ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Don » 11/15/04 08:03 PM

Todd, that was very, very interesting to read. Great research, it sounds a lot like it actually could be S W Andrews.

Gook luck.
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Postby Don » 11/15/04 08:06 PM

oops, i mean E S Andrews.
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Postby Todd Karr » 11/16/04 08:32 AM

Thanks, Rage
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Postby Matthew Field » 11/16/04 10:55 AM

Todd -- Phenominal! Many thanks for posting the results of your research, and for taking over the "Magical Past-Times" site.

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Postby Todd Karr » 11/16/04 01:54 PM

Matt, thanks. I hope this all helps advance the Erdnase search so we can give credit due to this unsung but outstanding author. As for MPT, I hope to honor Gary Hunt's legacy and do a good job with it, including other intriguing material soon.
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 11/16/04 11:41 PM

Todd, Very interesting material. Keep up the good work!
By the way, how is the Mickey MacDougall book coming along?
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Postby Tommy » 11/17/04 12:08 AM

Mr Karr

Thank you.
A fine piece of work and very exciting theory. I hope you will get all the help you need.

Just thinking of the cuff. The gent was convicted so unless he won an appeal later he would have a criminal record. Did they not take photos and fingerprints in those days?
I think it unlikely that he would have been given a jail term if it was his first offence, but if he had then what prison would he most likely have gone to from the court where he was convicted? Prisons often keep very good records.
I do not suppose the gent was connected to Denver by any chance. I only ask that because a lot of pro con men were at that time.
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Postby Todd Karr » 11/17/04 10:26 AM

Brad: Thanks, and I don't have plans for a MacDougall book right now, although the card detective would definitely be fascinating.

Mr. Cooper: The surviving court records are scant from that period, and while I had hoped to get more from the Wisconsin police files, the docket sheets are all I was provided with. This is where we need someone to go there and check the records in person and see what actually still exists. I also agree that prison records might be helpful, and I hope some of our Wisconsin friends can help check this out.

You're right about a Denver connection. Check my article again at www.illusionata.com where the press states Andrews' company is incorporated in Colorado. I hope business records still exist from that period!
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Postby Tommy » 11/17/04 12:33 PM

Re Denver. This was a guess from me. I am from the UK and do not know my geography of the USA very well. However, Because of the Denver connection, your man might well have been a member of the Blonger mob. See here for a run down of these guys.
http://www.blongerbros.com/gang/cast/underworld.asp



Your man describes himself as Businesslike and I cannot think of a word that could better describe the Erdnase work itself.
Businesslike
Definitions:
Exhibiting methodical and systematic characteristics that would be useful in business
Not distracted by anything unrelated to the goal
Synonyms: earnest, efficient, purposeful
In the manner of one transacting business wisely and by right
methods. ; practical and efficient.
Serious and purposeful.

Regards
COOPER
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Postby Todd Karr » 11/17/04 09:00 PM

Cooper:

Exactly. And the Denver gang info is very interesting.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 11/18/04 02:38 PM

The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress are about to digitize 30 million pages of American Newspapers. web page
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Postby Todd Karr » 11/18/04 07:15 PM

Bill: That's excellent news! It's amazing what you can find hidden in old newspapers, and today's search engines makes researching names a matter of a few seconds rather than months.
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Postby Todd Karr » 11/22/04 03:56 PM

Thanks, Glenn. I've already begun receiving a number of tips.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 11/22/04 06:47 PM

Back when "Erdnase" registered his copyright in Canada, the registration was done at the Department of Agriculture (where, apparently, Vernon's father worked). As part of the application, a copy of the book had to be filed.

I figured the book and the application must still be somewhere. Canada eventually created a copyright office and a lot of the records have been shifted around.

However, I did find what appears to be an entry for an original edition (there are other entries for later editions and reprints):

First, go to amicus.collectionscanada.ca

Or go to the Canada website and find Library and Archives Canada.

Here's the info:

Amicus No. 14561855

LCCN numbers 76378049 //r952

LC Call No. GV1247.E66 1902

It seems to me that if this copy could be examined, along with the original registration, some clues might emerge.
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Postby Bill Wheeler » 11/22/04 09:51 PM

I had trouble opening amicus.collectionscanada.ca but perhaps this link will help:

http://amicus.collectionscanada.ca/aawe ... &v=0&lvl=1

Noodling around on the above mentioned website, I found reference to S.R. Erdnase ... perhaps this is his brother.

Or maybe we should be looking for James Andrers. ;)
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Postby Richard Hatch » 11/22/04 11:03 PM

Bob, the copy you cited in Amicus did not show up for me when I did a search of the "National Library Collections," only when I searched "The Entire Amicus Database," so my guess is that it is not a copy submitted for copyright purposes (since it should then be in the National Library Collections, correct?), but a first edition elsewhere in Canada. The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library in Ontario has a first edition in the Art Latcham Magic Collection, so that might be the copy in question. Of course, I could be wrong and it would be most exciting if the Amicus reference is to a copy submitted by the author for copyright purposes. I would be very interested to learn of any other first editions in Canada, and elsewhere (my current count of first editions in public and private collections is well over 60 copies but I suspect I know of less than half the surviving copies at this point...). David Ben did recently check copyright submissions for the period in question (as have others before him) and found no record of the book having been submitted for copyright in Canada, despite the book's unusual, possibly unique triple copyright statement. The "Stationer's Hall, London" copyright also seems not have been submitted, though the American copyright forms and fees were filed properly and two deposit copies sent to the Library of Congress in early March 1902.

Bill, the "S. R. Erdnase" is a reference to "Samuel R. Erdnase" under which name the book's author is often referenced in bibliographies. This has been traced back to a 1904 catalog of Frederick J. Drake, prior to their first reprint of 1905. The catalog listing is curious in giving the incorrect number of pages (204 rather than 205) and illustrations (45 rather than 101), so it seems likely the "Samuel R." is a typo as well, though, of course, it could also be a clue of some kind!
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Postby magicam » 11/23/04 03:32 AM

Dredging up a few matters discussed earlier in this wonderful thread

David Alexander opines that EATCT could not have been written for money because of the up-front costs of publishing and the time delays in obtaining profit, and later suggests that the book cost $40-$50 in equivalent money in those days a high cost indeed. While I agree with Davids implication that Erdnase probably could have made his money more efficiently at cheating (assuming he was so good at cheating), given the high cost of the book, it is not out of the question that Erdnase could have initially expected a very tidy profit at the end of the day at sales of $2 per copy (although subsequent price reductions suggest that sales may not have been so good). Considering the poor quality of the first edition, I wouldnt be surprised if the cost to print and bind the book was less than a dime per copy yielding a huge profit margin, abnormally high even if the book was wholesaled.

David also wrote: The use of a check indicates the publisher (Erdnase) wanted proof of title, clear ownership of the material he was paying for. Establishing clear title is important for what happened later and a check is the best evidence.

While we may never know why Erdnase used a check for payment to Smith (assuming Smiths recollection was correct, and leaving us to wonder why Erdnase would want to leave a paper trail), I disagree that a check is the best evidence. A receipt would have been just as good. Moreover, a simple check would indicate nothing more than payment for some sort of services not necessarily ownership of the drawings. While some artists do indeed sell ownership of their work, others merely sell the rights to use the artwork (i.e., they grant a license for certain purposes or a specified period of time) and retain ownership of their work.

David also wrote: It is also indirect evidence that McKinney had nothing to do with "publishing" the book since, as an established printer, they could have ordered the illustrations and paid for them directly.

To my mind, the act of commissioning and paying for the illustrations directly would be the hallmark of a publisher, not a printer.

There has been some discussion and opinions given about whether or not Erdnase was a magician or a gambler. Richard Hatch notes that Erdnase made reference to Charlier in EATCT. This reference does not conclusively prove anything, as Richard admits, but it does suggest (to me at least) that Erdnase was very familiar with the conjuring literature of the day. Either that, or Erdnase just happened upon the very few magic books published prior to 1902 which mention Charlier: Hoffmanns translation of Robert-Houdins Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (1878), Hoffmanns More Magic (1889), and Charles Bertrams Isnt it Wonderful? (1896). What are the odds that a hard-core gambler would have read these few magic books to the exclusion of others, and somewhat carefully at that? And if Charlier was so obscure in conjuring circles, how well known could he have been outside of the conjuring fraternity? On the other hand, if J. N. Maskelynes assessment is correct, then Charlier was a card sharp, for Maskelyne told Henry Ridgely Evans that he (Maskelyne) purchased a set of marked cards from Charlier in London in about 1873. So perhaps Erdnase was a gambler after all and knew of Charlier from Charliers reputation as a cheat? I take credit for none of the foregoing. You will find all of this information and more in Eddie Dawes wonderful chapter on Charlier in Charles Bertram The Court Conjurer (1997), published by the Chief Genii himself. The mere fact that Erdnase knew about the extremely elusive and obscure Charlier seems to support the argument that Erdnase had more than a passing interest in and familiarity with magic.

In closing, these are just my thoughts. I'm not pretending to know anywhere near as much about EATCT and its mysterious author as David, Richard, and others who have contributed mightily to this thread.

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Postby Marco Pusterla » 11/23/04 06:49 AM

Hi, everybody!
Clay said:

Maskelyne told Henry Ridgely Evans that he (Maskelyne) purchased a set of marked cards from Charlier in London in about 1873.
While my message can have nothing to do whatsoever with Erdnase, one of Charlier's marked cards pack is currently in The Magic Circle's museum, in London (UK)... I don't recall if this is the same deck bought by Maskelyne, but I do remember it is a very interesting deck indeed...

Ok, that's is... going back lurking ;)

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Postby Richard Hatch » 11/23/04 09:18 AM

Originally posted by Magicam:
Either that, or Erdnase just happened upon the very few magic books published prior to 1902 which mention Charlier: Hoffmanns translation of Robert-Houdins Secrets of Conjuring and Magic (1878), Hoffmanns More Magic (1889), and Charles Bertrams Isnt it Wonderful? (1896).
I believe Charlier is also mentioned in Hoffmann's 1889 Tricks with Cards, though I don't have a copy I can check. He is mentioned by name in Howard Thurston's Card Tricks (1901) and more importantly in Roterberg's 1897 New Era Card Tricks, which was almost certainly a source and inspiration for Erdnase, as pointed out by Jeff Busby (Roterberg's book sold very well for the same $2 cover price). Erdnase mentions his interest in conjuring literature on page 126: "But so far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers...". In his first (and primary) mention of Charlier, Erdnase writes (p. 128): "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] Pass," and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." I don't believe any other writer on conjuring at the time would have refered to Charlier as a "famous magician" and the fact that Erdnase misspells his name in this initial and primary reference (it is spelled correctly in a latter passing reference) suggests to me that he was not a magical "insider." It does not follow that he was necessarily a professional gambler, but his familiarity with that world does seem more intimate to me.
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Postby David Ben » 11/23/04 10:38 AM

The original "The Expert At The Card Table" was never submitted for registration for copyright to the Government of Canada. I have examined all entries bracketing the years in question - including those in the hand of Vernon's father. I have also had on going discussions with the National Archives and others regarding this issue as part of my research into the Vernon biography.

I do believe, however, that I have solved the riddle of how, why, when, where, etc Vernon first came across this book and the connection it had to his family. This will be explained in the book. (For those who are interested, I am about 75,000 words into a 180,000 word project.)

As for editions submitted to Canada, all books submitted to the Government of Canada at that time were eventually shipped to England and were destroyed accidentally in a fire.
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Postby Terry Screen » 11/23/04 12:36 PM

I must say that I've found this whole topic absolutely fascinating,illuminating and a real live treasure hunt to boot.
It's given me a whole new perspective when reading EATCT.
My thanks to you all, and great job Mr. Karr with your contributions here and with Magical Past-Times.

Gotta get back to the book!

Regards . .

Terry.
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Postby Tommy » 11/23/04 04:27 PM

Just a thought or two.

Kokomo, 1901 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!
Oshkosh, 1904 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!
The Chicago 1907 E S Andrews, Same scam, same name!

I find it strange that a conman would want to use the same false name over and again to play the same con trick. In other words why not use a different false name.
After 1901, when his con comes to light, why not go to ground and emerge under a new false name, and after the 1904 conviction why carry on in the same name.

It tends to suggest to me, that it is not a false name. That E S Andrews was prepared to front this con. That is, he does it, confident, that he can beat the rap if arrested.

E S Andrews was indeed confident of winning the case in is jail house interview but was convicted. However if that conviction was quashed on appeal then it makes a bit of sense.
In that event his confidence in this legal loophole con might have grown and he would have carried on doing it. We do not know, do we, if he won an appeal. Also I note that there is no evidence that Tyler was convicted. I ask as I am not sure.

I am aware of conmen here in England who use their own name over and over, pulling a legal loophole con. Even though they are arrested time and again they, do not get convicted. These con games are similar in nature to the E S Andrews con; suffice to say that they are based on getting permission from the owner to take his goods or cash. It results in a civil case, rather than criminal one. They purposely use their real names because using a false name might be evidence of criminal intent.

Turning to another idea: E S Andrew appears well educated in business and might have gone to a business college. I do not know but perhaps there were few such Colleges at that time. One place I heard mentioned is Bryant & Stratton Business College. A long shot but maybe they have a student record. Or any education records might be worth a look as he sounds to me like a guy who had qualifications.


Regards

COOPER

PS Also why use this particular false name in reverse to write the S W Erdnase book. Again it suggests E S Andrews would have been his real name not a false one. What do you think, or have I got my facts wrong, sorry if that is so.
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Postby magicam » 11/23/04 06:40 PM

Richard Hatch wrote:

I believe Charlier is also mentioned in Hoffmann's 1889 Tricks with Cards, though I don't have a copy I can check. He is mentioned by name in Howard Thurston's Card Tricks (1901) and more importantly in Roterberg's 1897 New Era Card Tricks, which was almost certainly a source and inspiration for Erdnase, as pointed out by Jeff Busby (Roterberg's book sold very well for the same $2 cover price). Erdnase mentions his interest in conjuring literature on page 126: "But so far as we can learn from the exhibitions and literature of conjurers...". In his first (and primary) mention of Charlier, Erdnase writes (p. 128): "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] Pass," and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." I don't believe any other writer on conjuring at the time would have refered to Charlier as a "famous magician" and the fact that Erdnase misspells his name in this initial and primary reference (it is spelled correctly in a latter passing reference) suggests to me that he was not a magical "insider." It does not follow that he was necessarily a professional gambler, but his familiarity with that world does seem more intimate to me.
Richard, as you have had your head into this problem for years, your judgment is far better informed than mine. That said, given Erdnase's penchant for misdirection, I do not find the one-time (intentional?) misspelling of Charlier's name and the "famous magician" phrase as very hearty evidence that Erdnase was unfamiliar with magic and magicians of the day.

Even with the additional books you cite, this subset of magic books mentioning Charlier is still quite small, although admittedly the titles you mention do incorporate the word "Card[s]" in their titles, thus perhaps making them more prominent to one casually reviewing a magic dealer catalog or a magic magazine. But what was Erdnase doing looking at such catalogs or magazines? And even if he never saw such publications, as insular as the magic community is, would it be unreasonable to guess that he had friends/associates who were quite familiar with the magic literature of the day (or at least its high points)? All in all, I cant help but suspect that Erdnase was more familiar with magic than he admitted.

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Postby Richard Hatch » 11/24/04 08:28 AM

A painting by Erdnase's illustrator, Marshall D. Smith, sold on eBay yesterday for $499. Here's a link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... RK:MEWA:IT
It had previously been listed at $999 and failed to find a bidder.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 11/24/04 03:07 PM

If you look closely, you can see the guy sitting down has a card palmed in his right hand.
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Postby Tommy » 11/24/04 04:00 PM

Cool Ace of Spades door ! I want one.

:cool:
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/03/04 11:57 AM

Another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith, circa 1905, is currently on eBay. He is not identified as the artist in the posting, but several of the illustrations, including the cover illustration are shown. Here's a link:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... Track=true
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Postby Tommy » 12/04/04 05:15 AM

Was the first edition printed by "Letterpress"?
For what it is worth. You can determine this by looking at the back of a printed page and looking for a kind of embossing, in particular look at the back of the illustrations. Letterpress is a relief printing process.
I have a little experience with letterpress and I can say it is not easy to typeset a book without making a spelling mistake, even if you are a great speller. It is set up like mirror writing, that is it looks like a rubber stamp but it is lead type. I am not sure when type setting machines came about but small printers would set up the plate by hand as a rule and each and every letter is a separate piece of type.
Also the illustrations would have been what are called Blocks and they can be expensive. Some years ago I had a small block made and it cost me 50 and there are over 100 in the Erdnase book.
I am not sure when Litho printing came into use in the USA but that would have been much cheaper. The plates are made by a photographic process with litho and they are flat and leave no embossing.

PS I am saying it might not have been Erdnase that made the spelling mistake but the printer.
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Postby Paul Gordon » 12/27/04 11:58 PM

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

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

Lance
I know I'm late in the day commenting on this, but:

My ex-wife (artist) thought that there were three different styles of illustrations in the book. (I mentioned this to Richard Hatch when I met him in USA back in 1998/9.) The 'copyrighted' ones were possibly the originals and the others 'style copies' of those, but by two different hands. (My ex wife [Joyce] commented on the small detail; knuckles, creases etc.)

AND - I have a publishing theory (as I am a publisher): If the author(s) wanted to be anonymous, why choose Erdnase which is obviously Andrews spelt backward? Red herring!?

AND - How did he copyright it with a false name? The publisher AND the printer must have known something about him...NO publisher would publish a book by an unknown, for fear of 'breach of copyright.' Who paid the bills? Where did invoices go to?

I THINK that the publisher (Drake) must have been in on it; some kind of joke/scam? I, for one, would NEVER accept a manuscript from an unknown! ALSO - who would Drake pay the royalties/one-off fee to?

If you really wanted to be 100% anonymous, you'd have to NOT copyright/record it at all. And, you'd have to probably print it yourself! Hmm! Brings be back to Drake & McKinney...It makes you think.

MY THEORY is that the book is a 'house' piece of work; possibly a joke to get us all thinking! That, it did, alright...Yes, the revolutionary sleights are different - but, anyone could (and they do) publish esoteric moves that are never demonstrated in person.

TROUBLE is: If one scorns Erdnase, one gets vilified! Daft, really. People only want to believe what they want to believe. This is why we still have the Kennedy/Monroe stories/theories! How dull it would be if the TRUTH was that Oswald really did do it!

The book is NOT (I've searched) recorded at Kew Gardens (holding Stationers Hall material) in England, as also pointed out by the late Alan Kennaugh. That, I think, was another red-herring.

I LIKE the book, but I don't think it was written by a mysterious genius; certainly not Milton Andrews. I think it's a complete red-herring...designed to accomplish EXACTLY what it has accomplished...

Any thoughts, anyone?

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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/28/04 09:37 PM

Originally posted by Paul Gordon:

I THINK that the publisher (Drake) must have been in on it; some kind of joke/scam? I, for one, would NEVER accept a manuscript from an unknown! ALSO - who would Drake pay the royalties/one-off fee to?
Just to clarify a bibliographic point: The first edition (March 1902) was not published by Drake, but--according to the title page--was "published by the author" whoever he may have been. Drake did not begin selling first edition copies until sometime in 1903 (at the reduced price of $1) and did not begin to issue its own editions until 1905 (initially at 50 cents in hardback and 25 cents in paperback). According to a Leo Rullman article in the Sphinx circa 1928, Drake claimed it had purchased the reprint rights outright and had never paid royalties nor had subsequent contact with the mysterious author. Which is not to say that Frederick J. Drake might not have known who the author was. He is, after all, the one who suggested to Sprong and/or Vernon that they read "S. W. Erdnase" in reverse. Of course, the "Mr. Andrews" Drake dealt with might not have been using his real name in his dealing with Drake or the presumed original printer McKinney (who was also selling copies of the book) or with Marshall D. Smith, the illustrator. Which makes sense if he did indeed wish to remain anonymous. I personally don't think he did require or desire such anonymity, as if he did, putting the real name "M. D. Smith" on the titlepage as illustrator, which added no value to the book, would have to be seen as a huge risk to his anonymity. The fact that it took more than 40 years for someone like Martin Gardner to think of tracking down Smith is an accident of history. Anyone could easily have done so early in 1902 and likely quickly tracked down the author based on Smith fresh recollections of when and where they met, which bank the check in payment for the illustrations was written on, the name he used, etc.
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Postby Steve V » 12/28/04 09:41 PM

I saw a show on PBS where they have 'History Detectives'. Call 'em up and let them use their amazing resources to see what they can come up with. At minimum it should be interesting.
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 12/29/04 12:59 AM

If you really wanted to be 100% anonymous, you'd have to NOT copyright/record it at all.
I don't think the author would have required or desired "100%" anonymity. He simple didn't want his true name to appear on the cover of a book dealing with advantage play - a book that would most likely be read by people he had previously encountered, or may later encounter at the card table.
In his dealings with Drake, Smith and others, he would have no need to use a pseudonym.

MY THEORY is that the book is a 'house' piece of work; possibly a joke to get us all thinking.
An interesting theory.
Absurd - but interesting.
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Postby Jim Morton » 12/29/04 09:13 AM

Originally posted by Steve V:
I saw a show on PBS where they have 'History Detectives'. Call 'em up and let them use their amazing resources to see what they can come up with. At minimum it should be interesting.
Steve V
Steve, I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.

Jim
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 12/29/04 09:26 AM

Originally posted by Jim Morton:
Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.
All I could find when doing a quick search on the Copyright Office's website was the claim for the 1995 Dover edition.

-Jim
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Postby Richard Hatch » 12/30/04 09:51 PM

Originally posted by Jim Morton:

Has anyone has checked the copyright? (I apologize if this has already been covered. This thread has gotten so substantial that I'm sure I've missed some salient points along the way.) Anyone can put the word "copyright" on a book. That doesn't mean that a copyright was ever actually filed.
[/QB]
I believe this is covered earlier in the thread, so will just make a quick resume here: The 4 page copyright application for the first edition was received at the US Copyright Office in mid-February 1902. The copyright holder is identified as the author, S. W. Erdnase, and his address is given c/o James McKinney and Company, printers in Chicago at their business address. The author's name is not identified as a pseudonym (it was not required to be so identified). He is listed as being an American national. Two deposit copies were received at the copyright office in early March (I believe March 8th), 1902, so the book was off the presses and presumably available for sale at that point. There was no recorded transfer or renewal of copyright, so the book became public domain 28 years later in 1930. Those who have checked in Canada and the UK have found no evidence that the work was submitted for copyright protection in either nation, despite the book's claims to have done so.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/13/05 02:18 PM

Jason England just snagged a hard to find edition of Erdnase on eBay. Here's a link to it:
Card Secrets Exposed
This is one of several variants under this title published by Powner for K. C. Card Company. This one has 206 pages, page 206 being Paul Fleming's introduction to the Hoffmann section, even though that is omitted from this edition. That would date this circa 1945. In TMWWE (pp. 336-338), Jeff Busby refers to these variants, advertised by KC as early as 1939, as "fictional," implying they never existed, an indication of their scarcity.
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Postby Guest » 01/19/05 06:02 PM

There have been numerous attempts to identify mysteries surrounding the book The Expert at the Card Table. Here are some personal observations on one of the greatest books on sleight of hand ever written. Some who read and post in this thread may find my observations of interest. I have some clues from the book that I have not found put forth before. Some of you may be able to expand on them.

The book was published in 1902. My opinion is that the work reflected in the book more closely resembles the kind of table work seen in the era of 1875, possibly a decade before or after, but around that time.

To paint a picture of the 1870s, one would see the era of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on the western side of the United States. This was the time of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. Coral. Basically the only areas where education was a standard was in the New York, Boston, and Baltimore areas. Therefore, it is my assertion that the author came from one of these areas or possibly Europe.

The author was very well educated. Some claim there was a ghostwriter. Maybe, but if the book was written by the author, he was very well educated. This may seem a bit in depth, but it is very important to the point I am going to make later on. This person probably associated with people much like himself- aristocrats. However, based on the book, I would say that the author was playing with cowboys, miners, farmers, a bar crowd, and prospectors- not people like himself. Again, these are some of the observations I have made through the clues I am going to submit later. You can take them for what they are worth.

M.D. Smith, the illustrator, recollected to Martin Gardener that the man he met in the Chicago hotel room brought with him a board which to place on his lap, and asked him to draw pictures from life. Other people suggested that Erdnase might have been the inventor of the close-up mat. When M.D. Smith illustrated, he didnt know what he was getting into, he just wanted to do a good job for what he was being paid for. M.D. Smith said to Martin Gardener that he recollected that he was asked to draw from life in a hotel room. I disagree with this. I think the illustrations came from photographs. Here is why- if you look at illustrations 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 44, 45, 56, 63, and 64, all have reflections. What I mean by this is that the hands were performing maneuvers for the photographer above a varnished tabletop. If it would have been a green board or mat, the illustrator would not have shown as great of detail as to show reflection. My assertion is that the illustrator drew based on photos of the operator working at a varnished type tabletop from a saloon, and not the type of tabletop one would find at an aristocrat hall or fancy banquet hotel.

The tabletops in saloons were fashioned to accommodate drinking. Therefore, if beer was spilled, it could be easily wiped up. Aristocrat society made their money in the hotels. The saloons encouraged an atmosphere to have people drinking, playing pool, and card games.

This is why Erdnase did not go into great detail about working with the riffle shuffle. Instead he worked with the working man overhand shuffle. On a table without felt, the cards were difficult to pick up from the table to utilize a riffle shuffle.

On page 24, Erdnase suggested that the best way to practice was to sit up straight at a card table, adjacent to a mirror with cards in hand. Once again, Erdnase mentions a card table. I would imagine that Erdnase was sitting at the card table, not with a close-up mat, performing the manipulations for a camera.

To be continued....
Stay tuned...
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Postby Guest » 02/11/05 12:50 AM

Amazing. I started this thread Feb. of 2003 and today, two years later, it is still alive and kickin!

I have totally enjoyed reading all of the responses on this thread and reading all of this great stuff rekindles the passion I have for this great book.

Thank you and please, keep them coming!


Roberto
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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/11/05 09:22 AM

Hi Roberto, thanks for starting this thread!
I'm currently (among other things!) trying to track the first identification of S. W. Erdnase = E. S. Andrews, i.e., who recognized this first and got the word out. I think most of us know of the Vernon story about learning from his friend J. C. Sprong in Chicago that publisher Frederick J. Drake had told Sprong the man's real name was Andrews. Vernon then pestered Drake to reveal more, but Drake would only tell him to read the name backwards. Versions of this are in both the Diaconis preface to REVELATIONS and Vernon's Genii column. Vernon's personal questioning of Drake seems to have been when Vernon was cutting silhouettes at the Chicago World's fair in the early 1930s, but Sprong's interaction with Drake was likely earlier. The bibliography in THE MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE says that Mickey MacDougal's 1939 GAMBLER'S DON'T GAMBLE may have been the first to publish the E. S. Andrews identification, but I have found three earlier published references, all in THE SPHINX, all by bookseller Leo Rullman. The earliest I have is November 1928. He does not annouce it as though this is exciting news, so I assume it was not at the time, though it seems surprising that Vernon would not have known about it, were that the case, given his great interest in the book and its author.
Does anyone know of earlier references?
A 1962 issue of THE MAGICAL BOOKIE makes reference to a first edition copy of Erdnase that has, "inscribed in longhand" on the second flyleaf "S. W. Erdnse = E. S. Andrews". It seems doubtful that this is a copy inscribed by the author, but I'd sure love to look at this copy! Anyone know its present whereabouts?
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Postby Bill Mullins » 02/11/05 03:14 PM

For what it's worth, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported between late Dec 1902 and Jan 1903 on the bankruptcy proceedings of one James McKinney. I don't know if this is the printer, but since the date falls between the initial release under the imprint of McKinney and subsequent sales by Drake, this may be relevant.

I've got enough info that someone who knows how to work the archives of the Chicago/Cook County court system could pull the file, probably.

Also, Todd Karr's article of last November mentioned a Mr. Andrews who scammed while working for the Charles Branden Commercial Co. I've found another article where they were at work, in the Jan 31 1903 Davenport Iowa Daily Republican. Andrews is not mentioned in this one, but it is the same company, again up to no good.

The CBC was incorporated in Illinois on Dec 19, 1905. The Secretary of State of Illinois may have info from this act.
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