ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

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?

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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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Postby Guest » 01/12/04 04:39 PM

NEWS FLASH!!!!!!! After thumbing through old turn of the century newspapers in the Library of Congress I have just discovered mention of Erdanse's Wife, May. She was a performer, of all things she did card magic.Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.....Mike.... :p
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/12/04 04:47 PM

Bob Farmer isn't Erdnase. Bob Farmer is Spartacus.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/12/04 11:31 PM

No, I am Spartacus!
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Postby Guest » 01/13/04 05:16 AM

Originally posted by Mike Walsh II:
Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.
I can't see this rumour spreading very far! :D
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Postby Todd Karr » 01/14/04 02:22 PM

Hi, again

I've received a number of curious inquiries about the nature of the information I've dug up. Below are some of the relevant facts, which are all I'll reveal for now before I check other sources.

This person, E.S. Andrews, was reported in 1901 as perpetrating a rather sophisticated scam in a Midwest town before fleeing. His company's base is stated as Chicago.

In 1904, the same E.S. Andrews was arrested and tried for pulling the same con job in a different state.

While in jail during the court process, a reporter interviewed Andrews, who was stated to have used an assumed name prior to his arrest.

Andrews is described as a bright young man and his comments to the reporter are lengthy, eloquent, clever, and mention legal knowledge and a love of reading.

I am currently checking court records and other sources and will let everyone know more when the facts are in.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 01/14/04 02:59 PM

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
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Postby AMCabral » 01/14/04 03:06 PM

Her full name was MAYONNAISE....She did sandwich tricks.....Mike
Certainly a most jarring revelation....keep a lid on it, will you?

-Tony
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 01/15/04 04:09 AM

Fill in on this.
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Postby AMCabral » 01/15/04 06:15 AM

Yes, by all means, Schedd's some light on this subject...

-T
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/15/04 08:15 AM

Hellman, let's get back on topic.
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Postby Guest » 01/18/04 10:52 PM

Any more news on this exciting development?

Paul
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Postby Tabman » 01/19/04 09:27 AM

Originally posted by Bob Farmer:
I am Erdnase.
yes you are and you would be perfect for the part of "the expert" in my film.
-=tabman
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/23/04 04:09 PM

The first edition Erdnase at the recent Swann Galleries auction went for $900 plus 15% premium.

It was described as "London, 1902". Does that mean it was a British printing?
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Postby Guest » 01/23/04 05:29 PM

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
The first edition Erdnase at the recent Swann Galleries auction went for $900 plus 15% premium.

It was described as "London, 1902". Does that mean it was a British printing?
There are no known British printings, but this is a common bibliographer's error. Mulholland made the same error, as did the bibliographers of Milbourne Christopher's Library. It is no doubt due to the confusing "triple copyright" statement (US, British and Canadian), which has led others to suspect it was a Canadian imprint (there have been two Canadian printings, but not the first edition). The first edition copy sold at Swann's was in decent condition, so the price seems to be dropping a bit, though prices were generally "down" on most items in this sale, which was attended by less than 25 onsite bidders, according to credible first hand reports...
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Postby Guest » 01/24/04 12:27 AM

It is clear to me that this is the single finest thread on the internet. I hope this one continues moto perpetuo.

I now view this book with the same enthusiasm I had when I first started trying to decode the Seargent Pepper album cover.
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Postby Brian Marks » 01/24/04 11:34 AM

If you take a look at the Zapruder film under the right lighting conditions, you can see a man with an umbrella doing an invisible SWE Shift. This proves Erdanse was the second gunmen behind the grassy knoll. He looks erily like Bob Farmer
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Postby Richard Hatch » 06/19/04 10:12 AM

Another Marshall D. Smith painting sold today at an auction and may be viewed online at the following link:
http://cgi.liveauctions.ebay.com/ws/eBa ... AMEWA%3AIT
It went for only $250 plus buyer's fees. Doesn't look to me anything like the Erdnase illustrations (but then again, why should it?) and seems to be identified only by the artist's initials: MDS.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/04 12:10 PM

Taken from "expert at the card table" dover books.foreward to the dover edition.

"who was S.W Erdnace?Early on it was noticed that when this name is spelled backward it becomes E.S.Andrews.Half a century ago I was instrumental in tracking down the authors true identity.He was Milton Franklin Andrews.(MFA),a native of hartford,Conn.,who left home as a youth to become one of the nations most successful card swindlers.A man with a violent temper and a fondness of prostitutes,he was wanted by the police as a prime suspect the murder of Bessie Bouton,one of his many girlfriends, in Cold Springs,Colorado.
In 1905,when the police finally located andrews,and broke into his apartment, he shot himself and the women then living with him.He was 33".
skip a bit and -
"We know that Andrews paid a Chicago publisher to publish his bookin 1902.We also know that he paid a chicago artist,Marshall D. Smith,to illustrate the book.I had the pleasure of locating the elderly smith when he still lived in chicago.he told me how,as a young man he had gone to Andrews' hotel room on a cold winter daty to make pencil sketches of the gamber's hands as he held the cards above a felt-covered board that you see in some of the drawings. But who did Andrews pay to edit his manuscript? To this day the question remains unanswered. In "The Man Who Was Erdnase", Whaley gives excellent reasons for thinking it was William John Hilliar, an English magician who settled in America and who ghosted books by magicians T. Nelson Downs and Howard Thurston.
Whether Andrews actually killed Bessie Bouton we shall never know. It is possible he was no more than a likely suspect. Ther is no doubt, however, that his short life was dangerous and tormented. He must have known that his book would be his only claim to undying fame. He was immensely proud of his skills and his original contributions to card work and, as he tells in his book, was frustrated by the necessity of keeping his talents hidden. Surely that was why he concealed his last name in so simple a way that it would be easy to discover.
Ther is controversy over how much material Andrews omitted- secrets he preferred not to reveal- as well as the extent to which he may have knowingly given inferior methods. In some cases Smitth' drawings are misleading. For instance, the illustration for the slip cut shows how not to perform this valuable move. The text itself does not support the picture. Nor does the text describe the best technique. as all card magicians should know, a slip cut is best made by pressing the index finger on the top card so that, when the bottom half of the deck is cut forward, the car slides with it to give the impression that the top half has been take. Then the habnd comes back to pick up the top half. which has not moved, and place it on the bottom half."
From the Immortal words of Martin Gardner.

I know that most of us have read or already known this bit of info but i recently stumbled upon this interesting man/subject.
So if anything i hope this helped.-KARDZ
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/21/04 11:12 AM

For those interested in primary source material:

"The Man Who Was Erdnase" has some information about the arrest of Milton Franklin Andrews, taken from contemporary newspaper reports. Those interested in seeing the originals should search here:

UTAH Newspapers

This is a project to digitize 19th and early 20th century Utah newspapers, in a searchable format.

See HERE for an example.

Searching on Juggler, conjurer, conjuror, magician, gambler, card sharp, etc. also leads to interesting articles.
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Postby Bob Coyne » 06/21/04 01:52 PM

What happened to the new Erndase candidate (an E.S. Andrews) that Todd Karr uncovered? It sounded very promising!! But the last mention of that was in January. Anything new on it? Has it panned out?
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