to compress all of the letters in the name into one “word,” and (2) to consider a segment of that word -- then it seems to me that the case for the reversal becomes weaker.

The question here is, “How do you know what to reverse?” And the perhaps somewhat lame answer is, “Well, I add letters to the strange word ERDNASE, until I find something I can reverse! And if necessary, I will subtract letters as well!”

The ERDNASE sequence, on the other hand, is just “there.” It does not need to be modified, and it has meaning (see Chris Wasshuber’s comments in earlier posts).

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Luis » November 23rd, 2014, 2:38 am

A considerable weight has been given to M.D. Smith words, but has anybody thought of him as the real author not just the illustrator? Has anybody investigated his familiarity with a deck pf cards? Do we have examples of his writing? Could he be Erdnase with his real identity hidden in plain sight?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 23rd, 2014, 10:28 am

While anything remains a possibility, M.D. Smith was (and is) a well known artist with a solid catalog of work.
His life, and his history are not mysteries, are well established, and are easily referenced.
Recall that Gardner actually found the then 70 year old Smith using only the Chicago telephone book.

Perhaps most importantly, at the 1947 SAM Convention, Smith met with and spoke with Dai Vernon and Fawcett Ross, amongst other magicians also attending.
If ever there was a possibility of discovering that M.D. Smith had "mad" card skills, one might safely presume that Vernon would have been the first one to note such skill.
Smith signed EATCT editions, spoke with Vernon et al, and presumably was surrounded with card magic for the duration of his SAM attendance - an opportunity for the discovery that Smith was Erdnase if ever there was one!
But no such suggestion was ever made by anybody associated with the event.

In 1923, Smith left the world of commercial and editorial art, and lived the remainder of his life as a fine artist.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » November 26th, 2014, 4:46 pm

Tom, your recent post about the name "Andrews" and the various strands of letters is very interesting, and--as your work often does--evinces thinking that gets off familiar paths without straining to reach a particular conclusion. I think the simple name "Erdnase" deserves more examination. The author clearly uses that single word to designate himself, and its emphasis makes it an arguable stand-in for the author. (Should we be looking for an E.S. Andre?) On the other hand, the S.W.E. Shift suggests that both of the initials are also important when considering the author's naming of himself. It's intriguing to consider.

Personally, I love the clue of "E.S. Andrews." It looks like a solid lead. It's a fact that S.W. Erdnase, reversed, is E.S. Andrews. The first suspect on my list of candidates is E.S. Andrews, and I've followed Dick Hatch's research with great interest. I've also conducted my own investigation into Edwin Sumner Andrews. But I think that Dick's work is excellent. And while I might interpret some of the evidence a bit differently, I've found no reason not to rely on his findings.

"E.S. Andrews" is an outstanding candidate. The name is an armchair detective's dream. The answer is handed to us. "E.S. Andrews" = bull's eye. And that's the problem.

If E.S. Andrews is indeed Erdnase's real name, then he should be increasingly easy to find. If it is a real name, I think it's safe to presume that Mr. Andrews used his name elsewhere. There must be some record of him. Moreover, we can expect that record to coincide in some (perhaps oblique) ways with the image or profile of the author we are reading. That's why I consider it important to analyze the book, and to ask questions such as "Did Erdnase ever really cheat?" "What games did he play?" "Which languages does he use for effect?" "How much of a magician was Erdnase?" "How much of a writer was Erdnase?"

Unfortunately, every single candidate named "Andrews" that I have investigated reveals very little "Erdnasian" evidence. Milton Franklin Andrews yields evidence that fits Erdnase in some respect, but also yields plenty of contraindicatory evidence. As far as I can see with Edwin Sumner Andrews, only his name and location relate to Erdnase. (He did play cards, but not necessarily faro and casino.)

Because he used the name "S.W. Erdnase," I'm quite willing to believe that the author of The Expert was "E.S. Andrews." The clue makes the name a compelling theory. But the evidence it yields doesn't support it.

On the other hand, David Alexander and Richard Kyle provided evidence for another name--perhaps even questionable evidence. I could dismiss it as being so much wordplay (assuming that wordplay is irrelevant when considering a book). And I could decide (for some reason) that the author's name is unlikely to be an anagram. But I prefer to subject Alexander and Kyle's theory to the same empirical scrutiny that I give the name "E.S. Andrews."

The evidence for Sanders is at least as compelling as the clue for Andrews. With W.E. Sanders, we see decades of multifaceted engagement with cards and "sporting" men, proof of his writing and publishing skill, and a solid reason for disguising his name. He matches the physical description we have, and coincides with Erdnase in time, place and circumstance.

Given that it's been 90 years since Frederick J. Drake (talking with John C. Sprong) and Leo Rullman (writing in The Sphinx) pointed out the reversal of Erdnase's name, and decades of research have been conducted looking for the Andrews who wrote the book, I would expect the best Andrews candidate to have at least as much evidence--ideally more, and harder--than Sanders. But it's not there. Sanders shows more in common with Erdnase than Andrews. That doesn't make Sanders Erdnase, but it makes him more likely than a century's worth of Andrews.

If a name drawn randomly from a phone book (to repurpose Jason's remarkable analogy) yields more evidence than the name we were handed as a clue, maybe we need to ask ourselves if we're following a false clue.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » November 26th, 2014, 7:27 pm

Great post Marty! I also believe that E.S. Andrews is an interesting suspect with, albeit, not enough evidence so far to support his candidacy. Sanders had one or two brothers and I'm wondering what they can bring to the table.

Perhaps one or both of them commented in a letter about their no good gambling brother Wilbur. If W.E. was Erdnase and managed to hide this from his parents, he might not have been able to do so with his siblings.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 1st, 2014, 12:39 pm

Marty, thanks for the kind words in the post right above Leonard's. Much appreciated. You raise some excellent points about methodologies that have been applied so far.

Without commenting on W.E. Sanders, it is easy for me to agree that (potentially) the evidence that a person is Erdnase can readily trump the “evidence” that might be found in someone’s name. As has probably been noted elsewhere by others, all of the anagrams of “S.W. Erdnase” are basically ways of initially limiting the field. It’s just one way, though, and it is not a flawless way. (The author’s real name might be the very common one of John Smith, or it might be an unusual one like Tom Sawyer.)

Alexander’s (and Kyle’s) methodology -- in its basic form -- was quite good, but his reasons for ultimately eliminating the name “E.S. Andrews” from consideration -- at least in retrospect -- were not as conclusive as he apparently believed at the time. Even though it was a good basic method, it was not necessarily a route to the correct real name.

In reply to some of Jason’s discussion above, it seems to me that any of the anagrams of the author’s name as shown on the title page (S.W. Erdnase) would be a better starting point than a randomly selected name. If one wants to use a name as a starting point in an investigation of the authorship, the best one is E.S. Andrews, and then there are others of varying degrees of strength, such as S.E. Andrews, or Andre Wess, or E.W. Sanders, or W.E. Sanders, or Wes Anders.

But, of course, one does not need to start with a name at all.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 2nd, 2014, 3:12 pm

Hi All,

One of the things Marty Demarest mentions (a number of posts back) is his skepticism over the existence of “any direct, personal connection” between Frederick J. Drake & Co. and S.W. Erdnase.

I agree with that, based on what I have seen.

Of course, any demonstrable connection between Drake and Erdnase is going to be of interest, for several reasons. For one thing, it’s nice to be able to put together Erdnase’s story, and Drake may be an important part of that. Also, information on that topic can help one construct an accurate publishing history of the book, and such information even might help establish the identity of S.W. Erdnase.

The Man Who Was Erdnase talks about Drake obtaining the plates from Erdnase. I do not know where that information came from, and I suppose that it is an educated guess.

The most definite information I can think of relating to a connection between Drake and Erdnase is quoted by Jim Maloney_dup1 in this thread on November 27, 2006. Jim quotes Leo Rullman, from the February 1929 issue of The Sphinx. Without getting into detail, the material quoted does not seem very concrete, and it is difficult to know exactly what Rullman based his statements on.

Immediately, someone (I think I know who, but I do not want to guess on that) pounced on Rullman's account, while still allowing that Drake wound up in possession of the plates.

A fact that has been noted by several people is that Frederick J. Drake passed away in 1912. According to The Publishers’ Weekly, a son, Stafford W. Drake became the manager of the company in 1930.

--Tom Sawyer
Last edited by Tom Sawyer on December 2nd, 2014, 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 2nd, 2014, 4:31 pm

I don't think it is too presumptuous to think that sometime between 1902, when Erdnase copyrighted his own book, and 1905, when Drake started selling the "second" editions, that the two met to make some business arrangement. There is no proof of a meeting, and it could be that Drake simply started selling bootleg copies, but I doubt it.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 2nd, 2014, 6:25 pm

Bill,

I see such a meeting as something that "may" have happened. If a meeting between Drake and Erdnase took place, it could easily have taken place (as you indicate) at any time during 1902, 1903, 1904, or 1905. If I had to guess, I might prefer something like 1903.

Presumably, Drake's sale of first-edition copies, and his publication of subsequent printings, was based on a agreement between Drake and someone, but Erdnase's activities during the period 1902-1905 seem quite mysterious, and perhaps somewhat exempt from what would be normal speculations that might otherwise be fairly powerful.

For all we know, Erdnase may have allowed McKinney to have the plates (and copies of the first edition) in payment (or partial payment) for the printing. It has long seemed to me that Erdnase may have moved from the area, or otherwise disappeared, and perhaps washed his hands of the whole project.

It seems quite possible that Erdnase may have transferred the copyright to McKinney. If that is the case, then Drake might have made an arrangement with McKinney.

One of the persistent sub-mysteries in the whole Erdnase case is why the copyright apparently was not renewed. As someone pointed out earlier in this thread, one would think that Drake would have renewed the copyright, if Drake had purchased the copyright.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 2nd, 2014, 7:24 pm

Marty Demerest posited that the copyright was not renewed because W.E. Sanders had died.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 3rd, 2014, 2:25 am

If given the two scenarios, one of Erdnase dying and not renewing his copyright, and the other of him losing interest in the book and either selling it or just walking away from it ... I think many Erdnase history buffs would posit that he died while still holding the copyright.
However, Hurt Mcdermott wondered if perhaps Erdnase had a verbal copyright sale agreement with F. Drake, one that effectively died when Drake died due to the inability of his heirs to prove the verbal agreement existed.

An interesting aside (at least to me) related to the failure to renew copyright is that Erdnase, while holding the copyright, may have left the United States and not ever come back.
Even though the Gardner/Whalley/Busby crew didn't address the death of Erdnase (one of the many fatal flaws in their book that presumes the death of Milton was also the death of Erdnase) they did tuck away an often overlooked footnote on page 391 of TMWWE where they note that "Oddly, first editions of The Expert seem to be more common in Britain than in the U.S."

Because their logic on these specifics is dependent on Milton giving books to Roterberg, who then sends them to his dealer, Hamley's in Britain, if you reject Milton (as many did after reading Tom Sawyers book), then you may also feel compelled to re-evaluate how so many first editions of EATCT got to Britain in the fist place?

Perhaps they were carried there by the author, who could have (sooner or later) also died there.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 3rd, 2014, 4:14 am

Roger, thanks for giving credit to my book of long ago.

You make some interesting observations regarding Erdnase and Drake.

I remember that comment in The Man Who Was Erdnase regarding the number of copies of the first edition in Britain. I’m not sure what they meant by “Britain,” and I suppose they could have said England, or even London!

Anyway, it seems that even if one accepts the Milton Franklin Andrews hypothesis, the reasons for an abundance of copies in England still deserve a rethinking. Your theory about Erdnase possibly moving to England, I do not think I have heard before -- at least in connection with copies of the book being found there.

I would think that, at least in the early days, the market for the book would have been much greater in the US than in England, which would make it doubly interesting that there were a lot of copies of the first edition there.

On the other hand, it isn’t really clear how many copies of the first edition made it over there. The statement in The Man Who Was Erdnase may have been based on a relatively small quantity of data.

You mentioned Hurt McDermott, and I gather that this was an area of particular interest for him, because his discussion in Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase is probably the most extended discussion I have seen relating to Drake’s possible early roles. He makes quite a few bright observations regarding the Erdnase-Drake issues, though my opinions differ from his in a number of respects.

If there was an agreement between Drake and Erdnase (or McKinney), I would think that it would have been in writing. On the other hand, I doubt that such records would exist today, though Hurt seemed to attach significance to the apparent absence of records relating to any transfer.

--Tom Sawyer

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 3rd, 2014, 10:31 am

Tom, your book profoundly influenced me, and was the igniter of what has become a most enjoyable personal interest in Erdnase, and who he might have been.

Although death by misadventure can happen anywhere in the world, I've often wondered if Erdnase might not have met his abroad, perhaps after a lengthy period of travel.
For example, WW1 took many American lives, and such a death would have been sudden, with no opportunity to make arrangements for such minor concerns (under the circumstances) as a copyright.

Erdnase effectively evaporates sometime after he transfers the plates out of his possession.
Taking into account the fact that his efforts to "hide" were somewhat compromised by the fact that he clearly choose to indicate M.D. Smith on the cover of the book as the illustrator, seems to imply that he really wasn't trying too hard with efforts to remain completely anonymous.

Perhaps the reason he so effectively disappeared from the scene was that he not only left the United States, but then had the misfortune to die abroad?

Such an occurrence would tend to support the rather complete disappearance of our Mr. Erdnase.

My thoughts above, in the complete absence of supporting evidence, are really just talking points.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 3rd, 2014, 11:24 am

Roger M. wrote:... first editions of The Expert seem to be more common in Britain than in the U.S."[/i]...


Where and how is this claim substantiated?

What other books on card sleights were in common use in England around 1900?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 3rd, 2014, 1:40 pm

Roger M. wrote: Erdnase effectively evaporates sometime after he transfers the plates out of his possession. Taking into account the fact that his efforts to "hide" were somewhat compromised by the fact that he clearly choose to indicate M.D. Smith on the cover of the book as the illustrator, seems to imply that he really wasn't trying too hard with efforts to remain completely anonymous.


1. It was probably McKinney, not Erdnase, who transferred the plates. But like I said above, it was most likely with Erdnase's direction, or with his blessing.

2. As to whether he was trying hard or not to be anonymous. I've speculated before that he wasn't really trying at all to be anonymous -- it's just an accident of history that his identity was not overtly made public when he was alive, and we assume today that he wanted to be anonymous. The only evidence that supports secrecy on his part is that he used a pseudonym, but other authors who have done so weren't necessarily trying to stay hidden. The identities of Mark Twain and Professor Hoffmann were openly known during their lifetimes. They were prominent enough that their identities became widely known and were recorded by history, and we know who they were. Erdnase, on the other hand, wrote what at the time was a minor, obscure book that targeted a niche market. His "fan base" wasn't large enough for literary critics to want to interview him, or for reviews to appear in the popular press, and so he never got his fifteen minutes of fame.

It may have been that if you asked the right person in the Chicago magic community around 1905 -- Roterberg or Hilliar -- or maybe someone associated with the book -- Smith, McKinney, Drake -- they would have said, "yeah, Erdnase is living out by Lincoln Park. His name is Eddie Johnson. You take the #3 streetcar and . . . ".

Go through a year of The Sphinx around that time. There are a lot of names of people associated with magic, and we don't know very much about most of them. That doesn't mean they were hiding, just that we don't know.

3. One reason that there are no records associated with the copyrights after the initial application is that maybe they weren't worth enough for anyone to go to the trouble of renewing them. If the printing plates had more value than the copyright, then Drake (and successively Frost) wouldn't have needed to renew the copyright in 1930 to keep exclusivity. And in fact it wasn't until 1942, when Powner/Fleming and Mickey MacDougall came out with competing editions, that ownership of a renewed copyright would have been useful. Given that Frost had sales sufficient to keep the book in print even though others were also publishing editions shows that copyright exclusivity may have been something they didn't need in order to make money printing and selling the book.
Last edited by Bill Mullins on December 3rd, 2014, 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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