ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 3rd, 2014, 2:07 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
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?




They didn't offer their evidence as part of the footnote.

With the authors all passed on now, it's likely that unless somebody comes up with their working notes for TMWWE, we'll never know from whence that footnote came.

One thing though, as a brilliant and impeccable researcher, Barton Whaley rarely made statements without supporting documentation or information. We just don't know what documentation or information it was that that supported this particular footnote.
Last edited by Roger M. on December 3rd, 2014, 3:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby crandash » December 3rd, 2014, 3:37 pm

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


With the authors are all passed now, it's likely that unless somebody comes up with their working notes for TMWWE, we'll never know from whence that footnote came.



Looking through previous posts in regards to the passing of Barton Whaley, it appears that Geno Munari had a personal friendship with Mr. Whaley. I wonder if he has access to the notes?
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lybrary
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 3rd, 2014, 3:40 pm

I am not an expert on the pre WWI printing technology, but I would assume that back then owning the plates was equivalent with controlling the copyrights because only the one with the plates can realistically reprint. Therefore I think that Erdnase transfered the copyrights with the plates.
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Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 3rd, 2014, 4:02 pm

There are essentially three ways copyright could have been transfered:

1) in writing
2) verbally
3) implicitly, demonstrated by handing over the plates

The fourth option of course is that no copyright was ever transfered, either verbally, in writing, or by implication.

Any one of the above four options could easily be the correct answer, and without a doubt, one of them factually reflects what actually took place!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 3rd, 2014, 6:25 pm

Roger M. wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:
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?




They didn't offer their evidence as part of the footnote....


Would anyone over in Britain care to comment on number of copies of the book available at the time?

I'd like to believe our community can do better than Borges' research on Uqbar with its references and footnotes.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 3rd, 2014, 8:54 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Would anyone over in Britain care to comment on number of copies of the book available at the time?


That is probably an unanswerable question. It's not like there some master list of copies of Erdnase in Great Britain ca. 1991.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 3rd, 2014, 9:58 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Would anyone over in Britain care to comment on number of copies of the book available at the time?


That is probably an unanswerable question. It's not like there some master list of copies of Erdnase in Great Britain ca. 1991.


I'd like to stick with positive/evidence based history. I suspect there are publishers in Britain who carried the book, libraries which have copies... and some rough measure of the books presence could be estimated. It might be as simple as doing a few samples off ebay here and there for copies dating to 1905 or before. This can't be the first time anyone's asked to estimate how widely and how deeply a book as spread.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 4th, 2014, 1:29 am

Hi All,

I’m glad Jonathan has been fairly persistent on this topic, because I find that whole question quite interesting -- and of course it is always possible that information on the distribution of The Expert at the Card Table will have some significance in determining who Erdnase was. I’ll make a few comments below, but these are just informal observations, which to some people may seem obvious.

When Jonathan said “at the time,” I think he meant back in the 1902-1905 period. Obviously, the footnote in the Whaley book referred to 1991 or so, but that specific period would mainly be of interest if you wanted to find out the degree of support for Whaley’s footnote. I suspect Whaley was largely relying on discussions with Jeff Busby.

Some may remember that T.A. Waters wrote a scathing review of The Man Who Was Erdnase for Genii magazine soon after the book came out, and Waters was highly critical of (among other things) the way footnotes were used in the book. I didn’t necessarily agree completely with Waters’s review, and actually I wrote an analysis of the review, which I published as Further Thoughts in S.W. Erdnase (which was pretty much reprinted in the enlarged edition of S.W. Erdnase: Another View, in 1996).

Now, I think no one has commented on the following aspect of the relative quantities of the first edition in (say) Britain and America. Specifically, there is normally a great deal of inertia in the supplies of books in various countries. If you collect books that were published in England a century ago -- they tend to be found, well, in England. I collect card-game booklets published by Charles Goodall & Son, nearly all of which were published in London or Birmingham, and I would guess that 80 percent of those I have acquired were located in England -- and we are talking about booklets published largely 100 years ago, or more.

So, what does this have to do with Erdnase? Well, obviously some quantity of the first edition made it over to England, so that is more or less one of the initial conditions. The question is, has the ratio of copies in England to copies in the US changed much in the ensuing century or more. My guess is that the answer there is “no.”

So, if you determined roughly how many first-edition copies are now in England, and compared that to the number of first-edition copies now in the United States, that would probably be a decent proxy for the relative quantities that existed in (say) the 1902-1903 era.

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 4th, 2014, 4:44 pm

Tom Sawyer wrote: Some may remember that T.A. Waters wrote a scathing review of The Man Who Was Erdnase for Genii magazine soon after the book came out, and Waters was highly critical of (among other things) the way footnotes were used in the book.


For anyone who has AskAlexander access, here is T.A.'s review of TMWWE. (Sep 1991, p. 770)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 4th, 2014, 5:24 pm

Richard Hatch or John Bodine or Jason England could probably provide a better list than this, but here are some sales of first edition copies that I know of in the past decade or so. It is not particularly comprehensive.

U.S.
Potter and Potter: 5/2007, 7/2008, 1/2011/ 6/2012, 2/2014
Owen Magic/Les Smith: 6/2009
Random Treasures: 1/2007
Haversat: 11/2014
Swann: 1/2004, 10/2006
Ebay: (copy brokered by R. Hatch a couple years ago); (Richard Kaufman's copy from maybe a decade ago)
Martinka: 5/2008


U.K.
Bloomsbury: 3/2007

???
Jason England bought what had been Jack Avis's copy on ebay in 2004. Don't know if the seller was in the UK or US, but it obviously had been in the UK at one point.

Obviously some of the copies auctioned in the U.S. could have been consigned from U.K. owners.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 5th, 2014, 2:53 am

Bill, thanks for posting that information on copies of the first edition.

There is a "first edition count" on the Everything Erdnase site which mentions 16 copies, mostly in the United States.

On December 20, 2006, Richard Hatch (I believe it was him) mentioned that he knew of about 80 copies of the first edition. That's a pretty large number of copies -- for someone to know the whereabouts of.

I have no idea of what the locations of those books were.

Oh, and by the way, I believe that if anyone gathers the available information, I think the number of copies in Britain will be found to be quite a small number when compared to those in the United States.

I hate to vivisect what Bart said, but it seems unclear what he meant by "more common." I suspect that he meant something along these lines:

a. Copies have emerged into the daylight more often (in recent memory) in Britain, but this does not mean much about the actual numbers of copies in existence.

b. In the alternative, regardless of how many have emerged, there are more books in Britain (probably more like England) on a per capita basis.


As I said, it is almost beyond my imagination, to think that there might be more copies in England than in the United States -- now or at any previous time.

And by the way, when I started being interested in magic literature (around the mid-1960s), and continuing maybe through the 1991 year that The Man Who Was Erdnase was released, I don't think I ever saw any copies of the first edition of The Expert at the Card Table for sale from the usual sellers, such as Heyl, Jenness, Vander Linden, Kohrs, or Carrandi, at least in the catalogs I saw. Of course, I was not particularly looking for the book.

I know Stephen Patrick offered a "1905" Drake copy, which I bought from him, probably in the mid-1970s. As I recall, Stephen issued short occasional lists. He edited and published The Magical Bookie, which was one of the all-time great periodicals directed at magic collectors.

I assume that a copy of the first edition was sold during the course of the Findlay auctions.

Anyway, if one kind of asked around among collectors in 1991, one might find quite a few collectors in England with copies of the first edition -- because England has always had a relatively large number of serious, knowledgeable collectors with extensive book collections. During the short term (say a ten-year period), you might have found more copies coming up for sale in England than in the United States, though I guess in recent years the number of sales in the US has far exceeded those in England (see Bill Mullins's post immediately above).

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 10th, 2014, 6:02 am

Hi All,

I’ve been thinking about the Dalrymple-Erdnase connection that M.D. Smith mentioned. To me it isn’t completely clear what Erdnase told Smith. I assume that the most complete version is found in The Gardner-Smith Correspondence, but I think that does not add much (on that topic) to what was said in (for example) Whaley-Gardner-Busby and in McDermott.

Even if you are looking only for ancestors, there is still a lot of branching within a few generations. On the other hand, if you are looking at people related by marriage, the branching can quickly become extremely complicated.

If you look at two complex family trees, I would think at some point they are going to overlap.

Presumably the probabilities of a relationship depend on many factors, including name, date, and location.

In short, I am not sure how much weight can be given to remote connections.

After writing the above, I found an amusing post by Brad Templeton called “Everybody is Your 16th Cousin.” The math is largely beyond me, but the final paragraph of his post seems to confirm my main point. Here is a link:

http://ideas.4brad.com/everybody-your-16th-cousin

You can read an article about Brad on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brad_Templeton

--Tom Sawyer
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Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 10th, 2014, 12:51 pm

The "facts" behind the Erdnase-Dalrymple connection are sparse, at best. They all come from Gardner's interview with Smith in 1946 (which was at least 42 years after Smith and Erdnase met). Gardner's undated notes in The Gardner-Smith Correspondence say "[Erdnase] mentioned to Smith that he was related to Dalrymple, a well known cartoonist of the day, who worked for Puck, a democratic weekly magazine published in N. Y." Gardner followed up on this via letter to Smith which asked for more details, but if Smith ever recalled anything further on the subject, it isn't recorded.

The statement is repeated in Gardner's essay "The Mystery of Erdnase" in Ortiz's Annotated Erdnase, without further details. In The Man Who Was Erdnase, it is suggested without justification (by Busby? Whaley?) that Erdnase was lying when he said this. (I wonder what Gardner thought of this passage.)

The statement shows up elsewhere, in essentially every article that discusses the identity question in depth. But they all are reporting a single statement from Gardner's interview notes of Smith.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 10th, 2014, 10:26 pm

Hi All,

As Bill notes above, the answers to the questions of who wrote what, and who is responsible for what, in The Man Who Was Erdnase, can be a bit unclear.

The key passage in the book (relating to authorship) may be the bottom of page viii and the top of page ix. But it leaves one scratching his or her head.

Whaley says that "most of the essential documentation" . . . "was simply given me" by Gardner and Busby. Thus Whaley kind of "plays down" his role. In keeping with that, he says the book "is really their book," which is unclear, in part because it is not always clear whether a conclusion is Whaley's or Gardner's or Busby's (or some combination)--regardless of who actually composed various parts of the book.

Whaley also indicates that Busby wrote "six technical, biographical, and bibliographical chapters."

Well, Busby wrote an introduction to chapters 9, 10, and 11. That introduction is on page 146.

He also wrote an introduction to (apparently) chapters 16 and 17. That introduction appears on pages 328-329.

He also wrote an "Afterword," which appeared on page 366.

Based on the foregoing, I imagine that chapters 9, 10, 11, 16, and 17 constitute five of the six chapters that Busby wrote.

Martin Gardner wrote a "Foreword," which appeared on page vii. There he refers to "Bart Whaley, encouraged and assisted by Jeff Busby"--regarding the gathering of information. I think Gardner was being gracious, but that almost suggests that Gardner's role was a slight one, which I do not think was the case.

There is also an apparent error in this sentence by Whaley, starting on page viii: "Thus my main contribution--aside from the two given me by two of them, Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby." Needless to say, that does not clarify matters.

It would not surprise me if there are other statements related to "who wrote what," here and there in the book.

Anyway, based on the foregoing, it seems possible that Busby may have written something like (very roughly speaking) 40 percent of the book.

--Tom Sawyer
Check out my converted Erdnase blog, which now deals with older magic books: A blog about magic books . . .

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 15th, 2014, 3:40 am

Can somebody summarize the information about the printing plates of EATCT? How often have the plates been transfered and to whom? How many print runs have been printed from these plates and how many books for each print run or estimates for these numbers. What is the source of this information? Does anybody have a photo or high resolution scan of any page of the first edition? With high resolution I mean at least 1200dpi. Do we know the printing machines used by McKinney?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 15th, 2014, 5:57 am

Hi All,

The following observations do not address every point mentioned by Chris.

However . . .

It has always seemed to me that the discussions of Drake receiving the McKinney plates are based on assumptions. I don’t think there is any real proof that Drake ever came into possession of the McKinney plates.

I do think the first edition of The Expert at the Card Table was probably printed with plates. However, as far as I know, no one really knows what happened to those plates.

The first Drake edition was apparently printed two or three years after the first edition. Drake could have made his own plates from a copy of the first edition, and he would not have needed to reset any type.

As to McKinney’s printing equipment, the May 1901 issue of The American Printer (from the Hathi Trust Digital Library) carries an illuminating two-page advertisement for The Miehle Printing Press and Mfg. Co.

In short, the advertisement indicates that McKinney had three Miehle presses. The advertisement shows that Miehle offered at least four different presses, with a grand total of 24 different sizes. The smallest mentioned was 25 by 30, and the largest was 48 by 65. I would think McKinney had other presses as well.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 15th, 2014, 7:33 am

Tom, thanks for the info. If Drake made his own plates by essentially copying the book photographically on zinc plates, as was usually the process used for illustrations, then I would assume this could be identified by a careful comparison of a printed copy of each print run. That is part of the reason I would like to get a photo or a high resolution scan of the first edition.

I can also say that moving print plates, which at that time were made from lead is logistically almost impossible, because they are very heavy, need two or more people to carry one plate. Printers use special mechanical tables to lift print plates into printing machines. Moving them from one printing house to another is a logistical nightmare. It is therefore more likely that Drake made new plates. But this I think could be determined by careful study of print copies as mentioned above.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 15th, 2014, 12:37 pm

Chris -- you are probably aware of these, but there is a good scan of Houdini's copy of the 1st Drake HB edition here.

Compare it to the later Drake paperback at HathiTrust. It is from between 1927 (based on Drake's address 179 N. Michigan, where they moved to in 1927 per Thomas Sawyer) and 1932 (from inscription on an inner leaf).

The 1984 edition of Vernon's Revelations has a scan of a first edition, but it shouldn't be used for comparison because it was retouched to clean up blemishes. Likewise the Centennial Edition hardback was retouched.

I've seen it written several times that Mickey MacDougal's Card Mastery includes a facsimile first edition of Erdnase. But if you look at it, it is clear that the title page reproduced comes from a Drake edition.

The 1940s Fleming Hardbound edition has larger pages than the original but was photographically reproduced "from an early copy of the first edition, and thus avoids many defects (such as broken type-faces) which have marred recent printings of the
book." (quote from Paul Fleming book reviews)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » December 15th, 2014, 3:10 pm

lybrary wrote:I can also say that moving print plates, which at that time were made from lead is logistically almost impossible, because they are very heavy, need two or more people to carry one plate. Moving them from one printing house to another is a logistical nightmare.


Two or more people to carry one plate!? I don't think so. Individual lead plates for a book the size of EATCT would resemble THESE, and probably weigh about 2 pounds each.

The entire set of plates for the book might weigh in at about 400 pounds, but moving them from one house to another would not be difficult at all. Certainly not a logistical nightmare.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 15th, 2014, 3:59 pm

lybrary wrote:
I can also say that moving print plates, which at that time were made from lead is logistically almost impossible......


Good grief Chris, this isn't at all accurate.

This kind of guessing, presented as "fact" ("I can also say") doesn't help anybody.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 16th, 2014, 3:28 am

My information comes from an expert, one of the few people alive who have hands-on experience with all mayor printing technologies. Are any of you printers? Has any of you typeset a page? Printed a book?

According to this expert it is highly unlikely that each page was printed separately. Most likely one plate held multiple pages, likely 8 or 16. Therefore print plates are big and heavy. Moving such plates is a nightmare. Is it impossible? No. Is it unlikely? Yes. It is much more likely that Drake made his own new plates. Unless we have any further information It is of course all speculation, but I rather go with the opinion of a print technology expert than some of the uninformed remarks offered here.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 16th, 2014, 5:25 am

Hi All,

Well, I would like to make a few more comments in this post, relating to the matters recently discussed. I wrote almost all of this post before seeing Chris’s latest post, but I thought I would go ahead and post it anyway, because it sort of fleshes things out a little.

I formerly owned a hand-press, and set a certain amount of type by hand, arduously, and printed a few miniature magic-related booklets -- but honestly I'm not sure that helped much in discussing these issues.

I am not trying to support or oppose any of the recent comments -- just stating a few things. One of the problems is that printing methods have evolved over time, and have always been subject to variation, and it is difficult to make statements that are true in all places at all times.

Back in that era (the turn of the century, circa 1900), a printing forme with set type, for printing without electrotype or other plates, could be extremely heavy. An article by Vernon Possnett in The British Printer for January-February 1901 alludes to formes that would be difficult for two men to lift, and makes suggestions as to the preferred method for removing the form from the table.

Based on estimates discussed below, I could see that such a forme (with say 16 pages of type) for The Expert at the Card Table might easily weigh around 200 pounds, especially when one includes the chase and probably other hardware.

And if then there would be maybe a dozen of these, with a total weight of perhaps well over a ton. My impression is that those are not the kind of thing that you would want to move any noticeable distance.

But under usual printing terminology, it would not be best to refer to those formes as plates.

So, that’s if The Expert at the Card Table were printed directly from set type, which (or so it seems) nobody thinks it was. Instead, the consensus appears to be that it was printed from plates, presumably stereotype plates or electrotype plates.

The main reason I think the book was printed from plates is that some of the damage to the type that is evident in early printings appears to me to be consistent with damage to molds created during the platemaking process. John Bodine sent me images of the backs of the title pages on several copies of the first edition, and they all exhibited the same damage.

A book that is often cited regarding nineteenth-century printing methods is The Harper Establishment, by Jacob Abbott (1855), a reprint of which is on the Hathi Trust site. Some factors:

Abbott intimates that a plate weighed roughly one-fifth the weight of the set type, and that plates might be about 3/16 of an inch thick. That thickness is about one-fifth the height of type, so that estimate makes sense.

According to what Abbott says, the norm for Harper was one plate per page.

Set type would be about 0.9186 inches in height.

Lead weighs about 708 pounds per cubic foot. Type metal (an alloy of lead and other metals) would be somewhat less.

After spending quite a bit of time working with numbers, my estimate of the weight of a plate plus corresponding wood block in the case of The Expert at the Card Table is something like 2.2 pounds, actually probably somewhat less. That is in very close agreement with the estimate that Brad gives above. This assumes one page per plate. There are lots of variables, though.

Still, even if you figure a total of 400 pounds, and 205 or so plates -- that’s pretty heavy and would take up a moderate amount of space, unless, for example, as in cases mentioned by Abbott, the plates were removed from the blocks for storage.

But -- given the McKinney bankruptcy, and S.W. Erdnase’s possible disappearance soon after the book was printed, and the fact that it was years before Drake printed his own first printing, it seems simpler to assume that the plates, if any existed, were separated from the blocks and melted down, or disposed of in some way. This is somewhat related to the weight of the plates, but it doesn't matter much whether we are talking a ton, or 400 pounds.

On the other hand, it still seems quite possible to me that the first edition was not printed from plates, in which case the possibility that McKinney would just leave to type standing seems remote, since the absence of plates could well have been predicated on the assumption that future printings would not be needed.

Assuming one plate per page, with a type-height of 0.9186 inches, the blocks would make a conceptual stack nearly 16 feet tall--or eight stacks two feet tall.

Eight stacks, two feet tall, weighing a total of 400 pounds . . . definitely not impossible to move, but, I would think, extremely inconvenient.

I just quickly looked at a 1946 Powner copy of the book. It is very hard to tell, but it looks as though there are six gatherings, which would mean an average of a little more than 34 pages per gathering. That borders on impossible (for reasons that are a little beyond the scope of this post), so let’s assume 32 pages per signature. That would mean 16 pages per forme. Based on Abbott, the usual practice would be to lock the 16 (or however many) blocks into place in the forme (or perhaps more precisely, into the chase, creating the forme). Then they could be released therefrom after printing.

Again, I’m not trying to argue with anyone -- just stating a few of my perceptions.

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 16th, 2014, 9:01 am

Tom Sawyer wrote:But -- given the McKinney bankruptcy, and S.W. Erdnase’s possible disappearance soon after the book was printed, and the fact that it was years before Drake printed his own first printing, it seems simpler to assume that the plates, if any existed, were separated from the blocks and melted down, or disposed of in some way.


McKinney went bankrupt around Dec 1902/Jan 1903. Drake was advertising 1st edition copies in 1903.

One explanation is that as part of the original printing business arrangements, Erdnase transferred copyright to McKinney (remember, McKinney did the paperwork for the copyright). When McKinney went bankrupt, Drake acquired remaining 1st edition stock, copyright, and plates, perhaps purchased at a bankruptcy auction. It took a couple of years for the existing stock to sell out, and Drake issued their own editions starting in 1905. When the copyright expired Drake didn't renew, but didn't really need to since they owned the plates and thus had a de facto exclusivity on the book. It wasn't until 1942 when both Fleming/Powner and Mickey MacDougall decided the market would bear new improved editions that owning a renewed copyright would have been any use to Drake.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » December 16th, 2014, 10:19 am

lybrary wrote: Unless we have any further information It is of course all speculation,........


Excellent point.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 16th, 2014, 1:35 pm

Bill,

Well, obviously Drake may have acquired first-edition copies via the bankruptcy.

But the main relevant thing we "know" is that Drake was selling copies of the first edition sooner or later. We don't really know how or exactly when he obtained those copies.

Once the printing of the book was completed (no later than sometime in March 1902), there would be almost no reason for McKinney to keep the plates around. The best reason for that would be that he agreed to keep them until Erdnase figured out whether the book was selling well -- to allow an easy reprint. I think everyone agrees that it was not a particularly great seller at the time, at least at the $2.00 price stated on the first-edition title page.

I don't think McKinney would have wanted to keep the set type. He might not mind too much about hanging on to the plates (if there were plates) for a while, but I suspect that to him the plates were valueless, so it is not as though there are good arguments (that I know of) that McKinney kept the plates as collateral, or as partial payment for the printing job.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether plates were even used for the first edition.

I realize that it has been said that McKinney sold copies of the book, but the evidence of that (based on a notation in a copy at the Library of Congress, as discussed or mentioned many times in this thread), seems kinda thin to me, and the exact meaning of the notation seems unclear to me. Either way, I don't think that has much impact on what I am saying above.

Boiled down, there is a lot of hoop-jumping that needs to be done before one can say persuasively that Drake probably came into the possession of the plates. We don't know that happened, and there does not appear to be much reason to believe that it happened.

Of course, it is always possible that Erdnase himself arranged for the plates to be transferred to Drake, as Jeff Busby suggests on page 77 ( in Chapter 4) of The Man Who Was Erdnase. (And yes, it appears that Chapter 4 was another chapter written by Jeff -- see page 52 of the book.) I'm not discussing that statement in this post, but that thesis has its own problems.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 16th, 2014, 3:07 pm

The only thing I can add to this discussion of the printing plates, is that when I licensed the right to reprint Greater Magic from the Jones family, one of Carl Jones's sons (either Winton or Waring) told me about the day they carried all the lead printing plates from Greater Magic out to the curb for the garbage man to haul away.

He said the plates were enormously heavy and took up a great deal of space (which is why they were pitching them). Now, Greater Magic was over 1,000 pages, a much larger book than Expert at the Card Table.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 16th, 2014, 4:44 pm

More comments from the print expert who I am consulting with, which echoes some of what has been mentioned above. Regardless of if you agree with print plates being heavy or not, they took up storage space. Typically printers did not keep them around unless there was a very good possibility for a reprint. It is not economical to keep the plates of hundreds of books. I think it highly unlikely that McKinney would keep the plates, if he made plates at all, for a self-published book of a first time author.

I personally think the most likely scenario is that Drake acquired unsold but already printed copies and not the plates. Perhaps these copies where not yet bound, just printed sheets. Later when Drake sold out he produced his own plates via a photographic process from a print copy. Preliminary analysis of two different Drake copies suggest this. At this point I don't want to go into the details of why the expert I have brought in to look at this believes this is the case. We would like to confirm this with better scans, photos, or ideally originals. But from the digital versions available to us the tell tale signs are there.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 16th, 2014, 6:46 pm

The idea of having printed yet unbound pages used later on is intriguing. Are we at a point where it can be explored?

Is there a catalog of page/line/item defect (inking, damaged letter/line...) for the book so folks can explore what changes over the years/editions? What's the variance of defects within printings?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 17th, 2014, 7:06 pm

Jon, the idea expressed in your second paragraph is a good idea, but I don't think anyone has attempted it. And I doubt whether it will ever happen, for many reasons, including the scarcity of a lot of the printings, their fragility, and the time-consuming nature of the task.

Maybe the enquiry could be limited to certain specified pages in a "control volume" -- perhaps the digitized early edition on the Library of Congress site referred to by Blll Mullins above. Maybe the focus could be on a half-dozen pages that are replete with damage to the type, and a half dozen that seem free of problems. People might be willing to describe those pages in copies they own, vis-à-vis the copy on the Library of Congress site.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 17th, 2014, 11:31 pm

It used to be typical for printers to run a lot of pages because it was much cheaper to print larger runs than going back later to reprint, however they only bound a portion of the printing.

Even when I started publishing back in the 1970s, Lou Tannen's was still publishing in this manner, by binding only a portion of the printed books. Later, if demand was great enough, they would bind more.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 18th, 2014, 7:10 am

Hi All,

If Drake received unbound copies, I wonder what he is supposed to have done with them. I suppose the implication of this is that he bound the copies in a "Drake" binding. If he did that, then I suppose it would be reasonable to assume that he removed the title pages and replaced them with new ones. Collectors call such replacement title pages "cancels."

I don't suppose you see cancels too often in magic books, but I do have at least one book translated by Professor Hoffmann in which the title page is a cancel.

I suppose, too, that Drake would have trimmed the books so that they would become the typical smaller size of the Drake editions of The Expert at the Card Table.

All in all, I would think that such a book would be immediately apparent to be a Drake copy made from an Erdnase copy. I don't think any such book has ever turned up, though that doesn't necessarily prove anything, since there might have been only a small number.

Personally, though, I doubt that Drake did this. I equally doubt that Drake bound copies with the original title page, in the original format.

He could have sent them back to the original binder, but you would not necessarily be able to distinguish them from the original bound copies.

All in all, I think this is the type of thing you would want more solid proof of -- otherwise for most purposes you would probably assume that Drake just received regular copies (under somewhat unknown circumstances).

Needless to say, if such a copy ever turns up in okay condition -- it would be a highly desirable item.

Those interested in cancels will find a lot of posts dealing with the topic on David Levy's blog about Edmond Hoyle. It's not magic, but it's somewhat related, I suppose.

Here is a link to David's posts that deal with cancels: http://edmondhoyle.blogspot.com/search?q=cancel

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 19th, 2014, 10:16 pm

Hi All,

In an earlier post, I used "32 pages" as the semi-conjectural number of pages in a typical signature or gathering in a certain Powner edition of The Expert at the Card Table.

I just checked my "1905" Drake printing. The first signature is 32 pages, and it includes a blank leaf at the front, and then pages 1 through 30 of the text. (Not all of those pages are numbered. For instance, the title page is not numbered.) But anyway, I can see the thread between page 14 and page 15, so that fits.

Not all the signatures in the book are that length, but it looks as though most of them are.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 20th, 2014, 11:15 pm

I just posted this question as a comment on Tom's blog, but I'll ask here as well.

The true 1st edition is larger than the 1st Drake HB edition -- each page is nearly an inch taller and an inch wider.

Is that consistent with the Drake editions being printed from the same plates as the 1st edition?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 21st, 2014, 3:46 am

Bill, that is a very interesting observation. I am assuming that the size difference is only in the margins. Meaning the white borders are larger but the text blocks have identical size. Can you confirm this?

It does suggest that Drake did not simply acquire already bound books. Either he acquired loose printed sheets that he had to bind and trim himself and thus the difference in size, because he trimmed off more than McKinney. Or he did his own printing either with the original McKinney plates, which I find unlikely, or his own new plates. But looking at the timeline, I think it is much more likely that Drake acquired loose printed sheets which he bound and trimmed himself.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby hugmagic » December 21st, 2014, 11:10 am

I will add to the thought that I doubt if it was the original plates that were used.
When I was in college, I took some graphic courses. It was near the near the end of the era of lead set type. We had a linotype machine which set the type for longer pieces of work, like newspapers, magazines, or books. We also had a ludlow (sp) machine that set headlines and small works of printed type. When we had set the type, it was locked in a chase and used to print what ever we need on a planten or letterpress printing press. Then the type was taken out out and remelted to be reused. This was important as the machines used molds to make a fresh set of type so it was crisp for the next job. Very, very seldom was type stored for later use. It would have very expensive to have all the chases (to hold the type) and space and weight of all the lead. Carl Jones probably thought at the point he saved his type, it would be cheaper than resetting such a large work. As for the scrapping of the lead, lead was so cheap then it was very seldom recycled. So it very understandable that they just scrapped it all.
As a side note when I worked in the newspaper business, we used to take some of lead pigs that were laying around and put them in our cars to add weight to drive in the snow. It was great lead with animony in it. I used it for many years in my business to make lead poured darts and such.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 21st, 2014, 11:30 am

lybrary wrote:Bill, that is a very interesting observation. I am assuming that the size difference is only in the margins. Meaning the white borders are larger but the text blocks have identical size. Can you confirm this?


I cannot. I hope that someone who owns both a true first and a Drake HB can make the comparison. The question I think is most relevant to the issue is "Do the blocks of text on any given page measure the same height and width on both a true 1st and a Drake HB?" If they don't, that is pretty compelling evidence that Drake didn't use McKinney's plates.

It does suggest that Drake did not simply acquire already bound books.
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We know that Drake did acquire already bound books; he was selling 1st editions in 1903.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby John Bodine » December 21st, 2014, 11:09 pm

The blocks of text match in a first edition and the 4 different 1905 Drake copies I have.

Block: 3.5" x 5.75"

I don't have a good set of calipers so the next numbers are approximate, all measurements taken from page 31 and include the section text.

First edition
Top margin: .75"
Bottom: 1.25"
Inside: .75"
Outside: 1"
Paper size: 5.25" x 7.75" (or just slightly shorter)

Drake, 1905 HB, Allied printing bug, eagle with shield on title page
Top margin: >0.375"
Bottom: <0.5"
Inside: <0.5"
Outside: 0.5"
Paper size: 4.375" x 6.625"

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » December 21st, 2014, 11:17 pm

Thanks very much, John, for real data. I was hoping you or Jason England or someone else with access to the appropriate copies would step in here.

Have you ever photocopied a page from Drake onto transparency, and laid it on a photocopy of a 1st edition equivalent page, to look for discrepancies?

Since the inner ("gutter") margins differ on 1st and 1905 Drake editions, I think we can assume that if Drake did pick up plates from McKinney, they were single-page plates, and not full 4x4 page plates that would be used to print the sheets that are folded and trimmed to make signatures. (As Tom Sawyer is currently posting on his blog.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » December 22nd, 2014, 3:25 am

Bill, I think Tom and myself are arguing that Drake made his own new plates. At least that is what I believe is the most likely scenario.

John, as Bill suggested, a copy of the same page from different editions would be highly interesting. However better than a paper copy would be a high resolution scan or photo, because it is much easier to compare and overlay digital images than paper copies.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » December 22nd, 2014, 4:22 am

Chris, as you indicated, I think it is likely that Drake made his own plates and never received any plates from McKinney or Erdnase.

Additionally, I think it is fairly well established that Drake did acquire, and sell, copies of the first edition that were printed by McKinney.

As far as I know, the evidence of Drake selling copies of the first edition consists of advertisements for the book showing a (somewhat primitive) image of the cover of the first edition. I have seen a date of 1903 mentioned by a number of people in this connection, but I do not know where that date came from.

I think it is unknown how Drake obtained the first-edition copies, and from whom, and at what price, and exactly when.

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