ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

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.

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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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Postby Richard Hatch » 02/11/05 10:05 PM

Bill, great work! I think if you'll recheck the January 1903 Davenport reference that you kindly shared with me, you'll note that "Andrews" is mentioned and was, in fact, arrested there as well, though presumably released rather than held for trial, based on the report. But that may still yield an arrest record with more information on him...
The James McKinney in the bankruptcy petition of January 30th, 1903 is the printer, as his address is given as 73 Plymouth Place in Chicago, which was McKinney's address and the address used by Erdnase in registering the copyring in care of James McKinney. According to the bankruptcy petition, "an inventory of the property" was available for inspection. I wonder if such a document might still exist? It would be interesting to see if the inventory included copies of Erdnase (and how many!) and who bought the assets. It may not be a coincidence that the price of the book was dropped from $2 to $1 the following month and that Frederick J. Drake began advertising first edition copies later in 1903. (Drake's own earliest known printing is dated 1905 and was supposedly made from the original first edition plates).
Anyone in Chicago who can track down the court records?
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Postby Todd Karr » 02/12/05 08:44 AM

Bill: Many thanks for digging up this additional information on the Brandon Company scams!
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Postby Guest » 02/15/05 10:58 PM

I find all this history of who Erdnase was fasinating and respect the guys doing the detective work as much as I respect Erdnase himself.

To me, even considering where to start is very daunting and way beyond my abilities, I take my hat off to you all and thank you for sharing your thoughts and findings.

while I do find this side of the book interesting and I am fasnated how it came to exist, to me it remaims secondary to the material itself.

For these reasons I am afraid I can offer nothing to the search. I would however like to argue (in a friendly way) Glenn Bishops claims about the twelve card (fancy) stock being something that would never be used by a card cheat.

"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."

Glenn Bishop.

The variable number stock (titled twelve card stock for illastrive purposes) is very useful, how it is used and why it is wrote up like it is must be understod before a quote such as the one above is thrown out.

We term this example a fancy stock, as it is very rarely that an opertunity occurs for selecting three sets of Four of a Kind; but the procedure is the same for two sets, or for sets of three, or pairs, or, infact, for the stocking of any number of kind, with sleight variation in the calculation.

Erdnase.

It is in the description of this stock that Erdnase takes the student away from the mimicking of taught examples and into the understanding of the procedure that is necessary for a card player to use it to full advantage.

It's not just a fake useless procedure used to accomlish this teaching though. If we look at the idea of using this stock with sets of three or two cards (or combinations of four's, three's and/or two's) we can see that the description of obtaining four is needed to gain the necessary understanding.

The sleight variation in the handling mentioned in the text is basic and is the first step to understanding the shuffle.

If using the shuffle to have three cards fall to the dealer (with three sets of three on top) the nine cards being run at the very start are changed to seven and the rest of the shuffle may be done the same. This means that the first card of the three will fall to the dealers hand on the third round rather than the second as with the four card version.

If using the shuffle to have two cards fall to the dealer (with three sets of two on top) the nine cards being run originally are changed to five, this means that the first card of the two will fall to the dealers hand on the fourth round rather than the second as with the four card version or the third round with three.

Thus; the shuffle can then be seen instantly as very useful to the true card cheat. He gets his cards and has knowlwege of plenty of the top cards (eight in the example in the book) after the deal and going into the draw without any need for markings or for glimpsing anything.

I'm sure the multiple possibilites of gaining this knowlege before and while getting involved in the draw can be seen from here.

Aspects such as; Erdnase's like of decks with no work put in, his dislike of cold decking, every single word of the stock and cull shuffling, the wonderful palms that were designed to work specifically following an overhand shuffle and with the purpose of holding out for the cut, and his understanding of just how useful the bottom deal is that make me believe strongly that Erdnase was nothing other than a card cheat of the highest order.

David.
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Postby Tommy » 03/02/05 09:04 PM

Coterie.

This might be pure coincidence but I just wonder if this Coterie of confidence men and Exclusive Coterie is connected in some way. The use of this word Coterie which is not a word I read often and the connection with card cheating seems interesting, so thought I would put it up.

Denver Times July 14, 1901
BLONGER IN A STEW
Crack Bunco Man Will Be Rearrested Tomorrow.
HE WORKED A BRITISHER
But the Traveler Had "Brawses" on His Trunk and Sped Along After Blonger Had Been Made to Cough Up.
A new complaint will be filed tomorrow by the district attorney against Lou Blonger, the head of a coterie of confidence [men?]. Blonger was arrested last week on a complaint signed by George Ritter, who charged him with enticing him into a brace poker game and swindling him out of $300. Justice Rice was aroused from his slumbers at 2 o'clock by Ritter and an officer, and a warrant secured for Blonger.

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Postby Bill Mullins » 03/04/05 09:23 PM

Probably just a coincidence. "Coterie" is a word which, while not obsolete, has fallen from favor over the last hundred years.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 03/04/05 11:09 PM

A painting by Marshall D. Smith, illustrator of THE EXPERT, sold at auction today and can be viewed here:
Marshall D. Smith Painting
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Postby Tommy » 03/05/05 06:49 AM

Mr Hatch it seems from this that Marshall Smith is more well known to magicians than the Art World, they do not deem it worth a mention that Marshall Smith was the illustrator of the of the Erdnase book or are unaware of this fact. I do not know if this interests you but it seems they are looking for help for his biography. See below:

http://www.askart.com/adopt.asp
These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:

A Chicago and New Orleans painter known for street scenes, Marshall Smith exhibited in the 1930s at the Art Institute of Chicago. He was also a WPA artist.
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Postby Richard Lane » 04/03/05 06:07 PM

In the interest of completeness:

The Charles Branden Commercial Co. is not mentioned in any volume of the Marvyn Scudder Manual of Extinct or Obsolete Companies, or the Robert D. Fisher Manual of Valuable and Worthless Securities.

Did anyone chase down the certificate of incorporation from the Illinois vaults?
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/04/05 04:14 PM

Another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith is currently on eBay. It is missing a page, but I assume all the Smith illustrations are there. Here's a link:
Marshall D Smith illustrated book on eBay
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Postby Richard Hatch » 04/25/05 05:58 AM

Here's another book illustrated by Marshall D. Smith on eBay, showing some of his illustrations:
Jack Henderson Down South on eBay
Warning: The cover illustration (by Smith) is no longer "politically correct" and might be offensive to some. Perhaps that is also why it is fetching such a high price, with reserve not yet met!
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Postby Richard Hatch » 05/14/05 05:37 PM

Here's another painting attributed to Marshall D. Smith being auctioned off tomorrow in Oak Park, Illinois:
Marshall D Smith Painting
Opening bid of just $200...
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Postby Bill Mullins » 05/16/05 08:15 AM

It looks like the Smith painting only brought $225.
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Postby Brian Marks » 05/16/05 05:37 PM

Eardnase, so who is he?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/17/05 04:53 AM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
Eardnase, so who is he?
That would be Lobe Eardnase, a cousin of the illustrious author of Expert at the Card Table.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby El Mystico » 05/17/05 09:35 AM

Author of "Expert at the Ear Surgeon's table"
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 01:06 AM

Would it please be possible for someone to briefly rattle out the names of those already under the Erdnase spotlight? Ie who's already been looked at?

I have a name that so far fits the bill; dates, place, and he has a strong literary background. Like the aforementioned Andrews in this post however, no pack of cards found yet. Would really appreciate knowing if he's been targeted yet and/or dismissed as nothing.

Thank you.
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 04:04 AM

Hello everyone, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this topic thus far, and I'd like to add my thoughts:

I had the honor of meeting with Darwin Ortiz the day before yesterday and we had an interesting discussion about who Erdnase was. He informed me that the Chicago bank that issued M.D. Smith's check (for payment of the illustrations) was later bought out by a larger bank which today still maintains account information from 1902. The source that gave Ortiz this information, which he did not disclose to me, has not contacted Darwin with follow up information. Only a few legal formalities needed to take place before the account information could be given out, but that's the last Ortiz heard of the investigation.

I shared my theory to Darwin about Theodore Hardison possibly being Erdnase. The fact that Hardison's manuscript "Poker" directly plagiarises phrases and illustrations from Expert at the Card Table is not my sole reason for this belief. "Poker" was self published by Hardison in 1914, around the time Erdnase couldn't be contacted anymore for his payments. (I believe Drake accepted payments at this point, but if you read this entire thread, I'm sure you'll discover who exactly pocketed the rest of the profits) Hardison added the spread, the strike second, and the greek deal, which many (including Vernon) suspect was purposely left out of Expert for certain reasons. I believe "Poker" was written partially as a sequel: another attempt to disclose the same information and make more money.

If "Poker" is read with the mindset of the author writing a sequel, and who thought he was treated unfairly in the profits of his first book, the text takes a new meaning:

"as the novice begins his career in the game, and is fortunite enough to enjoy a few good winnings, his natural ambition, as it is with all 'Young America' is to go higher"
-Theodore Hardison

Also I think it is interesting to note that the letters E-R-D-N-A-S-E can be found in the name "Theodore Hardison", which both I and Darwin believe to be a pseudonym.

be well,
Jeff Wessmiller

P.S This is merely a theory that I've dreamt up. Anyone that can provide information that would prove me wrong would be appreciated, and probably help me sleep better at night.
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 04:51 AM

Hi Jeff great to read more from you - hope you're in good health + whatnot. (Might make it down in August after all!)

I can't confess to having read Hardison's publication, and I must apologise for the following, only adding to more brainfood at night, but there are a number of inconsistencies:

Granted, the letters exist within his name, though as do T-H-O-D-O-H-R-I, with no apparent reason for them being left out. Does anyone here share the view that often the NAME is overstudied and analysed? It presumably wasn't meant as a puzzle/pseudo/century-long-brain-itch but rather a way to slyly take the heat off his real name (for his safety) without going crazy into word-games. Reversing a name seems pretty logical, certainly if it works and reads as well as "Erdnase" and not ... Zitro (actually pretty neat :D ), Etrof, or what have you. Who spends such time and effort to write such a beautiful piece of work, only to then use a name that is in no way related? No doubt he'd brag about the book and show it to some close ones - he must have had some friends.

The fact that E.S.Andrews fits perfectly is often viewed as though it doesn't matter - like Gardner with M.F.Andrews - what's the point in assuming it's Andrews if you're going to ignore E and S and substitute two different ones?? There are several hundred E.S.Andrews available on online census records, each of them surely deserving more credit and time (since they match perfectly what we're looking for - the NAME) than names that simply contain SOME letters that match? This is no disrespect but it just beats me why people don't take such a solid lead more seriously.

Furthermore - why would Hardison write one book under a pseudo, only then to write a "sequel" under his real name, claiming no credit to the original? Could the paraphrasing not be simply because EATCT was a well-read book at the time with solid well-written material? Much as works published today cross-reference and quote from other writers' works?

Again, would appreciate thoughts on the "making money" comment since (I believe touched on earlier) is spending months writing a book really the best way to make money? Surely a man of his talent, requiring money, could find faster more effective methods?

None of this, again, is meant as disrespectful or hole-picking, just further angles on what we have. I'm awaiting replies from the people in the US I've contacted regarding the name I mentioned above - a little more information this way and I'll post it all up for public viewing here.

Nothing for certain by any means, but the name, place and date all fit pretty snug.

In thought,
D.
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 05:13 AM

(PS the info is: E.S.Andrews (have precise forenames), born within 5 years of 1850 (have precise date), worked in NC* (have precise town) at about the turn of the century, and worked for a newspaper, rather high-up the pecking order).

*EDIT: Please forgive ignorant Brit - misread somewhere & was of the angle that Chicago was within NC. :whack: Still, he could've travelled...
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 07:14 AM

Hi Drum (DMC), tried e-mailing you, but the e-mail address in your profile ain't working.

We never did meet up.....

Dave
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 08:04 AM

Hey Dave -
You know was reading an email yesterday + meant to write...! <<Diluting interesting topic>> It's Drummond(REMOVE)Magic@Yahoo.co.uk. Travelling in Asia until August but definitely when back.
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Postby Guest » 06/01/05 08:45 PM

More information as of this morning - he was at age 27 a PRINTER. If he wanted to jump around legalities without leaving a trace, this might well allow for it. Mmmm it deepens.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/05/05 05:46 PM

From the "Daily Knave" column in the _Oakland Tribune_, 5 Sept 1956, p. E-29.


"S. W. Erdnase was for half a century a name to conjure with. Since the 1902 publication of The Expert at the Card Table dozens of persons have attempted to penetrate the psuedonym which cloaked the identity of the author of this famous book which outlined the methods of professional gamblers.

It was not difficult to conclude that his name was Andrewsbut what was the given name? Who was he?

For 50 years Erdnase' Chicago publisher was plagued with inquiries, but always professed that his records failed to reveal the author's true identity.

Erdnase' book was, when published, a sensation among the ace-in-the-hole boys; and it has remained one of the great textbooks for gamblers and sleight-of-handsters. It was the first textbook to reveal the best methods of the second deal, the shift, the bottom deal, false cuts, and other subterfuges of the card cheats.

What was more important, the book was written with a curiously detached cynicism, rather well pointed up by the author's prefatory remarks.

In effect, Erdnase counseled that card cheats cheated no one but themselves.

He contended that the passion for play had seduced many a man who, had he spent the same wit and energy in earning an honest living, could have amassed a considerable fortune.

He had not written his book, he noted, for moralistic reasons. His book, "will not make the innocent vicious, or transform the pastime player into a professional; or make the fool wise or curtail the annual crop of suckers; but whatever the results may be, if it sells it will accomplish the primary motive of the author, as he needs the money."

Now, after half a century, it is claimed that Erdnase' identity has been learned.

His name is said to have been Milton C. Andrews, and he is thought to be buried in San Mateo County. Paradoxically, the disclosure has been made not through the efforts of his compatriots, the gamblers, but by two sleight-of-hand experts, Martin Gardner and Jay Marshall - to whom, cheating at cards is absolutely unthinkable."

From the same column, one week later (p. E-21)

"After 50 years, the story of the man who wrote The Expert at the Card Table is being pieced together, little by little.

"There was a Milton C. Andrews," writes An Old-Time Oaklander, "who was in the public prints around 1907. He was a proiessional gambler and super-crook, who gained the friendship of one Ellis, an Australian jockey on a voyage from Australia to San Francisco.

"Ellis had considerable coin of the realm which Andrews knew about. On arrival Andrews invited Ellis to his apartment in Berkeley where he beat him up and left him for dead; but Ellis recovered and later Andrews was traced by reason of the fact that he ate only health foods and was captured at a health food store in San Francisco." "
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/05/05 06:57 PM

My memory tells me that the Daily Knave in the Oakland Tribune was written by Fred Braue.

Braue was also using the pseudonym "Aunt Elsie" as he edited the children's page.

Before I was into magic I won a contest run by the Oakland Tribune and when I called and asked for "Aunt Elsie" a man answered, explaining that was a pseudonym and he was the editor, a Mr. Braue.

Small World, eh?
Stay tooned.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 06/07/05 07:19 AM

Did Braue have anything to do with Real Estate? There is a column in the Oakland Tribune called "Realty Review" written by him.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/07/05 09:34 AM

NOt that I know of... but you don't have to be "in" something to write about it... just be a good researcher and writer. Which Braue seems to have been.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 06/07/05 01:00 PM

According to an article which appeared in the Oakland paper, Braue did write real estate and business columns.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 07/03/05 08:05 PM

I realize this might more properly belong in the marketplace section, but frankly I thought this thread needed "bumping up" so am mentioning it here instead! I've just posted a copy of Martin Gardner's THE GARDNER-SMITH CORRESPONDENCE on eBay. This documents Gardner's first contact with Marshall D. Smith, Erdnase's illustrator, reproduces his notes from his initial interview with Smith, and their subsequent correspondence on this topic. It was a reading of this correspondence that lead me initially to question the Milton Franklin Andrews' theory, since Smith's eyewitness testimony, if credible, seemed to contradict that theory on several points (most notably MFA's age and height). Anyone interested in this topic should begin by reading Bart Whaley, Jeff Busby, and Martin Gardner's MAN WHO WAS ERDNASE, then follow up by reading Ortiz's ANNOTATED ERDNASE (which reproduces the Gardner-Pratt correspondence) and this booklet. Limited to only 250 numbered copies and published in 1999 (to preserve the correspondence and publicize our sale of the original letters on eBay. It, along with Gardner's first edition EXPERT, signed on the title page by Smith, sold as a lot for more than $10,000 in early 2000), it recently went out of print and is starting to fetch high prices on eBay (about a week ago a copy sold there for $41). I've bundled this copy (#207) to a pristine copy of the K. C. Card Company edition of THE EXPERT, likely printed for KC by Frost Publishing in Chicago in the late 1930s (see listing for more bibliographic details). Here's a link to the auction for those wanting more details:
Gardner-Smith Correspondence on eBay
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 07/06/05 11:04 AM

Originally posted by david walsh:
For these reasons I am afraid I can offer nothing to the search. I would however like to argue (in a friendly way) Glenn Bishops claims about the twelve card (fancy) stock being something that would never be used by a card cheat.

"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."

Aspects such as; Erdnase's like of decks with no work put in, his dislike of cold decking, every single word of the stock and cull shuffling, the wonderful palms that were designed to work specifically following an overhand shuffle and with the purpose of holding out for the cut, and his understanding of just how useful the bottom deal is that make me believe strongly that Erdnase was nothing other than a card cheat of the highest order.

David. [/QB]
To use the twelve card fancy stock in a five handed game of poker by a card cheat would involve getting four sets of three of a kind in order - at total of a twelve cards in order and controlling them as a slug - then getting the winning hand on the bottom - and doing some kind of a stocking of the wining hand on the bottom.

Then deal out the cards having the dealer or the shark get the winning hand leaving the slug of twelve cards in sets of threes to be dealt on the draw. While a card game was in play!

I don't know but wouldn't easier if Erdnase just added the winning hand to the slug that was dealt on the draw - and use the false shuffle and false deals to keep control and deal the cards of choice on the draw? - If it were a real game!

Having the slug going from the lowest set of three of a kind to the highest would give Erdnase the strongest hand after the draw.

Also I do not feel that culling 3-4 sets of three of a kind while a game is in play is an easy thing to do for the lone poker cheat. This is why I feel that Erdnase was a magician - because the twelve card stock makes a great demonstration - and would sell his book. But to use it in a card game - there are better and easier methods for a card cheat to use to set up a cooler on a mark!

A cold deck - if he wanted this choice of hands as the cooler?

Now if Erdnase could do this and what you say. Why did he NEED the money?
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Postby Guest » 07/09/05 04:39 PM

Hi Glenn,

Its hard to tell but I think you may misunderstand the description of the stock in the book. Before I go into why, part of what makes me believe Erdnase was a cheat from reading this move in particular is in the following phrase:

"We term this example a fancy stock, as it is very rarely that an opportunity occurs for selecting three sets of Four of a Kind; but the procedure is the same for two sets, or for sets of three, or pairs, or, infact, for the stocking of any number of kind, with sleight variation in the calculation."

In this I see the point being made that the opportunity to obtain this four of a kind being rare, but more so that he knows that the opportunity to do anything with it is also a rare event. On the surface I can see why someone would think that the move (if used directly as the example Erdnase uses to teach the move) would only be of use for a show of skill.

Erdnase says that he knows the event occurring to be in a position to do this is rare, he knows from card playing experience that getting three sets of four of a kind in order to the top of the deck isnt an easy feat. From his words about the procedure being done with lesser amounts of cards of kind I also believe he knew that being in the event to use such a thing is also rare.

The following is partly why Im not sure you are getting the text right:

Its in your mention of the bottom of the deck in your last post; the bottom of the deck never comes into play.

For a moment Ill hypothetically assume it is to be done with three sets of four of a kind in the desired order and for five players, Ill also hypothetically assume they have been culled to the top in the desired position.

There is no need to get the winning hand (or any known cards) to the bottom, the idea is that all three sets of four sit on top of the deck, they are stocked in relation to the top and the winning hand is dealt to the dealer leaving the other two sets of four as the new top cards of the deck ready to do as the dealer pleases on the draw.

To take the move further than the books example; and Erdnase clearly knew this was possible. It would take a book of its own to cover the true possibilities of his stock shuffle:

To use the twelve card fancy stock in a five handed game (or any handed game) doesnt necessarily mean culling (by whatever means) three sets of four of a kind to the top, there are many variations of sets of four, three, two, sets of three and two or even a large stock of no particular numbered sets.

This will come clearer as you read but the reason being is that the sets of two, three or four dont even have to be of kind.

Imagine you gathered the cards ready for the deal memorising the order of the top eight cards of the deck.

You do the twelve card fancy stock and deal, you know none of the cards in the other players hands or in your own hand (until you look of course) but you do know the top eight cards of the deck before you go into the draw.

Many a successful card cheat has ruled out the need to stock and this is partly due to the need to cull ready to stock. They may use marked cards (edgework, pegs etc.) or glimpses to get the information thy need and that this stock offers. So this stock used like I said above then offers this information with no need to glimpse and with no work in the deck.

Playing regularly, with no mechanics other than this shuffle, offers a massive advantage that couldnt be beaten by straight play. If you add a second deal or if you were to add a cull it can of course be more powerful. Im sure the second deal speaks for itself, as for the cull, and for illustration purposes:

You cull four aces and have them as the lowest set of four in the twelve, the top two sets of four are just sets of four for the purpose of describing the move. They are in-fact eight totally random cards, these you memorise as in the previous example. You do the twelve card fancy stock getting four aces on the deal and also knowing the first eight cards going into the draw.

A card player reading the description of this stock can instantly see this advantage and can instantly see that the three sets of four is just the surface. Im pretty sure Erdnase (as a card player) would have known this when writing it.

Of course, if you are playing at a game where you can get away with dealing yourself four aces there is little need to know the draw cards. As Erdnase did with the stock in his book, I have only used it to illustrate the procedure.

The example before that one was of course one of actual use, as is the above one but with different cards, perhaps like the following:

On gathering the cards you see a five of hearts, a six of clubs and a seven of spades, all sitting nicely beside each other. Within the distance of the next nine cards is a four of clubs and an eight of diamonds (not necessarily beside each other), you just have to position the three beside each other to be part of the lowest set of four and remember the positions of the other two that lie within nine cards (above) and shuffle as though you are stocking twelve for three sets of four (or three sets of three if they are within six cards) and you get your five, six, seven on the deal and know the positions from the top of the deck for the other two cards of your straight.

As for a cold deck being a better and easier move, it certainly isnt better and Erdnase states quite clearly his thoughts on that and the easier issue:

Of course an exchange may be made by sleight-of-hand, but the player who can accomplish this feat successfully is generally well versed in the higher orders of card-table artifice, and will dispense with such make-shifts as cold decks or any kind of prepared cards.

I agree with him.

If you read through the description again you will also find that there isnt really any mention of setting up a cooler on a mark. The closest that comes to it is:

If the dealers set is the highest of the three it matters little to him how the draw is made, as none of the players can get a higher hand.

All it really says is that its a stock to get the dealers hand to the dealer and the other cards on top of the deck for the draw to do as suits the situation best.

I can easily see that with the mention of three sets of four of a kind at the start, and then with this statement at the end it could look to some that perhaps it is a shuffle to deal three people all four of a kinds or something similar.

As with the book itself; it is way deeper than just that, part of the beauty of every aspect of this book is what lies beneath its surface.

As for Erdnase needing the money, I dont particularly take this seriously. It could be a sarcastic joke or something as mentioned by some. I even remember once when I started to write a book, the amount of money I thought to be involved was massive compared to what I later found out to be the reality, it was a gradual decrease of expectation along the years of writing.

I dont think the statement can be one to be taken as proof that he wasnt a cheat.

Anyway, I think the devil wrote it, he must still be making money off it.

David.
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