ERDNASE

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Postby Guest » 02/21/03 03:51 AM

Hello everyone,

Some time ago I began to study The Annotated Erdnase which I found quite fascinating. However, I soon delayed my study of Erdnase and began reading the Card College volumes.

Now I'm ready to resume my study of "The Expert". My question is how does one properly study Erdnase? Should I start with the Legerdemain section or Card Table Artifice?

Are there certain moves that are best studied from other sources? Are there sleights that are too inferior? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Roberto
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/21/03 08:08 AM

The Expert At The Card Table is a singular book.

Start at page 1; progress to the back cover. Then...start at page 1 again. Repeat periodically for the rest of your life.

Cheers,

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 02/21/03 11:36 AM

I agree with Lance on this one. Some books must be "lived with" over an extended period. This being said, I've seldom run across any essays on WHY Erdnase is a book worth studying--at least none with cogent, explanatory force.

THE ANNOTATED ERDNASE, by example, shows the fruits of various studies, providing interesting and useful marginalia and footnotes. But there is nothing equivalent to lit-crit books found in Literature.

Are you up for it, Lance? Darwin?

Anybody?

Onward...
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/21/03 12:42 PM

I'm probably not up to it, Jon. Darwin would indeed do a wonderful job with it, as would Steve Freeman or Persi. I'm sure Max would also (as is his usual style!) give us some great insights.

All I can say is that if the book is read and absorbed over a period of time, and if what it says is compared with one's own experience as he grows and learns, then it will reveal itself to be much more than a collection of techniques and artifices. Within the pages is embodied an entire philosophy of conduct and manner, a cogent and complete system of thinking about magic and its related fields. Far beyond the wonderful moves contained therein, what the book gives us is an approach, a style, and a guidebook toward really understanding not only the inner workings and mechanisms of sleight of hand, but its psychology and practice as well -- and because of this, much of what it has to say goes way beyond the field of card work alone. Sometimes it seems almost as though everything every great magician has said about performance and execution is already there in the pages of this book, concisely stated and well-phrased.

But of courseyou already knew all this! ;)

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/21/03 03:01 PM

mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 02/21/03 03:46 PM

I agree with you, Lance, which makes the question of Erdnase's real identity that much more puzzling; however, I think that David Alexander has taken this into account and may be closer to finding the REAL Erdnase.

Onward...
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Postby Jason England » 02/21/03 05:21 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
Therefore they have nothing to teach? Hmmmm. I've never seen anyone do an invisible top change, should we throw that one out as well?

Isaac Newton's PRINCIPIA was shown to be "wrong" by Einstein in the early 20th century. Does that make studying the PRINCIPIA a worthless endeavor? Of course not.

Obviously, I heartily disagree with Richard's position. Mrmagik, please, please spend some time on the SWE shift, and on the Open Shift. They both have loads of information in them, even if they ultimately never become "invisible". Erdnase himself admitted that the Open shift is imperfect, and in the "Artifice" section of the book stated that "The shift has yet to be invented ...that can be executed with the hands held stationary and not show that some manuever has taken place, however cleverly it may be performed."

But I don't think that these two admissions make the study of the SWE and the Open shifts a "waste of time". They just mean you have to practice and study them with goals other than complete invisibility in mind. Like maybe making a tiny little connection to our past masters, and the struggles they went through in trying to create the perfect shift? Just a thought.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/21/03 06:54 PM

You'll find a sharp division in our field over whether some of the moves in Erdnase have any value or not. I have seen the best in the world do the SWE Shift, and not a single person has ever performed it where it was deceptive to me. Where, in other words, I didn't SEE, actually see, that a pass occurred. Why waste time studying sleights that you'll never use? No one really has enough time to study the sleights you WILL use in the depth they should be studied and practiced.
I might add that I'm pleased to have Jason England on this Forum. I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with him at the Magic Castle last November (December?) and he did some very fine work. One thing in particular stands out, which you'll all get to see if the original credit sequence in the movie "Shade" is retained.
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Postby Steve V » 02/21/03 08:23 PM

Am I the only one who believes Erdnase was a compilation of idea's put together by a handful of card workers rather than one super genius?
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Postby Jason England » 02/21/03 10:24 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
[QB]You'll find a sharp division in our field over whether some of the moves in Erdnase have any value or not. I have seen the best in the world do the SWE Shift, and not a single person has ever performed it where it was deceptive to me.[QB]

Well, I agree with you that the passes are probably never going to be made fast enough to fool the eyes. But I just think there may be something to gain by studying them anyway.

I don't always measure the utility of a sleight by whether or not I "use" it in my work. And, I've learned to be careful about saying that something can't be done, just because it hasn't been done yet. There was a time when the center deal was thought impossible by a large segment of the top magicians of the day. Today, I could probably name at least 10 people that I know that can do a deceptive center deal.

Who knows, maybe mrmagick will be the one to get the SWE shift down under a 10th of a second or so. I think at that speed it would be a viable move indeed, although still an esoteric one.

Thank you for the compliments about my work Richard. You probably don't know it, but you're partly responsible for me being into magic. The SECRETS OF BROTHER JOHN HAMMAN was the first book I ever bought.

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Postby Guest » 02/22/03 05:33 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
What about Freeman?

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Guest » 02/22/03 06:41 AM

Erdnase, hmmmmm.

I recently came upon a use for one of the aforementioned exotic shifts/passes, at least all those hours practicing weren't completely squandered. Rather than write of it here, I think I'd rather fool you with it, at least for a moment or two -- should our paths cross and there's the opportunity of course.

An unsolicited Tip:

Don't overlook the other top palm, in spite of the fact that Vernon scorned it, and Ortiz chose silence.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/22/03 09:04 AM

I didn't say anything about the palms in Erdnase: I know several top notch guys who use them all the time.
And, I didn't say there were no uses for the SWE Shift, for example. Not only is Kenner's "SWE Elevator" in Out of Control a good example of that, but Tom Franks has a lovely move using the SWE shift for a face-up card revelation.
I have seen Freeman do the move: visible.
I have seen Riser do the move: visible.
I have seen Miller do the move: visible.
I have seen Dingle do the move: less visible, but still visible.

Of course, if we go with the idea that the SWE Shift is a move designed for standup or platform use, then of course it would be done during a body turn. Then it WOULD most likely be invisible, and it's a good shift for platform work because there's no dip which would be visible from beneath.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/22/03 10:58 AM

Originally posted by Steve V:
"Am I the only one who believes Erdnase was a compilation of idea's put together by a handful of card workers rather than one super genius?"

_____________________

Yes, Steve, probably. The "voice" one reads in the Artifice half of Erdnase is of a piece and comes from a writer who has had long practice at expressing himself through writing. The author is also highly skilled at problem solving and articulating his solutions in a clear and unambiguous manner. There is no evidence of an editor at work. The work would be quite different if an editor had had a hand in it.

It is also important to realize that the book was written over a period of time, doubtless years, as Erdnase worked out the various problems he set for himself, gathered information from card sharps and hustlers by observation and trading, and set down his insights as they developed.

See my article in the January 2000 Genii for my take on the Erdnase mystery. Richard generously gave me the space I needed.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/22/03 09:34 PM

Yeah, Im with Mr. Alexander. While Erdnase didn't claim that absolutely everything in the book was his, he did state that he claims "originality for the particular manner of accomplishing many of the manoeuvres [sic] described." This implies that while some sleights are cited as wholly original, those that arent are likely original variations of existing sleights in his day. Erdnase demonstrated a habit of identifying those methods that were in common use at the time, such as the information he imparted on forcing, back-palming, and top changes. In fact, of the six two-handed transformations he describes, he unequivocally claims credit for only one.

We have to come to the most reasonable conclusions we can. In the section on Card Table Artifice, Erdnase writes, "...as certain artifices are first disclosed in this work, so will others remain private property as long as the originators are so disposed." This strongly indicates that the material he gives is for the most part his, but it also leaves open the possibility that some may have been methods in the public domain (as only certain artifices are being disclosed for the very first time). Further conviction is lent in the very next sentence, where he writes, "We betray no confidences in publishing this book, having only ourselves to thank for what we know." Its possible that by the words, "this work," and "this book," he means the section on Artifice, or it may mean the entire book, but either way, if we can take him at his word (and I'm not sure why we wouldn't), then the material is indeed original with him or are variations original with him -- with the exception of those he clearly identifies as being in common use at the time (i.e. the stock shuffle).

As improbable as it might seem to some, the unified "voice" that David speaks of...the writing style and manner...the tone of the overall work combined with the information imparted...it all supports the "super genius" theory more than others. Im willing to accept the notion that Erdnase was, like some others before and after him, a prodigy, and one who had both the talent and insight to not only learn a craft, but change it forever.

Cheers,

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Postby Guest » 02/24/03 12:55 PM

I realize that the passes in EATCT are not often seen and my comment regarding them wasn't to be confused with my tip on the top palm.

While I know of several cardmen that use the top palm number one, I am not aware of anyone using number two. Some are not even aware that there are two. I attribute this to the fact that Vernon in print didn't like it at all, and Ortiz doesn't give it a so much as a mention. The fact that number two is at least as good as number one (for my use at least), either the fellas didn't understand it (highly unlikely perhaps), or, they felt it didn't warrant additional commentary. I disagree heartily with that second alternative and in Vernon's case at least, I truly think he misunderstood the move due to his abhorence of it in comparison to the first.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/24/03 08:05 PM

If I'm not mistaken, Earl Nelson uses the second top palm and does it beautifully. Actually, I might be remembering him performing a palm from the center with the deck is pivoted away from the hand. Can't remember exactly, but he does it extremely well.
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Postby Guest » 02/24/03 10:38 PM

During my study of Erdnase I have noticed one issue being tackled a number of times by the author(s). That being the elimination of space and movement during a secret action. I think the underlying motivation for the number and variety of sleights spirals out from that central theme. Every sleight is a lesson. You don't need to be able to perform an invisble SWE shift for the lesson to be valuable. It speaks of accomplishing the action in a small space. The one handed shift is the same lesson approached from a different angle. Each for an entirely different purpose. The one handed shift is decribed in the Card-table artifice section and the SWE in the Legerdemain section. Erdnase seems plauged by wasted movements the majority of sleights incorporated at that time.
He is searching for answers, the same answers we seek today.
Asking the question is the most important part.
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Postby Charlie Chang » 02/25/03 02:36 AM

SW Erdnase's book is more than a rite of passage for aspiring card workers. Almost every item in the book has been thoroughly thought out and presented in a clear, concise manner.

Every sleight is mechanically beautiful by design and, more often than not, thoroughly practical and deceptive in practise.

There are exceptions, the most commonly mentioned being the SWE shift. There are very few places for this shift in modern conjuring but that does not mean that it should not be studied and its lessons learned.

Richard Kaufman is an advocate of invisible shifts. He is also one of the world's finest exponent of this branch of our art. That said, an invisible shift is often quite different to an IMPERCEPTIBLE shift.

A pass, like a top change, was not originally conceived as a move to be stared at during is execution. Personally, I feel that the audience's attention should never be directed towards the deck during a sleight.

Often an invivsible pass is made under cover of another action - a cover. While the audience does not see the shift, they see the covering action. I am not saying this is bad I simply believe that a silent pass under proper misdirection is much, much better. Here the audience is aware of nothing. Strangely, this is the pass advocated by Malini, Vernon, Liepzig, Walton, Ramsay, Galloway and Hofzinser to name just a few.

The SWE Shift is not a cheating move. It is a conjuror's shift (as clearly stated in the opening paragraph). It could easily be argued that this shift was designed for parlour magic rather than close up.

In actual fact, once the shift has been mastered, the shift has several uses, one of which is mentioned in Vernon's Revelations.

Most important is the lesson to be learned from this shift. Perfecting its actions teaches a great deal. Performing this sleight well (either slowly or at speed) takes more than mere skill, it requires the student to UNDERSTAND the shift and learn it properly.

Erdnase is packed with great material for the card magician. The palms are excellent, the shifts intriguing and the effects are timeless.

Every time I return to this book I am drawn back into it's pages like a miser opening his money box.

I say every student of card magic should have this book on his agenda (after Royal Road, Vernon's Inner Secrets and Card College). As Lance Pierce stated, Erdnase is a life-long commitment.

Back to the SWE shift. RK says he has never seen this performed invisibly. I have. I watched this performed and never saw the packets exchange. This was during a lengthy session with a friend (a session stretched over several months as we explored Erdnase together). He got the action just right and it was great. Dare I say I even hit it a few times myself but damn if it isn't elusive.

RK mentions several people who he saw do the shift and none were completely invisible. I too have seen many people attempt the shift and none were completely invisible unless they used a cover action (raising the hands, spreading the cards as the shift is made or ending with a different shaped deck at a different angle - all of which were great to see).

That said, I would like to point out that almost no one I have seen has performed the shift correctly - as described in the book. Everyone (including Steve Freeman on the Vernon tapes) has made some sort of adjustment and almost everyone STARTS IN THE WRONG POSITION.

So the chances are that while you may not have seen this shift performed invisibly you probably haven't even seen it executed properly. All of which is moot since I believe it was never intended to be invisible, simply fast, silent and performed at the correct MOMENT.

End Rant.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/25/03 09:24 AM

A fine essay from Mr. Wilson, who demonstrated a very mean Spread Pass in Ohio.
What I really want to add is that there is no reason to waste time learning sleights that you will probably never use. Few of us have enough time to practice the sleights we will use!
Spending time learning the SWE Shift and the Open Shift is not the BEST way you can spend your practice time: spending that same time learning a Riffle or Classic Pass, or The Diagonal Palm Shift, is time MUCH BETTER SPENT because you WILL use those sleights a LOT once you've mastered them.
End of MY rant. :)
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/25/03 10:48 AM

Being a "shiftless" soul... I like crimps, corner shorts and resin (Koornwinder Kard Kontrol). Not to say that I don't admire those shiftier than I, it is just something I never really got into.

It's a whole different sport.

Fine sleight-of-hand card magic is like baseball is to football.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 02/25/03 07:18 PM

Is there anything in Erdnase to rival the Diagonal Palm Shift? In my (admittedly limited) time with EATCT I have not found anything so profoundly well constructed.

It almost defies understanding at first and is almost completely counter intuitive yet it is the most amazingly direct way to get a card out of the deck without tipping the steal.

An engineering marvel...

Also, does anyone use the Arthur Finley variant from the Vernon Chronicles?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/25/03 07:36 PM

Vernon taught me the Finley Variant--Vernon did it superbly. If I recall, the end result is entirely different since the card ends up in Gambler's Palm in the right hand rather than full palm in the left hand.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/25/03 08:34 PM

Actually, according to Volume I of The Lost Inner Secrets, the card goes into a full classic palm rather than a gamblers palm. In looking at the mechanics, Im not sure how one would get the card into gamblers palmthis will make an interesting exercise to try and solve

Many thanks to RP and Jay for their observations (as well as the rest, of course).

Cheers!

Lance :D
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/25/03 09:57 PM

Lance, after that volume of the Vernon book appeared, I explained to Minch that the description did not jibe with what Vernon had shown me. I believe Stephen then described it with the gambler's palm (NOT COP!) in a subsequent volume in the series.
Ah--I now recall that the sleight put the card into right-hand gambler's palm and that the right hand immediately moved to the left inner elbow to tug upward at the sleeve.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 02/25/03 10:24 PM

Richard, does this sound right?

I seem to recall Minch telling me that Mr. Finley had used a full classic palm but that Vernon used the Gambler's palm which he considered a better concealment.

Another minor example of "The Vernon Touch" making a very good thing into a very great thing.
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Postby Sean Piper » 02/26/03 01:50 AM

Speaking of the SWE Shift...

Has anyone tried the Block Cover variation as mentioned by Chris Kenner in Out of Control?

Sound as though it would shade the move well, but having trouble figuring out the best finger positions. Any ideas?
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/26/03 05:57 AM

Hi, Richard,

Well, I was having trouble figuring out how to avoid flashing the outer right corner of the card as it was taken into gambler's palm, but I see where it can be done now. Knowing that in many circumstances where one is seated at a table Vernon preferred the gambler's palm over the classic palm, this bit of finesse doesn't surprise me!

Thanks,

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/26/03 08:30 AM

Incidentally, I saw Vernon do this when he was about 84. He fumbled he first few times since he hadn't done it in many years, however he hit it the third or fourth time and it looked perfect. He did it perfectly several times after that.
Finley's handling is invisible and utterly disarming.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/26/03 09:03 AM

Regarding Erdnase, Richard Hatch pointed out to me once that many of the illustrations in the book carry Erdnase's copyright statement right beneath the drawing, but many of them don't. There doesn't seem to be a discernable pattern as to why some do and some don't, but all the drawings appear to be pretty close in style.

Coupling this with the information gleaned from the interview with the person who did the artwork for the book and how he expressed his surprise because he didn't remember drawing so many, does anyone have any theories to explain this? Did the artist draw all the pictures that don't bear the copyright statement, and was Erdnase also an excellent mimic with the pen who drew the remaining pictures and put his copyright claim on them?

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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/26/03 11:18 PM

Has anyone tried to look up the copyright registrations for either the book or the illustrations at the Library of Congress? Might be some interesting information there (these forms were, for example, the first hard evidence that "Richard Bachman" was in fact Stephen King.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/27/03 12:40 AM

Originally posted by Lance Pierce:
[QB]Regarding Erdnase, Richard Hatch pointed out to me once that many of the illustrations in the book carry Erdnase's copyright statement right beneath the drawing, but many of them don't. There doesn't seem to be a discernable pattern as to why some do and some don't, but all the drawings appear to be pretty close in style.

Coupling this with the information gleaned from the interview with the person who did the artwork for the book and how he expressed his surprise because he didn't remember drawing so many, does anyone have any theories to explain this? Did the artist draw all the pictures that don't bear the copyright statement, and was Erdnase also an excellent mimic with the pen who drew the remaining pictures and put his copyright claim on them?

Lance

____________________________

My article covers this in one of the footnotes. All of the illustrations were traced from photographs, a job that would have taken a day or so. Otherwise, Marshall Smith (the artist) would have been with Erdnase for at least two weeks if he actually drew from life...assuming that Erdnase had all 101 poses planned out and that there were no errors or corrections. Otherwise, it would have taken longer... Smith remembered one meeting on a particularly cold day which I managed to pinpoint in December, 1901.

The cost of printing over 100 photographs was prohibitive and would have required a more expensive paper. The use of "cuts" or line drawings facilitated a much cheaper production.
My wife, a professional artist, agrees with this assement as does Jim Steranko who has a bit of experience in the art business.

By the way, I've enlarged the drawings and discovered the cards to be both of poker and bridge-sized.
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Postby David Alexander » 02/27/03 12:44 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
[QB]Has anyone tried to look up the copyright registrations for either the book or the illustrations at the Library of Congress? Might be some interesting information there (these forms were, for example, the first hard evidence that "Richard Bachman" was in fact Stephen King.[/QB-----------------

The copyright has been published and the pseudonym was used. The illustrations were not separately copyrighted.

The entire copyright business is significant for a number of reasons which I may reveal in a follow-up article once a bit more research has been completed.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/27/03 08:38 AM

Last March I spent several days at the Copyright Office in Washington researching this and other related things. It took more than a month after that and about $80 or so in fees to finally get a copy of all four pages of the original copyright application. The Whaley/Busby book only reproduces half of one page. Nothing earthshattering in the other pages, but you never know till you look! The front page identifies the author as being of "American" nationality and gives his address care of James McKinney, as does the page Busby reproduced. McKinney was a Chicago printer, so presumably did the printing for the author (this is an assumption. I happen to think it is pretty good one, however!). The copyright was filled out on February 15, 1902 and reached the copyright office just two days later on the 17th (they had good postal service in those days!). Since the application included a printed copy of the titlepage (this is the third page of the application), the book was clearly "in production" in mid-February. Two deposit copies (not one as stated by Whaley, who chides John Booth for saying there were two) were received at the copyright office on March 8th, so the book was coming back from the bindery by March 6th. "S. W. Erdnase" is not identified as a pseudonym on the application, nor in the copyright offices files. One mystery to me is how the author sold the book initially. He obviously had copies to sell in early March and his stated purpose in writing the book was that he "needed the money" (David Alexander believes this is purely literary irony. I don't read it that way.) The earliest known advertisement for it is in the Sphinx in November 1902. (It is briefly mentioned in the September issue.) What was he doing with copies in the meantime? The first edition copy in the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress had been Adrian Plate's copy, and written in Plate's handwriting (at least I believe it to be Plate's handwriting!) at the bottom of the titlepage it says "Sold by James McKinney and Company" and gives their Chicago address. How did Plate, in New York, know this? I assume he might have seen an advertisement for it in the non-magical press. I'm looking for such an ad. If anyone spots it, please let me know!
Incidentally, Jim Steranko does agree that the illustrations "could" have been traced from photos, but has not put all his "eggs" in that basket. He also sees evidence in the illustrations that they "could" have been the work of two different artists (or one who got better!). So I'd say the field is still open on that issue... The titlepage states that the illustrations were "drawn from life" by M. D. Smith, and Smith recalled doing so. That he was surprised that there were so many illustrations (101) is intriguing (he'd have guessed he did 20 or 30). But Gardner was interviewing him more than 40 years after the fact and it was clearly not an important job from his point of view. His grand-niece and nephew are going to be digging a box of his stuff out of storage this week to see what "Erdnase" materials he still had when he died. My guess is that he had the letters Martin Gardner wrote him and not much else, if that. But again, you don't know till you check, so I'm looking forward to their report...
I did check to see if there had been a seperate copyright application on the illustrations (about half bear a copyright statement, half don't), but there was none...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/27/03 08:54 AM

Having drawn many thousands of illustrations by "tracing" from photographs, I can say that it would have been nearly impossible for Smith to have done 110 drawings in one day.
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Postby Guest » 02/27/03 09:10 AM

I love the Erdnase info coming out. I hope this thread stays alive.
This may be an odd thought, but...
Maybe Erdnase took some of Smith's illustrations, traced them, and combined them with some of Smith's other illustrations, and voila(!) had a new illustration for the book that he didn't have to pay for.
I think RK may have mentioned that Frank Garcia did something like this in his day, or was that A.I. Cragknarf?
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Postby David Alexander » 02/27/03 09:26 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
He obviously had copies to sell in early March and his stated purpose in writing the book was that he "needed the money" (David Alexander believes this is purely literary irony. I don't read it that way.) The earliest known advertisement for it is in the Sphinx in November 1902. (It is briefly mentioned in the September issue.) What was he doing with copies in the meantime? The first edition copy in the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress had been Adrian Plate's copy, and written in Plate's handwriting (at least I believe it to be Plate's handwriting!) at the bottom of the titlepage it says "Sold by James McKinney and Company" and gives their Chicago address. How did Plate, in New York, know this? I assume he might have seen an advertisement for it in the non-magical press. I'm looking for such an ad. If anyone spots it, please let me know!
Incidentally, Jim Steranko does agree that the illustrations "could" have been traced from photos, but has not put all his "eggs" in that basket. He also sees evidence in the illustrations that they "could" have been the work of two different artists (or one who got better!). So I'd say the field is still open on that issue... The titlepage states that the illustrations were "drawn from life" by M. D. Smith, and Smith recalled doing so. That he was surprised that there were so many illustrations (101) is intriguing (he'd have guessed he did 20 or 30). But Gardner was interviewing him more than 40 years after the fact and it was clearly not an important job from his point of view. ...[/QB][/QUOTE
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The printing end of project took several months, in the middle of winter, beginning early in December and concluding when the books were available to sell, apparently late February or early March. Since McKinney was not the publisher, his printing services were bought and paid for which meant the bill was paid in full before Erdnase took possession of the first run.

A three-month process to obtain a product that must then be advertised (possibly), sold and distributed, that must be paid for by the author is not a project someone undertakes because "they need the money." Publishing books, especially those with a niche market, is not a quick way to make money.

Erdnse, presumably with the requisite skills, could have found a game and made money. His comment is ironic, as in keeping with the persona evident in the Artifice section.

Plate could have found out about the book a number of ways, other than a magazine ad. People traveled, people talked to one another, etc. The book was not a secret, but was probably sold and distributed quietly before it was advertised to magicians.

The tracing of photos, at 5 minutes each, would have taken over 8 hours of continuous work. Given that Smith would have done these at his studio near McKinney's plant, the project could have done these over two or three days, with Smith delivering them either to Erdnase at his hotel (for approval) to McKinney's office where the work was approved. Smith did not remember prolonged contact with Erdnase, which drawing "from life" would have required.

What he remembered was meeting Erdnase in an unheated hotel room, "auditioning" for him by making some quick sketches. The photos were not "drawn from life," unless you stretch the definition to include photographs taken from life. That he got a bit better at the process as he progressed through the 101 illustrations should be readily apparent.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/27/03 09:37 AM

It is all very intriguing, isn't it, John? And many thanks to Richard and David for adding their work here.

If Erdnase could replicate Marshall Smith's drawing style, then perhaps he did add his own illustrations to Smith's, and claim copyright only on those. On the other hand, as David stated, it's possible that Smith was able to quickly trace all the requisite drawings. If so, though, then why only attach a copyright statement to some and not others? Hmmm

Does anyone know how many copies of the book Erdnase ran in the first printing and perhaps subsequent others? Are there printer's records that would reveal this?

I don't have my copy of Expert with me at this moment, but I distinctly remember the copyright statement originating from Canada (The Department of Agriculture, to be exact, in London, Ontario). Does this precede or succeed the copyright filed in the U.S.? What do the Canadian records reveal?

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby David Alexander » 02/27/03 10:52 AM

The copyright statement is misleading and somewhat nonsensical. The claim of copyright is made by "S.W. Erdnase," and then "Enterted at Stationers' Hall, London."

At least one British researcher has looked and found nothing there.

Then, "Entered according to the Act of the Parliament of Congress.....in the Office of the Minister of Agriculture." It says nothing about "London, Ontario."

"Parliament of Congress" is nonsense. It is either "Act of Parliament," which would be in keeping with a British copyright, or "Act of Congress," which would be appropriate to an US copyright. What it says doesn't mean anything.

This suggests either someone who didn't know what they were doing - an amateur publisher as Erdnase was - an incompetent at McKinney who typeset this after Erdnase had left and wasn't available to proof it (which also explains the technical errors in the text) - or someone trying to confuse the issue.

The book was copyrighted in the US, as Hatch and others have clearly shown...but the copyright page does not announce that. Since the US copyright forms were filled out using the pseudonym, there was no need for additional obfuscation.

As I have said before, had anyone tracked "Erdnase" back to McKinney, all they would have found, had McKinney talked at all, was their belief that it was a man named Andrews (an additional pseudonym I believe my candidate would have used) wrote the book. Sorry, we don't have a forwarding address for him.

It should also be pointed out that the Preface contradicts what Erdnase supposedly told Smith...that he was a "reformed gambler who had decided to go straight."

In his Preface Erdnase writes, "The hypocritical cant of reformed (?) gamblers, or whining, mealy-mouthed pretensions of piety, are not foisted as a justification for imparting the knowledge it contains." His "justification" for writing the book, his "primary motive" as he describes it, is "he needs the money."

This is highly unlikely as anyone who had ever been involved in the publishing business well knows. The book took years to research and write and the actual publishing process took several months, with all publishing services paid for in advance by Erdnase, to be followed by distribution and sales (details currently unknown) before any money would be realized. A minimum of four months if he had customers ready and waiting. Longer if he had to develop the market after the book was available. Hardly the actions of a someone who "needed the money."

There is no evidence that I am aware of that gives the number of copies printed in the first print run, or if the first run was the only print run. The plates were at McKinney and available for addition print runs, should the demand be there.

Common printing/publishing custom suggests for economy and a reasonable cost per unit, the first run was probably 250 to 500, but we don't know with any certainty. It could have been more...or less. Then there are the six or seven months between when the book was available to Erdnase and when it was made known publicly in the magic press of the day, another two before an ad appeared.

It may be that Erdnase sold/distributed the books he had planned on, that the book served whatever purpose he had in mind and that what was left could be sold to magicians. Part of the purpose of the magic section - written without the persona seen in the Artifice section - was camouflage, disguising the book's true purpose as a primer for cheating with cards. Indeed, years later, print run was seized by a vigorous sheriff for exactly that reason. In Erdnase's day, the First Amendment was not interpreted as it is today and a pure primer on card cheating would be seen as an offense to public morals. Possibly the book was sold "under the counter" for a period of time before people saw that it was not going to attract much heat.

The book was equivalent to a $40 or $50 book today, so it wasn't cheap....and we do not know if Erdnase sold them at list price or for more.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 02/27/03 11:43 AM

I knew I shouldn't have opened my trap until I went home and pulled down my copy. Thanks, David. At the risk of abusing the wonderful resource that is yourself, one more question for now...

Vernon told the story several times of how he first came to know of the book. He stated that his father, who worked in the patent & copyright office in Canada, came home one day and told him that they'd received a book on gambling (the Erdnase book), but that he felt Dai was too young to read such as yet. Vernon said that he badgered his father about the book to no avail, but that shortly after, he saw the book on display in a local store and acquired it.

I hope I've remembered this with some accuracy; I'm going back some years here from when I heard the story. It does imply that the book was indeed submitted for copyright in Canada and that it wasn't so much "sold under the counter" (at least not where Vernon found it), but that it was carried rather openly.

In trying to piece together the mosaic of the book's history, where does this information fit in?

Thanks,

Lance
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