It's very hard to prove a negative! That what gives Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Milton Franklin Andrews such staying power... ;)Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Does ANYONE have proof that Expert at the Card Table was NOT written by Walter B. Gibson? <GRD>
Hey, according to the new Fechner biography, Robert-Houdin was baptised several days before he was born (not a typo in Fechner's text, he points it out himself in an endnote), so I wouldn't eliminate Gibson from the growing candidate list on age alone (though you'd think Smith would remember needing to change diapers between sketches!). Actually, Gibson was seven at the time. Probably not quite 5'6", though his hands likely would have been "small and soft". And he was from the East Coast. Oh wait, it was Gibson who told Gardner in 1947 to contact Edgar Pratt, which led to the Milton Franklin Andrews theory. And Gibson, ghost-writing for Radner, who gave the author's true name as "James Andrews". Clever smokescreens to hide his own involvement?Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
How old was Gibson when Expert came out? Two?
Ironically, Charlier is the only magician mentioned by name in Erdnase, and his name is misspelled at that: "This is known to conjurers as the "Charlies [sic] pass" and we presume was invented by the famous magician of that name." (p. 128). The move is used in a later trick and spelled properly, so this is just a typo, but could be used both to argue that Erdnase was not an active member of the magic fraternity (the whole legerdemain section has him standing outside it: Why do conjurers always use the pass instead of blind shuffles? He is clearly well read on magic and probably came up with some of his great moves because he was not fraternising with magicians...) and that the book did not have an editor (who would have caught the discrepency) as David Alexander argues persuasively. I also don't think the book had an editor, but I think it not so much due to his need for anonymity, but due to his need for money: he couldn't afford one. This is consistent with the cheap paper and binding, and the cheap hotel in which he met the artist.Originally posted by Hen Kvetch:
Erdnase was actually Charlier.
Hi Rich,Originally posted by Richard Hatch:
...not so much due to his need for anonymity, but due to his need for money: he couldn't afford one. This is consistent with the cheap paper and binding, and the cheap hotel in which he met the artist.
Gazzo seems to think the heart shape (which is edited out of some later reprints) is a significant clue to the author's identity. He also thinks the fact that it occurs in Fig. 69 might be of importance. I don't know how to interpret any of this. Gazzo also thinks that the final words of the book "no hocus pocus" are important. He first suggested to me the idea of using the Bee Ace design to try to date the book, but as noted earlier, it only put a lower bound of 1892 (when Bee brand was introduced, I believe, working from memory here) on that particular illustration. He thinks the book could have been written decades before being published and that the relative popularity of the games mentioned could also be used to date it...Originally posted by Michael Canick:
Finally, on the facing page (p. 133, Fig. 69), the hands & cuffs seem quite different again. Also, a heart can clearly be seen drawn on the back of the lower hand! This apparently is a device that students use to get the proportions & shape of the hand correct. It is the only illustration in the whole book that has this heart shape visible.
In fact, this is EXACTLY the process described by Smith when interviewed by Martin Gardner in December 1946, some 45 years after the fact. He told Gardner he made sketches which the author approved. He then left the hotel room in which they met to return to his studio to ink them in. He did not recall tracing them from photographs, which I think he would have remembered. He was trained at the Chicago Art institute and doing extensive illustrating at this time (he later gave up this line of work in favor or oil painting, which paid him better). He recalled that his work at the time was for "cheap magazines", indicating that he likely did not command a high price for his services, consistent with the book's author having a profit motive (i.e., "needing the money"). What is strange about his recollection is that he was both surprised by the large number of illustrations (he'd have guessed he did 20-30 not 101) and that he did not recognize them. He claimed he did recognize the handwriting beneath them, i.e., "Fig. 1", "Fig. 2" etc. I find that very strange. Apparently Vernon was so disappointed with the artist's recollection (when interviewed in May 1947 at the SAM convention in Chicago some months after Gardner found him) that he expressed some doubt as to whether Smith had actually illustrated the book at all...Originally posted by R P Wilson:
It would be much smarter to perform quick sketches, outlining the position and size of the hands and cards. Such sketches can be completed in a matter of SECONDS.
Before you dismiss this, consider that such preliminary sketches were an accepted tool of the pre-photography artist....
I think Smith sat with Erdnase and made dozens of quick sketches. Then, later, he used those sketches to create the illustrations, applying his understanding of the human hand to the positions shown in his initial drawings.
David Alexander's fascinating and tantalizing theory (printed in Genii or Magic a couple years ago) is that S.W. Erdnase is really an anagram of real person named W.E. Sanders. Regarding the S.W.E. shift, "W.E.S." (Sander's initials) is what you get when you perform a shift on "S.W.E" (Erdnase's initials). The "S" packet gets shifted from the top (beginning) to the bottom (end).Pete McCabe asks: Sorry if I missed this in this long and wonderful thread, but do some of our resident experts have any thoughts on the significance of the name of the S.W.E. Shift?
I have the advantage of Mr. Kaufman, then, for I have actually SEEN Harry Riser do an invisible SWE shift. It was a long time ago. I saw him do it about a half dozen times. I didn't believe he had actually done anything.Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
mrmagik, don't waste your time with all of the oddball passes in the book. I have never seen a single person do an invisible SWE Shift or Open Shift. Never.
The first advertisement in THE SPHINX was in the November 1902 issue. It was simply the preface to the book, minus his statement about "needing the money". I agree that the advertisement was not a good one, but would blame that on the Vernelos, who were doing advertising, not the author of the book they were selling.Originally posted by Todd Karr:
Publishing: I checked the first ad in The Sphinx, 1902, and the author did not write very good copy, not focusing on the work's value to magicians, trying to be very florally about its contents, and then concluding by saying he's in it for the money...not a great way to lure buyers. My feeling is that sales were awful for the first few months, so he decided to sell through dealers, first Vernelo, then Atlas.
Off the top of my head I can think of four men who are eminently qualified. However, another quality these men share in common is that they would never, ever, consider it.Originally posted by John Blaze:
Anyway, who among us today, would be qualified for the job of a third annotated Erdnase?
Chuck's last name was indeed Stanfield.Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Here's the story: a guy by the name of Chuck (think his last name was Stanfield--a nice guy) worked at Magic Inc. and had a huge collection of signed first editions. He bought a copy of "Revelations" when it was published and gave it to Marlo so he could write some comments in it, based upon Vernon's annotations. Marlo did this, belittling Vernon's additions. Chuck then gave the book to Vernon to sign, and to get his reaction to Marlo's jealous scribblings. Vernon wrote, "Ed, keep striving," or something along those lines.
Chuck died of AIDS years ago and Jay Marshall inherited his library. So, Jay Marshall now has the book.