ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

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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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/29/04 07:48 AM

Burton Sperber's privately published periodical, A Real Miracle, reprints "The Story of Erdnase" by Wilford Hutchison and mentions "S. W. Erdnase, Another View" by someone named Sawyer. Who is Sawyer? Is either the original of the Hutchison book or the Sawyer book readily available? Is there any real new info in the Sawyer book?

I am not wholly persuaded that M.F. Andrews was Erdnase. But (at least according to Whaley/Busby/Gardner) some of his relatives (who were laypeople in magic/gambling) and others (some of whom recognized the significance of "Expert") believed he had published a book. If that book wasn't "Expert", what was it? Since "The Man Who Was Erdnase" lays out the case that Erdnase was Andrews, it doesn't really pursue this line of inquiry -- has anyone else?
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Postby Todd Karr » 06/29/04 09:48 AM

Hi, everyone. I've been waiting for court documents from the man I'm checking out. The wheels of research turn slowly sometimes.
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Postby Richard Lane » 06/29/04 04:30 PM

Bill:

S.W. Erdnase: Another View, copyright 1991 by Thomas A. Sawyer.

Self-published, 67 pages, card covers, plastic spine. Addresses the conclusions of The Man Who Was Erdnase and the Andrews data from The Annotated Erdnase. I've seen it priced between $25 and $75. Aladdin Books used to stock it. They still have his other works.

From the introduction.
"If the present book does nothing more than encourage such further discussion on this matter, then it will have served a useful purpose"

More an open letter than a monograph, Mr. Sawyer details any inconsistencies or syllogisms he divines from those texts. He doesn't proffer counter arguments, but sensibly cautions against assumptions and leaps of faith.

The only new material is some wider context for the publishing efforts of the Frederick J. Drake company and bibliographic aid to dating early editions.

To borrow a phrase, food for thought and ground for further research, but it noticeably predates the readily available work of Richard Hatch, (Magic December 1999) David Alexander, (Genii January 2000) and the contributions to this forum.

Considering the price to content ratio, I suggest only the truly hardcore track it down.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 06/30/04 11:15 AM

Originally posted by Bill Mullins:
Burton Sperber's privately published periodical, A Real Miracle, reprints "The Story of Erdnase" by Wilford Hutchison and mentions "S. W. Erdnase, Another View" by someone named Sawyer. Who is Sawyer? Is either the original of the Hutchison book or the Sawyer book readily available? Is there any real new info in the Sawyer book?

I am not wholly persuaded that M.F. Andrews was Erdnase. But (at least according to Whaley/Busby/Gardner) some of his relatives (who were laypeople in magic/gambling) and others (some of whom recognized the significance of "Expert") believed he had published a book. If that book wasn't "Expert", what was it? Since "The Man Who Was Erdnase" lays out the case that Erdnase was Andrews, it doesn't really pursue this line of inquiry -- has anyone else?
The Sperber reprint was done because the originals are so scarce. I believe there were only 12 copies of the original (I dont have my copy of the Sperber reprint handy, but it gives the bibliographic details and lists the whereabouts of known copies). The information in it is merely a summary of Martin Gardners Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA) theory, as detailed in TRUE magazine in January 1958. The Sawyer monograph questions that theory, based on the evidence presented in Busbys THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE (TMWWE) and Ortizs ANNOTATED ERDNASE. Sawyer, a lawyer and conjuring bibliophile, concludes that the MFA theory, though plausible, remains unproved. He does not examine competing theories, asat the timethere were none. Sawyer was first to point out that the frontispiece photo of MFA in TMWWE is not the same person shown in the morgue photo of MFA and that the photos of MFA on pages 10, 20, 21, 119, 129, and 144 of TMWWE are all versions (some touched up to show him clean shaven and with a goatee) of the same photo, not independent images. He also questions the testimony of Albertie Minkley, MFAs sister-in-law. TMWWE makes much of her recollections, in Chapter 15, A Case of Identity" (an imaginary cross examination of the principle players in the identity issue), where Whaley has her say: When that nice Mr. Jay Marshall showed me his copy of THE EXPERT I recognized it right away! Just like the ones in the big pile of copies of dear Miltons own brand new book that he kept in his room back in ought three [1903]. Keep in mind, this is an invented testimony, not an actual statement made by Mrs. Minkley. If accurate, it would constitute compelling evidence of MFAs authorship of the book. The actual facts are somewhat different:

In early May 1956 Jay Marshall, after appearing on the annual Boston Magicale show, visited his parents in Chicopee, Massachusetts and took that opportunity to go to nearby Holyoke to see what he could dig up about MFA, who lived there with his in-laws for several years at the turn of the century. His visited the office of the HOLYOKE TRANSCRIPT-TELEGRAM and got the editors son interested in the story. A small notice appeared in the paper on May 10, 1956, Local Magician On Ed Sullivans TV Hour Sunday, and the article mentioned that Jay was trying to contact the family of MFA, a reputed card shark who may have written a book, a belief the truth of which Marshall is attempting to ascertain. As a result of the newspaper story, two family members got in touch. One, a niece of MFA, provided some information about what happened to his wife and daughter, but no information about his authorship. The other was Mrs. Oscar W. Minkley (Albertie Walsh), sister of MFAs wife. Donald Dwight, the editors son, wrote Jay on May 12, 1956, having spoken with Albertie. In addition to relating some family information, he says that Mrs. Minkley knew nothing about the book, but did say he was a college graduate (which turns out to be untrue) and did write books or pamphlets and gave magic exhibitions in the area. Before going to the next stage, keep in mind that Mrs. Minkley, age 71 in 1956, was attempting to recall events from more than 50 years earlier, prompted by a newspaper article that specifically solicited information linking MFA to a book popular among magicians and gamblers. Immediately after appearing on the Ed Sullivan show on May 13th, Jay Marshall called her, but made no notes of his initial conversation. However, after returning to Chicago, he did call Martin Gardner, whose typewritten notes (misdated May 11, 1956) indicate Mrs. Minkleys memory had improved somewhat since speaking with the editors son, as she apparently confirmed that Andrews wrote the book and said that he also wrote sev. Pamphlets, privately printed, sold to gamblers for large sums. Jay returned to the east coast to perform on Gary Moores television show (his recollection of this in a letter written in December 1956 was that this was about a month later, but the Holyoke newspaper article indicates he was to appear on Moore's show on Monday, May 21st. Of course, it could have been postponed or a later appearance) and took that opportunity to travel to Holyoke to interview Mrs. Minkley. He did take notes of that conversation, and called Gardner afterwards. Gardners typewritten notes (misdated March 20, 1956) say that the mss. he sold were probably typewritten by him, not printed. She looked at book [a copy of Erdnase Jay brought with him], recalled pictures, but remembered book as being thicker than it was. Recalled that he had many copies of it on hand. She repeated that she thought he had been to college. Jay transcribed his notes of the interview in a letter to Gardner dated December 12, 1956. Unfortunately, the surviving transcription in Gardners collection may be missing a second page or second letter (the one page letter says continued at the bottom). Jay Marshall probably has his original notes, which would be interesting to see, as the surviving transcription makes no mention of the book or the manuscripts. It does say She insists he was a college grad which we know now to be inaccurate. That is the extent of the documentation I have seen of Mrs. Minkleys testimony on this subject (she does report anecdotes about his card tricks and other family information, all given in TMWWE). There are a couple of very curious features of her reaction to the copy of the book Jay showed her: She apparently recognized the illustrations, but misremembered his book as being thicker. If Jay showed her a first edition copy (as Gardner reports in an essay in THE ANNOTATED ERDNASE), this memory could be explained by the passage of time, we tend to misremember things we saw as a child as larger than they were. But in a 1990 phone interview with Bart Whaley (see footnote 15 to page 303 of TMWWE), Jay recalled that hed shown her the Fleming edition, surely the very thickest of all editions (Perhaps in light of this, TMWWE interprets Gardners notes cited aboveas that she thought the edition Jay had was thicker than the books MFA had. That was not Gardners understanding, as shown by his essay, and his assumption that Jay had shown her a first edition. The notes are open to either interpretation). Since she claimed to recognize the illustrations, she must have looked at an open copy, indicating more than passing acquaintance with the book. Does it strike anyone else as strange that she wouldnt have looked at the title page and asked her brother-in-law who Erdnase was? The name "ERDNASE" is clearly printed on the spine of the first edition as well. The authors strange name, especially if MFA claimed to her to have written the book (she never says he did), would surely have left an impression, I would think As Sawyer points out, MFA may have had stacks of books, but were they THE EXPERT? Were they books he wrote? Perhaps she saw a copy of MODERN MAGIC. To a laymansome fifty years laterhands manipulating cards might strike a memory chord, even if drawn in very different styles (Curiously, Marshall D. Smith, the named illustrator of the book, did NOT recognize the illustrations when Gardner first showed him a copy of the book! Some take this as evidence that he did not do them)

Heres how I see the Minkley testimony: She learns of Jay Marshalls interest in the Holyoke newspaper and contacts the paper. The first person who speaks to her about it reports that she knows nothing about the book, though she does confirm MFAs interest in magic, and that he wrote some manuscripts. She receives a long distance call (quite an exciting event for many in the 1950s!) from Jay Marshall, immediately after hed performed on ED SULLIVANS popular Sunday night television show, which shed likely watched, having read about it in the paper. That must have been quite exciting for her too, and she now confirms that her brother-in-law, MFA, wrote the book. When celebrity Jay Marshall takes a special trip from New York to Holyoke to interview her after appearing on the Gary Moore show, she does not disappoint him, claiming to recognize the books illustrations, if not its physical features, and offering numerous anecdotes about MFA. How seriously should this testimony that MFA actually wrote THE EXPERT be taken?

I personally find the non-affirmation of MFAs older brother Alvin much more troubling for the MFA theory. He was only too happy to meet with Gardner in the fall of 1949. Gardners notes do not show Alvin had ever heard about the book, though he knew quite a lot about MFAs gambling activites. Their relationship was so close that it was Alvin who advised MFA to go to Australia to avoid the police charges of murdering several people (Alvin did not believe him guilty). Gardner conjectures that MFA did not tell his family about the book because it might embarrass them. This would seem to fly in the face of the authors clear pride of accomplishment and strong sense of worth as expressed in the book (not to mention its conflict with the recollection of Albertie Minkley, cited above. If she is to be believed, he had no qualms about letting his in-laws know about the book). Would a known card cheat and pool hustler and an accused multiple murderer be embarrassed to tell his family about a book hed written? Gardner sent Alvin Andrews a copy of THE EXPERT with a lengthy letter dated November 7, 1949. Gardner says he is anxious to know if you think the writing sounds like Milton. He received no reply. Now, if someone sent me a copy of a book written by my late brother, whom the world believes to have been a serial killer, but whose book shows had a redeeming side, Id have surely acknowledged its receipt and commented on its voice! We dont know why Alvin didnt bother to respond (he didnt die for several more years), but possibly he wasnt convinced that MFA had anything to do with the book, and regarded Gardner as a bit of a crank for thinking so Admittedly, that is pure conjecture on my part.

A final note: I sent Gardner a copy of Sawyers book (the second, revised and enlarged 87 page edition of 1997) and in his letter to me, dated 31 August 1999, he says: Thanks for your letter and the copy of the Sawyer book which I did not even know existed. He raises good points, and I admit that the identity of Erdnase is still an open question, lacking in any positive documentary evidence that MF Andrews was the man. I would estimate my belief at about 80 percent. Pratt is the major link. I dont believe he lied. He was very reluctant to give me information about Andrews because he said it would be hard on his brother My views on Pratts reliability and motives can be found earlier in this thread.
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Postby Richard Lane » 06/30/04 03:47 PM

Pratt & photographs: A curiosity.

The footnote to the nicest photograph of Andrews in the frontispiece to The Man Who Was Erdnase, mentions the rear notation, "Rose & Sands- Providence, R.I./ 234 5th Avenue." A bolster to the claim that Providence resident Ed Pratt received the photograph from Andrews.

Here's another fine example from the Rose & Sands studio.

http://www.gabrielleray.150m.com/Archiv ... quest.html

Interesting to note that the NY studio at 234 5th Avenue, was a block and a half from the Madison Square Club at 22 W. 26th. A short hop down to John Morrisey's place at 5 W. 24th and not much further to the House With The Bronze Door at 33 W. 23rd. At least 2 other gambling joints existed in less than a five block radius, but those were by far the spiffiest, bar a carriage ride down to 818 Broadway.

In 1910, outside 234 5th Avenue, heiress Dorothy Arnold vanished into thin air, creating another infamous unsolved mystery. That place was jinxed.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 06/30/04 04:40 PM

Originally posted by Richard Lane:
Pratt & photographs: A curiosity.

The footnote to the nicest photograph of Andrews in the frontispiece to The Man Who Was Erdnase, mentions the rear notation, "Rose & Sands- Providence, R.I./ 234 5th Avenue." A bolster to the claim that Providence resident Ed Pratt received the photograph from Andrews.
On page 4 of this thread will be found my earlier posting on Pratt and the frontispiece photograph. As noted there, the Rose & Sands studio was only in existance for one year, allowing us to date the photo (or at least, its frame!) with some certainty to 1900. Based on the notation (apparently in Pratt's handwriting) on the back of the photo ("Age 24 [Corrected from 23], August 7, 1900"), I am convinced this is a photo of Pratt's brother William, who turned 24 the day before (coincidence?). Andrews, whose 2 other known photos differ markedly from this one, would have been 27 on that day. In my opinion, there is no credible evidence that Pratt even knew Andrews, since everything he told Gardner that was accurate (and some things that were not) were in the "Malted Milk Murderer" article in Pratt's possession (unbeknowst to Gardner).
I've been able to purchase several photos from this studio on eBay (though none of Andrews!).
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/30/04 06:33 PM

Are you going to publish all these posts?
Stay tooned.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 09/09/04 08:08 PM

This is the best thread that I have read in a long time.

I do not feel that Erdnase was a card shark I feel that he was a magician. I have met card sharks in the past and they seem to know only a few moves...

These moves they do very well - but magicians seem to want to know more moves than a card shark. And card sharks really do not need to know a lot of moves just WHEN to do them in a game.

Expert at the card table is filled with moves. It is ground breaking and there has not been a book since that has done what Erdnase has done with his book.

Another thing in the magic section is that in the routines Erdnase has all sorts of bits of business in the routines. When he palms cards... Vernon points these little bits of business out in Revelations...

These bits of business can only be developed by performing the magic effects for people. In real time and under fire. This suggests to me that Erdnase was a performer.

As with his twelve card stock or fancy stock. It makes a great demonstration of fake card cheating but no real card cheat would ever cheat like that.

In the first few pages of the book he also talkes about how saloons used look outs. He could have been a look out for a saloon. And could have been around card players and card cheats for a long time.

Why would he write a book? I feel that it was promo and Erdnase was his stage name. Magicians use stage names but he was also re-inventing himself to become this other person that was the expert at the card table...

Micky McDoogle called himself "The Card Dective" and that was part of his promo. And so were the books he wrote.

My other feeling is that if Erdnase was a card cheat why would he need the money and write a book to get money?

If he was the card cheat of card cheats finding a game in 1902 would have not have been a hard thing to do. And I feel that if he needed the money he could have found someone to back him with a steak... If he was indeed the card cheat of card cheats that is.

He could also do three card monte. Three card monte is the fastest way to make a buck as far as con games go.

I learned Three card monte by reading Erdnase. And I also got tips later from Buddy Farnan and Dai Vernon himself.

Looking at the research that Whit Haydn has done on three card monte. And knowing about the game and watching people play it on the streets in Chicago. The MOB is an important part of the swindle.

Back in 1902 they used a mob and a script... Yet reading the three card monte routine in Erdnase there is no mention of using a Mob at all.

And that suggests to me that may have never done it on the streets. But the way that he writes about it it would make a great demonstration for an entertainer/card shark/magician to do to entertain during a show.

The book suggests to me that he was a magician and he was inventing a persona... As the expert at the card table. And the book could have been part of the promo.

Magicians write books and invent persona's to get publicity and to set themselves up as experts in a field. Scarne, McDoogle, Ortiz, Forte have all used books and video for this reason.

Selling the books and tapes makes a profit but not as much of a profit as a booking - being an expert in a field can get a lot more money because it sets them appart from the average magician that can do a few card tricks.

This is just a guess but in the first few pages of the book he talks about people that were employed by saloons to watch for card cheats. Could this book be part of him trying to set this up as a performing/consulting market?

And the add in the Sphinx for magician a second market and an attempt at quick cash?
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Postby Todd Karr » 09/10/04 11:04 AM

Quick update: I've obtained copies of the original court docket sheets for the case of con man E.S. Andrews and there's not much more there than the basic information I have already...not even a first or middle name! I may be posting some of my info on the Web soon, so stay tuned!
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 09/10/04 11:12 AM

Thank you Todd Karr. I have found your posts very interesting reading...

I look forward to reading more...
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