ERDNASE

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Larry Horowitz
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Larry Horowitz » July 27th, 2015, 7:21 pm

Chris,

As your candidate began working at 14, well before the enactment of proper child labor laws, the question becomes what did the typical work day and week look like? That would go towards the question of when he could develop the card skills.

Our modern athlete has a lot more time and access to spent on their chosen sport.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 27th, 2015, 8:17 pm

12 to 14 hour workdays were not uncommon.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Larry Horowitz » July 27th, 2015, 9:49 pm

Richard, I would agree. And 6 days a week

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 27th, 2015, 9:54 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
JAMES MCKINNEY & CO. AS BINDERS OF THE BOOK:
--Circumstantial source: Jay Marshall's note concerning Edward Gallaway's first edition copy of The Expert.

A copy of that note can be seen HERE, 23rd page, item 101.

The resolution is not very good, but I can make out that Marshall believed Gallaway to be the binder, McKinney to be the printer, and Milton Franklin Andrews to be the author.

If someone could provide a complete transcript of this note, it would be appreciated, as there are parts that I cannot clearly make out.


Here is a more legible copy of that catalog page, where the note can be read.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 28th, 2015, 1:30 am

I find it ironic that Jay would go to the effort to prepare a formal letter in connection with the Gallaway copy. Viewed from the standpoint of over 50 years later, there is not much of significance in the letter.

Obviously the main point of interest is the reference to Gallaway's activities, but even there Jay qualifies the remark with "I believe."

I am not sure whether it makes much difference in the big picture, but so far it continues to be unclear to me exactly what Gallaway's duties were in the McKinney firm. At the moment it appears that he may well have been the estimator. Other duties do not appear to be very well demonstrated.

I am sure Gallaway knew how to set type. The May 1922 issue of The American Printer (viewable on Google Books) mentions classes he gave, and in connection therewith, there were "practical demonstrations in hand composition, machine composition and lockup," apparently by Gallaway.

Binding? To me that seems way out in left field, but then again, one wonders why Jay alluded to that idea.

Also, I get now that Edward Gallaway had a name that was also spelled "Galloway." But to me that does not seem to clear up the situation raised by Bill Mullins some time ago regarding William J. Galloway.

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 28th, 2015, 11:12 am

Richard Hatch wrote:Chris, that for making the bankruptcy files available. As you pointed out to me a few weeks ago, McKinney's 1903 bankruptcy in several places shows indebtedness to one "E. C. Andrews" or "E. B. Andrews" of Chicago, clearly the same person being indicated, though with some question as to his middle initial. In the one place where this is handwritten, the middle initial is illegible, though it appears in that case to be a B overwritten by a C to me.


Phew! It has taken me all day to download the file - but thanks to Chris for making it available. Best $15 I have ever spent.

See pages 141, 151, 152, 162, 171 & 397 [E.B. must be a mistake here] for E. C. Andrews of Chicago, Ill. Then on page 627 ‘E.B. Andrews’ has been corrected to ‘E.C. Andrews’, as you say. E.C. Andrews of Chicago, Ill., was contracted in August, 1902. His goods were to be sold and delivered.

The date ties in with the publication of The Expert and I have been saying for some time that Harry S. Thompson took his nom-de-plume from Emory Cobb Andrews, the new boy at Ruxton's Inks. Why Erdnase and not Erdnace, as I said, I do not know. Typesetter's error?

And yes, Philip Ruxton was one of McKinney's creditors.

Case closed?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Edward Finck » July 28th, 2015, 12:30 pm

Zenner wrote:
Case closed?

Peter Zenner



Wow! it's great that we finally all agree and can move on to other great mysteries in magic.

It's quite astonishing how quickly the majority of serious researchers dropped their candidates and came around to the obvious fact that Harry S. Thompson was Erdnase.

Well done Mr. Zenner. Shall we button up this thread now?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leo Garet » July 28th, 2015, 12:52 pm

Edward Finck wrote:
Zenner wrote:
Case closed?

Peter Zenner



Wow! it's great that we finally all agree and can move on to other great mysteries in magic.

It's quite astonishing how quickly the majority of serious researchers dropped their candidates and came around to the obvious fact that Harry S. Thompson was Erdnase.

Well done Mr. Zenner. Shall we button up this thread now?

Doesn't this post warrant a smiley of some sort? Mister Zenner is at least asking a question (I think) to which the answer is "No". I think. :?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Edward Finck » July 28th, 2015, 1:03 pm

Leo Garet wrote:
Edward Finck wrote:
Zenner wrote:
Case closed?

Peter Zenner



Wow! it's great that we finally all agree and can move on to other great mysteries in magic.

It's quite astonishing how quickly the majority of serious researchers dropped their candidates and came around to the obvious fact that Harry S. Thompson was Erdnase.

Well done Mr. Zenner. Shall we button up this thread now?

Doesn't this post warrant a smiley of some sort? Mister Zenner is at least asking a question (I think) to which the answer is "No". I think. :?



I think you are right! And I agree with your answer. :D

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 28th, 2015, 5:21 pm

Zenner wrote:
Case closed?



Nope, not even close.

W.S. Sanders and E.S. Andrews remain far more compelling candidates for author of EATCT than either Thompson or Gallaway.
Thompson and Gallaway have had leaps of faith made that (for me) are just too large to actually consider either of them seriously at this point in time.

I'd also place M.F.A. ahead of Thompson or Gallaway.
The leaps of faith taken by the champions of Gallaway and Thompson certainly exceed any leaps taken by Busby/Gardner/Whalley in TMWWE.

Indeed, the case remains wide open.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Edward Finck » July 28th, 2015, 9:04 pm

Roger M. wrote:
Zenner wrote:
Case closed?



Nope, not even close.

W.S. Sanders and E.S. Andrews remain far more compelling candidates for author of EATCT than either Thompson or Gallaway.
Thompson and Gallaway have had leaps of faith made that (for me) are just too large to actually consider either of them seriously at this point in time.

I'd also place M.F.A. ahead of Thompson or Gallaway.
The leaps of faith taken by the champions of Gallaway and Thompson certainly exceed any leaps taken by Busby/Gardner/Whalley in TMWWE.

Indeed, the case remains wide open.



Roger, excellent points. I was thinking the same thing. If a candidate isn't at least as compelling as MFA (who at this stage in the game is not considered seriously by most) he should be scrutinized extremely closely and not given the benefit of the doubt. MFA probably has the most circumstantial evidence in his favor yet very few now believe he is Erdnase.

I also find the tendency by some, when advocating for a candidate, to discount M.D. Smith's inconvenient testimony to be a fatal flaw in reasoning. After all, Smith is the only one we know for certain met Erdnase. Even McKinney or Drake might not have dealt with him in person. We only know for a fact that Smith did. Discounting Smith is a huge mistake, one that Gardner made and in doing so probably caused him to miss many other possible avenues he could have followed up on.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 28th, 2015, 10:54 pm

Edward Finck wrote:
I also find the tendency by some, when advocating for a candidate, to discount M.D. Smith's inconvenient testimony to be a fatal flaw in reasoning.


I agree completely.
It's often suggested that Smith's memories were those of an old man, and that specifically his memory of Erdnase's appearance would have been flawed simply because of his (Smith's) advanced age, and the supposed difficulty some folks have remembering people from their past in detail.

In fact, Smith recalled a large number of things, many more than are often taken into account when discounting only Smith's recollection of Erdnase's appearance.
The champions of new candidates frequently attempt to discredit Smith's memory of Erdnase's appearance if their own candidate doesn't match Smith's description.

But when trying to paint Smith's memories as faulty, let's just remember what Smith did remember:

    Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase was trying to save some money.

    Smith recalls nothing that would suggest Erdnase had a wife.

    Smith recalled that he (Smith) kept his overcoat on during the session.

    Smith recalled that Erdnase did not keep his overcoat on during the session.

    Smith remembered that Erdnase showed him some card tricks.

    Smith remembered Erdnase rubbing his hands together to get them warm.

    Smith recalled Erdnase telling him he had to keep his hands “greased”.

    Smith recalled Erdnase telling him that he was a former card shark.

    Smith remembered Erdnase telling him that he had decided to go straight.

    Smith remembered thinking that Erdnase was not from Chicago.

    Smith recalled that Erdnase was a small man of slight build, with blonde hair, 5'10" at the tallest.

    Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase was between 40 and 45 years old.

    Smith remembered thinking that Erdnase was a good looking chap.

    Smith recalled that Erdnase was very well spoken, and a gentleman.

    Smith recalled VIVIDLY that Erdnase’s hands were the softest he’d ever seen.

    Smith recalled Erdnase telling him that he had to work constantly to keep his hands in good shape.

    Smith remembered that Erdnase had a small board with green baize on it, with a ridge around the edge.

    Smith recalled Erdnase telling him that the pictures he was drawing didn’t have to be artistic, just accurate.

    Smith recalled that Erdnase had to OK each drawing before he would let Smith ink the drawings in.

    Smith remembered that Erdnase paid for the drawings with a check on a big Chicago bank, with the number #1 on it.

    Smith recalled thinking that the job took him two weeks to complete.

    Smith recalled that nothing Erdnase said or did implied that he was “gay” despite being soft spoken, with a quiet demeanor.

    Smith remembered Erdnase telling him that he (Erdnase) was related to Dalrymple from Puck magazine.

    Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase was “the real article”.

    Smith remembered thinking that Erdnase was extremely honest with him in his tales told while the drawings were being made.

    Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase “put more cards on the table than was necessary” in the discussions he had with him.

    Smith remembered thinking that he liked Erdnase’s “ways”, further thinking that Erdnase had “sold himself” to him (Smith).

Look at that list ... contained within are a great many very specific and very detailed memories. These are hardly demonstrative of anything close to a man having difficulty recalling Erdnase himself, and the circumstances that surrounded their meeting each other.

If one is going to discount Smith's memory of Erdnase's appearance, then one must absolutely address the sheer number of memories Smith had of Erdnase, some of which Smith himself described as vivid. In addressing those many memories, one would have to attempt to explain how exactly Smith would recall everything he did, but grievously err in his description of Mr. Erdnase himself.

Of course Smith might be making everything up, but OCCAM suggests that what Smith recalled for Gardner is quite likely exactly what happened.

(BTW, this is where Gardner, Busby et al went sideways IMO, despite Smith telling Gardner at least half a dozen times that Erdnase wasn't 6'3" tall, Gardner couldn't accept Smith's memory of Erdnase's height, as M.F.A. was 6'3" tall and Gardner wasn't able to let M.F.A. go).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 29th, 2015, 6:29 am

Zenner wrote: “All truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident.” [19th century German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860]


When I originally set out to investigate the authorship of The Expert, I assumed several things when looking for a candidate.

1. The author was a magician. Self evident. 61% of the book is technique and the other 39% consists of tricks using those techniques. Arguments that someone else wrote the 'Legerdemain' section are voided by several passages in the 'Artifice' section which I have already posted.

2. The author was known to the people behind The Sphinx. Self evident. When the book was first mentioned there, in September, 1902, no comment was made about the name 'Erdnase'. A peculiar name like that, with no track record as an author, and no comment? They had to know who he was. (We now know that 'E.C. Andrews' had a contract with McKinney dated August, 1902, so September was the earliest issue that the book could have been mentioned.)

3. The author had to be good at sleight-of-hand. Self evident. He not only wrote the book, he also demonstrated the sleights for the artist to illustrate.

4. The author had access to the "whole category" of "works on conjuring". Self evident. He said so in the opening lines of the 'Card Table Artiface' section. Note that he didn't write "works on gambling" (pace Edward Gallaway).

5. The author knew how to publish a book. Self evident. The title page proclaims "Published by the Author".

So I searched through The Sphinx, looking for a candidate, and I decided upon Harry S. Thompson. He fitted the profile and upon further research I realised that he fitted the description given by Smith. The genealogy web-sites told me about his background and experience. The more I found, the more I realised that 'Erdnase' had to be Harry.

The release of the McKinney Bankruptcy Files has confirmed that he was using the name "E.C. Andrews" in his dealings to do with the book. The Files do not confirm any other name in this respect.

Now I don't expect the above to convince the naysayers on this forum. As far as I am concerned it's Q.E.D. on the Erdnase question. But I shall carry on researching the life of Harry Stuart Thompson because I have found some evidence that he was involved with at least a couple of other very interesting publishing events. They are "off topic" so I will not mention them any further.

One little anecdote to finish on. Way back in 1989, I attended an Ormond McGill seminar here in England. I wanted to ask him about the contents of his 'Psychic Magic' booklets, as I had never heard of anyone actually doing most of the stunts described therein. To my surprise, he hadn't done any of them - not even contact mindreading, which I had been doing for about 15 years. When I showed my surprise, he said, "You don't have to do a thing in order to write about it."

'Erdnase' told Smith that he was a reformed card cheat and the book was touted as being an expose of card cheating methods. But that was a ruse to sell it. He didn't have to actually be a card cheat in order to write about it. Thankyou Mr McGill, you taught me a lesson.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 8:33 am

Roger M. wrote:Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase was between 40 and 45 years old.


That is incorrect. Gardner's note says: "He was ABOUT 40, ―not over 45." Smith does not put a lower limit as he does on the upper side. This leaves room for somebody quite a bit younger.

You might also want to add that the only information Smith volunteers regarding the real name of Erdnase was that it had a 'W' somewhere. Gallaway fits.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » July 29th, 2015, 8:51 am

one need not have done something to write about it. But it is very difficult to write well and accurately about something one knows nothing about.

Unlike many of the psychic stunts which one must spend time filling in the gaps to make work,
erdnase seems pretty complete - both technically
but more importantly when it comes to understanding the psychology and management of advantage play.

you cannot compare satori's work on contact mindreading, a primer that can teach someone how to actually perform these techniques, to mcgill's, which describe the techniques. and then there are the many performance tips in the former that can only
have come from real world experience.

In short, there are concepts in Erdnase that one would more than likely need real world first hand experince to know about, let alone be able to communicate. So unless we can tie this person to cheating, or intimately
knowing a cheat for whom he wrote, the case remains far from closed.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 29th, 2015, 10:42 am

lybrary wrote:
Roger M. wrote:Smith recalled thinking that Erdnase was between 40 and 45 years old.


That is incorrect. Gardner's note says: "He was ABOUT 40, ―not over 45." Smith does not put a lower limit as he does on the upper side.


Sorry Chris, yes ... that's the actual quote as per Smith's recall of Erdnase's age. You'll note I didn't put that item in any quotes in my list, thus wasn't implying that Smith spoke those specific words.

However, I'll have to disagree that my note was "incorrect".
You have chosen to interpret the information Smith provided in a unique fashion (as folks often do if their candidate doesn't match Smith's recollections), however I will remain attached to the working note that Mr. Erdnase was likely between 40 and 45 years of age. Obviously this does allow for Erdnase to be a few years younger, or a few years older, but I can't see how anything noted about Erdnase's age allows for him to be "quite a bit younger" than 40 years old.

In the end, I suppose it depends on the number (when speaking of a persons age) a person chooses to attach to the phrase "quite a bit".

I choose not to include anything in my list related to the exchange between Smith and Gardner as it related to specific names simply because, taken in its totality, Gardner repeatedly prompted Smith about the name, leaving very little room for Smith to volunteer any information as a result of a direct memory.
The data is there in detail for folks who are interetsted though, and my list was not intended to be comprehensive in terms of making sure I touched on every single topic Gardner and Smith engaged in discussion on.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 29th, 2015, 10:42 am

This part of Smith's wording is to be doubted:

"Smith recalled that Erdnase was a small man of slight build, with blonde hair, 5'10" at the tallest."

5 foot 10 inches tall would not have been considered a "small man of slight build" at that height in 1902. It is not considered "a small man of slight build" even today.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 29th, 2015, 11:52 am

I should have clarified that anything I didn't put in quotes wasn't a direct quote.

Richard, my bullet point was a combination of a couple of different comments Smith made to Gardner.
The first was a complete statement that Erdnase was a small man of slight build.

The second was a back-and-forth between Smith and Gardner related to Gardners prompting on appearance and height.

Smith made a few references to height, ultimately stating that he could not resolve in his head that Erdnase would have been any taller than 5'10".

Smith did not state definitively at any point that Erdnase was 5'10" tall, only that he could not visualize Erdnase being any taller than 5'10".
Of course it must be kept in mind that this was in response to Gardner's repeated efforts to get Smith to consider that Erdnase may have been 6'3" tall, which may have resulted in Smith attempting to appease Gardner as best he could ... but still nowhere near 6'3".

However, I agree with Richard that, taken together, the two comments don't correlate with each other, which again, I attribute to Smith trying to accommodate Gardner's repeated (friendly) prodding with respect to Smiths recall of Erdnase's height.

(btw, my list was only intended to provide examples of Smith's totality of memory, please don't take it as intending to be the gospel of Smiths recall to Gardner in its totality ... for that you will need make your own reference to the Gardner/Smith Correspondence).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Edward Finck » July 29th, 2015, 12:10 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:This part of Smith's wording is to be doubted:

"Smith recalled that Erdnase was a small man of slight build, with blonde hair, 5'10" at the tallest."

5 foot 10 inches tall would not have been considered a "small man of slight build" at that height in 1902. It is not considered "a small man of slight build" even today.



The 5' 10" was just a typo. Gardner quoted Smith as saying:

"Andrews was a very small man of slight build. Not over 5' 6""

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 29th, 2015, 12:19 pm

I think the wholesale dismissal of M. D. Smith's recollections is a mistake. He is the only person we know to have met Erdnase and lived to tell the tale. According to Gardner's notes from that first meeting, Smith remembered Erdnase. Moreover, he was very sharp and quite clear about what he remembered and didn't remember clearly.

It is also worth noting that we do not have evidence that would lead us to discredit Smith's reliability. Indeed, an examination of his work and his career show a person with a very acute visual sense, capable of accurately grasping, retaining and recreating visual images. I can find no evidence of duplicity on Smith's part in his career. Gardner said Smith was sharp, and Smith's own letters confirm it. I would be curious to know if anyone else has found evidence of Smith being unreliable--especially with regard to visual cues.

Even though everything Smith said in his initial interview with Gardner comes to us second hand (and is thus not a primary source), we have confirmation for some of it in primary sources (Smith's subsequent letters to Gardner). Gardner is also pretty clear about what information Smith volunteered and what was prompted and how. So, even while Gardner could have done a better job interviewing Smith, I think he did a pretty good job of documenting his interview.

One of the first questions Gardner asked was the obvious one: Do you remember his name? Guided only by that question, Smith answered, "Something with a W." That was his clean, unprompted answer when first asked the question. Gardner immediately began to distort it. However, leaving that aside, "Something with a W" came purely from Smith at the beginning of his recollections.

This is an important topic, because Smith's testimony is unique. For a well-reasoned examination of why Smith's testimony is questionable, Tom Sawyer addresses that in his most recent blog post. (And congratulations, Tom, on your Erdnase blog's anniversary!) He brings up Hurt McDermott's dismissal of Smith. As a former investigative journalist, I personally find McDermott's analysis misinformed and cherry-picked. There's a practical reason why witnesses play a major role in solving crimes, and it can't be academically dismissed. But, from a common-sense and logical-analytical perspective, Tom questions the evidence very well.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 29th, 2015, 1:11 pm

Zenner wrote:
Now I don't expect the above to convince the naysayers on this forum.


I haven't seen a single "naysayer" related to your candidate Peter.

I have only seen posters repeatedly comment to you that you have not convinced them of Thompson's legitimacy as a result of any of the evidence you've presented in support of your candidate.
I have also seen some folks comment that your leaps of faith seem excessive in some cases.

It's probably important to clarify the difference between a "naysayer", and a series of knowledgeable posters stating repeatedly that, in their opinion, your candidate fails to meet the litmus test.

That Thompson isn't being taken as a serious candidate by most (if not all) posters in this thread does suggest that you have to provide more evidence in support of his candidacy, if indeed having Thompson taken seriously as a candidate is your goal.
I'm unclear on what repeating the same unconvincing information over and over again might accomplish ... perhaps you feel that it will bolster Thompson as a candidate.
I suspect though, it actually works against Thompson as a candidate.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 29th, 2015, 1:12 pm

Overall, I agree with friend Marty. But I can't help myself, I have to pick a nit:

Marty Demarest wrote: There's a practical reason why witnesses play a major role in solving crimes, and it can't be academically dismissed.


Yes it can.


Smith's testimony may be flawed. But it's the best thing we've got, and it almost certainly is good enough for what we are trying to do with it [the standard of proof for a criminal conviction should be much higher than for saying someone is or is not Erdnase]. If we don't take advantage of this evidence, there's no point in even trying, since everything else is even weaker.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 29th, 2015, 1:29 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:...If we don't take advantage of this evidence, there's no point in even trying, since everything else is even weaker.


The evidence being the printer, documents of the time, writing of the time...
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 1:53 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:If we don't take advantage of this evidence, there's no point in even trying, since everything else is even weaker.


I disagree. Our prime and really only hard evidence is the book itself. The copyright form and now the bankruptcy files are secondary evidence not directly related to Erdnase but coming close enough that they are really useful. Everything else is of much weaker quality.

Therefore for me the linguistic fingerprint is the only real evidence we have to confirm somebody beyond a reasonable doubt. Erdnase has a unique voice. He is not some average bland writer. He writes passionately, is quite sure of himself and eloquent. I have read a lot in my life, but there is only one other person that comes even close to sounding like Erdnase.

The Smith recollections may or may not be true, or partly true (I have written my nuanced opinion of what I believe and why, and what I do not believe and why earlier.)

All other circumstantial evidence is even below the Smith recollections. The best the circumstantial evidence can do is show that we can't rule somebody out.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 29th, 2015, 2:51 pm

Chris, I generally agree with you as to the primacy of the book as evidence. But the book is not just the author's style. There's a whole lot of content there, too--including the author's own admission that he produced the book in live collaboration with M. D. Smith. This was confirmed by Smith.

The book itself is the creation of more than one person, and we have the testimony of one of those people.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 2:59 pm

Marty, I agree. The book is our primary evidence. Everything we can directly derive from it is where we should focus our attention on. But the linguistic aspect has been largely ignored and yet it is really the brightest light we have to find Erdnase.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 29th, 2015, 3:05 pm

"Everything else" is a little hyperbolic. But the Smith recollections are important and shouldn't be discounted, and are far more relevant than Thompson's career of selling ink, or the convoluted steps to convert Gallaway's brother's name into "S. W. Erdnase".

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:...If we don't take advantage of this evidence, there's no point in even trying, since everything else is even weaker.


The evidence being the printer, documents of the time, writing of the time...


Except these don't describe the author specifically, as does Smith's testimony.

lybrary wrote:Therefore for me the linguistic fingerprint is the only real evidence we have to confirm somebody beyond a reasonable doubt.


Fingerprints are different in that they are presumed to be unique to each individual. We can't specify a "linguistic fingerprint" to that level of accuracy. Consider: Donald Foster, who is probably the most famous linguistic fingerprinter, claimed that a particular Elizabethan poem had been written by Shakespeare, based on its literary characterisics. Another scholar later identified it as having been written by John Ford, and even Foster came around to that position.

I believe that literary comparisons may rule out candidates (I don't believe MF Andrews, who wrote the confessional letters that were published in the northern California papers also wrote Expert), but I see no reason to (as yet) believe that they can confirm one.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 3:12 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:But the Smith recollections are important and shouldn't be discounted, and are far more relevant than Thompson's career of selling ink, or the convoluted steps to convert Gallaway's brother's name into "S. W. Erdnase".


And that is why I neither discount Smith's recollections, nor rank circumstantial evidence higher than the believable part of what we know from Smith.

Yes, the linguistic fingerprint is not a slam dunk either, but perhaps you can tell us what other 'fingerprint' we have that is better than linguistics? There were hundreds of card cheats around. Showing that somebody had the goods is weaker than a strong match linguistically in my opinion.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 29th, 2015, 3:17 pm

lybrary wrote: But the linguistic aspect has been largely ignored and yet it is really the brightest light we have to find Erdnase.


Except for Busby/Whaley's investigation in TMWWE, and Wiseman/Holmes's study in Genii 2/2011, neither of which (unfortunately) revealed the author.

Yes, the linguistic fingerprint is not a slam dunk either, but perhaps you can tell us what other 'fingerprint' we have that is better than linguistics? There were hundreds of card cheats around. Showing that somebody had the goods is weaker than a strong match linguistically in my opinion.


I don't have one to offer (I wish I did). And this is one of the reasons why I have said, more than once, that short of a smoking gun, it is very unlikely we will ever identify the author of the book.

But if you can come up with a card cheat who seems to write like Erdnase, I would find him to be very interesting (more so than a person who is not a card cheat, who writes like Erdnase).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 3:29 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Except for Busby/Whaley's investigation in TMWWE, and Wiseman/Holmes's study in Genii 2/2011, neither of which (unfortunately) revealed the author.


I don't consider anybody reading a book (including myself) and then drawing comparisons a linguistic fingerprint. Hurt McDermott did a very detailed linguistic comparison, and others of our community have also offered their opinions on various linguistic aspects, but that can hardly be called a linguistic fingerprint. I think stylometry has its problems, but the Wiseman/Holmes study did not cover any of the new candidates, so can hardly be used for this discussion. But I would welcome if they did expand their study.

Bill Mullins wrote:But if you can come up with a card cheat who seems to write like Erdnase, I would find him to be very interesting (more so than a person who is not a card cheat, who writes like Erdnase).


What about somebody who writes like Erdnase, had a first edition and can be placed at the right time to have actually made the book order at McKinney? Neither of these things can be said about anybody else but Gallaway.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 29th, 2015, 4:11 pm

Marty Demarest wrote:I think the wholesale dismissal of M. D. Smith's recollections is a mistake. He is the only person we know to have met Erdnase ...


how well did the illustrator describe the author - the cheat - the performer - the magician?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » July 29th, 2015, 5:15 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Marty Demarest wrote:I think the wholesale dismissal of M. D. Smith's recollections is a mistake. He is the only person we know to have met Erdnase ...


how well did the illustrator describe the author - the cheat - the performer - the magician?


Smith described in the detailed list above, and to the best of his ability both the author, and the cheat.

Not once did Smith relate anything at all to Gardner directly related to Erdnase talking about magic, or the performance of magic.

Based strictly on the content of Smiths conversations with Gardner, Erdnase had nothing to do with either magic, or with performance.

The book itself tells us that magic and/or performance were indeed present in some capacity, but Erdnase himself never mentions it to Smith.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 29th, 2015, 5:26 pm

Zenner wrote:1. The author was a magician. Self evident. 61% of the book is technique and the other 39% consists of tricks using those techniques. Arguments that someone else wrote the 'Legerdemain' section are voided by several passages in the 'Artifice' section which I have already posted.


At various times, I have come down on either side of the argument. You can make a case that Erdnase was a gambler or a magician. In support of him coming from a gambling rather than a conjuring background:

1. The title of the book refers to the gambler's Card Table, not to the stage of the conjuror.

2. Only 17% of the book is tricks (pp 171-205). The Legerdemain section is pp 125 - 205 (only 40% of the book), and much of the material nominally in the legerdemain section is also useful at the gaming table (shifts, palms, peeks, false shuffles and shuffle controls, etc.) The book is about card table artifice with a little conjuring thrown in because "the enthusiast [an advantage player] will not rest until every slight in the calendar [including conjuring sleights] has been fully mastered." That this is true is borne out by people whose background is advantage play through sleight of hand going on to learn conjuring at some level (Giorgio, Rod the Hop, Forte).

3. The book is written for the gambling and not the conjuring audience. The preface makes this clear; it is for "lovers of card games". P. 127 shows he is teaching "the card-table expert" conjuror's tricks, not the other way around.

4. A magician would have known how to spell "Charlier pass".

5. He speaks several times of his experience at the card table, but never of personally performing magic.
a. p 10 "A varied experience has impressed us..."
b. p. 10 - 11 "our own early knowledge was acquired..."
c. p 14 "cold school of experience ... we bucked the tiger ... our education progressed through close application and constant study of the game."
d. p 73 He has taught his methods to other players: "certain players we have instructed"
e pp 116-117 He speaks of his own "hard luck" at the table
f. p 126 His knowledge of conjuring comes from "the exhibitions and literature", not from his own performances.

6. The only author he mentions by name (Hoyle) wrote of card games and not conjuring.

7. He says that conjurors always call a shift a "pass" (p 128), but he himself refers to them as "shifts", thus declaring himself a gambler rather than a conjuror.

8. He told Smith he was a retired card shark.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » July 29th, 2015, 6:10 pm

To Marty Demarest: Thanks for the comments and the link. You are the only one I know of to comment favorably on the one-year bit, even though I made a big deal of it on the blog.

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » July 29th, 2015, 6:23 pm

Is it necessary to state that eye-witness identification of criminal suspects has repeatedly been proven unreliable and sent many thousands of innocent people to jail? M.D. Smith's "eye-witness" recollections, so many decades after the fact, may be reliable, or completely unreliable.

The only way we'll know if they're reliable is if we actually find "Erdnase" and can compare nuts to nuts.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » July 29th, 2015, 6:29 pm

If Erdnase had been a magician we would know his name by now. Magicians are no good at keeping secrets.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » July 29th, 2015, 6:31 pm

For those who want to read about age estimation go here http://www.psychologicabelgica.com/arti ... 334/pb.aq/

My understanding of this is that the error margins and confidence intervals in results of scientific studies on age estimation are generally larger than some interpret the Smith recollections. And these studies are based on estimations in the now, not from a 45 year old memory!
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 29th, 2015, 8:14 pm

Zenner wrote:
Zenner wrote:
2. The author was known to the people behind The Sphinx. Self evident. When the book was first mentioned there, in September, 1902, no comment was made about the name 'Erdnase'. A peculiar name like that, with no track record as an author, and no comment? They had to know who he was. (We now know that 'E.C. Andrews' had a contract with McKinney dated August, 1902, so September was the earliest issue that the book could have been mentioned.)


While I think it possible that the owners of the Sphinx may have known the author of the book, I don't think the first mention in September makes this "self-evident". The statement in that issue was made (I assume) by the editor, William Hilliar (his final issue as editor, I believe) and it simply says:
"A recent book on gambling tricks has been published by S. W. Erdnase, under the title "The Expert at the Card Table." It contains a chapter on legerdemain."

The fact that no comment is made about the author/publisher's name hardly implies that the writer of those sentences knew who it was. I think few people initially questioned the author's name as a pseudonym. It is a plausible foreign sounding name and only becomes suspect when one begins looking for others with that name (or reads it backwards). I would say that the writer of this two sentence statement (presumably Hilliar) believes the book to be about gambling, not magic, and no editorial comment is given about the contents or the author. It doesn't say the book is good, bad, revolutionary, by a friend or a stranger. It is simply a statement of fact. It doesn't even tell interested readers how to obtain a copy. My guess is that Hilliar probably did not know who wrote the book, as he almost certainly would have eventually told someone, especially during his many years writing a gossip column about magicians for The Billboard. My guess is also that the book had only just come to his attention and the news of it just filled the two sentence space he had at the bottom of that page.

The book does not get advertised in The Sphinx until two months later, in the November issue. Presumably, it took the Vernelos (owners and publishers of the Sphinx) till then to track down copies for sale.

If "E. C. Andrews" only contract with McKinney was in August 1902, then we can rule him out as the author, since the book was printed and available for sale no later than March 8, 1902, when two deposit copies were received at the U.S. Copyright Office. Why the book could not have been mentioned earlier in The Sphinx is a mystery to me, since it's first issue is dated March 15, 1902, at least a week after the book came off the presses in Chicago, the very city where the Sphinx was also published. If the author was an intimate of the publishers of the Sphinx, surely he would have welcomed earlier mention and advertising of the book there. The non-mention of the book for such a long period after it was available for sale is one of many reasons I don't believe the author was an active member of the magic community at the time of the book's publication.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 29th, 2015, 8:43 pm

I can't help myself, I have to pick a nit: ;)

Bill Mullins wrote:4. A magician would have known how to spell "Charlier pass".


c.f. "The Acrobatic Jacks": "(Open pack with left thumb bookwise, ready for the "Charlier Shift"..."

Bill Mullins wrote:6. The only author he mentions by name (Hoyle) wrote of card games and not conjuring.


c.f. Methods for Determining a Card Thought Of. D.: "This cunning and absolutely unfathomable stratagem must have been devised by an individual of truly Machiavelian subtlety."

Yes, technically "Machiavelian" is a term (and misspelled), not a name. But still. He wrote.

EDIT: And as Dick Hatch pointed out to me in an email, the author also mentions the name S. W. Erdnase, who wrote about card games and conjuring...
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » July 29th, 2015, 9:26 pm

Roger M. wrote:Not once did Smith relate anything at all to Gardner directly related to Erdnase talking about magic, or the performance of magic.

Based strictly on the content of Smiths conversations with Gardner, Erdnase had nothing to do with either magic, or with performance.


I believe you are mistaken, Roger. According to Martin Gardner's notes from his first meeting with Smith: "He remembers Andrews showing him some card tricks, and complaining that the cold made his fingers stiff."


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