Hello all, this is my first post to the forum, and I thought it would be appropriate that it regard a subject with which I feel I have a somewhat peculiar attachment.
As far as I can tell, the rather legendary ace cutting sequence (both in terms of plot and method) that gets linked to Scarne seems to be based almost entirely on the description and anecdote recited in his own texts.
Anyway, I feel like I can provide some information regarding the source and background of said description and anecdote...
You see, my grandfather was William A. Caldwell, a pulitzer prize winning journalist in New Jersey, and the man who wrote the introduction to "Scarne on Cards" that provides the anecdote. My grandfather died in 1986, and his wife, my grandmother, died a few years back. I don't know th exact relationship between Scarne and my grandfather, but as I understand it, my grandfather was the ghostwriter for at least one of Scarne's books, probably "On Cards." I don't know how well or how long they knew each other, if it was more than a purely business relationship, or how exactly they met/communicated with one another. They definitely had some sort of correspondence or relationship, though, as Scarne inscribed a number of his books to my grandfather. (I have the inscribed copies of "Scarne on Dice," "Magic," and "Cards," in my possession and I believe my aunt has his "Complete Guide to Gambling") My grandfather's office in their house on Martha's Vineyard was more or less untouched until we began to clean it out a few years ago in order to sell the house. I believe my aunt took possession of his filing cabinet and papers, and while some very interesting letters were found(from Einstein and Groucho Marx, for instance) I don't know that any correspondences with Scarne were there. On the other hand, I don't know exactly how thorough the cataloguing was, so there may yet be some relevant notes and papers waiting to be dug out.
So. I don't know if this helpful, or even particularly interesting, to anyone. Hopefully it's one or both to a few of you. I don't know if my grandfather invented that story in his forward or not, or if it was a sort of well known anecdote, but since it seems to have played a fairly significant part in introducing or promoting the ace-cutting story, I thought I'd share what I knew about it.
Anywho, as I said before, I hope this post holds some meaning for at least some people out there. And if anyone has any other information about Scarne that might support or contradict what I've said, or has information about the writing of his books in particular, or about the writing of magic books 50 years ago in general, I'd be interested in hearing it.