Nathan Becker writes:
1. Figure 101 clearly shows Erdnase using Bee cards. Did Erdnase actually use Bee cards or did M.D. Smith just grab a deck out of his junk drawer to use as a model when he was filling in the sketches at home? Hopefully someone asked Smith this question.
2. Did anyone ever seek out one of Erdnase's
students? On page 73 Erdnase says, "The highest tribute that can be paid to the method is the fact that certain players whom we have instructed,
can execute the stock..." Since the Erdnase method
of stock shuffling was an innovation, anyone who
knew the method prior to 1902 must have been one
of Erdnase's students.
As I explained in my article in the January 2000 issue of Genii, an examination of the book's illustrations show that they are traced photographs. Both bridge and poker sized cards were used. Smith did not "draw them from life" because to do so would have involved a minimum of two weeks work, something Smith did not remember. He traced photos at his studio, the job taking little more than a day, if that.
Smith was not interviewed by experts in the art of vetting witnesses. Martin Gardner proclaimed him the "Dean of Magic Illustrators," and Smith, who probably recognized what he had done, kept quiet so he wouldn't disappoint. His other published work is quite different in style and quality.
Further, he was "discovered" by Martin Gardner some 45+ years after he did the job. Smith thought he had only done 30 or so illustrations and had never seen the final result. He was surprised when he saw the 101 pictures. His recollection of what he had done fitted with his earlier "memory," but not with what he had actually done: that is, trace photos.
The "we" is clearly an editorial device. Erdnase also talks in a condesending manner about those he's taught other moves to....that they can make the stocking shuffle work, but that they don't understand how.
His "pupils," if he actually had any, were card cheats who were taught something that gave them a big edge. They would have kept it very quiet.