ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Charlie Chang » 05/12/03 03:39 PM

I would like to correct Euan's above post. There are VERY FEW errors or ommissions in the Erdnase text. It is my experience that everything is both well described and VERY WELL thought out.

While the descriptions are "economic" they include everything needed by the serious student to learn the moves.

As Dai Vernon wrote in his introduction to Revelations:

"Erdnase is at once logical and practical. Surely no one, before or since, has written so lucidly on the subject of card table artifice."

As someone once observed, students of Erdnase usually blame their difficulties on the text, rather than their inability to understand it.
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Postby Temperance » 05/12/03 04:04 PM

Very few? Hrmm.

The slip cut is wrong, completely. Interestingly the same wrong technique is described in more card manipulations. Actually it's just the image in more card manipulations but it's still wrong.

There are several errors in the bottom deal description in that he changes which finger are meant to be doing the push out several times.

The over hand shuffle cull descriptions are ambiguous as to which cards are meant to be jogged.

The open shift is less than clear.

The first method for top palming is clearly wrong. Does anyone do this move with the left pinky in the position described in the text? ( ie against the middle of the inner short edge ).

That's just off the top of my head.

However I still think it's a brilliant book and well worth studying. In fact next to Roy Walton, Alex Elmsley and Bob Hummers works it's my favourite book.

--Euan
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Postby Charlie Chang » 05/12/03 05:17 PM

Euan,
I'm trying not to slam you here but what follows may read that way. I figure it's best to just say it and be done. Just my opinion on a subject close to my heart.

To begin with, you are correct about the bottom deal - partly. There is ONE error which mentions the second finger pushing out the bottom card instead of the third. Vernon mentions another paragraph earlier in the description which states that the second finger and thumb "do the work". Vernon believed that Erdnase meant to say "third finger and thumb", assuming he referred to the dealing action. The sentence immediately before this one, however, talks about the little finger and it's part in HOLDING the deck. I believe that he goes on to say that the second finger and thumb do all the work with regards to supporting the pack, NOT the dealing action. This is moot but either way it does not detract from the excellent description of the sleight. Hardly "several" errors as you suggest.

The Open Shift is VERY clear. You simply haven't read it clearly. To quote Vernon again:"This is an exceedingly difficult pass but its acquisition can be greatly facilitated by following Erdnase's EXACT instructions". I learned it from the book. It wasn't easy but the work is all there.

I have no problem with the overhand shuffle culls. They're complex but correct. Better methods have since appeared but I learned all of these for completeness. Never, ever, used them.

Erdnase's Top Palm (version one) is a perfect sleight. It is rarely used and has been varied to death but the original is still extremely well described and thought out. Mechanically, it's brilliant. Just because people don't do it, doesn't make it any less perfect.

The Slip Cut is completely CORRECT. The illustration exaggerates the middle part of the sleight but, in doing so, correctly conveys the action. Carrying the lower half forward under the top card is a DIFFERENT tabled slip cut. I have used the Erdnase cut for many years with no difficulty. In Revelations, Vernon mentions a complete blind that is worth looking up (also correctly described). He also discusses the now standard version of the tabled slip-cut (where the lower packet is carried forward).

Euan, you need to understand that, when I first started visiting Roy Walton in his shop (almost twenty years ago) , I took his advice and bought a paperback of Erdnase, had it trimmed to the edge of the text and have carried it in my pocket ever since. I have lived with this book, studied it, loved it, hated it and devoured it.

I still dont understand it like Roy Walton does. Or Gordon Bruce. Or Bruce Cervon. Or Howie Schwarzman (who I could spend hours discussing the book with). But I keep reading and keep getting rewarded.

Thinking the text is wrong simply because it is either alien (like the top palm) or difficult (like the open shift) suggests you need to reconsider whether it is really a favourite book after all.
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Postby Temperance » 05/12/03 05:41 PM

Hi Paul

Your post didn't come across as slamming me, just so's you know.

You really think the slip cut is correct? In the text you are told to hold the deck off the table by the ends. Slip the top card to the left as your right hand takes the top half to the right then drop the left portion on the table followed by the right. At least in the Dover reprint, perhaps it is different in the original text?

I've never seen anyone handle a slip cut this way.

Usually you have the deck on the table the bottom half is moved forward onto which the top card is slipped using the right index finger (if you're right handed). then the right hand comes back and picks up the remaining half and slaps it on top of the other half.

Or am I missing something?

I'm not trying to attack you or Erdnase here I'm just trying to point out that as there are some errors in the text. There is a distinct possibility that the description of the SWE shift is perhaps incorrect.

--Euan

PS Vernon also said that you shouldn't treat sleight descriptions as biblical but that you should try to understand what is going on and then adapt the technique so that it fits how you handle cards (all hand sizes are different etc). I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea.
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Postby Charlie Chang » 05/12/03 07:15 PM

Euan,
the slip cut is a different action - follow the text and perform it with a distinct slapping action. straight to the table, no forward action.
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Postby Matthew Field » 05/13/03 04:37 AM

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
when I first started visiting Roy Walton in his shop (almost twenty years ago) , I took his advice and bought a paperback of Erdnase, had it trimmed to the edge of the text and have carried it in my pocket ever since. I have lived with this book, studied it, loved it, hated it and devoured it.
This thread is wonderful, and the small quote above from Paul Wilson is well worthy of any serious student's consideration.

Along with Michael Canick's new facsimile of Erdnase, and among other versions of the book in my library, I have two copies of the inexpensive Dover paperback edition. One looks nice and neat. The other looks like it's been in the washing machine.

That's the copy I fold in half and stuff in the back pocket of my jeans when I'm going somewhere like a beach outing. While I find it difficult to actually work with a deck of cards on the beach, reading Erdnase is something I very much enjoy.

So reading that Roy Walton had suggested something like this to Paul, who took it to heart, resonated within me, and I post this to stir some students out there to do likewise.

Thanks, Paul.

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Postby CHRIS » 05/13/03 08:06 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
That's the copy I fold in half and stuff in the back pocket of my jeans when I'm going somewhere like a beach outing.
Another idea is to get the electronic version and print it out in small fonts. With a little tool like ClickBook one can even print out a small booklet (4 or 8 pages per sheet). And when it's torn up, just print out another one. Or print chapters separately. Then it might fit in your breast pocket.

I don't need to tell you where to get the electronic version ;)

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Postby Dave Egleston » 05/13/03 03:19 PM

Except you can't read it on the beach!!!!!!! Too much glare!!

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Postby CHRIS » 05/13/03 03:46 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
Except you can't read it on the beach!!!!!!! Too much glare!!
Dave, I wrote 'print out'. When you print the ebook there is no glare. ;)

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Postby Temperance » 05/14/03 07:26 PM

Originally posted by R P Wilson:
Euan,
the slip cut is a different action - follow the text and perform it with a distinct slapping action. straight to the table, no forward action.
Yes it's bad technique though. You do that in a game and you're liable to get your kneecaps blown off.

Re the open shift. Can anyone actually do this? There doesn't seem to be any conceivable angle from which it can be viewed to make it even remotely deceptive.

--Euan
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Postby Charlie Chang » 05/15/03 04:06 AM

I have no idea how to reply to this. I'm stunned.

Euan clearly thinks he knows more about it than the rest of us - including Erdnase.

Personally, I feel like I just tried to explain quantum mechanics to my dog.

For the record, I think the slip cut is excellent and the Open Shift is an excellent lesson in shift mechanics.
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Postby Temperance » 05/15/03 06:40 AM

Paul, the fact that I have an opinion outside of your own does not warrant your personal attacks. I would very much appreciate it if you did not refer to me as a 'dog' again. Thank you!

The open shift is impractical and unnatural in handling. There is no conceivable reason to hold the deck in the manner needed to execute it. Out of interest, how do you justify the unnatural grip when you perform this? Also where is the focus of viewing; perhaps from the right side using the back of the right hand as cover?

--Euan
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Postby Guest » 05/15/03 09:53 AM

Euan, come on, man, Mr. Wilson didn't refer to you as a dog.

Teaching quantum physics to a dog would be a very frustrating experience. Mr. Wilson was simply using an analogy to voice his frustrations. Have a nice day! :)
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Postby Earle Oakes » 06/09/03 03:36 PM

Regarding the illustrations of THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE.Because there are so many intricate finger positions and specific breaks in the deck,I believe M.D.Smith must have worked over photographs and not from life as I understand the term.While purely conjecture, Erdnase,in stating on the title page that the drawings were done "from life",I believe he could have been referring to photographs that were taken for Smith's use.

No matter, whether from life or photos the outstanding feature of Smith's drawings is that the hands and fingers express the action as well as the proper finger positions to accomplish the sleight described. Fig.5, riffle shuffling and Fig.10, squaring up the deck are just two handsome examples of Smith's accurate and expressive drawings. I don't mean style or technique.

The original drawings had to have been done at least 60% larger than the published work. All the cards have rounded corners and the lined card indications on the sides of the talons and deck are all there and accurately drawn which could only have been done at a much larger size than shown in the book.

To do 101 drawings (over photos) with the clean accurate detail that the Smith drawings have in less than 20 minutes per drawing would be difficult.I think working 8 hours a day for four days would be a reasonable estimate as to the time it would havetaken Smith to do that number of drawings.

Technique aside, Smith, did wonderful expressive drawings for Erdnase. To draw hands so that they show the grace of the fingers and the beauty of the sleight is always the challenge to the illustrator of magic. M.D.Smith did an admirable job, no matter the time it may have taken to do the work or whether he worked from life or photographs.

This has been one of the most interesting threads to make the Forum.

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Postby Richard Hatch » 09/16/03 10:42 PM

I have recently been encouraged to post publicly some previously unpublished critiques of THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE (TMWWE). Let me begin by saying that I truly consider TMWWE to be a fantastic book which every student of Erdnase should own and study. This discussion assumes you have the book and can look up the references in it. It may make little sense if you do not have access to a copy. The good news is that it is still in print and available at a reasonable price from several dealers including the publisher.

TMWWE is basically a chronicle of the life of Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA, 1872-1905) and a history of Erdnase (the book and the author), arguing persuasively that MFA was Erdnase. This theory was first published by Martin Gardner, who developed information supplied to him by Edgar Pratt, a magician originally from Providence, Rhode Island, but living in Philadelphia when Gardner corresponded with him (at the suggestion of Walter Gibson) beginning in 1947. Gardner later met him several times. Gardners evidence (on this and other Erdnase theories) was further developed by Jeff Busby and then Bart Whaley. Thus the book is credited to Bart Whaley (who did most of the writing and much of the background research) with Jeff Busby and Martin Gardner. In addition to his research, Gardner contributed a foreword and Busby, who published the book in 1991, contributed not only research but several important chapters.

Let me begin with one of the very first artifacts presented in the book: a frontispiece photo opposite the title page of a handsome young man from the turn of the century. The photo is captioned Milton Franklin Andrews. When Martin Gardner received his first copy of the book, he was struck by the photo, which he had never seen. His initial response was Thats not Milton! as it was so unlike the photos of MFA with which he was familiar. Indeed, Thomas Sawyer in his critique ERDNASE: ANOTHER VIEW (possibly still available from Aladdin Books in Fullerton California) makes the same point. The morgue photo of MFA (p. 37) is clearly not the same man shown in the frontispiece photo (compare the shape of the noses: one is convex, one is concave, check the relative distances between the chin and lips, lips and eyes etc. Not the same man.). If the frontispiece photo is not MFA, who is it? One of the wonderful things about TMWWE is the extensive endnoting of source material. The first endnote in the book (p. 383) tells us that this photo, now in the collection of Howard Flint, is unique and still in the original photographers studio frame (Rose & Sands of Providence RI and NY) and that pencilled lightly on the back, likely in Edgar Pratts handwriting, it says Age 24 [corrected from 23], August 7, 1900. The photograph was purchased by Flint from Bob Little, who obtained it from Philadelphia magic dealer Mitchell (Mike) Kanter, who had obtained it, along with several other materials supposedly relating to MFA and Erdnase, from Pratt.

The first thing worth noting is that the photo is not unique. This was pointed out in T. A. Waters review of TMWWE in GENII, as he knew of the existence of at least one other copy. Flint had sold that copy to a well known magic personality and close friend of Waters, and Waters review implies that Busby/Whaley had knowledge of this. Bob Little did not know that he had sold Flint two photos stuck together, and it is likely that neither Kanter nor Pratt realized it as well. Since MFA was 27 on the date pencilled in on the photo, Whaley conjectures that it is likely a photo of MFA at age 24, given to Pratt when MFA was 27. Now Pratts correspondence and interviews with Gardner never claim that he knew MFA well, only that MFA was on friendly terms with Pratts childhood friends, the Taylor brothers and that what MFA showed them, the Taylor boys would share with Pratt (Pratts 4 letters to Gardner are reprinted in Darwin Ortizs wonderful ANNOTATED ERDNASE, also still in print and highly recommended to all interested in this topic). Why would Pratt even have a photo of MFA, whom he barely knew, and why would he keep it for nearly 50 years? Intrigued by this mystery, I went through the Providence city directories (available on microfilm at the Family History Library of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City) covering a period of about 30 years researching Pratt, the Taylor brothers and, relevant to the case at hand, the Rose & Sands photography studio. Philip Rose founded the studio in the 1870s, at which time it was simply The Rose Studio. For one year, and one year only --1900-- he partnered with an ex-employee named Sands who had moved to NY and together they operated under the name Rose & Sands. By 1901, the partnership had broken up and The Rose Studio was back in business (Sands eventually moved back to Providence and opened a competing studio under his own name). This allows us to date the photos frame with some certainty as from 1900, and it seems most reasonable that the photo itself also dates from that period, as indicated by the pencilled notation. So who is it?

As it turns out, Edgar Pratt had an older brother William Pratt who turned 24 (from 23!) on August 6, 1900. I cannot prove, but would be willing to bet that the frontispiece photo of TMWWE is a photo of William Pratt, taken to commerate his 24th birthday. Pratt told Gardner that his brother died a few years later, and it makes sense to me that he would both have and hold onto a photo of his deceased brother for many years, selling it to Kanter only when poverty forced him to do so (Gardner tells us that Pratt was living in empoverished circumstances when they met).

One of the things Pratt sold Kanter, apparently on the same occasion (along with two letters from Gardner) was the copy of the AMERICAN WEEKLY article, THE MALTED MILK MURDERER published on May 20, 1945. This is reproduced on page 264 of TMWWE. Even with a strong magnifying glass, the article (which is missing several pieces) is difficult to read, but I have since been able to purchase several copies online. Everything Pratt told Gardner about MFA that can be verified is in that article, as are several things he told Gardner about MFA that are incorrect. Pratt, at that time, would not tell Gardner who Erdnase was. Later, when Gardner found the MFA murder/suicide story by following up on Pratts leads, and told Pratt that MFAs story had seen print several times (Pratt claimed to be protecting his friends identity to avoid scandalizing the Andrews family), Pratt claimed he did not know anything had ever been published on this topic--this just a few years after THE MALTED MILK MURDERER article. It is my belief that Pratt, whatever his relationship with MFA (I am inclinded to believe he did not know him at all, from the many mistatements he made regarding him), knew about the Andrews=Erdnases real name theory (which was published in THE SPHINX by Leo Rullman in February 1929 as though it was already well known at that time) and conjectured that MFA was Erdnase based on the MALTED MILK MURDERER article. And perhaps he was correct in doing so: MFA remains the only candidate named Andrews who is known to have had some of the skills required of the books author (knowledge of card cheating methods and card tricks). The fact that he died in 1905 conveniently explains why the author who clearly took pride in his work never came forward to identify himself, once the book became a commercial success.

Gardner, even after cracking the MFA theory, remained skeptical because of Pratts strange behavior. But he followed up Pratts lead that James Harto had collaborated with the author and found independent evidence of this, which he found compelling. I have done considerable research on Harto, as well as on Hugh Johnston and Del Aldephia, who, along with Albertie Minkley, MFAs sister-in-law, are cited in TMWWE in support of the MFA theory. Should there be sufficient interest, I would be happy to post some of my findings on this board as time permits.
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Postby Dave Egleston » 09/16/03 11:22 PM

Thanks Mr Hatch,

This is the stuff that fascinates - I don't believe there will ever be a time when this isn't interesting.

I'm ready for you to put out a book - I'll be one of the first to buy it

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Postby Bob Coyne » 09/17/03 06:20 AM

Yes, thanks to Richard Hatch!! This is fascinating information and research. I'd always wondered about the veracity of Pratt's claims that he knew Erdnase and that Erdnase = MFA. If Pratt's statements are suspect (as RH reserach indicates), then the whole MFA theory becomes less credible. I'd love to hear about the new research on Harto (the hypothesized writer of the magic section).
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Postby Chris Gillett » 09/17/03 04:18 PM

It is especially nice of Dick to say that "I truly consider TMWWE to be a fantastic book which every student of Erdnase should own and study" considering the things that Busby has been saying about Dick in his occasional e-mail screed. It demonstrates what a gentleman Dick is. BTW, I like TMWWE too.


This post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Genii Magazine or Richard Hatch.
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Postby Guest » 09/18/03 04:28 PM

Hatch strikes again......thanks.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 09/18/03 06:11 PM

Wow, amazing stuff. Thanks for the post.

Brad "speaks without moving his lips" Henderson
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Postby Richard Hatch » 09/20/03 09:59 AM

Thanks, guys, I'll try to post some more information on this topic here soon. I think the information on Harto, Hugh Johnston, and Bertie Minkley should be of interest.

As far as a book goes, I don't yet feel there is sufficient compelling evidence for closure on this topic. Milton Franklin Andrews remains a "person of interest" to me, despite the glaring discrepencies between what we know about him and what we believe about the author. Other persons of interest are Wilbur Edgerton Sanders (see David Alexander's excellent GENII article, January 2000), Robert Frederick Foster (Jerry Sadowitz's proposed ghostwriter of the book), James DeWitt Andrews (see my MAGIC article, December 1999), and my favorite for the past 3 years, Edwin Sumner Andrews (mentioned in passing at the end of the MAGIC article and in some earlier posts here). I have pretty much lost interest in a Canadian riverboat captain named E. S. Andrews, a Michigan newspaper publisher named E. S. Andrews, and a British engineer named E. S. Andrews (first noted by Mike Perovich, who called his attention to Dai Vernon, who was enthusiastic...). I have recently become interested in William Symes Andrews (1847-1929), a American electrical engineer who wrote a book on Magic Squares, published in Chicago in 1908 by the Open Court publishing company, who also published Evans OLD AND NEW MAGIC. I had lost interest in him (he's much older than recalled by Marshall Smith, for one thing), but it was recently brought to my attention that Al Flosso seemed to think that he was Erdnase, which has made him worth another look, in my estimation...
At this point, I think I'd have to call my book, THE MEN WHO WERE NOT ERDNASE (and a couple who might have been)!

Chris, not sure what Busby e-mail references you're talking about, but regardless, TMWWE is still THE essential book on this topic.
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Postby Chris Gillett » 09/20/03 02:15 PM

"Chris, not sure what Busby e-mail references you're talking about"

Good.
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Postby Matthew Field » 09/20/03 02:35 PM

Dick Hatch's research on Erdnase is absolutely fascinating -- many thanks, Dick, for posting it here.

As more tangible thanks, I'll be visiting www.magicbookshop.com to check out the great selection of new and used books you've got at H& R magic Books. I might recommend Pit Hartling's new "Card Fictions." He's one of the Flicking Fingers, and H&R is bringing the book to U.S. audiences. See the rave review by Eric Mead in the October Genii.

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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/15/03 11:59 PM

Apologies for the delayed posting of more information relevant to TMWWE and its thesis that Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA) was Erdnase. Here's another installment:

Once Gardner had deduced that Edgar Pratt had been talking about Milton Franklin Andrews, he sought independent confirmation that MFA really was Erdnase. Unfortunately, Alvin Andrews, MFAs older brother whom Gardner tracked down and interviewed in Hartford in 1949, knew nothing about the book, and had never heard of Pratt, the Taylor brothers or any possible relationship with cartoonist Louis Dalrymple. Gardner wrote Marshall Smith regarding MFA and found that virtually nothing the artist recalled about the author corresponded to what was known about MFA (wrong age, wrong height, etc etc. See earlier posts and the December 1999 MAGIC article). So Gardner returned to Philadelphia to press Pratt for more details. When Gardner showed Pratt the photostats of the newspaper accounts of MFAs dramatic demise, Pratt finally opened up to Gardner and admitted that he had been talking about MFA. Significantly, he said that he never heard MFA mention the book, and had only heard his high school chum George Taylor mention it once, in connection with a sleight Pratt had asked Taylor about, to which he responded, Thatll be in Andrews book. Pratt claimed subsequently to have recognized the move in Erdnase when the book came out, though he did not identify the move for Gardner. On this visit he told Gardner that he had heard (though he couldnt recall where) that Harto of Indianapolis supplied the magic section. Pratt thought Harto [James S. Harto a performer and magic dealer] hadnt known Andrews, but that the printer got in touch with Harto about adding this section. A few things are worth noting at this point: First, Pratt did not claim that Harto told him about his involvement with Erdnase, and second, Pratt claimed that Hartos involvement was at the publishers insistence. Since the book was originally published by the author the latter claim seems suspect at worst and schizophrenic at best. In any case, Gardner pursued the Harto claim hoping to find the independent confirmation he sought. Unfortunately, Harto had died in 1933 and had apparently spent several years prior to that in a sanitarium. But Gardner was able to track down two Harto associates, Audley Dunham and Charles Maly, both of whom confirmed that Harto and Erdnase had some kind of relationship. Dunham had been an assistent to Harto and had worked in his magic shop. In response to a letter from Gardner, Dunham wrote: Yes, I have heard Jim Harto speak of Andrews he was referred to Jim by another magician the name of which I cannot recall at the present time [sic]. I spent many hours with Jim... and Jim referred to some part he helped on Erdnase. Dunham then talks about an auction of Hartos estate that he organized at which Waldo Logan of Chicago was the major purchaser. ...if I am not mistaken there was a letter in Waldos purchases from this magician to Jim in which some mention is made of Jim helping on Erdnase. Erdnase has never interested me much as I am not primarily a card man, there was however an original Erdnase in the effects and I also believe Waldo has that or may[be] J. Elder Blackledge got it I do not remember. He later goes on to say that Roltare Eggleston said something about Harto being connected with Erdnase. The rest of Dunhams letter does not mention Erdnase.
Maly, another close friend of Harto, was first contacted at Gardners request by Francis Marshall. Marshall wrote Gardner that Maly told her that he had seen the Andrews notes and notebooks, etc. in Hartos possesssion, and that Harto and Andrews planned a 2nd volume to Expert at Cd Tble [sic]. Gardner wrote Maly care of Frances Marshall on March 28, 1951, outlining Pratts claims, though refering to MFA simply as a gambler named Andrews and asking if Maly could confirm them. Malys handwritten response was in the margins of Gardners letter: Your informer is correct - Jim Harto did have contact with Andrews (Erdnase) or vice versa regarding a magic sectin in Erdnases book, but I do not remember any of the details. In fact, Harto showed me two letters, as I recall, from Andrews. However, since that was over 25 years ago - yes, probably closer to 32 years ago, I cannot remember any part of the letters. I am quite sure though that up to the time of Hartos death these letters were in Hartos file. Maly apologized for not being able to provide more information and suggested that Gardner contact Audley Dunham...
These two confirmations of Hartos association with Erdnase bolstered Gardners confidence in Pratt as a reliable source, leading him to reject Marshall Smiths conflicting testimony as mistaken. But I think it worth noting that neither Maly nor Dunham makes any reference to Milton Franklin Andrews, nor does either state that Harto authored the legerdemain section of Erdnase. Both confirm that Harto told many folks that he had collaborated with Andrews (Erdnase) on a project of some kind, a claim worthy of serious consideration. Time and interest permitting, Ill post some background next time on Harto that may have a bearing on this question.
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Postby Frank Yuen » 10/16/03 06:22 AM

Hopefully you have the time because I'm certain you have the interest. Thanks for the update.

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Postby Grant McSorley » 10/16/03 10:06 AM

Richard,
This has to be the best discussion on the forum. Everyone even slightly interested in Erdnase owes you a huge debt of gratitude for putting all this information here for us.
Did anyone ever get to look at the letters that Waldo Logan won at auction?

Thanks,
Grant
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/16/03 01:47 PM

Thanks, guys. I'm having fun finally organizing this material, but it does take time so your patience (and encouragement) is appreciated...

Originally posted by Grant McSorley:

Did anyone ever get to look at the letters that Waldo Logan won at auction?
Alas, Gardner was unsuccessful tracking them down. Waldo Logan, whom Gardner had known in Chicago (as had Marshall Smith. In fact, Logan's mother had awarded Smith a prize for one of his paintings...) had moved by then, apparently to Florida, and Gardner was unsuccessful in his attempts to follow up. There is a chance the letters survive in someone's archive somewhere... I would also be very keen on examining the "original Erdnase" that Dunham refers to. I assume he means a first edition copy. If Harto did collaborate with Erdnase, one would think Harto's personal copy might give an indication of this... But Gardner's attempts to follow up leads to Blackledge did not bring results either. Also, it should be mentioned that Dunham destroyed many of Harto's documents before the auction, including original letters to Harto from Houdini, Kellar and others. Dunham was afraid he would catch some of Harto's lingering "Syph" germs from them, even though this was more than a decade after the latter's death!
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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/16/03 01:54 PM

As a follow up to the above, I try to examine ANY copy I find out about of the first edition. Some have, in fact, yielded new information (for example, Houdini's copy, which is mentioned earlier in this forum). I currently know the whereabouts of nearly 50 first edition copies (including the exceptional one currently being auctioned on eBay!), and have had a chance to examine about a dozen of them. But I am anxious to learn the whereabouts of others (and examine them, when possible), so if you have or know the whereabouts of copies, feel free to email me privately at richard@magicbookshop.com
Surprisingly, the first edition seems to be the most common of the early hardback editions, more seeming to have survived than of the Drake hardbacks. Extrapolating backward, my current guess is that the print run of the first edition was likely close to 1,000 copies, of which probably about 100 survive today. But that's just a guess at this point...
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/16/03 11:39 PM

This is a most incredible thread, and I hope it continues in earnest! Richards enthusiasm for this subject comes through in his writing, but folks, you should have seen him in action at the 2001 L.A. History Conference! He was a site to see!

For those of you who might be interested in discussing the contents of this amazing book, Forum member Philippe Noel has started a thread on it in the Book of the Month Forum. You can join in by clicking below!

Thanks!
Dustin

http://geniimagazine.com/forum/cgi-bin/ ... 7;t=000013
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/01/03 10:50 AM

A painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of Erdnase, is set to be sold at live auction by Treadway Galleries of Oak Park, Illinois next Sunday, December 7th. The painting can be viewed online at http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... 2204907987
(if that doesn't work, do a search on www.ebay.com for "Marshall D Smith").
They think it will sell for between $2,000 and $3,000, with an opening bid of $750. Another Illinois art dealer has one of his paintings offered on sale for more than $20,000, so maybe it will!
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Postby Bill Mullins » 12/01/03 11:34 AM

I've seen it mentioned a couple of times that Martin Gardner speculated that Mark Twain might have written Erdnase -- due to connections with Dalrymple??

Is this an anecdotal speculation? Where does it appear in print? In some of Gardner's writings? or was another writing quoting a statement made by Gardner?
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/01/03 12:13 PM

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
I've seen it mentioned a couple of times that Martin Gardner speculated that Mark Twain might have written Erdnase -- due to connections with Dalrymple??

Is this an anecdotal speculation? Where does it appear in print? In some of Gardner's writings? or was another writing quoting a statement made by Gardner?
Once the hints dropped by Edgar Pratt led Gardner to Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA), Bill Woodfield got copies of the Bay Area coverage of the latter's lurid end, which seemed like the OJ Simpson story of the day (November 1905). Included in this coverage were transcripts of two lengthy "confession/alibi" letters written by MFA to local newspapers (he confesses to having attempted to murder his Australian gambling partner, with whom he was caught attempting to perform "the spread" while sailing from Hawaii to San Francisco, but gives alibis regarding the other 3 murders police wanted to pin on him). Because these letters sounded so little like the prose of Erdnase, Woodfield suggested to Gardner that MFA (assumed now to be the author), must have had an editor or ghostwriter. Gardner, knowing that MFA had been raised in Hartford, made the connection to Mark Twain, a prominent Hartford resident after he achieved literary fame. Gardner found some stylistic similarities with Twain (the "club room" anecdote, for example), evidence that Twain had ghosted other works, and the fact that Twain was fond of billiards, at which MFA was a known hustler. He even got confirmation from a relative of Twain's named Cyril Clemens who edited a "Mark Twain Journal" saying that one of Twain's friends had told him (Cyril) that Twain had known MFA. But established Twain scholars informed Gardner that Cyril Clemens was not to be trusted on such matters and pointed out that Twain spent the entire period of possible collaboration with MFA (basically the decade prior to the turn of the 20th century) travelling in Europe rather than in Hartford. So Gardner stopped pursuing that line of inquiry, which he had always considered unlikely, though intriguing.
All of the above may be found in Bart Whaley and Jeff Busby's incredible THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE. Transcripts of the letters MFA wrote are included as Appendices. Those who favor MFA as author are prone to bring in ghostwriter/editors, but if MFA did not write the book, such a complication seems premature. David Alexander has persuasively argued from internal evidence that the self-published book did not have an editor. Busby conjectured that Bill Hilliar ghosted it, with the added complication of James Harto contributing the legerdemain section. Time permitting, both conjectures can be discussed at length in future postings.
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Postby Tabman » 12/01/03 05:54 PM

this would make for a killer indie film!! all the ingredients are there plus the mystery. maybe shoot it from the perspective of all the suspected erdnase characters or from your (richard) perspective as a professor indiana jones type character looking for the truth. ill produce the sound track so now we need a script writer, producer, director, actors, crew, equipment, transportation, a psychic and of course lots of dinero.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/01/03 08:03 PM

After the Erdnase mystery was covered on the front page of the Wall Street Journal three years ago, I was actually contacted by by a documentary filmmaker about it. I gave him contact info for Martin Gardner and Jeff Busby as he mostly wanted to option the film rights for the MFA story and I didn't feel I had any right to that material. I know he spoke with Martin, but later got the impression he never spoke with Jeff. In any case, as far as I know, no money changed hands and no film was made. I believe he tried to pitch it to the History Channel without success. I still hear from him occasionally. Several others have also expressed an interest, but the focus usually seems to be on the MFA story, since that is the most "romantic" and so, presumably, the most "marketable" version. Two years ago BBC radio did produce a 15 minute story on Erdnase featuring interviews with David Alexander, Bart Whaley, Roger Crosthwaite and Darwin Ortiz. Darwin was even featured performing the Erdnase color change on the radio!
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Postby Tabman » 12/01/03 10:37 PM

im not surprised that there was some buzzing about it after the wsj story. color change on the radio!! thats a good one!!!! i guess ill get busy on the script.
-=tabman
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/07/03 02:36 PM

Just a quick follow-up: The painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of Erdnase, mentioned earlier in this thread, sold at live auction today in Oak Park, Illinois to an online bidder for $3,000 plus 22% online buyer's premium plus other charges (shipping, 3% credit card charges if he or she uses one) for a total cost of likely close to $3,7500. For now, the painting may still be viewed at http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... 2204907987
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Postby Todd Karr » 01/12/04 09:48 AM

Hi, everyone

Very exciting developments on Erdnase.

I've uncovered information on a Midwest con-man named E. S. Andrews who seems to fit the bill of our man. The dates, locations, and character fit in place very well. I ran this past Richard Hatch, who feels it's definitely promising. I am following some of the leads and will of course share the details with everyone as soon as possible.
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Postby Matthew Field » 01/12/04 01:41 PM

Todd -- Very exciting! How did everybody else miss this guy?

Matt Field
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/12/04 02:41 PM

Matt, wishing to "betray no confidences" limits what I can say at this time, but I believe it is safe for me to say that Todd's new information is extremely promising. It appears to be a previously unknown "E. S. Andrews", who seems to be in about the right places at the right times in a most intriguing line of work. That he was not on anyone's radar screen prior to now is not all that surprising given the difficulty in tracking the pool of candidates 100 years ago. What is more surprising (to me) is that such candidates are being found at all, at this late date! Todd has accessed a previously untapped resource and may have hit paydirt, but much work remains to be done and he is diligently pursuing it.
I spoke to Martin Gardner, now 89, this morning, and he is intrigued by the development as well.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 01/12/04 04:11 PM

I am Erdnase.
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