ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 7th, 2018, 11:05 am

Bill Mullins wrote:You said "this thing doesn't exist" and I showed that it did.

It doesn't exist in an apples to apples comparison. I was assuming you would understand this tacit commonsense condition.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 7th, 2018, 11:16 am

Bill Mullins wrote:You've posited that the author used the reversal of a name that was not his own. Can you show an example of anyone else who has ever done this?

pen-name: Azorín (reversed Niroza which is a valid family name. Examples here https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q= ... nit=public )
real name: José Martínez Ruiz (and this author isn't some obscure person like your examples)

pen-name: Boz (reversed Zob which is a valid family name https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse ... b&uidh=000 )
real name: Charles Dickens

The last one is particularly interesting because Gallaway's favorite author was Dickens.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby observer » February 7th, 2018, 1:03 pm

lybrary wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:pen-name: Boz (reversed Zob which is a valid family name https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse ... b&uidh=000 )
real name: Charles Dickens

The last one is particularly interesting because Gallaway's favorite author was Dickens.


"Boz" was the childhood nickname of Dickens' little brother. Originally "Mose", then "Boz", as in Mose pronounced with one's nose stuffed up from a cold. No connection with any surname.

yrs respectfully,

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 7th, 2018, 1:11 pm

observer wrote:"Boz" was the childhood nickname of Dickens' little brother. Originally "Mose", then "Boz", as in Mose pronounced with one's nose stuffed up from a cold. No connection with any surname.

Wikipedia states 'apparently adopted'. In other words they don't know for sure. Nobody knows if Erdnase created his name reversing it from Andrews. It is all speculation.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » February 7th, 2018, 1:23 pm

I would find it hilarious if, after all this fuss and time spent on the matter, if it were to be discovered without all doubt that the author's real name was S.W. Erdnase all along!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 7th, 2018, 1:27 pm

performer wrote:... if it were to be discovered without all doubt that the author's real name was S.W. Erdnase all along!


Just a few scraps of paper found in the right archives... ( have a look at Caleb Carr's story ;) )

Any clues to what was supposed to be a suitable beginner and basic schooling in the finer points of deception?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby jkeyes1000 » February 7th, 2018, 2:45 pm

lybrary wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:You've posited that the author used the reversal of a name that was not his own. Can you show an example of anyone else who has ever done this?

pen-name: Azorín (reversed Niroza which is a valid family name. Examples here https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q= ... nit=public )
real name: José Martínez Ruiz (and this author isn't some obscure person like your examples)

pen-name: Boz (reversed Zob which is a valid family name https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse ... b&uidh=000 )
real name: Charles Dickens

The last one is particularly interesting because Gallaway's favorite author was Dickens.


The fact that Gallaway's favourite author was Dickens is much more solid grounds for your hypothesis than the suggestion that the author was either trying to hide his identity, or appeal to his fellow gamblers.

I would accept that as a distinct possibility, knowing the subtle and personal sort of reasons that writers have for choosing one word over another.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby observer » February 7th, 2018, 3:56 pm

lybrary wrote:
observer wrote:"Boz" was the childhood nickname of Dickens' little brother. Originally "Mose", then "Boz", as in Mose pronounced with one's nose stuffed up from a cold. No connection with any surname.

Wikipedia states 'apparently adopted'. In other words they don't know for sure. Nobody knows if Erdnase created his name reversing it from Andrews. It is all speculation.


"... the signature of Boz. This was the nickname of a pet child, his youngest brother Augustus, whom in honour of The Vicar of Wakefield he had dubbed Moses, which being facetiously pronounced through the nose became Boses, and being shortened became Boz."

from The Life of Charles Dickens (1872-74) by John Forster. Forster was a long-time friend of Dickens, and I think he can be trusted rather better than whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 7th, 2018, 4:04 pm

observer wrote:"... the signature of Boz. This was the nickname of a pet child, his youngest brother Augustus, whom in honour of The Vicar of Wakefield he had dubbed Moses, which being facetiously pronounced through the nose became Boses, and being shortened became Boz."

from The Life of Charles Dickens (1872-74) by John Forster. Forster was a long-time friend of Dickens, and I think he can be trusted rather better than whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry.

I trust Dickens even more. Here is what he wrote:
"Boz," Dickens himself says, "was a very familiar household word to me long before I was an author, and so I came to adopt it."

In other words, he first adopted this name. There wasn't anything with his brother. Foster then later interpreted it the way he describes, but that is not coming from Dickens himself.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 7th, 2018, 4:26 pm

lybrary wrote: . . . because Gallaway's favorite author was Dickens.

In looking this up in your ebook, I came across this line, which is immediately following the reference to Dickens in the Lakeside Press biography:

[Gallaway's] one great hobby is astronomy

He had one hobby, and it was astronomy. Not magic. Not playing cards. Not gambling.

(And FWIW, I think the Azorin/Nizora is a coincidence, and is not an example of Ruiz reversing a very scarce last name to come up with a much more common last name. He had once named a character in his writing Antonio Azorin, and then used that name as his pseudonym. No reason to think he was referencing "Nizora". Likewise, it doesn't appear that Dickens was trying to reverse anyone's name.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 7th, 2018, 6:27 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:He had one hobby, and it was astronomy. Not magic. Not playing cards. Not gambling.

Being a cardshark was business not a hobby. Admitting to gambling in a company newspaper back then would have been professional suicide. In case you didn't notice he also does not mention his employment at McKinney, something that has been verified by documents. Clearly he still wants to stay anonymous when it comes to his gambling pursuits, quite understandably so.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Larry Horowitz » February 7th, 2018, 10:36 pm

The book was published in 1902 and subsequently advertised for sale in magic publications. When is the earliest, or ever, the Expert was reviewed? Did the reviewer publicly ask, “Who is this guy? I never heard of him. Anybody know him?

I’m basically asking, how soon after publication might the author have been tempted to come forward?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby observer » February 7th, 2018, 11:00 pm

lybrary wrote:
observer wrote:"... the signature of Boz. This was the nickname of a pet child, his youngest brother Augustus, whom in honour of The Vicar of Wakefield he had dubbed Moses, which being facetiously pronounced through the nose became Boses, and being shortened became Boz."

from The Life of Charles Dickens (1872-74) by John Forster. Forster was a long-time friend of Dickens, and I think he can be trusted rather better than whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry.

I trust Dickens even more. Here is what he wrote:
"Boz," Dickens himself says, "was a very familiar household word to me long before I was an author, and so I came to adopt it."

In other words, he first adopted this name. There wasn't anything with his brother. Foster then later interpreted it the way he describes, but that is not coming from Dickens himself.


Nothing in the Dickens quote contradicts what Forster (not Foster) wrote. The nickname of his younger brother would certainly have been a very familiar household word to Dickens. Again: Forster knew Dickens very well. They met in 1836 (the year Sketches was published) and were friends until Dickens passed away in 1870 (Forster was an executor of the novelist's will). If you are seriously suggesting that Forster for some reason (how? why?) "interpreted" the source of the name Boz in some fanciful way to suit himself, rather than getting it from his friend ... I would suggest that that is not a very good example of one's grasp of probabilities.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 7th, 2018, 11:26 pm

Chris - I can see the rationale for being sub rosa with respect to advantage play, but half the book is magic. Where's the shame in that? The fact that he didn't practice magic as a hobby is one more reason to be certain that "The Magic Wand" and "bag of tricks" are figures of speech that have no literal connection with conjuring.

Larry --
The first mention of the book after publication was The Sphinx, Sep 1902, which said "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 ledgerdemain." I'm not sure this is substantial enough to be called a "review".

In November, it was advertised in The Sphinx by Vernelo.

The first the book was advertised after publication (that we know about) outside the magic press was in The Police Gazette, in March 1903.

By 1905 it listed in Jessel's bibliography on books about cards, and was being regularly and widely advertised in magic and non-magic press.

Hoffmann was discussing the book in private correspondence within a few years after publication, and started his in-depth discussion in The Magic Wand in Sep 1910.

Leo Rullman, in a Nov 1928 column, mentioned Erdnase in an article and immediately followed it with "E. S. Andrews" in parentheses, this being the first association of the two names in print. In Feb 1929, he is more explicit, pointing out the reversal. (Note that in Nov 1929, he placed the first edition into a list of "scarce" conjuring books.)

Take your pick as to which of these, if any, would have tempted the author to reveal himself.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 8th, 2018, 8:56 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The fact that he didn't practice magic as a hobby is one more reason to be certain that "The Magic Wand" and "bag of tricks" are figures of speech that have no literal connection with conjuring.

Sleight-of-hand with cards was his business not his hobby. Why would he belittle it as mere hobby? It was way too important to him.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 8th, 2018, 9:11 am

Are you suggesting he did card magic at a professional level in 1923? Odd that there is no record of it, then.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 8th, 2018, 9:17 am

Bill Mullins wrote:Are you suggesting he did card magic at a professional level in 1923? Odd that there is no record of it, then.


What sort of record/publicity would a working card shark desire?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 8th, 2018, 12:09 pm

Well, that's kinda the point, Jon. He wasn't a working card shark in 1923, nor had he ever been. Gallaway didn't have any special interest in cards, as either a gambler or magician, so when the Lakeside Press wrote a bio of him, they didn't mention cards as being either a recreational or professional interest of his.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 8th, 2018, 12:43 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:He wasn't a working card shark in 1923, nor had he ever been.

How would you know that? And we are really interested in the time before 1902 not 1923.
Bill Mullins wrote:Gallaway didn't have any special interest in cards, as either a gambler or magician, ...

Except we know he had magic and gambling books in his library including "The Expert at the Card Table".
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Gilbert » February 8th, 2018, 2:20 pm

Chris, you mention he had magic and gambling books in his library. What else did he have besides EATCT?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 8th, 2018, 3:59 pm

Tom Gilbert wrote:Chris, you mention he had magic and gambling books in his library. What else did he have besides EATCT?

This is what Jay Marshall wrote to Martin Gardner on that subject:
On a recent excursion into a used book salon he asked for magic card and gambling books, as was his wont. The proprietor had several gambling books on hand, that he was holding for Rufus Steele. When Bill Griffiths told him that Rufus Steele was dead, the shop owner then offered the books to Bill. There was a first edition of Erdnase in the lot and Bill bought it and gave it to me. There was nothing odd about the copy BUT there was a bookplate: Library of Edward Gallaway. In a couple of the other gambling books was a similar bookplate.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 8th, 2018, 9:12 pm

So it would be more accurate to say he had "A magic book [Expert] and a couple other gambling books" than to say "He had magic and gambling books", in which the number of magic books is ambiguous. (and which ambiguity I believe you are taking advantage of, to the benefit of your theory).

And as to whether this implies interest in playing cards, he could have owned these for other reasons -- Expert because he worked on it at McKinney's, and the others because he liked playing the horses, or because they were things he worked on at Bentley Murray (or elsewhere).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 9th, 2018, 9:37 am

Some academics have recently decided that Shakespeare had read and was influenced by an obscure manuscript, "A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels," by George North, written in the late 1500s.

They came to this conclusion by running the Bard's plays and the North manuscript through some anti-plagiarism software which is primarily used by teachers to ferret out cheating students.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 28th, 2018, 10:07 am

Lybrary.com's newsletter came out this morning, and in it Chris has a couple comments on Erdnase (if you follow this thread, you should get his newsletter -- he brings up stuff in it that doesn't always make it into the comments here. Today's newsletter also contains an extensive discussion of the history of the Mexican Turnover.)

He says, "Before I dive into today's topic a quick observation which I don't remember anybody making before. Erdnase describes an effect called "The Card and Handkerchief" (illustrations 99 and 100). The illustrations do not match the text. Erdnase writes that the right hand holds the handkerchief, but both illustrations depict the left hand holding it."

This error has been pointed out before. When Marty Demarest released his "Charles and Wonder" edition of Erdnase in 2011, he included an extensive errata list. This particular error is included, with credit to David Ben for being the one who first noticed it. I don't know if David put this error in print anywhere earlier than that, or if it got to Marty via word of mouth.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 28th, 2018, 10:37 am

And with respect to the Mexican Turnover, in the context of Three Card Monte. He notes that Erdnase includes the bent-corner ruse, and suggests that since this ruse is included in Conradi (written in German in 1896), where he finds the first description of the Mexican Turnover, and not in Roterberg (written in English, 1897), that Erdnase therefore must have been able to read German to know of it, supporting the case for Gallaway.

However, the bent corner dodge is mentioned in English-language accounts in other places well before either Roterberg or Conradi. Devol, in Forty Years A Gambler (1887) mentions the bent corner in a description of the game, as does Fools of Fortune by Quinn (1890).

So the Monte description in Expert isn't particularly strong evidence that Erdnase read German.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 28th, 2018, 3:52 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:However, the bent corner dodge is mentioned in English-language accounts in other places well before either Roterberg or Conradi. Devol, in Forty Years A Gambler (1887) mentions the bent corner in a description of the game, as does Fools of Fortune by Quinn (1890).

So the Monte description in Expert isn't particularly strong evidence that Erdnase read German.

You are referring to the bent-corner convincer of the regular 3-card monte. I was referring to the slightly bent corner to allow a card to slide easier under the tabled card for the Mexican Turnover. This is only mentioned by Erdnase and Conradi. It has nothing to do with misleading the spectator. It simply is a detail of the execution of the move to make it work smoother. Additionally I don't think there is any description of the Mexican Turnover prior to Roterberg in English literature. Therefore, the only place this detail was published is in German by Conradi, which suggests Erdnase could read German.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 28th, 2018, 6:11 pm

I see. Most of what you wrote about referred to a (singular) bent corner, which (in Erdnase) corresponds more closely to the bent corner ruse than to bending the corners so cards go under each other easier. My mistake.

But, given that Roterberg was familiar with Willman's and Conradi's publications, it may be that he personally passed on to Erdnase the relevant detail, rather than Erdnase having read it in the original German. Monte had been played in the U.S. for most of the century prior to 1902, so knowledge of it clearly was "underground" for a long time. Conradi even said that the Mexican Turnover sleight originated in America; it is likely that the bent corners you are referring to did as well. Erdnase may have learned of the detail from watching other monte operators or from being taught by them; he may have developed it himself; or he may have read about it in a written source which we aren't aware of now.

In other words, I still don't think that the appearance of a detail in both Expert and in some German literature of 6-7 years earlier means that Erdnase read German, when there are several other possible (likely?) ways he could have learned it. But kudos for chasing this down and for tracing the printed record.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » February 28th, 2018, 7:09 pm

Obviously it is not proof that Erdnase read German magic literature, but it does point in that direction, particularly if we add that Erdnase can be understood as a German word/nickname. Perhaps the German ring/meaning of the pseudonym was the reason he liked it, regardless of how it was derived. Again, not conclusive proof of a German connection of Erdnase, but the evidence is mounting. Next week I will discuss a third fact that points in the German direction.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » March 14th, 2018, 11:03 am

I have just been reading Chris's latest comments on Erdnase learning 'The Card Through Handkerchief' from German books of 1900 and 1901. I would just like to point out that Roterberg said in his New Era Card Tricks (1897) that the ‘Card Through Handkerchief’ had been invented in Chicago. See page 57 re. ‘Penetration of Matter’ — “The following trick, which originated in this city several years ago, has since then become popular with conjurers the world over, being no doubt one the of best of latter-day card tricks.”

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 14th, 2018, 11:23 am

Zenner wrote:I have just been reading Chris's latest comments on Erdnase learning 'The Card Through Handkerchief' from German books of 1900 and 1901. I would just like to point out that Roterberg said in his New Era Card Tricks (1897) that the ‘Card Through Handkerchief’ had been invented in Chicago. See page 57 re. ‘Penetration of Matter’ — “The following trick, which originated in this city several years ago, has since then become popular with conjurers the world over, being no doubt one the of best of latter-day card tricks.”

Peter, that is not what I wrote. I wrote that it looks like Erdnase read several descriptions of the trick, including Roterberg and Conradi, because his description incorporates several details which only certain authors include in their description. The reason why I believe he read the Conradi description is because only those two talk about the correct position of the corners of the handkerchief, and Conradi also instructs to shake the handkerchief, like Erdnase does, while Roterberg instructs to hit it with a wand. Where the trick originated is not really important here. Even if it originated in Chicago, Erdnase may still have learned certain details of it reading Conradi.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 14th, 2018, 5:01 pm

Chris's new newsletter deals with more antecedents of effects in Erdnase that appear in the German literature; specifically, "The Three Aces" and "The Card and Handkerchief".

"The Three Aces" is the trick where two aces are used to mask the central heart pip in the Ace of Hearts to make it look like a diamond. Previously, masking whole pips had been done to change the apparent value of a card, but this had been thought to be the first time it was used to change the suit.

Reinhard Mueller has located an earlier trick in which the same thing was done -- using two cards to mask heart to make it look like a diamond. It is in "The Invisible Hiker" in H. F. C. Suhr's Der Amateurzauberer, 1900.

And with respect to "The Card and Handkerchief", Chris notes (again quoting Mueller) that Conradi's description of the effect in Der Kartenkuenstler im XX. Jahrhundert (The Card Magician in the 20th Century), 1901, includes details of handling that Erdnase also includes, but that do not appear in Roterberg. To Chris, this suggests that Erdnase read the Conradi book and used it as source material for Expert; and that his ability to read German is further evidence that Erdnase was Gallaway.

I suppose this is possible. The Conradi book was advertised as being available in Mahatma in Apr 1901. However, for Erdnase to read the ad, order the book, have it shipped from Germany by ship, digest the contents, complete his manuscript, get illustrations made, submit the manuscript, and have it printed with copies available for copyright by Feb 1902 seems a little aggressive. (and this goes against Olsson's belief that the tricks section was written first)

I think it is more likely that Roterberg knew of the details of performance through his relationships with the German magicians, and passed this on to Erdnase in person.

Last year, in a discussion about the illustrations for "The Card and Handkerchief" where Chris said that he thought that Smith copied the illustrations from Roterberg, I said (in reference to "The Three Aces").
"I don't think any examples of Fig 101 from Expert will be found earlier elsewhere, as the consensus seems to be that this is the first place the trick appears in print."

Chris brought this up in his newsletter, and in response said "Boy was he wrong." I think the sentence was accurate, Chris. No examples of the illustration have been found earlier than Roterberg. The similar trick in Suhr has no illustrations, and although the subtlety used by Erdnase is there, it is a different trick. Erdnase still seems to be the first place that Fig 101 appears in print, and even if the trick from Erdnase is found elsewhere in print prior to 1902, that doesn't change what the consensus was in Jun 2017.

The Suhr book mentioned above, Der Amateurzauberer, is available online for free, and the Suhr book which includes "The Card and the Handkerchief" is also online.

Zenner wrote:I have just been reading Chris's latest comments on Erdnase learning 'The Card Through Handkerchief' from German books of 1900 and 1901. I would just like to point out that Roterberg said in his New Era Card Tricks (1897) that the ‘Card Through Handkerchief’ had been invented in Chicago. See page 57 re. ‘Penetration of Matter’ — “The following trick, which originated in this city several years ago, has since then become popular with conjurers the world over, being no doubt one the of best of latter-day card tricks.”


And T. Nelson Downs, in The Art of Magic, says "So far as we have been able to trace its history, it was the invention of a well-known German conjurer, St. Roman, although it is claimed by at least a half hundred modern wizards." So the origins of the effect are not settled, I'd suggest.

There is a short article about St. Roman in the 1 Nov 1896 issue of Zauberwelt. He appears on the famous "Some of the Conjuring Lights" poster. Burlingame said that St. Roman's real name was Stroman; Ottokar Fischer said it was Thiersfield. And the book by Suhr that Mueller found that includes the "Card and Handkerchief", mentioned and linked above, is in fact a collection of tricks by St. Roman.

So Chris is suggesting that Erdnase copied St. Roman's method, but then had his illustrator copy from a different source, which method is not consistent with St. Roman's handling.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 14th, 2018, 5:33 pm

The new discoveries regarding Erdnase's German sources are numerous:

1) The Three Aces method has been described in the German book by Suhr in 1900.
2) Formulas to calculate the card at any position, and the position of any card, in a 28-card stacked deck has been published by Conradi and Willmann as early as 1896, a method by Hugo Schrader.
3) The plot to perform an ace assembly with the Queens has been published by Willmann in 1900.
4) Certain details of the Card and Handkerchief matching Erdnase are only found in Conradi's book from 1901.
5) Certain details of the Mexican Turnover matching Erdnase are only found in Conradi's book from 1895.
6) The words and ways how Erdnase names his tricks are more similar to how German authors named their card tricks. (words like 'travel', 'invisible', circus themes, ... appear much more frequently with German authors)

All of this strongly suggests Erdnase was familiar with several of the German magic books from that time. None of this has anything to do with any candidate. It is simply a more thorough search of Erdnase's likely sources. It is a new insight gained purely from studying Erdnase's book more carefully than it has been in the past. German magic literature was clearly part of Erdnase's source material, the magic literature he read and studied.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 15th, 2018, 1:26 pm

It's recently been reported that comic book writer Michael Fleisher died last month. If you were reading comics in the 1970s and 1980s, his work on DC's The Spectre and Jonah Hex may have been memorable for you.

Why post this fact here? Because in 1985, in Jonah Hex #85, Fleisher included a character named "Erdnase". (He's the guy in the top hat here.) Erdnase is a "gentleman gambler", not known to cheat, and only his name recalls much about Expert at the Card Table.

I always wondered if Fleisher had an interest in the book beyond it being a source for character names. I wrote to him once, in care of DC comics, asking about it, but never got a reply.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » March 16th, 2018, 9:26 am

lybrary wrote: All of this strongly suggests Erdnase was familiar with several of the German magic books from that time. None of this has anything to do with any candidate. It is simply a more thorough search of Erdnase's likely sources. It is a new insight gained purely from studying Erdnase's book more carefully than it has been in the past. German magic literature was clearly part of Erdnase's source material, the magic literature he read and studied.


"It ain't necessarily so!"

If the man who became "Erdnase" invented the tricks you mention, in Chicago, several years before 1897, then it could well be that the Germans were copying HIM. Roterberg could have been the one who circulated the stuff back in Germany without "Erdnase" (whoever he was) knowing. He certainly credited 'The Card Through Handkerchief' (Penetration of Matter) to a Chicago-based magician, without naming him. I wonder why he didn't name him? If only he had ;)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 16th, 2018, 10:48 am

Zenner wrote:
lybrary wrote: All of this strongly suggests Erdnase was familiar with several of the German magic books from that time. None of this has anything to do with any candidate. It is simply a more thorough search of Erdnase's likely sources. It is a new insight gained purely from studying Erdnase's book more carefully than it has been in the past. German magic literature was clearly part of Erdnase's source material, the magic literature he read and studied.


"It ain't necessarily so!"

If the man who became "Erdnase" invented the tricks you mention, in Chicago, several years before 1897, then it could well be that the Germans were copying HIM. Roterberg could have been the one who circulated the stuff back in Germany without "Erdnase" (whoever he was) knowing. He certainly credited 'The Card Through Handkerchief' (Penetration of Matter) to a Chicago-based magician, without naming him. I wonder why he didn't name him? If only he had ;)

While I am not categorically denying that possibility, the facts speak against it. Erdnase claims ownership for several things in his book. To the best of our knowledge he was always correct when he claimed he was the originator. With this established he would have claimed to be the originator of tricks if indeed he did come up with them. But he only did this with the formulas for the 52-card stacked deck. No other tricks he claimed he invented (and indeed we find them published prior to Erdnase). Thus we have to assume he learned them rather than invented them. Erdnase himself states he exhaustively studied the magic and gambling literature. We therefore can assume that he indeed read most if not all generally available books, including the German literature which Roterberg imported.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 16th, 2018, 12:30 pm

lybrary wrote:While I am not categorically denying that possibility, the facts speak against it. Erdnase claims ownership for several things in his book. To the best of our knowledge he was always correct when he claimed he was the originator.


Not so. He claimed both the Longitudinal Shift ("for which we have to thank no one", p. 130) and the S.W.E. Shift ("We confess some satisfaction in having originated . . . ", p. 134). Both had previously appeared in C. H. Wilson's The 52 Wonders, 1877.

Erdnase himself states he exhaustively studied the magic and gambling literature.


He mentions a couple of times being familiar with the conjuring literature ("works on conjuring . . . the whole category," p. 13; "single card feat in the whole calendar," p. 122; "the exhibitions and literature of conjurers", p. 126). Remind us, please, of where he mentions studying the gambling llterature?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 16th, 2018, 12:49 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
lybrary wrote:While I am not categorically denying that possibility, the facts speak against it. Erdnase claims ownership for several things in his book. To the best of our knowledge he was always correct when he claimed he was the originator.


Not so. He claimed both the Longitudinal Shift ("for which we have to thank no one", p. 130) and the S.W.E. Shift ("We confess some satisfaction in having originated . . . ", p. 134). Both had previously appeared in C. H. Wilson's The 52 Wonders, 1877.

The Wilson book surfaced only recently suggesting that it wasn't a particularly widely distributed title. I think it therefore likely that Erdnase and most everybody else was not familiar with it and that Erdnase independently invented (re-invented) similar moves.
Bill Mullins wrote:
Erdnase himself states he exhaustively studied the magic and gambling literature.


He mentions a couple of times being familiar with the conjuring literature ("works on conjuring . . . the whole category," p. 13; "single card feat in the whole calendar," p. 122; "the exhibitions and literature of conjurers", p. 126). Remind us, please, of where he mentions studying the gambling llterature?

At the beginning of the Card Table Artifice section under the heading of 'Professional Secrets' Erdnase writes:
Hence this work stands unique in the list of card books. We modestly claim originality for the particular manner of accomplishing many of the manoeuvres described, and believe them vastly superior to others that have come under our observation.

Claiming that something 'stands unique in the list of card books' implies that he was widely read. And since this is the section on gambling he obviously means gambling and other sleight-of-hand books.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zig Zagger » March 16th, 2018, 3:26 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:"The Three Aces" is the trick where two aces are used to mask the central heart pip in the Ace of Hearts to make it look like a diamond. Previously, masking whole pips had been done to change the apparent value of a card, but this had been thought to be the first time it was used to change the suit.


Mulling over the famous figure 101 that comes with "The Three Aces," here is a thought I have enjoyed nurturing for quite some time: What if there was a secret connection between the opening of the book (the original title on the frontispiece, to be precise) and this more or less closing feature of the book, the final drawing?

Unlike the other figures, this one does not only explain the ruse; in fact, it does deceive you, the reader. The display of the aces looks totally regular. Only when you know that there is a subterfuge involved, you will understand that the Ace of Diamonds is not what it claims to be, but something-or someone-else (the Ace of Hearts).

Now the same may be said about the triple of ARTIFICE, RUSE and SUBTERFUGE (= ARS (lat.) = art). I have always wondered why Erdnase used three nouns with roughly the same connotation here: You are being deceived expertly and artfully at the card table. Precision? (Erdnase obviously loved describing things in detail by doubling or tripling words.) PR blurb to make his book sound utterly important? Or simply a clever means of hiding something in the middle, in plain sight? That something might be "RUSE and."

What is more, in American handwriting, figure I0I can be read forward as well as backwards. A hint at an anagram or at shifting words around?
Remember, "RUSE and" = "and RUSE" = "Andrus" = "Andrews?"

Finally, the book's frontpage promises "over one hundred drawings." The total of 101 figures delivers this promise, but only by the smallest margin. You may not call this cheating, but probably another artful subterfuge...

Pure conjecture, I admit. This could be more convincing if, say, figure 101 were really displayed on the very last page of the book, maybe on page 202, and if the book's title went more like "ART, ARTIFICE and ACES at the Card Table" to resemble the three Aces in figure 101 even more closely.

Just a thought.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 16th, 2018, 4:13 pm

lybrary wrote: The Wilson book surfaced only recently suggesting that it wasn't a particularly widely distributed title. I think it therefore likely that Erdnase and most everybody else was not familiar with it and that Erdnase independently invented (re-invented) similar moves.


I'd bet it was more widely distributed in America than the German magazines you suggest Erdnase copied from.

And, FWIW, I'm not contending that Erdnase copied the moves from 52 Wonders -- I believe he independently invented them. Just saying that you were wrong when you said "he was always correct when he claimed he was the originator."

I also believe that it is more likely that he independently came up with the calculation methods for the Eight Kings stack, rather than copied them from German literature; that he developed the "Exclusive Coterie" by first coming up with a beautiful story, and then used Queens because they fit the story, rather than copying the idea of using Queens from German lit and then developing the patter; I think the handling details of the Mexican Turnover and the Card and Handkerchief that you've reported as being in German literature are a result of Erdnase logically working out the best methods for performance, as he does on things that we agree are his own invention throughout the rest of the book, and then writing them up (as you've said, his book is better written than so much of what came before, so it follows that he'd include details of handling that may have been widely used but that other writers simply did not include because they weren't very good writers). The masking of the AH to look like an AD is something that seems to me that he could have picked up from someone else; but given that he almost certainly knew Roterberg, I think the idea that Roterberg simply showed it to him is as good (and is much more simple) an idea than the idea that kept up with German card literature as a reader. But I know you disagree.

Note that you may have the direction of information flow backwards. Instead of German to Erdnase, it could well be the other way around. A footnote in The Man Who Was Erdnase quotes Reinhard Mueller saying that "Erdnase's work was known to the German writers at the beginning of the century". It also says that Roterberg sent Conradi material prior to 1896 -- perhaps Roterberg got it from Erdnase? And perhaps all the material you've mentioned as German in origin came originally from Erdnase?

Claiming that something 'stands unique in the list of card books' implies that he was widely read. And since this is the section on gambling he obviously means gambling and other sleight-of-hand books.


No it doesn't obviously mean that, because preceding this passage, but on the same page, he discusses "works on conjuring" as the source of card table artifice. And immediately following this passage, he says "We do not claim to know it all." And there are gambling books prior to his that include material that he does not mention or that he obviously is not aware of (52 Wonders, Koschitz (1894) mentions the Double Discard and the Greek Deal, which Erdnase omits, and Gerritt Evans' How Gamblers Win also mentions the Double Discard.)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » March 16th, 2018, 5:26 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:I also believe that it is more likely that he independently came up with the calculation methods for the Eight Kings stack, rather than copied them from German literature;

Then why limit the claim to 52-card decks? His statement is proof that he knew other methods, and since we only know of the German one it is solid evidence that he knew about it.

I would agree with your explanation if it would be only one small thing we find in the German literature. But there are way too many and we haven't even looked at the moves, just the tricks. If one includes the Three Card Monte in the count, then Erdnase published 15 card tricks. We now know that five of these tricks have elements which only appear in the German magic literature prior to Erdnase's publication. That means a whopping 1/3 of tricks have elements which provably come from German sources. Other tricks also appear in German literature, but not exclusively so. This is too many in my opinion and forces the assumption Erdnase knew the German literature.

Bill Mullins wrote:Note that you may have the direction of information flow backwards. Instead of German to Erdnase, it could well be the other way around. A footnote in The Man Who Was Erdnase quotes Reinhard Mueller saying that "Erdnase's work was known to the German writers at the beginning of the century". It also says that Roterberg sent Conradi material prior to 1896 -- perhaps Roterberg got it from Erdnase? And perhaps all the material you've mentioned as German in origin came originally from Erdnase?

You may want to talk to Reinhard Mueller and see what he thinks now after all these new facts have come out. He has studied Conradi, Willmann, Suhr and Roterberg, before, all with a connection to Hamburg.

The strongest argument against the possibility that all of these things traveled from Erdnase to Germany is that we would then expect Erdnase taking some credit for it, which he didn't. He wasn't shy taking credit for other things. If Roterberg was the conduit, we would also expect that Roterberg would include it in his books, but he didn't. The amount, the timing, and all the other little signs clearly point to Erdnase learning these things from the German literature. Maybe not all, but certainly some of them, most notably the formulas for the stacked deck and the three aces trick.
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