ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
User avatar
Zenner
Posts: 125
Joined: September 30th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Favorite Magician: Al Koran
Location: Derbyshire, England

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 17th, 2015, 7:16 am

I have another "fascinating coincidence" for Bill Mullins to ponder. Way back in 2003, David Alexander wrote the following on the Genii Forum, and I do remember Richard Hatch has also mentioned that the copyright ran out in 1930.

David Alexander wrote: The year 1930 rolls around, important because that is the year the copyright comes up for renewal. No one renews it. Drake cant because he doesnt own it or have legal rights to it, otherwise he would have. Erdnase doesnt, because my candidate has, years earlier, dropped any interest he has in the project.


The "fascinating coincidence" (if that's what it is) is that my candidate, Harry S. Thompson, died on December 20, 1930, "AFTER A LONG ILLNESS" (according to his grand-daughter).

So renewing a copyright would have been the last thing on his mind. After 28 years MY candidate may have "dropped any interest he has in the project" also.

For what it's worth, I'll throw in another "fascinating coincidence".

Way back in 2008, Richard Hatch told us
Richard Hatch wrote: “Vernon also speculated that he might perhaps have met the mysterious author as a youth while studying magic books at the library in Ottawa. A stranger with a red beard engaged him in conversation about card work and gave him some fine points on the pass. Vernon never saw the man again and fantasized that perhaps it might have been the mysterious Erdnase.”


Harry S. Thompson's daughter, Nathalie, married Ibra Conners in 1926 and “In 1929 Dr. Gussow brought him [Ibra Conners] to Ottawa specifically to take charge of the annual plant disease survey reports and the mycological herbarium. With his field and herbarium experience under W. P. Fraser, in addition to his academic training, Conners was well fitted to be curator of the herbarium.” [Canadian Field Naturalist]

It is quite likely that Harry visited Ottawa to visit his daughter and her family but the problem is that Dai Vernon would no longer be a youth in 1929. He would have been about 35. Perhaps Vernon's memory was at fault? I don't know, but it's a "fascinating coincidence", isn't it? Can anybody else place their candidate in Ottawa?

And, before you ask, I have no idea what colour Harry's hair was or whether or not he ever grew a beard. :-)

Peter Zenner
Peter Zenner

User avatar
Zenner
Posts: 125
Joined: September 30th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Favorite Magician: Al Koran
Location: Derbyshire, England

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 17th, 2015, 7:32 am

Tom Sawyer wrote: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.


I was aware that this announcement was imminent and have been awaiting it's publication with baited breath.

If Chris does publish it, I shall be looking in the list of employees for Frank Thompson, Harry's brother (there must have been a contact at McKinney's for Erdnase to be addressed c/o there).

I shall also be checking the list of suppliers to see whether or not McKinney purchased his inks from Phillip Ruxton Incorporated of 205 Harrison Street. After working in his father's printing and publishing business, that is the company with which Harry spent the rest of his working life.

Peter Zenner
Peter Zenner

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25167
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 17th, 2015, 10:38 am

Vernon was living in New York in 1929, not Ottawa,
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 17th, 2015, 10:44 am

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.


So Thompson, whom you say is on the road at the time as a commercial traveller, still had time to develop a relationship with a new hire at the Ruxton firm, just out of college, 20 years his junior, that is so strong that he wrote a book in his name? [and just to check, since you haven't specifically said so, did Thompson work for Ruxton before 1902? I haven't found anything that ties him to the firm that early]

E. C. Andrews wrote a book as well, but didn't return the favor -- no mention of Andrews at all.

E. C. ended up hanging himself to death in 1932. Probably out of despair that no one realized that the most important book in card magic was written in his name.

User avatar
Zenner
Posts: 125
Joined: September 30th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Favorite Magician: Al Koran
Location: Derbyshire, England

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 18th, 2015, 6:14 am

Richard Kaufman wrote: Vernon was living in New York in 1929, not Ottawa,


My posting was offered as a "fascinating coincidence", Richard. Vernon said he was a youth when he thought he might have met Erdnase, so I cast doubt myself. Mind you, there is nothing to say that Vernon never ever went back to Ottawa on a home visit. We don't know.

Here's another "fascinating coincidence" -

Bart Whaley wrote:“In 1946 John Scarne stunned a gathering of the New York Magic Round Table with three claims. First, he said he often took lunch with Mrs Erdnase. Second, he had the original Erdnase manuscript, for which he claimed Audley Walsh had offered him $500. Third, Andrews wasn’t Erdnase’s real name. When Vernon told him he was “getting as crazy as the rest”, Scarne smiled and said, “I’m checking a few points before I spill everything.” This was probably just another bit of the usual bragging from ‘Flukey Johnny’. I’ve caught him in many cheap lies in his books. Also his checking apparently shut him up, as nothing more was heard of these three claims.” (Bart Whaley, The Man Who Was Erdnase, page 269, quoting from Dai Vernon’s letter to Fawcett Ross dated June 21, 1946)


As you no doubt have noticed by now, my candidate is Harry S. Thompson, i.e., his name was not Andrews. (Flukey Johnny's third claim)

He may not have owned "the original Erdnase manuscript". Flukey Johnny lived on until 1985 and I feel sure that we would have heard other mentions of it. There is no mention of Erdnase in his autobiography, The Odds Against Me (1966)

Now for the "fascinating coincidence". Mrs Erdnase had a nephew in New York called Warren Faxon and he worked for an advertising agency. It is possible that Scarne knew Faxon through his business activities and that Faxon introduced him to his aunty whilst she was visiting him. Marion Thompson died in 1946 and that could well be the reason why Scarne couldn't "check a few points".

Did Scarne meet Marion Thompson? I don't know - but the fact that she died in 1946 makes it a "fascinating coincidence", don't you think?

Peter Zenner

PS. How many "fascinating coincidences" do I need to post in order to convince at least a few of you that Harry S. Thompson is a worthy candidate?
Peter Zenner

User avatar
Zenner
Posts: 125
Joined: September 30th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Favorite Magician: Al Koran
Location: Derbyshire, England

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 18th, 2015, 6:33 am

Bill Mullins wrote: So Thompson, whom you say is on the road at the time as a commercial traveller, still had time to develop a relationship with a new hire at the Ruxton firm, just out of college, 20 years his junior, that is so strong that he wrote a book in his name?


(a) I never said that Thompson developed a relationship with E.C. Andrews, I suggested that he used his name, probably as a joke.

(b) He didn't write a book "in his name". The author of the book used the name "S.W. Erdnase" - have you forgotten already?

(c) Commercial travellers have a base somewhere. Are you suggesting that Harry Thompson never met E.C. Andrews in Ruxton's Chicago office?

You can imagine my delight when I came across the name "E.C. Andrews" when researching Ruxton's. Harry Thompson wasn't the first to borrow the name of somebody else when looking for a nom-de-plume or a pseudonym. If you don't like what I am posting, just put it down as another "fascinating coincidence".

How many more do you need? I have certainly posted more than have been posted in support of any other candidate.

Peter Zenner
Peter Zenner

Jack Shalom
Posts: 833
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jack Shalom » July 18th, 2015, 6:40 am

Seems like it would have been awfully easy to anagram to C.W. Erdnase. That initial S wasn't doing any particular linguistic work. Just saying.

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 18th, 2015, 12:28 pm

So your list of fascinating coincidences includes:
1. Before the book was published, Thompson may have known a guy whose name is not an anagram of "S. W. Erdnase".
2. In 1904 or 1905, Vernon met someone whom he fantasized was Erdnase. Thompson may have gone to the same city 25 years later.
3. I'm not sure I can parse the Scarne anecdote, but I think the coincidence is: A known serial exaggerator who claimed to know Erdnase's wife may have met the nephew of the wife of Thompson. Or maybe not. (There were, what, 7 million people in NY at the time? Yeah, they probably met.)

[*clunk*]

What's that sound? Is it the scales falling from my eyes?

Zenner wrote: I suggested that he used his name, probably as a joke.


It isn't funny.

Roger M.
Posts: 1425
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 18th, 2015, 1:33 pm

It would seem any Erdnase candidate must be proposed with either hard evidence, or with circumstantial evidence in support of that name being put forward.

Circumstantial evidence is what we're talking about in the Erdnase search to date, and circumstantial evidence has an actual definition. In the search for Erdnase, one isn't allowed to redefine a word in order for their candidate to appear legitimate.

What is being brought forward by P. Zenner isn't circumstantial evidence at all, it is a series of large, and personal leaps of faith.

When a candidates champion offers only his own personal leaps of faith as evidence, and then becomes incredulous when nobody else "jumps" along with him, thats not a failure to convince, rather it's simple common sense on the part of those readers who may ask for just a bit more evidence of any kind to be offered before they are asked to consider the candidate as a "serious" contender for Erdnase.

I'm not saying Zenner is silly, and I'm not saying his passion for what has obviously been a personal project of some depth is silly ... I'm saying that stating unequivocally that a magician who lived in Chicago in the same time period as the book was written was obviously Erdnase, and doing so in the complete and utter absence of any hard or circumstantial evidence seems just a bit silly.

Personal leaps of faith are not evidence, and if wishes were horses - beggars would ride.

User avatar
Zenner
Posts: 125
Joined: September 30th, 2008, 8:49 pm
Favorite Magician: Al Koran
Location: Derbyshire, England

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 19th, 2015, 8:03 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.


Well Jonathan, I have been posting "convincers" (or "fascinating coincidences", as Bill Mullins calls them) for well over a week. I shall summarise them, off the top of my head; there may have been others.

1. Harry fitted the description given by Marshall D. Smith.

2. Harry was an ‘expert’ at sleight of hand.

3. Harry had experience in the printing and publishing trade and therefore knew how to self-publish a book.

4. Harry was an expert in printing inks.

5. Harry is known to have written other material.

6. Harry died in 1930, after a long illness, the year the copyright ran out.

7. His wife, Marion, died in 1946, the year John Scarne said he was going to check some details with ‘Mrs Erdnase’ and failed to do so.

8. Harry knew Houdini and was in a position to show Houdini a move with which Houdini was later credited.

9. Harry had one of the largest magic libraries in America.

10. Harry knew a young man called ‘E.C. Andrews’ and most probably used his name in constructing his pseudonym.

11. The ‘Card Through Handkerchief’ effect was said by Roterberg to have originated in Chicago, Harry's home city.

That will do for now. Do you think that anyone will come up with more "convincers" than that for their candidate? I doubt it. Some while back I asked Richard Hatch for evidence that his candidate had any knowledge of magic or of publishing books (Erdnase obviously did). He hasn't responded yet.

Peter Zenner
Peter Zenner

Brad Henderson
Posts: 4118
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: austin, tx

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » July 19th, 2015, 9:05 am

the printers ink thing is ridiculous. ANY gambler of that day would have been familiar with marked cards and would know that the were marked with ink. Now, had EATCT contained a FORMULA for ink you might have a case - but this barely meets the level of a coincidence, let alone a fascinating one.

The idea that someone lived in a city that a trick may have come from is equally unconvincing. I live in a town where Stevie Ray Vaughan called home, I have a music degree, but that doesn't mean I can play guitar.

dying in the year of the copyright expiration is an 'interesting' coincidence, but someone dying anytime between 1902 and 1930 would be equally coincidental.

Also, I have a very large magic library, but that doesn't make me a card cheat - and it is clearly the card cheating stuff that makes EATCT the book that it is.

this is what would interest me: has anyone gone through the magic and or gambling content and found prepublished sources for material in EATCT (as they have with many of the antiquarian books on magic). If one could find earlier sources for the material and then show a candidate had THOSE books in his library, then we would be on a firm 'coincidence' grounding.

knowing someone whose last name was Andrews is also hardly a coincidence, especially when the initials of that person require one to forget that when rearranged the actual letters in their name do NOT spell s w Erdnase.
I once met a guy named Andrew Sims. it you overlook the letters that don't belong I have a near equal claim to being the mysterious author on that count.

being in Chicago at the time, fitting the description, and knowing people in the printing business ARE good leads. Knowing magic and sleight of hand helps the case, but do not rise to the level of fascinating coincidence as would knowing the person had a penchant for anagrams OR knew a specific trick in EATCT.

The scarne thing is a fun story, but given his reputation I can't say it hold much water.

I do appreciate your work on this. And perhaps your guy will turn out to be the right guy. But given the criteria above, I don't think your case is any where close to being conclusive or fascinating - just coincidental

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 9:52 am

It's not the number of coincidences/convincers that makes a candidate interesting, but the quality of them.

For example, M. F. Andrews was known to have cheated at cards. This one fact trumps everything you have said about Thompson and, despite the many problems with his candidacy, makes him more viable than Thompson, because the book in question was about cheating at cards. There is no evidence that Thompson (correct me please if I am wrong) knew anything about advantage card play, or performing card magic.

Both Edwin S. Andrews and W. E. Sanders have names that can be anagrammed into "S. W. Erdnase". This one fact trumps everything you have said about Thompson and, despite the problems with their candidacies, makes them more viable than Thompson, because "S. W. Erdnase" is clearly a pseudonym, and their is a logical reason for ESA and WES to have developed it from their own names. There is no such reason for Thompson to have done so. If the book had been written by S. M. Photon, your guy would be a much stronger candidate.

Many of your coincidences aren't even known to be true. They are "mights" or "maybes". Take the Houdini issue -- you say that "Harry knew Houdini and was in a position to show Houdini a move". Did Thompson know Houdini before 1900, when Houdini was known to have performed it? Did Thompson know the color change? For this coincidence to be supportive of your argument, both would have to be true, and we don't know that either one is.

I've said before, and I'll say again, anyone who seriously wants to discuss a new candidate is welcome, and most of us who care are happy to help investigate a new potential author. But to come into a conversation that's been going on for 12 years and say, "you guys can give it up, I've solved the mystery" with such a weak candidate is off-putting. You will get challenged. Martin Gardner got challenged. Richard Hatch has been challenged. David Alexander, Marty Demarest, Todd Karr, Richard Wiseman and all the others have had their arguments poked and prodded, looking for weaknesses. And they all have weaknesses. The biggest difference between these other investigators and you is that they accept that weaknesses exist, and engaged their debaters in a spirit of "lets figure this out together".
Last edited by Bill Mullins on July 19th, 2015, 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25167
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 19th, 2015, 10:24 am

Brad, you probably haven't been keeping up on the literature of this whole thing, but yes, Erdnase did read magic books--there are a number of items which appear in the book that are clearly taken from earlier magic texts. Some of the ideas have been improved, such as the Diagonal Palm Shift, but others are just rewritten (such as the "Erdnase" color change, which I believe had been published a year earlier by Selbit).
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Brad Henderson
Posts: 4118
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: austin, tx

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » July 19th, 2015, 11:40 am

I am aware erdnase (or someone who contributed to EATCT) had familiarity with magic, either through books or performances. My question was if someone had tracked down specific sources as they have with material that appears in old conjuring books. If we could prove that Thompson had the books containing the source material used in EATCT then the 'large magic library' claim becomes more interesting. Otherwise we are left with a little hole and a big hole. We still need to establish the card cheating bona fides as well as establish that Thompson knew the material published in EATCT.

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 11:53 am

Why the name Erdnase?

I would like to start a discussion on this very simple question. Why did he choose the name Erdnase? Following the discussion here I get the sense that many believe there has to be some kind of 'logical' explanation for the name, for example the reverse spelling, or the anagram. Candidates who can 'logically' explain the name Erdnase are seen as stronger. Those that cannot are seen as weaker.

I disagree. Couldn't it just as likely have been the case that he chose the name randomly? Without any logic or purpose? Perhaps he used some word he picked up somewhere? Or he was just throwing around names, modifying them, combining them, changing them, dropping characters, adding others, until he had a name that somehow sounded fine to him?

To me that would be just as likely a scenario than coming up with a logical derivation of the name. If you agree with me then you also must consider an E.S. Andrews just as good a candidate as any other name everything else being equal. It shouldn't add points to the candidate just because we have a logical way of deriving it. If you think mathematically about conditional likelihoods you can quickly convince yourself that this must be so.

The only exception I would make is that if we find a man whose name is actually Erdnase, or perhaps his middle name is Erdnase, or some close relatives given name is Erdnase. Then I think one could argue that it is a strong piece of evidence. Anything else I find pretty weak, particularly if applied in reverse such as: "Aha, your candidate can't explain the name Erdnase. Thus he can't be Erdnase, or is much less likely Erdnase."

What say you?
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 12:05 pm

Jason England has a set of notes that explores sources. TMWWE and Ortiz's annotations also do. Roterberg and Sachs are the two big sources.


These books are common enough that even small libraries would have had them, so I don't see Thompson's large library as being too relevant.

One rare book that contains a sleight later found in Erdnase is "52 Wonders", which was only discovered last year. If it could be shown that Thompson had a copy of it, that would make him much more interesting.

Bob Coyne
Posts: 562
Joined: January 26th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Charlies
Location: New York, NY

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 19th, 2015, 12:12 pm

lybrary wrote:Why the name Erdnase?

To me that would be just as likely a scenario than coming up with a logical derivation of the name. If you agree with me then you also must consider an E.S. Andrews just as good a candidate as any other name everything else being equal. It shouldn't add points to the candidate just because we have a logical way of deriving it. If you think mathematically about conditional likelihoods you can quickly convince yourself that this must be so.



Since S.W. Erdnase is so obviously a made up name, I think it's most likely there's a reason for it. It doesn't have to be an anagram, but it seems like there should be *some* reason to pick a name that sounds so fake (unlike, say, Lewis Carroll which passes as a real name while still being a pseudonym). Selbit as "Tibbles" in reverse (with minor modification) is another example of a logically derived name. This is one reason I like WE Sanders as the candidate...it's both an anagram and involves wordplay (erdnase = earth nose in german, and Sanders was a mining engineer).

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 12:22 pm

Bob, I think unless somebody has actually studied say a couple of hundred nom-de-plums and has statistically evaluated how likely a priori it is that a pseudonym is logically derived and how likely it is not, I feel we have to allow for both being essentially equally likely.

Here is an example from my own world of name creation. A few years back I was into registering domain names. I thought it might be a good investment. It turned out not to be, but that is another story. However, back then I tried to come up with interesting, nice sounding, short and memorable domain names, which were not yet registered. One such creation of my imagination was fantok. I am the proud owner of fantok.com (If you want to buy it email me.) I could now dream up some logical explanation for it such as that it is related to 'fan' and an alternative spelling of 'talk' - a site where fans can talk. Sounds logical, right? But it would be pure and utter nonsense. I simply made it up. There was no logic behind it except frantic letter mixing, pronouncing, writing, and checking if the domain was still not taken.

Why could that not be the case with Erdnase? Why should that be so much less likely?

Our human brain craves patterns and logic. We are predisposed to see patterns in purely random noise. I think the need for a logic explanation of Erdnase is like trying to see a pattern in white noise. It is what our brain tells us to do. But purely from a likelihood point of view it makes no sense to me. With that I mean that it is just as likely that Erdnase derived it by logic as it is that he just dreamed it up without any particular thought about how he derived it.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Leo Garet
Posts: 337
Joined: March 14th, 2015, 9:14 am
Favorite Magician: Nobody In Particular

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leo Garet » July 19th, 2015, 1:30 pm

lybrary wrote:With that I mean that it is just as likely that Erdnase derived it by logic as it is that he just dreamed it up without any particular thought about how he derived it.

Fully agree. Pseudonyms are often created as a bit of a tease for Family/friends/acquaintances and are at best a very thin near-disguise. Family/friends and whatnot can work it out if they feel like it.
Where, however, the object is to thoroughly hide identity, then a made-up-no-connection-with-anybody-or-anything at all name is more likely. Or even a name that throws investigators into areas that seem to have possibilities; leaving evidence that isn’t really evidence. Spoils the fun a bit, I know, but there we are.

Moving sideways a little
Love this thread and I’m always interested to see Scarne thrown into any mix. I fell under his spell when I was about three years old and read “The Amazing World Of John Scarne”. Truly fabulous stuff.

As the years have rolled by I’ve come to the conclusion that he could not have chosen a more inappropriate title. “Amazing” simply isn’t the word for Scarne’s yarns. In no way does “Amazing” do credit to the bullshype.

In passing, “The Odds Against Me” (being believed) is almost as good as “Amazing”.

As for Erdnase, I have no idea. Although, if we rejig C.W. Erdnase, howsabout Ed W Scarne? ;)
I now return control of this thread to the genuine students. :)

Roger M.
Posts: 1425
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 19th, 2015, 1:43 pm

S.W. Erdnase is such an odd a name, wouldn't it seem much more likely that W.E. Sanders or E.S. Andrews would be anagrammed directly into that extremely odd name?
It seems that "Erdnase" would otherwise be almost impossible to come up with from scratch, as a search for the Given or Surname name "Erdnase" has born out over and over again.

That Demerest/Alexander, and R. Hatch have also found additional pieces of evidence for those two candidates remains compelling.

I've yet to read any book or document that offers anywhere near the amount of circumstantial evidence offered to date for W.E. Sanders or E.S. Andrews.

Could Mr. Erdnase have had a name completely unrelated to his nom-de-plume?... absolutely.
Is it likely he anagrammed S.W. Erdnase from his own name, absolutely.

In those terms, I see it as a wash

But the additional circumstantial evidence offered in support of Andrews/Sanders tipping the scales substantially in favor of S.W. Erdnase being an anagram of his own name.

In short, the circumstantial evidence combined with the direct reversal for Andrews, and the jumbled anagram for Sanders remains too compelling to diminish.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25167
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 19th, 2015, 1:46 pm

I really am busy with other matters and have not followed everyone's various candidates closely, but is David Ben's candidate an entirely different guy and the other candidates that have been put forward?
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1911
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » July 19th, 2015, 1:52 pm

lybrary wrote:Why the name Erdnase?

I would like to start a discussion on this very simple question. Why did he choose the name Erdnase? Following the discussion here I get the sense that many believe there has to be some kind of 'logical' explanation for the name, for example the reverse spelling, or the anagram. Candidates who can 'logically' explain the name Erdnase are seen as stronger. Those that cannot are seen as weaker.

I disagree. Couldn't it just as likely have been the case that he chose the name randomly? Without any logic or purpose? Perhaps he used some word he picked up somewhere? Or he was just throwing around names, modifying them, combining them, changing them, dropping characters, adding others, until he had a name that somehow sounded fine to him?

To me that would be just as likely a scenario than coming up with a logical derivation of the name. If you agree with me then you also must consider an E.S. Andrews just as good a candidate as any other name everything else being equal. It shouldn't add points to the candidate just because we have a logical way of deriving it. If you think mathematically about conditional likelihoods you can quickly convince yourself that this must be so.

The only exception I would make is that if we find a man whose name is actually Erdnase, or perhaps his middle name is Erdnase, or some close relatives given name is Erdnase. Then I think one could argue that it is a strong piece of evidence. Anything else I find pretty weak, particularly if applied in reverse such as: "Aha, your candidate can't explain the name Erdnase. Thus he can't be Erdnase, or is much less likely Erdnase."

What say you?


This book was an ego trip for the author. David Alexander reminds us that "...Erdnase had a healthy ego and was proud of what he learned, developed, refined, and created. He enjoyed parading his intelligence before the reader and mentioned that while he had taught his stock shuffling system to several people, they only knew that it worked, they could not fathom the mathematics of how it worked."

Alexander also points out that "He attached the last name of his pseudonym to five different "systems," two sleights, and his full initials to one sleight in particular. Thirty percent of the material in Card Table Artifice has Erdnase's name applied to it. Erdnase knew that what he had created was well beyond anything then written for years to come and said so..."

This tells me that whoever wrote this book was not about to hand over the credits to a possible? co-worker, nor was he going to pull this name randomly out of thin air without any logic or purpose. No, the name "Erdnase" is connected to him in some way as his ego would certainly demand.

Roger M.
Posts: 1425
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 19th, 2015, 3:58 pm

Richard, the E.S. Andrews that is Richard Hatch's candidate is the same E.S. Andrews that David believes wrote EATCT.

David arrived there by developing an independent profile of Erdnase, which he compared to all the candidates, and found that Richards candidate fit his independent profile almost exactly.

They are one and the same E.S. Andrews.

If you have David's new book, you already know that David definitively lists E.S. Andrews as the author of EATCT, whereas Richard hasn't been quite that definitive to date.

User avatar
Marcus
Posts: 17
Joined: November 10th, 2014, 6:58 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marcus » July 19th, 2015, 6:56 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Brad, you probably haven't been keeping up on the literature of this whole thing, but yes, Erdnase did read magic books--there are a number of items which appear in the book that are clearly taken from earlier magic texts. Some of the ideas have been improved, such as the Diagonal Palm Shift, but others are just rewritten (such as the "Erdnase" color change, which I believe had been published a year earlier by Selbit).


Is there a book or other medium where these things are well documented? References to earlier magic texts etc, I mean. I like to make notations about these things in books I own (for example writing down in the margins where the Erdnase color change has its true origins).

(If this has already been clearly answered in a previous post I apologise, I usually read through all posts but this thread will take me quite some time to finish.)
- Social media nerd, copywriter & graphic designer

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 7:56 pm

Marcus wrote:Is there a book or other medium where these things are well documented? References to earlier magic texts etc, I mean.


Bill Mullins wrote:Jason England has a set of notes that explores [Erdnase's] sources. TMWWE and Ortiz's annotations also do.


Marcus wrote: I like to make notations about these things in books I own (for example writing down in the margins where the Erdnase color change has its true origins).


Which is why Richard Hatch has tried to examine as many first edition copies as possible, in hopes that one would have marginalia or inscriptions or other notes that would lead to the author.

Pete McCabe
Posts: 2329
Joined: January 18th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Simi Valley, CA

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » July 19th, 2015, 8:15 pm

It seems clear that there are several things that might have led the writer to choose the name S.W. Erdnase, including an infinite number that no researcher has even thought of. So it is interesting if a candidate can be linked to the pseudonym, And you might investigate such a candidate further, but it does not count as evidence if they do or don't.

Same thing for the author's finances, based on the line that the author "needs the money." This may have meant the author needed money but it could just have been a folksy turn of phrase. It does not count as evidence if a candidate did or did not need money.


I think I've mentioned this before, but to me one of the biggest mysteries of the entire Erdnase story is Dai Vernon's apparent indifference to finding him. When Vernon was spreading the word of Erdnase, it was very possible and even likely that Erdnase was still alive. Vernon drove across the country to meet Kennedy. Why didn't he do everything possible to meet Erdnase?

So my theory, based on nothing, is that Vernon knew who Erdnase was. I think he used his connections to find out, had some good reason not to tell, and he didn't. I think he took that secret to the grave. I think there may be clues somewhere, to be found, by examining Vernon's life.

I also think, based on less than nothing, that Persi Diaconis knows.

Tom Sawyer
Posts: 319
Joined: January 7th, 2012, 6:44 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 19th, 2015, 8:57 pm

Hi All,

Personally, I think that a person's name is possibly the most important component of any case that is being made for (or against) any proposed candidate. If the name were not of high importance, then E.S. Andrews (the railroad guy) would have essentially no case whatsoever. Yes, you could still make a case for him, but he would have maybe a 1 in 50,000 chance of being Erdnase.

Likewise, there were a number of card magicians who were writers in Chicago in 1902. In several cases, the principal thing that keeps them out of serious candidacy is that their names do not work well in the context of authorship of the book.

As Chris Wasshuber says, it is quite possible that the name Erdnase was made up out of nothing. The two main reasons I think this is unlikely are:

1. "S.W. Erdnase" does have a potential name reversal.

2. "Erdnase" makes sense even if you don’t reverse it.

Of those two reasons, the second one is much more significant.

For those who don’t like the whole “earth nose” business, it should be relatively easy to accept the chances that someone simply made up the name "Erdnase" with no discernible connection with anything.

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

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 9:15 pm

Tom, by that argument one could read all kind of meaning into names. I could then argue that Andrew means that 'An drew' something. Or take ERDNASE, reverse it to get ESANDRE which could mean ES-and-RE, the two author theory confirmed! It clearly was E.S. and R.E. who wrote the book. If you throw in a couple of foreign languages you multiply the ways to interpret it.

My point is that this is exactly what I referred to earlier, it is seeing patterns in noise.

Could Erdnase have a logical derivation? Certainly. But it could also be noise we are desperately trying to interpret.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Tom Sawyer
Posts: 319
Joined: January 7th, 2012, 6:44 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 19th, 2015, 9:49 pm

Chris, you make a very good point. And to me, the reversal of Erdnase gives you, as you said, Esandre -- certainly not Andrews.

The main problem I have in this connection is that Erdnase makes sense as a discrete unit.

I do not have any problem at all with the idea that Erdnase's real name has no detectable relationship to "S.W. Erdnase."

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

Bob Coyne
Posts: 562
Joined: January 26th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Charlies
Location: New York, NY

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » July 19th, 2015, 10:03 pm

lybrary wrote:Tom, by that argument one could read all kind of meaning into names. I could then argue that Andrew means that 'An drew' something. Or take ERDNASE, reverse it to get ESANDRE which could mean ES-and-RE, the two author theory confirmed! It clearly was E.S. and R.E. who wrote the book. If you throw in a couple of foreign languages you multiply the ways to interpret it.

My point is that this is exactly what I referred to earlier, it is seeing patterns in noise.

Could Erdnase have a logical derivation? Certainly. But it could also be noise we are desperately trying to interpret.


It's true that people can see patterns in noise. But not all patterns are created equal, and the question is how likely a given pattern would be there by chance. Very few names can be spelled backwards to form a real-sounding name -- that's not what you find in noise. It's a sign of something that's planned and designed. Surely the author must have done that on purpose. So although the author's name isn't necessarily ES Andrews, it becomes much more likely than it would be otherwise. A similar argument can be made for WE Sanders whose name and occupation match in other fairly direct ways. None of this proves either author's identity, but it does increase the likelihood of those authors versus authors with names that can't as easily be derived.

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 10:19 pm

Since we are at discussing the name Erdnase I wanted to float an idea that was suggested to me by a genealogist after she read my nickname theory. (As a quick refresher, my nickname theory says that Erdnase 'earth nose' was the nickname of a German immigrant who wrote the book. BTW, I have dropped that theory due to the fact that the linguistic fingerprint does not suggest the author spoke any foreign language as a native language.)

Here it goes: The Erie and Ohio canals were dug primarily by Irish immigrants. It was hard dirty work. During the 1840s Germans started to settle in the same area. Germans considered themselves above the Irish, usually taking higher skill jobs such as tailors, goldsmith, bakers, restaurant operators, entrepreneurs, etc. It could be that the Germans used Erdnase as an ethnic slur to refer to the Irish who were digging in the earth getting dirty. As I documented earlier Erdnase is for example used in Germany to refer to pigs and dogs who dig in the ground. So the Germans saw the Irish as 'pigs and dogs digging in the ground' and thus referred to them as Erdnasen. Say our mystery author was of Irish heritage growing up in that area and was exposed to that term, maybe he used it as his nom-de-plume later.

Does anybody consider this plausible?
Last edited by lybrary on July 19th, 2015, 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1911
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » July 19th, 2015, 10:21 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I think I've mentioned this before, but to me one of the biggest mysteries of the entire Erdnase story is Dai Vernon's apparent indifference to finding him.


Vernon was definitely curious about the identity of Erdnase. He traveled to Chicago where he met John C. Sprong who informed Vernon about Drake's theory "...that Erdnase is Andrews spelled all mixed up." The trail went cold from there and Vernon left it at that. There is also that photo of the 1947 S.A.M. convention of Smith signing books for Faucett Ross, Martin Gardner, and Dai Vernon, who is taking notes in a notebook.

Pete McCabe wrote:Vernon drove across the country to meet Kennedy. Why didn't he do everything possible to meet Erdnase?


Vernon was already in Wichita cutting silhouettes at the Innes Department store when Faucett Ross informed him about the Mexican advantage player who had been incarcerated on murder charges at the Sedgwick Count Jail. The player gave Vernon the hot tip about Kennedy who lived in Kansas City, which is northeast of Wichita but not far. The Kennedy trail pretty much fell on Vernon's lap while he was working his magic with the shears. I bet Vernon would have hopped in a car if someone had told him the location of Erdnase.

Leonard Hevia
Posts: 1911
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Dai Vernon, Frank Garcia, Slydini, Houdini,
Location: Gaithersburg, Md.

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » July 19th, 2015, 10:31 pm

lybrary wrote:Here it goes: The Erie and Ohio canals were dug primarily by Irish immigrants. It was hard dirty work. During the 1940s Germans started to settle in the same area.


Chris, I think you mean the 1840s. The Germans were expanding by the 1940s but never made it to Ohio.

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 10:36 pm

Yes, sorry. 1840s. Went back and corrected it.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Roger M.
Posts: 1425
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 19th, 2015, 10:50 pm

lybrary wrote:Say our mystery author was of Irish heritage growing up in that area and was exposed to that term, maybe he used it as his nom-de-plume later.

Does anybody consider this plausible?


As relates to the "earthnose" theory, it's the most complete explanation I've ever read ... an explanation that, as you've laid it out, is indeed plausible.

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 11:06 pm

Yes, we can impose patterns on noise. But that's what we, a century after the fact, are doing. What's important is what happened in 1902. Either the author chose "Erdnase" at random, or the choice was the end result of a logical process.

If the author's choice was a random one, the odds of it ending up as "Erdnase" are vanishingly small – one in ten thousand?? One in 100 thousand?? One in a million?? He could have just as easily chosen "Miller" or "Chevalier" or "apfel" or "cabeza".

But if it were the result of a logical process, ending up with "Erdnase" is much more likely, because a straightforward process which is known to have been used in creating pseudonyms (anagrams/reversal) when operated on relatively common names (Andrews, Sanders) gives that result (the 1900 census had about 50000 people named Andrews, and about 70000 named Sanders, out of a U.S. population of 117 million). The processes (random and logical) may be comparable in likelihood -- Chris says earlier that they are "essentially equally likely". But we are dealing with the result of a process, not the process. And (random yielding Erdnase) is much less likely than (logical yielding Erdnase), because the chances of randomly arriving at the contrived word "Erdnase" are so microscopically small.

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 11:09 pm

lybrary wrote: It could be that the Germans used Erdnase as an ethnic slur to refer to the Irish who were digging in the earth getting dirty. As I documented earlier Erdnase is for example used in Germany to refer to pigs and dogs who dig in the ground. So the Germans saw the Irish as 'pigs and dogs digging in the ground' and thus referred to them as Erdnasen.


Is there any evidence that Germans did use this slur? Because otherwise this is in the "maybe might have" category, like "Thompson was in a position to show Houdini", of which I have been so critical of Zenner.

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 11:22 pm

Bill, by random we not only have to consider truly random where you would pick any character out of 26 for each letter in the name, but random of the kind where he might take bits and pieces from existing names, then perhaps jumbles up some letters, maybe reverses all or a portion of it. Perhaps he then changes or drops some characters simply because it sounds or looks better, etc. Doing it like that the likelihood of arriving at Erdnase is not that small. But it would still be randomly derived without any clear method to it.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time

Bill Mullins
Posts: 5222
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Huntsville, AL

Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 19th, 2015, 11:25 pm

Pete McCabe wrote: I think I've mentioned this before, but to me one of the biggest mysteries of the entire Erdnase story is Dai Vernon's apparent indifference to finding him. When Vernon was spreading the word of Erdnase, it was very possible and even likely that Erdnase was still alive. Vernon drove across the country to meet Kennedy. Why didn't he do everything possible to meet Erdnase?


I voiced the same concerns some time ago, and was quickly set right.

User avatar
lybrary
Posts: 1169
Joined: March 31st, 2013, 4:59 pm
Contact:

Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 19th, 2015, 11:30 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Is there any evidence that Germans did use this slur? Because otherwise this is in the "maybe might have" category, like "Thompson was in a position to show Houdini", of which I have been so critical of Zenner.


There is plenty of evidence that Germans use the word 'dog' (Hund) and 'pig' (Schwein, Sau) as insults and slurs. Even the combination pig-dog (Sauhund) is used. Just ask any German. I have not yet found evidence that Erdnase was used that way, but the leap is very small since we have evidence that Erdnase is used for dogs and pigs. So to assume that Erdnase is also used as a slur seems a small step.
Lybrary.com Magic & Gambling
preserving magic one book at a time


Return to “General”