ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Marty Demarest
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 4th, 2015, 10:11 pm

I would say that we don't know who filled out the copyright form. It could have been anyone affiliated with McKinney & Co. It could have been the author. One point of interest is that, if it was filled out by the author, then he would likely have had direct contact with the title page, which needed to be included as a part of the application. This would correspond with David Alexander's deduction that the author was able to personally ensure that clues were on the page. But again, I don't think we can make any assumptions as to who filled out the form.

I was able to compare the application at the Library of Congress with samples of Wilbur Edgerton Sanders's handwriting from as near 1902 as I could find. (Samples from that period are very rare in his surviving papers.) In my opinion Sanders's handwriting samples didn't match the handwriting on the application.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » March 5th, 2015, 10:20 am

Of course there's no way of knowing precisely who filled out the copyright form, but it's is a far safer assumption that it was the author of EATCT who filled it out than it was anybody else.

The sheer weight of a self published work having its copyright applied for by the author of that work can't be discounted.

If one maintains the KISS principle, there is really no other party who could have, or would have completed the copyright form.

It does however, remain an unknown for seekers of hard evidence.
But if you stop your Erdnase research every time there's an "unknown", there would be far less quality Erdnase research.

Occasionally, assumptions might benefit in an effort to move forward and hopefully discover new avenues of research that might lead to more solid evidence.

Of course the elephant in the room considers that if you accept that the author filled out the copyright application, then the author likely isn't Sanders.
As a result, confirmation bias implies that some folks might not be so inclined to consider the author as being the party that filled out the application for copyright.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 5th, 2015, 11:31 am

I see no reason to make any assumptions about the copyright application, nor do I trust it. After all, it was supposed to indicate whether a pseudonym was used, and to state the author's real name. It gives "S.W. Erdnase" and no indication of a pseudonym. It also lists his residence as "73 Plymouth Place, Chicago, Ill"--which was James McKinney & Company's address. Elsewhere, it lists the author's full name as "S.W. Erdnase care of Jas. McKinney & Co." That's a lot of fibbing and loopholing--even writing outside the lines on the relatively straightforward application form--to assume that the applicant was keeping it simple.

I'm no handwriting analyst (though if I recall, Geno Munari was going to have one look at the material and compare it to Sanders's handwriting). But there isn't much handwriting to analyze on the form. And there isn't much of anything from Sanders in that period to compare it with. Still, I've seen a lot of Sanders's handwriting (which changed dramatically, even in a single journal). To my untrained eye it differs from that on the application.

But it's a pure assumption that the copyright application was filled out by the author. We don't even have any evidence that he was ever in physical possession of his books--the mailing of which was required to complete the copyright registration. The only hard evidence we have about the handling of the books themselves (A. Plate's first edition) indicates that the book was sold by McKinney & Co., making them the only known source and representatives of the work. That is supported by the firm's name and address being listed as the author on the copyright application. The form--filed in late February 1902--could just as easily have been filled out by them.

I tend to doubt everything. That hardly impedes research. In my experience it yields better results.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 5th, 2015, 11:43 am

I know that Richard Hatch has a letter written by Edwin Sumner Andrews. How does the handwriting on it compare with that on the copyright application?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » March 5th, 2015, 11:52 am

I don't particularly disagree with anything you've posted Marty, my point was simply that it was far more likely that the author filled out the form that it was that somebody else filled it out.

A guy writes a book, and then self publishes the same book.
The balance of the evidence we have in our possession would seem to imply that the same guy who wrote and published the book also filled out the copyright form ... however full of discrepancies that form might be.

It would be somewhat presumptuous of me to state that the author did fill out the copyright application. I simply choose to assume that the likelihood that it was his pen on the application is greater than the likelihood that it was not his pen.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 5th, 2015, 12:04 pm

Roger, you assumptions about the implications of self-publishing make sense. But evidence suggests otherwise. I have examples of self-published works that applied for copyright at that time, but which used the printing firm as filing representative.

For example: The New Century Edition of The Household Cookbook, edited by James B. Smiley and published by Smiley Publishing Company had its copyright application submitted by the printing firm of Frederick J. Drake and Company on the same date (February 17, 1902) as The Expert at the Card Table.

An examination of copyright applications in The Library of Congress indicates that self-published works often had their copyright applications submitted by the printing firms or other representatives.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 5th, 2015, 2:41 pm

Bill Mullins wrote: the front page of the application is reproduced on p 274 of The Man who was Erdnase.

I wonder why they reproduced only lines five through nine of the application. What information (and further handwriting example) is contained in lines one through four?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 5th, 2015, 3:04 pm

Roger M. wrote:. [] to state that the author did fill out the copyright application. I simply choose to assume that the likelihood ...[].


What percentage of copyright forms are filled out by the author?
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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 5th, 2015, 4:36 pm

The fact that the application may have been filled out by the author himself, makes it definitely the most intriguing, and potentially the most important artifact in the search for the identity of Erdnase.

Of course, if it was not filled out by the author, then it is about as interesting and useful as a discussion of the different fonts used in varying editions.

Marty Demarest wrote:An examination of copyright applications in The Library of Congress indicates that self-published works often had their copyright applications submitted by the printing firms or other representatives.


A copyright application for another book printed by McKinney & Co., in the same handwriting as the Erdnase application, should prove that Erdnase did not fill out the application himself.

Unless of course, Erdnase also wrote that book.

Then we will know who he is.

Unless of course, he used a pseudonym. ;)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 5th, 2015, 4:44 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Brad Jeffers wrote:
Richard Evans wrote:The copyright application for TEATCT is hand-written

Is there a copy of this available online?


I don't know it to be online anywhere, but the front page of the application is reproduced on p 274 of The Man who was Erdnase. It does not have the same handwriting as Sanders's will.


TMWWE says that McKinney and Company had filled out the application form. Though maybe that's just supposition. It seems like McKinney would have filed other copyright forms that could be compared to see if the handwriting matches.

I agree the handwriting on the copyright form doesn't look like Sanders's handwriting on the holographic will.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » March 5th, 2015, 5:25 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
TMWWE says that McKinney and Company had filled out the application form.


One caveat with TMWWE is that it's often desirable (although often not possible) to know which of the three authors wrote whatever it is you're reading.

In this case, a statement like this would carry more weight if one was sure Bart Whaley researched and wrote it, and less weight if Busby or M.G. wrote it (as both of them were unnaturally wedded to the concept that MFA was definitely Erdnase, and rigidly unwilling to be swayed even slightly by the movement begun with Tom Sawyer's books).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Evans » March 5th, 2015, 5:27 pm

Richard Hatch wrote:
Richard Evans wrote:The copyright application for TEATCT is hand-written. I'm not sure whether it's been established if this was completed by the author or the publisher (has anyone ever checked against any other book published by McKinney?). However, if Wilbur Sanders' handwriting and that of the copyright application were similar, then that would certainly be of significance.

Richard


A couple of small comments on the above. The copyright application is mostly a printed form, but does have spaces filled in by hand. I assume that the author likely filled it out, even though his address is given in care of McKinney. I would not describe McKinney as the "publisher", though we presume his firm did the printing and binding, because of their connection to the author in the copyright application and the fact that they were a source of copies of the book. The title page clearly states "Published by the Author" so the mysterious Erdnase himself would be the "publisher". I am not aware of any books "published" by McKinney, though I do know of other titles they printed, and have at least one in my collection, though it bears little resemblance to the first edition Expert (different format, binding, etc.).


Thanks Dick. Apologies - that was pure clumsiness on my part. Publisher and printer are of course different issues and I should have been clearer about McKinney being the printer.

In terms of the general comments about the relevance of the handwriting on the copyright application, it is only really relevant if it matches the handwriting of a candidates and otherwise tells us little. Nevertheless, would be interesting to see if any other books printed by McKinney (being careful this time!) have the same writing.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 5th, 2015, 5:55 pm

Bob Coyne wrote: TMWWE says that McKinney and Company had filled out the application form. Though maybe that's just supposition.


TMWWE assumes that MFA = Erdnase. Since the handwriting on the copyright form doesn't match that of MFA, then it must be by someone other than the author. QED. They leap to the conclusion that it was McKinney.

If you don't make an assumption about the identity of the author, then you can't rule out the possibility that it is from the hand of the author (although I believe it was done by someone at McKinney, for reasons laid out above).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 5th, 2015, 6:56 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Bob Coyne wrote: TMWWE says that McKinney and Company had filled out the application form. Though maybe that's just supposition.


TMWWE assumes that MFA = Erdnase. Since the handwriting on the copyright form doesn't match that of MFA, then it must be by someone other than the author. QED. They leap to the conclusion that it was McKinney.


Maybe that's the logic they went through, but I don't know how you know that. It seems perfectly possible that the authors of TMWWE had good reasons to claim that the copyright form was filled out by McKinney.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » March 5th, 2015, 8:40 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
Maybe that's the logic they went through, but I don't know how you know that.


We know that because all three authors stated quite succinctly over the years that Erdnase = MFA, and that their conclusion was not debatable.

Unlike Marty, David Alexander, Richard Hatch, etc ... who are putting forward their candidates without stating unequivocally that "they're right", Busby, Gardner, and Whaley pretty much made it clear that folks who didn't believe that MFA was Erdnase after reading their book just didn't have the smarts to get it.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 5th, 2015, 8:55 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:Maybe that's the logic they went through, but I don't know how you know that. It seems perfectly possible that the authors of TMWWE had good reasons to claim that the copyright form was filled out by McKinney.


When there were good reasons to support a claim, the authors always presented them. There are no reasons provided for this claim, other than the inferences I describe above, so I think what I described is what happened. Can't prove it, though.

Roger M. wrote:We know that because all three authors stated quite succinctly over the years that Erdnase = MFA, and that their conclusion was not debatable. . . . Busby, Gardner, and Whaley pretty much made it clear that folks who didn't believe that MFA was Erdnase after reading their book just didn't have the smarts to get it.


While Gardner was a believer in the MFA=Erdnase theory, I doubt his attitude was anywhere near as aggressive as you describe. Maybe Busby and Whaley were. But Gardner wasn't the sort of person who treat someone who disagreed with him like you are saying. And I believe that, after hearing Richard Hatch's theories and research, he even backed out of the MFA camp somewhat.

I don't know, and the principals are all dead so I can't ask, but I always kind of believed that very little of the final manuscript of TMMWE was actually written by Gardner -- that it was mostly written by Busby and Whaley (particularly the stuff that outright asserts that MFA and Erdnase are one and the same), but that they built heavily on Gardner's research and quote extensively from it, and so they gave him author credit. If someone knows otherwise, I be happy to be corrected on that.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » March 5th, 2015, 9:13 pm

Although I hadn't considered I'd have to reference it some day, and therefore didn't make a record of which book or article it was in, I had read a statement by Gardner within a couple of years prior to his untimely passing in which he stated quite clearly that the answer to the question "who is Erdnase" was answered in TMWWE.

I took this to mean he still strongly believed the MFA assertion to be the end of the Erdnase search.

Perhaps he meant something else, but I doubt it.

I didn't intend for my comment to read as if these guys were as_holes about it, only that they remained highly supportive of their conclusion, and apparently saw no reason to alter that conclusion.

Perhaps Richards research did tilt Gardner away from being unwilling to entertain any other candidate but MFA. In many ways I'd like that to be true, as I find the concept of being absolutely adamant that Erdnase was MFA mildly annoying, and yet hold Gardner in extremely high regard.

So, yeah ... for selfish reasons I'd like to read something that supported the concept that Gardner saw the light before his passing.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 6th, 2015, 12:59 am

In Magicol #176, Richard Hatch wrote an article about Gardner and how Hatch met him.
"[Gardner] was not the least upset that I was questioning his candidate and was genuinely intrigued by the things I was finding."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » March 6th, 2015, 1:54 am

Marty Demarest wrote:I see no reason to make any assumptions about the copyright application, nor do I trust it. After all, it was supposed to indicate whether a pseudonym was used, and to state the author's real name. It gives "S.W. Erdnase" and no indication of a pseudonym. It also lists his residence as "73 Plymouth Place, Chicago, Ill"--which was James McKinney & Company's address. Elsewhere, it lists the author's full name as "S.W. Erdnase care of Jas. McKinney & Co." That's a lot of fibbing and loopholing--even writing outside the lines on the relatively straightforward application form--to assume that the applicant was keeping it simple.


The 4 page copyright application does not request pseudonym information. Part 4 on the first page does request the name, residence and nationality of the author, but specifically notes that the name and address may be withheld, but not the nationality (which he gives as "American"). I'm not sure that I would regard the use of a pseudonym and the printer's address in place of a residence (possibly the author did not have a stable residence) as a lot of fibbing.

My recollection is that the Copyright office maintained a registry of pseudonyms for those wishing to do so and when I checked Erdnase was not registered. But such a declaration was not required.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 6th, 2015, 3:02 am

It sure would be nice if someone would post an image of the full four pages of the copyright application so we would have a better point of reference than the fragment given in The Man Who Was Erdnase.

I checked with the U.S. Copyright Office and they are happy to provide assistance with such matters.

However, their assistance entails a $200/hr fee with a two hour minimum.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 6th, 2015, 9:25 am

That means we need to raise $400. Perhaps we can get them to also look for other McKinney printed/related copyright applications and provide copies of these, too. I am willing to put $50 into the pot. Anybody willing to add to that?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jack Shalom » March 6th, 2015, 9:45 am

I'm in.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 6th, 2015, 10:53 am

If the idea is to post the data so we will have it onhand for future reference - count me in as well. Magical Crowdfunding?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 6th, 2015, 11:24 am

Yes, the idea is to post it online. I hope that doesn't mean that people will hold back. There is also no requirement to contribute exactly $50. You can pledge less. $5 or $10 is fine, too. Of course, you can also give more. Either way, let's see if there are enough who are willing to enable this.

If I read the posts above correctly we stand at $150 pledged to have the original Erdnase copyright application scanned and posted online and perhaps we also find other McKinney applications around the same time. I think that two hours should be enough to search and hopefully find other copyright applications where McKinney was involved. If anybody has a list of books that may qualify please post here.
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Marty Demarest
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 6th, 2015, 11:26 am

Richard Hatch wrote:I'm not sure that I would regard the use of a pseudonym and the printer's address in place of a residence (possibly the author did not have a stable residence) as a lot of fibbing.


Don't worry Dick--I won't tell the taxman. ;)

Didn't E.S. Andrews have a permanent Chicago address at the time?

Interpretations may differ, of course. But I see any discrepancy between the claimed name of the book's author (question 4) and the name of the author claiming copyright (question 6) as indicative of a pseudonym. No difference indicates that no pseudonym was used. (The applicant does give the author's name as S.W. Erdnase in question 4, lists the claimant as author in question 5, and claims copyright under the name S.W. Erdnase in question 6.)

Obtaining the copyright application shouldn't require hundreds of dollars and a researcher. This page gives instructions. To help circumvent a research fee, you are looking for the Application for Copyright filed for the book Artifice Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase published in 1902. The application was received by the copyright office on Feb. 17, 1902 and was tagged CL.A27174Feb171902. You should only need to pay for copies.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 6th, 2015, 3:00 pm

This page gives the fees.

The cheapest way is to go to the Copyright Office in person and search for the files yourself. That's free. The only cost will be to have the records copied.

Now, if only we had a forum member who lives in Washington D.C.

Hmmmm ...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » March 6th, 2015, 5:08 pm

No need to spend the money on copying fees, I did that years ago and have scans of all four pages of the original copyright application on my computer. If someone can let me know how to post them or (probably easier) I can email them as attachments to someone to post, happy to do so. My recollection is that the copying fees cost me about $40, but that was more than 15 years ago. Took a couple of months after my visit to the copyright office to get them...

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby KenHerrick » March 6th, 2015, 5:24 pm

I'd be happy to put them up on my Dropbox Public site, providing a link (or links) thereto--hopefully more readily useable this time. You could email them to me for that purpose.

Ken Herrick

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » March 6th, 2015, 5:52 pm

With regard to the veracity of Martin Gardner's defense of MFA as the author, here is a note he wrote to me in 2004.

"Yes, I still think Erdnase was Milton Franklin Andrews, though it lacks a certain proof."

I tried to upload an image of the note to the board, but got some message saying the attachment quota had been reached.

Jason

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » March 6th, 2015, 6:07 pm

Thanks, Ken, I just emailed them to Bill Mullins, thinking he'd know how to put them up for Forum members. If not, happy to email them to you.
On Gardner's conviction in MFA as Erdnase, when I first interviewed him on this topic, he put his conviction in the high 90% range. He thought it pretty unlikely that another gambler named Andrews with the necessary skill set and a history of activity in Chicago living in the right time frame would exist. When I started to question some of the discrepancies of the MFA theory (height, age, etc. as recalled by Marshall Smith) and presented some alternative candidates, he was at one point willing to lower his conviction rate a bit (into the 80% range, I believe). I think he later raised it back into the 90% range. Obviously these numbers don't mean anything in terms of who the actual author was, but show Gardner's willingness to consider thoughtfully presented alternatives.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Rick Ruhl » March 7th, 2015, 12:17 am

Richard,

I'd like a copy of that as well if Bill can't get it online.

Rick

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 7th, 2015, 12:51 am

Thanks to Richard Hatch:

Copyright Application

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » March 7th, 2015, 1:01 am

Thanks, Bill. Always struck me as impressive that the application which was apparently filled out and mailed in Chicago on Feb 15, 1902 was delivered to the copyright office in DC two days later.
Somewhere I also have a photocopy of the one page copyright registration which shows the receipt of two printed copies, but it is not handy and is a document generated by the copyright office and sent to the copyright applicant (for which he had paid an extra fee to receive), so wouldn't have any potential author's handwriting to analyse.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 7th, 2015, 1:06 am

Very nice!
Thanks.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 7th, 2015, 8:30 am

Dick, Bill, thanks for posting it.

My first reaction was: "How neatly written." Whoever wrote this must have taken real care filling out this form. If I may venture a guess it does not look like some designated employee of McKinney who had to potentially fill out many of these but rather a first time filler outer.

Here is another line of investigation that this may open. Having seen my son being taught handwriting in a French school rather than the Austrian schooling I received myself, I know that handwriting is being taught differently in different localities. The detailed shapes of each letter can be quite different from place to place. For example, the big A I learned to write is completely different from the one I see on this application. I wonder if an expert may be able to deduce from the handwriting where the person who filled this out learned to write.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 7th, 2015, 9:20 am

The most interesting thing about the copyright application, to my mind, is its lack of legal validity.

The entire purpose of a copyright registration was to establish legal ownership and rights to the material. But by withholding his legal name, the author of The Expert essentially forfeited those rights. The copyright application is legally untruthful.

That's a big reason I don't trust it. But it does raise the intriguing questions: Why was the author's real name not included on the application? Did the author have some other means of proving that he was S.W. Erdnase? How was copyright of the book legally established?

Incidentally, I note that the handwriting on the application doesn't match the handwriting of the applicant(s) on E.S. Andrews's marriage license. (Reproduced in Richard Hatch's article "Reading Erdnase Backwards.")
Last edited by Marty Demarest on March 7th, 2015, 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 7th, 2015, 9:26 am

Marty Demarest wrote:Why was the author's real name not included on the application? Did the author have some other means of proving that he was S.W. Erdnase? How was copyright of the book legally established?


I am not a lawyer but I think these questions would only be investigated if it should come to a dispute of some kind. The copyright office does not check anything. They simply record and store the information.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » March 7th, 2015, 9:40 am

I meant questions for me (and other researchers), Chris. The copyright application should answer those questions. It doesn't.

The simplest answer that fits the evidence is: The form was filled out by someone who believed that someone named S.W. Erdnase wrote the book, that he was a real person, and that he could be contacted through James McKinney & Co.

Otherwise, it was filled out by someone who did it, essentially, for no purpose.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 7th, 2015, 9:52 am

I can see all kinds of purposes for the person hiding behind the pseudonym. For one, a copyright application (truthful or not) could deter possible infringers.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby KenHerrick » March 7th, 2015, 11:38 am

A copyright is like a patent, a license to sue and not much more. But being that, it surely is useful as a deterrent.

We're likely to be left forever with mere circumstantial evidence as to the real author. But I'd stick, on that basis, with Wilbur Sanders. (Admitting that I'd not mind basking in his reflected glory as his step-grandson...tho not for long since I'm 87.)

Some of that evidence in Wilbur's favor: 1. A mining engineer (an "earth-nose"). 2. His name an exact anagram. 3. His father (or grandfather; don't remember off-hand) a prominent Senator. 4. My grandmother, his wife, a Christian Scientist. And not only that: a C.S. Practitioner. That being a person who engages in intercessory prayer for others, for a fee. 5. Known to have carried with him on his travels several, if not numerous, new packs of playing cards. 6. And perhaps a few more tidbits that I've overlooked.

So there are powerful reasons there, familial in nature, to have kept his authorship a very close secret. Too bad...for I suspect he became not too happy about that--especially in the years after having separated from my grandmother.

Ken Herrick


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