ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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magicam
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 12th, 2015, 11:10 pm

I have to correct a whopper of a misstatement about book formats, when I wrote, “books were always printed in formats to the power of 2, i.e., in 2s, 4s, 8s, 16s, 32s, 64s, etc.” I should have caught that major brain cramp when I went on to discuss 12mos only a sentence or two later! The notion of formats in the “power of 2” is flat out wrong; not sure what I was thinking, except that I was conscious of trying to keep the discussion fairly simple, and probably was thinking about the fact that all functional impositions yielded conjugate leaves. In any case, in addition to the formats noted, other formats seen were 12mos, 18mos, 24mos, 36mos, 48mos, 72mos, and 96mos. So my apologies if I created any confusion – in mitigation I can only plead hurried writing in the late night/early morning fog of consciousness. There is so much more going on with how books can be imposed and how the sheets can be folded, but it’s probably best to stop here!

Marty Demarest wrote: … And thank you for contributing your insight into the binding of The Expert! I don't believe 100% that James McKinney & Co. bound all of what we call "first edition" copies of the book. (I think it's likely, but far from certain.) My reasoning comes from having physically examined many many early copies. But my research in that area is still in progress, so I'll be silent about that topic for now. Still, it is an interesting and possibly important line of inquiry. A business transaction concerning The Expert between McKinney & Co. or Erdnase, and any other party, could be extremely revealing with regards to the author's role and identity.

Marty, I know nothing of McKinney’s operations and production capabilities, but can say that it wouldn’t be surprising if the first edition had been bound by someone else, either by subcontract with McKinney or direct contract with the author. If McKinney had a bindery, I’d expect him to have advertised this from time to time, as bookbinding was a significant and (I think) usually separate trade from printing. By 1902, most of the case binding processes had been mechanized (with varying degrees of efficiency gains), so to be a production binder in that era required a fair amount of capital investment.

As mentioned earlier, it would be helpful to compare the paper in many first edition copies with that of the earliest Drake issues, and to look for a Drake title page cancellans. From what little I know (with an emphasis on “little”!), it appears that all first editions have the same stamping and cloth color. This suggests that all copies may have been bound in one run (absent, of course, a finding that some early Drake issues had the same paper and discovery of a Drake TP cancellans), but of course doesn’t prove it. One thing that comes to mind is that the cloth type and its color were probably fairly standard and widely available/used, and thus I’d guess that one could find other contemporary books bound in that same cloth type and color.

Bill Mullins wrote:TMWWE (p 334) states that pages after 178 were simply dropped -- what I'm curious about was if a signature transition occurred here (or near here, if one accounts for following blank leaves or ad pages). My glued-up perfect bound paperback copies are difficult to examine for an answer, and I don't have any of the early cloth bound editions.

Bill, considering my major gaff when discussing different formats, perhaps the rest of my discussion wasn’t clear either! I think the short answer is to reiterate that only a physical examination of the relevant book(s) can provide concrete information. For 12mos, if the book is composed of whole sheets, then the number of leaves in the book should be divisible by 12 in whole numbers (i.e., not fractional numbers). If a 16mo, then the number of leaves should be divisible by 16. Etc. The problem is discerning binding leaves (e.g., flyleaves) from leaves that were part of the sheet, which is often easy to do because the binding leaves use different paper.

Tom Sawyer wrote:… This is to address Clay's comments regarding my 205-page "1905" Drake copy. (The last numbered page is 205.) The final two signatures are 16 pages each.

There are 17 pages of advertisements, so even if the book's last page had been page 206, the mathematics still works out, as long as there is an odd number of 16-page signatures. (Whether this would be optimum for imposition purposes is another thing.)

Here is a brief quotation from a post I made on this thread in January. Even though I showed a little uncertainty, there is very little chance that the numbers stated are inaccurate:

"I think it is quite likely that the book has 6 signatures of 32 pages, and 2 signatures of 16 pages.

"The arithmetic seems to work out, unless I have made a mistake in my calculations. Six times 32 is 192. Two times 16 is 32. Add 192 and 32, and the sum is 224. That's the total number of pages in the book, including the 2 blank pages at the very front and the 17 pages of advertising in the back." …

Let’s assume the foregoing information is correct (and with you, I’m confident it is!). If your copy was printed as a 16mo, the fact that the last 32 pages (including the ads) would be comprised of 2 16-page signatures suggests that the ads were separately printed (likely completely unrelated to the book), and bound in at the back of the book, which was a very common publisher’s practice (as you can attest from your study of Victorian-era books). So if your copy was printed as a 16mo and if the ads had been pre-printed, then perhaps the last, 16-page signature of The Expert was printed as 16mo half sheets, imposed for work and turn (known as 16mo in 8s, half-sheet imposition). And there’s yet another mistake in my earlier posts: I said that an 8vo book of 104 leaves wasn’t divisible by 8 in whole numbers – wrong again! 104/8 = 13. Lordy …

In the end, discussion of the physical structures of the various editions and issues of The Expert is mostly speculation without really digging into the books themselves, and on reflection, I’m inclined to think that my attempts to be helpful, mistakes and all, haven’t really helped much!
Last edited by Dustin Stinett on July 13th, 2015, 2:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Removed off-topic remarks.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » July 12th, 2015, 11:47 pm

magicam wrote:I have to correct a whopper of a misstatement about book formats, when I wrote, “books were always printed in formats to the power of 2, i.e., in 2s, 4s, 8s, 16s, 32s, 64s, etc.” I should have caught that major brain cramp when I went on to discuss 12mos only a sentence or two later! The notion of formats in the “power of 2” is flat out wrong; not sure what I was thinking, except that I was conscious of trying to keep the discussion fairly simple, and probably was thinking about the fact that all functional impositions yielded conjugate leaves. In any case, in addition to the formats noted, other formats seen were 12mos, 18mos, 24mos, 36mos, 48mos, 72mos, and 96mos. So my apologies if I created any confusion

Thanks for clearing that up.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 13th, 2015, 2:20 am

Roger M. and Clay Shevlin: Knock it off. If you have issues with each other, use the PM system. Better yet, ignore each other.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 13th, 2015, 3:37 am

Leonard Hevia wrote:
Peter--does that mean you have dismissed the circumstantial evidence for W.E. Sanders pointed out by Alexander and Demarest?

1. The fact that W.E. Sanders played with anagrams of his name as a schoolboy in his notebook and W.E. Sanders is an anagram for S.W. Erdnase.

2. The fact that Sanders purchased a large quantity of decks before heading out to the Rockies for some R & R.

3. The fact that Sanders was not far from Chicago during the crucial window of time when Smith met Erdnase around December 1901 at possibly the State Street Hotel for the illustrations.

4. The fact that Sanders knew at least one card trick--Mutus dedit nomen Cocis--which is published in Hoffman's Modern Magic.

5. Sanders compartmentalized certain parts of his life to keep things under the radar.

6. Sanders also fits Smith's physical and age description of Erdnase.

7. Sanders was also a published writer as was Thomson.


Good list, Leonard. I would add one more item which I find to be the most convincing -- the similarity in writing style between Erdnase and Sanders. This ranges from the frequent use of "scare quotes" to emulating speech patterns to the use of many of the same idioms and word choices. And on top of those, I hear the same clear, authoritative voice.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 13th, 2015, 6:46 am

Leonard Hevia wrote: Peter--does that mean you have dismissed the circumstantial evidence for W.E. Sanders pointed out by Alexander and Demarest?


Yes.

1. The fact that W.E. Sanders played with anagrams of his name as a schoolboy in his notebook and W.E. Sanders is an anagram for S.W. Erdnase.


I don't remember seeing anywhere that one of those anagrams was S.W. Erdnase. Please give me the reference.

2. The fact that Sanders purchased a large quantity of decks before heading out to the Rockies for some R & R.


So, he was a card player. Is there any evidence anywhere that he was capable of showing "his skill in pure sleight of hand", as Dr. Wilson said of Harry S. Thompson?

3. The fact that Sanders was not far from Chicago during the crucial window of time when Smith met Erdnase around December 1901 at possibly the State Street Hotel for the illustrations.


Harry was living in Chicago at that time, at 541 Lunt Avenue.

4. The fact that Sanders knew at least one card trick--Mutus dedit nomen Cocis--which is published in Hoffman's Modern Magic.


There is no sleight of hand involved in that trick, which, as you point out, was authored by Hoffman - a well known author of books for the lay public. I have not seen any evidence that Sanders had the knowledge to write The Expert or the capability of demonstrating the sleights for Marshall D. Smith.

5. Sanders compartmentalized certain parts of his life to keep things under the radar.


Don't we all? The author of The Expert didn't want his name to be known. Why can't you allow that Harry wanted to keep something "under the radar"?

6. Sanders also fits Smith's physical and age description of Erdnase.


That was what Bill would call "a fascinating coincidence". There must have been thousands of men in America smaller than Smith and aged between 40 and 45. To that you would have to add the knowledge and capability needed to write a book on sleight of hand and magic effects that is still in print and said to be the best book on card magic ever written.

7. Sanders was also a published writer as was Thomson.


But Thompson had "skill in pure sleight of hand", had been brought up in the printing and publishing trade, and was by 1901 a travelling salesman selling printing inks. Erdnase knew about printing inks...

Sorry Leonard, I am sticking with Harry S. Thompson. When that elusive McKinney Bankruptcy File shows up, I feel sure that we will find Frank Thompson listed as a former employee. He was Harry's brother and still a printer in Chicago. There was obviously a contact at McKinney's and he is the obvious candidate.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 13th, 2015, 7:24 am

Bill Mullins wrote:
Zenner wrote: A link between his Seely and the Dalrymple Seeleys has not been established.
Nor has it been for Thompson.


I am not depending on it, Bill. I haven't found a link between Harry and Louis Dalrymple, but I have found a link between Harry and another political cartoonist. It could be that Martin Gardner planted the name "Louis Dalrymple" when Smith mentioned that the author knew a political cartoonist - just as Gardner was trying to make Smith remember a man much smaller than him as a man much taller than him! We don't know and that's why it might be wise to forget the Dalrymple business and look for other proof.

If you hadn't reacted so negatively to what I found out about Thompson, I might be willing to try and strengthen the case for him. I've done it for Hatch and Demarest and Karr. But the attitude I'm getting from you is "Case closed, piss off", so I'll spend my time doing other things.


I don't use such terminology and certainly didn't wish to give you that impression. I merely wanted to point out that the things you were telling me were already known to me. As I have pointed out, I have now been on Harry's trail for over two years and the information available on Google and the genealogy sites was obtained within the first two weeks of my research - April, 2013.

Right accent? Smith (a "trained observer," as you say) thought that Erdnase was not a native Chicagoan, and was from "the East" -- not consistent with the accent that a native Chicagoan like Thompson would have had.


Just to remind you, as I have already posted, Harry's parents came from New York State and Massachusetts respectively. His Aunty Susan, a teacher, also from New York State, was living with the Thompson family during Harry's formative years. How much further east do you want me to go? What makes you think that Harry would have a different accent to the rest of the family?

We know that he [i.e., Edwin Sumner Andrews] played cards socially, which is a stronger connection to cards than we can make for Thompson.


WOW! - a man PLAYED CARDS in the latter part of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th century? And that makes him a candidate for the authorship of the most advanced book on card magic published up to 1902?

Harry S. Thompson was skilled in "pure sleight of hand", according to Doctor Wilson, and yet you pour cold water on his candidacy in favour of a man who just PLAYED CARDS?

I am shaking my head in disbelief.

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Matthew Field
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Matthew Field » July 13th, 2015, 8:20 am

Give me a second to don my stainless steel shield as I enter the battleground.

David Ben, in his new "The Experts at the Card Table" lists the authors as David Ben and E.S. Andrews. There's a photo of Andrews and his family on pg.20 and David's commentary, beginning on pg. 16, makes it unequivocally clear that, for the writer, E.S. Andrews was S.W. Erdnase.

This is not some newbie, it's David Ben.

Thoughts?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 13th, 2015, 8:57 am

Matthew Field wrote: Give me a second to don my stainless steel shield as I enter the battleground.


No need for that, Matt. You have lived in England for long enough to realise that we Brits are capable of debating in a gentlemanly way.

David Ben, in his new "The Experts at the Card Table" lists the authors as David Ben and E.S. Andrews. There's a photo of Andrews and his family on pg.20 and David's commentary, beginning on pg. 16, makes it unequivocally clear that, for the writer, E.S. Andrews was S.W. Erdnase.


David Ben has obviously been swayed by many years of brainwashing. It has not been proved that any E.S. Andrews was Erdnase. Publishing a photograph of a man with his family is no proof of his authorship of The Expert at the Card Table, unless of course he was holding a copy of said book. Is the photograph of the family the same photograph that was published in Erdnase Unmasked?

This is not some newbie, it's David Ben.


Are you saying that David is infallible? Are you putting him alongside the Pope? I don't believe that anybody is infallible, even if they are sitting on St. Peter's Chair!

Thoughts?


My thoughts are (1) that David is being a bit premature, and (2) he is asking for ridicule if or when it is ever proved that Erdnase was some other guy.

Cheers,

Peter
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 13th, 2015, 11:03 am

Dustin, I applaud your work and the efforts of every volunteer who moderates these forums. I'm also grateful to Richard for operating them. I thank you all for your time and attention. It's y'all's party, I'm happy to be a guest and play by the rules.

But I'd like to respectfully object to the deletion of posts, even if they seemingly constitute nothing more than a flame war.

Heightened passions and ridiculous behavior are hallmarks of magicians who are under the thrall of Erdnase. The bickering, personal attacks and intimate affronts are all part of the Erdnase story. It can seem ridiculous--grown men squabbling over a century-old literary mystery. But both that passion and absurdity are integral parts of the Erdnase phenomenon. Personally, I've enjoyed and made notes about every bit of it. But I understand your desire to censor that part of the record--it's not the most flattering example of magician's behavior. However, I think it deserves to be documented.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 13th, 2015, 11:18 am

Matthew Field wrote:This is not some newbie, it's David Ben.


Matt, David's books are riddled with errors both mundane and acute--a clear indicator that David has no higher education. (I'm citing David himself for the "logic" behind that statement. But for a good time, check out David's book Tricks and his biography of Allan Slaight for some textual howlers.) Moreover, his work displays a crucial lack of basic editorial oversight. (Try using the table of contents in his reprint of A Grand Expose, or count the illustrations in Revelation.) This intellectual poverty seems to extend to his entire organization. (When I read his recent interview in MAGIC, I found it by following a link on David's website that used the title of an article I had written in Genii four years earlier, rather than the title of David's MAGIC interview.) I would expect anybody who isn't a newbie to have the ability to count from 1 to 101, or the capacity to accurately copy all the letters in a large-type title.

This is not some newbie, it's David Ben.

Alas, magic! ;)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 13th, 2015, 11:49 am

Rather than judge the interested parties as people, I prefer to appreciate the efforts and results such as they are.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 13th, 2015, 1:46 pm

I believe that David graduated from university and then law school, so to say that he has no "higher education" is a little baffling, Marty.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 13th, 2015, 2:46 pm

Richard, my note was sardonic. (Hence the wink.) I was responding to Matt's inquiry by applying David's reasoning to his own work. To wit:

"I would be surprised, for example, if the author had a college education. He may have had the gift of gab--a skillset not uncommon for advantage players, particularly those who worked solo, as one has to soothe the ego and feelings of the losers in order for them to keep losing. But I also believe that he probably learned to turn a phrase because of his work experience. And while magicians are fond of quoting various passages--there are many pithy and profound lines in the book--it is very poorly organized and rife with errors. There are technical errors in the language, the illustrations, and the grammar."
--David Ben, quoted in Alan Howard, "Shuffling Erdnase," MAGIC, April, 2015, pp. 56-57.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 13th, 2015, 3:11 pm

Zenner wrote: I haven't found a link between Harry and Louis Dalrymple, but I have found a link between Harry and another political cartoonist. . . . it might be wise to forget the Dalrymple business and look for other proof.


This is typical of how you are presenting your case, and why some of us find it lacking. You place great emphasis on things that don't really matter much (Erdnase makes passing reference to ink used in marking cards, therefore a guy who wholesales ink to printing houses MUST BE HIM). But when direct evidence that could be used to specifically tie an individual to authorship (the Dalrymple connection) comes up, you discount it as not being relevant.

We know that he [i.e., Edwin Sumner Andrews] played cards socially, which is a stronger connection to cards than we can make for Thompson.


WOW! - a man PLAYED CARDS in the latter part of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th century? And that makes him a candidate for the authorship of the most advanced book on card magic published up to 1902?

Harry S. Thompson was skilled in "pure sleight of hand", according to Doctor Wilson, and yet you pour cold water on his candidacy in favour of a man who just PLAYED CARDS?


I didn't bring up cards to say that it means that Andrews wrote EATCT, but to show how weak the case for Thompson is in terms of card sharping; that is, a guy who only played cards recreationally has a stronger tie to the text than does Thompson.

You keep bringing up Wilson's statement as justification that Thompson had the expertise to write the most important book on cards to date, when there is absolutely no evidence that he even touched a deck. Wilson used the phrase "pure sleight of hand" numerous times in The Sphinx. The vast majority of them are like the reference to Thompson, where we really don't know what he means. There are a couple of times where he obviously uses it to include card work, but there are also times when he says "pure sleight of hand" in reference to magic that is explicitly not card related.

For example, in his review of “Later Magic” (3/04 p 11 col 2) he specifically points out that it has no card tricks, yet praises it as a work on “pure sleight of hand”. And mentions Emile Bamberg’s specialty of “pure sleight of hand, particularly with billiard balls” (6/08 p 40 col 1). There are other occasions where it clearly means silk work. He used it in reference to Clivette, who was known at the time primarily as a juggler and shadowographer.

Without further knowledge about Thompson's specialties in magic, it is leaping to a large conclusion to say that Thompson was qualified in any way to have written EATCT. To me, this is the largest (but not the only) reason to discount Thompson as Erdnase. If you can't put a deck in his hand, how can you claim he wrote the seminal book of modern card magic?

(And to be sure, if we had any evidence that Edwin Andrews did card tricks, or that W. E. Sanders ever "moved" at the card table, the cases for them would get much stronger as well.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 13th, 2015, 3:39 pm

Marty,

I was very careful not to delete anything that added to the ERDNASE narrative, even in an ephemeral manner. What was deleted could have (and should have) been private correspondence. This thread will in no way suffer from the loss of the two full posts and the partial deletion of what may as well have been two people saying "Neener-neener" and "I know you are, but what am I?" Ridding that type of nonsense from a thread as important as this one is not something I consider censorship. It's a janitorial service.

Thanks,
Dustin

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 13th, 2015, 4:10 pm

Oh come on, Dustin! All that stuff is what makes Erdnase the professional wrestling of magic.

(Don't tell me this thread wouldn't suffer if you deleted the post where Paul Wilson compares someone's intelligence to his dog's when they disagree about a move in The Expert. It's the best!)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 13th, 2015, 8:09 pm

I thought Bill Mullins’s discussion of Wilson’s “pure sleight of hand” reference was quite well-reasoned -- and that it is nicely supported by his most recent post on this thread. Ironically, Wilson’s comment may leave Thompson with a worse case regarding playing cards than he would have if Wilson had never mentioned Thompson at all -- though that may be a matter of opinion.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » July 13th, 2015, 9:56 pm

Zenner wrote:I suspect that you are wondering why he used the name 'S.W. Erdnase'. O.K. In 1901 E[mory] C[obbe] Andrews graduated from university in Chicago and went to work in the Chicago office of Ruxton's, the company for which Harry worked. Why 'S.W. Erdnase' and not 'S.W. Erdnace'? I don't know. They sound the same.


Evidently, you believe that Thompson took the name of a co-worker, spelled it backwards and used the result as his pseudonym. It doesn't account for the discrepancy of that letter "c" instead of the "s" and by your own admission, you can't explain this.

The Demarest article in the September 2011 issue of Genii clearly provides evidence of Wilbur's anagrams of his name in his school notebook. We don't see the name S.W. Erdnase on the note page, but don't you think, Peter, that he would have eventually in time come up with the name S.W. Erdnase? It is, after all, a perfect anagram of W.E. Sanders with no discrepancies.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Diego » July 14th, 2015, 4:19 am

The discussion of Erdnase continues...I have read, considered, and enjoyed the different ideas by different participants, some I know, and David Alexander was a good friend, whose passing was a personal loss.

I would like to mention that I appreciate what Bill Mullins has done over the years. Not just as it pertains this topic, but for his selfless help in research he has given to me, and I am sure, (as David Alexander did) many others, for a wide array of research quests...including sharing from data bases not all of us have immediate access to.

Thanks Bill!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 14th, 2015, 5:35 am

Bill Mullins wrote: This is typical of how you are presenting your case, and why some of us find it lacking. You place great emphasis on things that don't really matter much (Erdnase makes passing reference to ink used in marking cards, therefore a guy who wholesales ink to printing houses MUST BE HIM). But when direct evidence that could be used to specifically tie an individual to authorship (the Dalrymple connection) comes up, you discount it as not being relevant.


Oh Bill - you are deliberately missing out all of the other "fascinating coincidences" between Erdnase and Harry S. Thompson. His father was a printer and publisher and he and his brother worked in the same trade. The Expert was published by the author. His family were from "the East". He fitted Smith's description of Erdnase. He was interested in magic. He was a friend of Houdini and so was in a position to show him the move for transforming a card which Houdini then showed to Selbit. How would Houdini have known that move before it was published had not somebody shown it to him? Have you evidence that Andrews knew Houdini? Of course not...

Please read my posts again; I am NOT depending solely on the fact that he sold and lectured on the use of printing inks!

I didn't bring up cards to say that it means that Andrews wrote EATCT, but to show how weak the case for Thompson is in terms of card sharping; that is, a guy who only played cards recreationally has a stronger tie to the text than does Thompson.


Come on Bill. Get back to Google and see if you can find out what percentage of American men played cards 113 years ago. Show me evidence that Andrews had any knowledge of magic. Harry did; he had one of the largest magic libraries in America. Erdnase did; he wrote a section on magic tricks for his book. One of them, the Card Through Handkerchief, was originated in CHICAGO several years before it was published by Roterberg in 1897.

If you can't put a deck in his hand, how can you claim he wrote the seminal book of modern card magic?


Read all of the "fascinating coincidences" above which I have to keep repeating. "There are none so blind as those who WILL not see"

(And to be sure, if we had any evidence that Edwin Andrews did card tricks, or that W. E. Sanders ever "moved" at the card table, the cases for them would get much stronger as well.)


Of course they would. And all I have to prove is that Harry's brother, Frank Thompson, a printer/compositor living in Chicago, worked for James McKinney and was the contact for all of the mail sent to S.W. Erdnase, c/o McKinney. What evidence is there that ANY of the other candidates might have known ANYBODY at McKinney's?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 14th, 2015, 6:02 am

Leonard Hevia wrote: The Demarest article in the September 2011 issue of Genii clearly provides evidence of Wilbur's anagrams of his name in his school notebook. We don't see the name S.W. Erdnase on the note page, but don't you think, Peter, that he would have eventually in time come up with the name S.W. Erdnase? It is, after all, a perfect anagram of W.E. Sanders with no discrepancies.


He might have done Leonard, but that's not to say that he did. I believe that, apart from that "fascinating coincidence", there is no evidence that he had anything in common with the man who wrote The Expert.

People have taken the fact that S.W. Erdnase spelt backwards = E.S. Andrews and they have looked for anagrams of the name - and then they have gone looking for people who fitted with the results. Hey Presto! They have a candidate whether or not they fit with Smith's description or even have the experience to write and publish the book in question. I didn't do that; I had a hunch where I would find him and I knew that the author's name didn't have to be Andrews.

I realise that this discussion has been going on for a very long time and that I am, as Matt put it, "a newbie". That doesn't mean that I am wrong; it just means that I am going to have a struggle to convince you all that I am either right or, at least, have a better case than all of the previously nominated candidates.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 14th, 2015, 9:46 am

? make a better case.
One approach to argue rationally would be to make a table of "convincers" and see which candidates have the most, or of all "convincers" which should be weighted more than others.

Why is the spread missing yet the title page offers the "whole calendar" of available methods and yet claims no confidences are betrayed ... so he did not know, did not figure it out, withheld information ... then again yours truly is easily perplexed by such things.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 14th, 2015, 11:28 am

Random thought: has anybody made a plea at this forum, The Magic Café, or better yet, The Thayer Forum, for people to send in snapshots of the cover and title and copyright pages of their first editions and early Drake copies, and to note the dates of any early inscriptions in the Drake issues? Smartphone cameras are very good these days, so it wouldn’t be too difficult and might provide some interesting information.

Dustin, apologies that you had to be a janitor, but thanks for taking out the garbage.

Zenner wrote:…I realise that this discussion has been going on for a very long time and that I am, as Matt put it, "a newbie". That doesn't mean that I am wrong; it just means that I am going to have a struggle to convince you all that I am either right or, at least, have a better case than all of the previously nominated candidates. …

Alas, sometimes a theory can accrue, by the mere passing of time, a patina of authority or legitimacy that isn’t justified by the underlying facts, and that phenomenon can unduly burden a new theory. Your theory, like all others, should be tested vigorously, but fairly, and not simply shouted or bullied down.

Whether or not you are a “newbie” should be irrelevant to how your evidence is judged – it’s obviously the quality of your evidence that matters. Ultimately, all evidence should be judged after independent and objective examination by a number of people, so time will tell with your candidate. But right or wrong, when a new theory is being introduced (and absent conclusive evidence therefor), oftentimes initial perceptions of its legitimacy are a direct function of its proponent’s credibility. Hopefully you can see by now that I think your candidate is worthy of continued consideration and study, and I suspect all but a vocal super-minority of others here would agree. To your credit, it’s clear your candidate reflects some thought and research. But speaking strictly for myself, some of your comments and responses undermine your credibility.

A couple of examples are: poor research (as David Scollnik pointed out, the failure to properly research the Illinois age-of-consent law for the 1880s); and sweeping (and false) generalities:
Zenner wrote: … I believe that, apart from that "fascinating coincidence" [that W.E. Sanders played with anagrams], there is no evidence that he [Sanders] had anything in common with the man who wrote The Expert. …

In my view, Leonard Hevia’s nice summary includes at least a couple of crystal-clear commonalities: (1) Sanders’ height and age; and (2) Sanders being a published writer. (And there is also the “writing voice” mentioned by Bob Coyne, admittedly more a judgment call but perhaps the most critical evidence there is.)

Zenner wrote: … I trust Smith; I don't trust Gardner!

I may be wrong, but I’m under the impression that everything we “know” from Smith was through Gardner. If that’s the case, then if you don’t trust Gardner, how can you trust Smith? In a couple of posts I believe you have suggested that Gardner more or less tainted Smith’s recollections (or at least some of them), which might create a dilemma, for it doesn’t seem reasonable (or good scholarship) to always discount or dismiss inconvenient “facts” from Smith while always embracing the convenient ones.

We all make mistakes, however (a couple of mine are noted above!). It’s just that, as a general matter, I wish you were more circumspect in the treatment of your evidence and the evidence for the other candidates.

Good night all!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 14th, 2015, 11:29 am

Zenner wrote:
Right accent? Smith (a "trained observer," as you say) thought that Erdnase was not a native Chicagoan, and was from "the East" -- not consistent with the accent that a native Chicagoan like Thompson would have had.


Just to remind you, as I have already posted, Harry's parents came from New York State and Massachusetts respectively. His Aunty Susan, a teacher, also from New York State, was living with the Thompson family during Harry's formative years. How much further east do you want me to go? What makes you think that Harry would have a different accent to the rest of the family?


Because that is how people work. Typically, a kid will have an accent that reflects the area where he grew up, rather than where his parents/family grew up. Surely you know people who are the children of immigrants who grew up in England, and have UK accents rather than that of their family. My son has classmates (2nd grade) with parents from Poland, Russia, Jordan and Ghana; the parents have strong foreign accents but the kids all have standard North Alabama accents. My son's pulmonologist was raised in Athens, Georgia, but his parents are from India. If you spoke to him on the phone you'd assume he was just another Georgia Good Ole Boy. I have a good friend who is from New Jersey and who moved here after he got out of college. His kids, to his chagrin, have strong Southern accents. My parents are from rural Central and East Tennessee, and have distinctly different Southern accents than my own (I grew up in Nashville, but can code-switch when visiting family). Magician Gene Matsuura's family is from Japan, but his accent is Central Californian, where he was raised. Our own Richard Kaufman has a strong New York accent, but when I met his daughter at the Genii Bash, she had more of a standard Mid-Atlantic accent, as befits a girl raised in Washington DC.

But that's just anecdata, and I'm sure you will discount it. Maybe this will help convince you (bottom of the page): http://parade.com/409683/marilynvossavant/why-are-salt-tablets-okay-for-dehydration-but-salt-water-isnt/


He was a friend of Houdini and so was in a position to show him the move for transforming a card which Houdini then showed to Selbit.


Are you now seriously contending that Thompson showed Houdini the "Transformation Two Hands First Method"? Based on what? For that matter, is there any evidence that Thompson and Houdini ever met (particularly before 1902?) (I know they were correspondents).

How would Houdini have known that move before it was published had not somebody shown it to him?


The obvious answer is that Houdini invented the move. Despite Vernon's comments, Houdini was quite the card man. Farelli, Gaultier, and Selbit all credited the move to Houdini.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 14th, 2015, 11:32 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
One approach to argue rationally would be to make a table of "convincers" and see which candidates have the most, or of all "convincers" which should be weighted more than others.


Unfortunately, those of us who care about who Erdnase was probably couldn't agree on which convincers should be included, or what the correct weights should be.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 14th, 2015, 11:56 am

magicam wrote:
Zenner wrote: … I trust Smith; I don't trust Gardner!

I may be wrong, but I’m under the impression that everything we “know” from Smith was through Gardner. If that’s the case, then if you don’t trust Gardner, how can you trust Smith? In a couple of posts I believe you have suggested that Gardner more or less tainted Smith’s recollections (or at least some of them), which might create a dilemma, for it doesn’t seem reasonable (or good scholarship) to always discount or dismiss inconvenient “facts” from Smith while always embracing the convenient ones.


Only to an extent. The original accounts of Smith were interpreted by Gardner (1947 SAM Program, _The Man Who Was Erdnase_, Introduction to Dover Edition of Erdnase, Addendum to Ortiz's _Annotated Erdnase_) but _The Gardner Smith Correspondence_ quotes Smith's letters directly, unfiltered by Gardner's interpretation. So they may be taken as primary sources (unless you dont' trust Hatch and Randall, the publishers -- I do trust them).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 14th, 2015, 3:02 pm

Hi All,

Regarding Jonathan Townsend’s outline of a method for evaluating candidates (a list of weighted “convincers”), in my opinion this is one of the best methods for evaluating candidates, and of allowing comparison of one candidate to another.

Not long ago, I attempted pretty much that exact idea (for certain aspects of certain candidates), and I thought it worked well.

Bill Mullins made a good point about it being difficult for everyone to agree on the “convincers” or their weight.

That is true, but at least it can be used by each interested person, and his results will be comparable to his other results for his own guidance -- even if he never tells anyone else what his results are.

The weakness that Bill mentions is easier to deal with than some of the unfocused arguments that are sometimes made for candidates.

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 14th, 2015, 4:31 pm

Zenner wrote: Dick Hood was born about 1882, so would have been very young in the 1890s. He would have been about 20 when the Erdnase book was published and his father had died 5 years before.


Are you saying that Edwin Hood died ca. 1897? Because he is listed as living in Chicago in the 1910 Census. TMWWE suggests he died in 1921.

And it's often said that H. C. Evans is a pseudonym that he used. But the following makes me question that:

*******************

Chicago Inter Ocean, Jun 3, 1906 p 6

FOUND LOADED DICE
Marked Cards Also Confiscated by Police – Gaming Goods Sellers Held

H. C. Evans, a dealer in gaming paraphernalia, was arrested at his place of business, 125 Clark street, by Detectives Wooldridge and Barry of Chief Collins’ office yesterday. He was fined $200 by Justice Prindiville at the Harrison street police court.

In the possession of Evans were found, it is alleged, hundreds of packs of marked cards and loaded dice.

*******************

Perhaps Evans was a real person? But if not, a possible explanation for Hood to use that as a pseudonym was that Hood had an adopted brother, H. C. Hood.

Here's an excerpt from another article that suggests that Evans was a pseudonym for Hood:


***********************************
Belvidere IL Daily Republican, Dec 29, 1910 p 4

. . . the last grand jury indicted Jacob Schimberg, president of the Slack Manufacturing company, 126 Franklin street, and Edward O. and Richard W. Hood, operating as H. C. Evans & Co., 104 Van Buren street, Chicago, on evidence provided by Inspector Mullen.

***************************

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » July 14th, 2015, 6:00 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:... this is all just a parlor game anyway


With that in mind, when you see a post that begins ...

"ERDNASE FOUND
Pull up a chair and grab a coffee",

at least you know the game is going to be fun for awhile.

Contrarily, when you see a post that devotes a thousand words to ruminations on possible variations in the binding of different editions ...

then I'd just as soon be "playing solitaire to dawn with a deck of 51".

Thank you Zenner, for sharing an interesting theory.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » July 14th, 2015, 8:27 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:...Contrarily, when you see a post that devotes a thousand words to ruminations on possible variations in the binding of different editions ...

then I'd just as soon be "playing solitaire to dawn with a deck of 51". ...

LOL. That, and doubtless such forays could also quickly cure insomnia for 99.9% of the populace. I was hoping (perhaps in vain) to spark an interest in bibliography in that .1%.

Bill Mullins wrote:
magicam wrote:I may be wrong, but I’m under the impression that everything we “know” from Smith was through Gardner. ...
Only to an extent. ... _The Gardner Smith Correspondence_ quotes Smith's letters directly, unfiltered by Gardner's interpretation. ...

I'd certainly be inclined to agree. But unless I've misunderstood Dick Hatch, most (or perhaps even the vast majority?) of those letters were written after Gardner's personal meeting(s) with Smith. So bearing in mind Zenner's suggestions about Gardner's possible undue influence on Smith, seems like a logical extension of that argument could be that Smith's subsequent letters were tainted by such influence. Not an argument I'd make, but it seemed fair game in the context of cherry-picking Smith-based "facts."

A further good night to all!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 14th, 2015, 8:51 pm

I guess I'm not too surprised that people still look at Marshall D. Smith's description of Erdnase as being reliable. (His comments on height and age appear to be among the most mentioned attributes of Erdnase.)

I do wonder why Hurt McDermott’s discussion (in Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase) of Smith’s comments does not seem to have tempered people’s enthusiasm on this somewhat.

I think Smith’s comments can be useful in some ways, but I would hesitate to give much weight to his comments on height and age.

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 14th, 2015, 10:41 pm

Bill, I no longer have a "strong" New York accent. Your hearing must be deceiving you. :mrgreen:
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 14th, 2015, 11:18 pm

I'm not sure how relevant the whole "accent" discussion is to this thread, though it is interesting. Gardner's notes of his interview visit with Smith indicate only that the author did not have a foreign accent ("14: Thinks he had an American accent. At any rate, doesn't recall any foreign accent. Voice was quiet and soft spoken."). Smith's placing of the author as coming from outside Chicago are based on other circumstantial factors, not his accent or lack thereof: "6. Has impression he was not a Chicago man (otherwise he would have mentioned living there before, etc.)."
That would rule out Thompson, I guess... Smith also accepted immediately upon Gardner suggesting it that the man's name was "Andrews", though he could not confirm or recall his initials. Again, if you accept that recollection, that rules out Thompson... In later correspondence (not with Smith), Gardner says that Smith recalled the man's first name as "James", though it is difficult to know whether that was prompted by Gardner's finding the "Coney Island Fakir" article by James Andrews, rather than the reverse...
In later correspondence Smith mentions thinking the man came from the East, specifically New York, though it is hard to know how much confidence he had in that recollection.

While not my current favorite candidate, I'll point out that my earlier favorite, James DeWitt Andrews, a post-graduate professor of law at Northwestern University in Chicago, was educated in upstate New York, moved to Chicago in the early 1890s (as recalled by Richard Hood of H. C. Evans & Co.) and moved to New York in 1903, the year the book's price dropped. He was the author of numerous "treatises" (so described on the title page), at least one of which began with a glossary of terms as does The Expert. A very good circumstantial case can be made for James, though no connection to conjuring or card play has been found (though his daughter was an expert bridge player and his grandson a blackjack aficionado...). It was in trying to connect James Andrews to Dalrymple that I stumbled on Edwin Sumner Andrews, who seemed to me an even better circumstantial fit, though I am still fond of JDA and consider him a possible "person of interest"...
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 15th, 2015, 2:46 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Bill, I no longer have a "strong" New York accent. Your hearing must be deceiving you. :mrgreen:


Oh, I'm sure there are much stronger ones to be heard.

But to this Southern boy, your accent (and pretty much everyone else's from north of the Ohio River) is "strong". It's more a statement about my ears than your voice.

And it works the other way -- I was in a cafeteria at the Univ of Rochester about 25 years ago and cussed out a server who was giving me grief about the funny way I talk. Me? I don't have an accent -- I speak normal.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 15th, 2015, 8:04 am

Bill Mullins wrote: Are you saying that Edwin Hood died ca. 1897? Because he is listed as living in Chicago in the 1910 Census. TMWWE suggests he died in 1921.


Edwin Clark Hood died on April 11, 1897, according to my research. Have I got the wrong man?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 15th, 2015, 9:02 am

Bill Mullins wrote:
Zenner wrote: He was a friend of Houdini and so was in a position to show him the move for transforming a card which Houdini then showed to Selbit.
Are you now seriously contending that Thompson showed Houdini the "Transformation Two Hands First Method"? Based on what? For that matter, is there any evidence that Thompson and Houdini ever met (particularly before 1902?) (I know they were correspondents).


Read what I said again, Bill - "so was in a position to show him the move". You are a naughty boy :-)

Can anybody show that any of the other candidates knew Houdini? What Harry's meetings with magicians were, prior to The Sphinx, we don't know. They weren't reported. But it is obvious that, from then onwards, he made a point of visiting with magicians and attending shows wherever his job took him. Living in Chicago, as a fan of magicians, he would no doubt have attended the "World's Columbian Exhibition" in 1893 and/or Middleton's Clarke Street Theatre between December 26th, 1898, and January 21st, 1899. I can't believe that such an ardent fan would miss an opportunity to see a magician performing in his home town, and, knowing Harry from his later habits, visit with him after the show.

Zenner wrote: How would Houdini have known that move before it was published had not somebody shown it to him?
The obvious answer is that Houdini invented the move. Despite Vernon's comments, Houdini was quite the card man. Farelli, Gaultier, and Selbit all credited the move to Houdini.


Selbit wrote, "The change by using the method I am about to describe is quite inexplicable, and by far the most deceptive that has come under my notice. For the knowledge of the movement I am indebted to my friend Mr. Harry Houdini, the celebrated ‘king of handcuffs’, who is an extremely clever card manipulator."

He did NOT say that Houdini invented it. Farelli got his information from the Selbit book and he, like you, got it wrong. I haven't got access to the Gaultier book but I shall check him out - thanks for the tip-off.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 15th, 2015, 9:11 am

Zenner wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote: Are you saying that Edwin Hood died ca. 1897? Because he is listed as living in Chicago in the 1910 Census. TMWWE suggests he died in 1921.


Edwin Clark Hood died on April 11, 1897, according to my research. Have I got the wrong man?

Peter Zenner


I think so.

The 1900 Chicago City Directory on ancestry.com has Edwin C. Hood, occupation "manager", working at 125 Clark St. and living at 1336 Wabansia Ave. It doesn't have a listing for the business H. C. Evans. But the 1903 directory does: H. C. Evans & Co., sporting goods, 125 Clark St.

So our guy is still alive in 1900.

The 1900 Census has him at 1336 Wabansia, age 43 (b. 1857), born in Iowa, parents born in PA, occupation "merchant", married to Rachel age 40 (b. 1860).

The 1910 Census has Edwin C. Hood, age 58 (born ca. 1852) living on 3800 Lexington, born in Iowa, parents born in PA, married to Margaret G., occupation "merchant sporting goods". So I think this is still him.

So between 1900 and 1910, he got a new wife. I don't have an explanation for why his apparent birth year changes. But like I said in reference to Andrews's two wives, these sorts of discrepancies are not uncommon, and you've just got to roll with them.

Here is an obituary for his son, Richard Hood. Another obit, with a picture. He was born in 1882, as you suggested earlier. This article suggests Edwin died ca. 1923. This suggests it was 1914.

Evans went out of business in 1955. This article includes some history of the company.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 15th, 2015, 12:51 pm

Chris Wasshuber had the following Erdnase related news in his Lybrary.com Magic newsletter #679 sent out today:

With work spanning over several months I was finally successful locating
the more than 110 year old James McKinney & Co. bankruptcy files - more
than 600 pages in total. For those who can't put James McKinney into
context, he was the printer who printed "Expert at the Card Table" (EATCT)
by S. W. Erdnase. He went bankrupt just a year after release of EATCT. For
research into the 'who was Erdnase' question this is a major breakthrough.

The records give use a detailed picture of James McKinney's print shop. It
is much larger than originally assumed. He used 9 printing presses and had
32 employees. Several books were under preparation side by side. He stored
a large amount of printing plates and had a good set of metal types on
hand. The bankruptcy records detail lists of creditors, lists of people
certain plates belonged to, plate owners who have been contacted but could
not be reached, amounts loaned and paid out, etc. There is also a bit of a
dispute between some creditors who accuse McKinney of hiding and moving
assets while under bankruptcy orders. It is a remarkable set of documents.
I am amazed that these are still around after 112 years and that nobody has
found them before.

Initially I was hoping that I will find a smoking gun inside these records.
I was hoping that I would find the plates for EATCT listed with a name who
owned them. That would have been Erdnase, or at least somebody very close
to Erdnase. However, no such statement is found in the documents. However,
there are a number of unnamed sets of plates which are associated with
particular companies and individuals. All of these could potentially be the
plates for EATCT and thus point us to Erdnase. There are also other hints
and leads in the documents which I have started to follow. Some of them may
strengthen or weaken existing candidates. Others will suggest entirely new
ones.

The real breakthrough with these documents is that we are not anymore
limited to dreaming up some anagram for the name and then start looking for
people with that name, and then build a case to somehow link them to
gambling and McKinney, but rather we can start with a list of names and
then research those names and see if anybody looks like Erdnase. This is
much easier. The bankruptcy documents firmly establishes the link with
James McKinney. If the owner of printing plates can be linked with card
play and or gambling and if other aspects check out, too, then we have a
potential new candidate for Erdnasehood. If this will indeed lead us to
Erdnase is still an open question. But the hunt for Erdnase has entered a
new very exciting era.


He then indicates plans to make these documents available for researchers in the near future.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 15th, 2015, 8:35 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Zenner wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote: Are you saying that Edwin Hood died ca. 1897? Because he is listed as living in Chicago in the 1910 Census. TMWWE suggests he died in 1921.


Edwin Clark Hood died on April 11, 1897, according to my research. Have I got the wrong man?

Peter Zenner


I think so.

The 1900 Chicago City Directory on ancestry.com has Edwin C. Hood, occupation "manager", working at 125 Clark St. and living at 1336 Wabansia Ave. It doesn't have a listing for the business H. C. Evans. But the 1903 directory does: H. C. Evans & Co., sporting goods, 125 Clark St.

So our guy is still alive in 1900.

The 1900 Census has him at 1336 Wabansia, age 43 (b. 1857), born in Iowa, parents born in PA, occupation "merchant", married to Rachel age 40 (b. 1860).

The 1910 Census has Edwin C. Hood, age 58 (born ca. 1852) living on 3800 Lexington, born in Iowa, parents born in PA, married to Margaret G., occupation "merchant sporting goods". So I think this is still him.

So between 1900 and 1910, he got a new wife. I don't have an explanation for why his apparent birth year changes. But like I said in reference to Andrews's two wives, these sorts of discrepancies are not uncommon, and you've just got to roll with them.

Here is an obituary for his son, Richard Hood. Another obit, with a picture. He was born in 1882, as you suggested earlier. This article suggests Edwin died ca. 1923. This suggests it was 1914.

Evans went out of business in 1955. This article includes some history of the company.


I have done some checking and I have to admit that I made a mistake. Sorry! Me bad...

"My" Edwin C. Hood turns out to be the son of Edwin Holland Hood, born in 1846 in Dayton, Ohio.

The Chicago Edwin C. Hood was the son of Richard W. Hood, born on January 15, 1857 in Davenport, Iowa. He died on September 12, 1914, and was taken back for burial in Davenport, Iowa, the following day.

He appears to have married Elizabeth (Lizzie) R. Clarke on July 7, 1880 (presumably also known as Rachel) and then Margaret G. Whatever before 1910.

Thanks for putting me straight on that one!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 16th, 2015, 12:52 am

I have been pondering Chris Wasshuber's announcement of the discovery of the James McKinney & Co. bankruptcy file. I believe this is one of the most significant things to be turned up regarding The Expert at the Card Table in a long time.

A lot of the other recent discoveries have pertained to specific people who have been proposed as candidates -- so this new discovery basically approaches the situation from a different direction.

On an somewhat different topic, I was looking at a 1944 Charles T. Powner version of The Expert at the Card Table. In view of the fact that the Police Gazette has recently been mentioned on this thread as a seller of the book, I was interested in the fact that the book has a "The National Police Gazette" label at the foot of the back cover.

--Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.


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