I've been giving some thought to the "board" that Erdnase performed on and the illustrations in the book. Several years ago I made a short run of what I called "Close-up Platforms." These were essentially boards upholstered with the wool cloth used to cover pool tables and gambling tables as well. I sized them to fit in a standard brief case. I recently decided to make a few more (I'm not hawking them and only sell them privately). I also thought I would make a few "Erdnase Models" by squaring off the corners and putting a walnut frame around the edges. I recognize that there are manufactured Erdnase tables on the market that are two feet square and apparently based both on recollections of Marshall Smith and tables used to play cards on when railroad travel was in vogue.
So when I finished my version, I went back to look at the illustrations and found, somewhat to my chagrin, that the corner shown in figure 16 is rounded. And since I've also fooled around with making Faro layouts, it occurred to me that these two pieces of information might be related. While some Faro layouts are imprinted on full tables as blackjack, Diane and roulette are, they were often made in a portable form that consisted of a triptych of cloth covered wooden panels. The center panel is rectangular but the two outer panels virtually always have rounded or angled off wood trim at the outer corners and are rectangular at the inner corners where they are hinged to the center panel.
Here is a link to a Faro layout image:
http://www.cowanauctions.com/auctions/i ... emId=70372
So putting all this together, I speculate the following:
A two foot square board is really quite large and it is inconceivable to me that Erdnase would have been walking around the streets of Chicago or anywhere else carrying anything of this size. (A standard briefcase is about 12 x18" in it's outside dimensions.)
The end sections of a Faro Layout board are of a convenient size to practice on. I know this because I have made one, and while it never occurred to me before, it is quite close to the size of my close-up platform which was designed to practice on and which I know is of a convenient size.
The shape of the end section of a Faro layout is consistent with the illustrations in The Expert at the Card Table.
A person using an end section of a Faro table to practice on would have access to one, perhaps a broken one or one no longer suitable for use in a gambling establishment.
A person using a cast off of this type might be short of money.
A person practicing on a board of this type would be duplicating the surface environment he might encounter in a gambling situation.
Erdnase using the end section of a Faro Layout Board seems logical and reasonable.
Erdnase was likely a gambler and not a magician dallying in the gambling world because this practice solution is something a gambler and not a magician would be much more likely to come up with.