ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Bob Coyne
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » May 22nd, 2018, 8:39 am

performer wrote:So who do you know who was skilled at card magic and around at the time and who lived in Chicago? Figure that out and you have your man.

Marshall Smith said that Erdnase was from the east and NY, that he had the impression that he came to Chicago to have the pictures made and to get the book printed. Also, having check #1 at a Chicago bank and meeting/arriving at a hotel without a coat seems to indicate he's visiting from out of town. So actually being from Chicago is probably a point against any candidate.

performer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » May 22nd, 2018, 9:37 am

Oh, it probably WAS Vernon then! Even though I know it can't be! Still, I swear he wrote the book as a prank!

Pete McCabe
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » May 22nd, 2018, 11:43 am

Bob Coyne wrote:The probability of a pseudonym spelling out another name backwards is extremely low and just wouldn't happen by chance.


But that does not mean that it spells out the author's name.

Bob Coyne
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » May 22nd, 2018, 1:14 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:
Bob Coyne wrote:The probability of a pseudonym spelling out another name backwards is extremely low and just wouldn't happen by chance.

But that does not mean that it spells out the author's name.

True, but it greatly boosts the odds for any candidate with that name (or some strong connection to it). We're just talking about likelihoods, not ontological certitude.

For example, let's say we didn't know that Selbit was Tibbles. The (near) backwards spelling would make him a *much* more likely author of the Magician's Handbook than some other random magician.

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 22nd, 2018, 2:45 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I'm very surprised to hear people say that to be credible, a candidate's name must be "connected" in some way to the pseudonym S.W. Erdnase.

To me, credibility depends on there being an explanation for why a candidate would used the contrived pseudonym.

If a candidate's name is E. S. Andrews, then a name reversal explains the pseudonym.

If a candidate's name is W. E. Sanders, and he is a mining engineer, then an anagram and a pun on the occupation explain the pseudonym.

If a candidate's name is M. F. Andrews, then you have part of an explanation.

If a candidate is a printer/typesetter whose name was Gallaway and who spoke German, there is no explanation. If it could be shown that someone called that person "Earth nose", then the translation of that nickname into German would be an explanation. Without that showing, it is mere speculation.

If you were using a pseudonym for a serious reason, the last thing you would do is connect it to your name. To discount a candidate because his name doesn't anagram or whatever with Erdnase seems very silly.

But if you weren't particularly concerned with maintaining anonymity, and were simply being clever with your pseudonym, then connecting the pseudonym to your name (or any other overt explanation) is something that does make sense.

Regardless, the author used the pseudonym Erdnase. It self-evidently reverses to E. S. Andrews. The author must have had a reason to use that pseudonym, and providing a credible reason for a candidate to do so, based on known facts without speculation or leaps of faith, strengthens that candidate's case.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » May 22nd, 2018, 4:00 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:The author must have had a reason to use that pseudonym, and providing a credible reason for a candidate to do so, based on known facts without speculation or leaps of faith, strengthens that candidate's case.


Isn't it possible that the pseudonym was created to include the reversal to Andrews deliberately to hide the real name, by hiding a false name in an easily findable place? This is a pretty standard technique. How many magic tricks hint at a possible wrong solution to divert attention from the real method?

Again, yes, the reversal may point directly to the author. It may not. There is no evidence whatsoever either way.

I have no horse in this race. But if your case depends on your interpretation of the pseudonym, it's a lousy case.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Farmer » May 22nd, 2018, 4:06 pm

"E.S." = "easy."

"Erd" is another word for earth.

"Nase" is a fish.

Therefore, "easy earth fishing" (given that fishing is what most of the book is about).

May I suggest that erdnasephiles be called, "Nerdnases."

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 22nd, 2018, 4:35 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:The author must have had a reason to use that pseudonym, and providing a credible reason for a candidate to do so, based on known facts without speculation or leaps of faith, strengthens that candidate's case.


Isn't it possible that the pseudonym was created to include the reversal to Andrews deliberately to hide the real name, by hiding a false name in an easily findable place? This is a pretty standard technique. How many magic tricks hint at a possible wrong solution to divert attention from the real method?

Again, yes, the reversal may point directly to the author. It may not. There is no evidence whatsoever either way.

I have no horse in this race. But if your case depends on your interpretation of the pseudonym, it's a lousy case.

Certainly, it's possible. And if you have a candidate whom you suspect did this, and you want to convince someone (me) that they did so, make the case. Just use some sort of real facts to do it -- don't say "I think Benedict reversed Andrews's name to come up with Erdnase" without showing why he did so. (It would also help if you found anyone who had ever used a reversed name for a pseudonym that wasn't their own).

This gets back to speculation -- I agree that it's possible, but I don't agree that saying that it happened with respect to a particular candidate without some sort of evidence as to how and why strengthens the case for the candidate. In fact, blue-sky speculating about it weakens the case for that candidate -- it emphasizes the hole in that candidate's story.

If you are writing under the name "Anonymous" or "Publius" or "John Doe", you are saying "this is a pseudonym" and not much else. If you are writing under the name "S. W. Erdnase", you are saying "this is a pseudonym" and you are saying something else in addition.
Erdnase didn't tell us much about himself, but he used this particular name, and he had a reason to do so -- it is about the only thing he tells us that isn't card-related. It's personal to the author. To me, it's important.

What that "something else" that he's trying to say is, isn't clear from the text. But if you propose a candidate, it seems to me that you have to address that "something else" based on something you know about that candidate. You can't handwave it, or guess, or speculate. You have to say, here's my guy, and this is why "S. W. Erdnase" was important enough to him that he used it for a pseudonym.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 22nd, 2018, 6:11 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:Isn't it possible that the pseudonym was created to include the reversal to Andrews deliberately to hide the real name, by hiding a false name in an easily findable place? This is a pretty standard technique.


To be a "pretty standard technique", one would have to be able to offer numerous examples of false names, containing real names concealed within - but with those "real names" not being the name of the actual author?

Can you offer up any authors, books, or "false names" as examples?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » May 22nd, 2018, 8:32 pm

I am an expert on false names. Still I will mind my own business.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Gilbert » May 22nd, 2018, 9:38 pm

I do see both arguments for the name somewhat. If he was really serious about keeping his identity a secret, would scrambling his real last name be enough? Or maybe a magic or gambling mentor? Possibly Erdnase is a hidden dedication. Being that the book was about magic or gambling using a distant relative with the last name of Andrews seems off. Whether he intended on keeping a secret or it was just a game, it seems to have worked well.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » May 22nd, 2018, 11:43 pm

I am getting a vibe that the backwards spelling to make it E. S. Andrews was a deliberate red herring that seems to have worked spl
endidly.

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 23rd, 2018, 12:33 am

Tom Gilbert wrote:.... If he was really serious about keeping his identity a secret,....


The general thinking has pretty much been that Erdnase wasn't really trying that hard to conceal his identity.

Meeting Smith face to face in an unrushed session (probably more than one), giving Smith a cheque (presumably in his real name), the multiple visits he would have had to make to McKinney in order to get the book printed.

He certainly wasn't behaving as if he was trying very hard to render himself "anonymous".

In broad terms, it just seems to be an unfortunate fluke of history that we don't know who he was. His profile in and around Chicago as he was preparing to publish his book definitely seems that he should have left us with a more solid pointer towards his true identity.

Alas, it didn't ... and still doesn't.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » May 23rd, 2018, 12:10 pm

Roger M. wrote:To be a "pretty standard technique", one would have to be able to offer numerous examples of false names, containing real names concealed within - but with those "real names" not being the name of the actual author?

Can you offer up any authors, books, or "false names" as examples?


Well, strictly speaking, if anyone used this technique to conceal their name, then no, I would not be able to offer any examples. Because it works.

But really that was a bad edit on my part. What I was trying to say was that it is a standard technique in puzzles and math problems, at least, and the same basic idea of providing a false solution is used in many, many magic tricks. It is both possible, and consistent with the idea of using a pseudonym, that someone might do this. I've never used a pseudonym, but the possibility of creating one this way occurred to me immediately. It's not some sort of breakthrough idea.

Just to be clear, I think that pursuing the reversed-name theory, or any other clues mined from the pseudonym, is a fine idea for research. Anything that can suggest a candidate could lead to the clue we're all looking for.

But it does not count as evidence. The idea that any of us can tell, for sure, anything about the author from their choice of pseudonym makes no sense to me.

That's all I was saying.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » May 23rd, 2018, 1:25 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:
But it does not count as evidence. The idea that any of us can tell, for sure, anything about the author from their choice of pseudonym makes no sense to me.

I don't know why you equate "for sure" with counting as "evidence". Evidence doesn't have to be "for sure." It can just be something that tilts the odds in a significant way.

In the case of the Erdnase pseudonym, it's almost certain that the author had a reason to pick a pseudonym that spelled E.S. Andrews backwards. That wouldn't happen by chance. And it makes no sense to just do it on a whim to better hide his identity. If that's all he wanted to do, he could have just used E.S. Andrews forwards. Or any other name. So obviously the author was setting up a puzzle. We don't know how elaborate the solution is, but any candidate that gives a good explanation is by definition a better candidate than one who doesn't. Note: this doesn't mean that the author's name was necessarily E.S. Andrews. But there has to be some connection and the backwards spelling of the author's name (and variations on that) is a good default explanation.

I actually agree with you that the simple backwards spelling is a bit too simple. But it's much better than no connection. I think that the double anagram with WE Sanders (and the meaning of Erdnase as "earth nose" = mining engineer) is more convincing as both a way to hide his identity and a way to be really clever with the puzzle. But even if Sanders isn't the author, any candidate's credibility is greatly boosted if they can explain the pseudonym in a convincing way. Without a good explanation for the pseudonym, there must be stronger evidence elsewhere to make up for that gaping hole.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » May 24th, 2018, 5:02 am

Pete McCabe wrote:But it does not count as evidence. The idea that any of us can tell, for sure, anything about the author from their choice of pseudonym makes no sense to me.

Pete, of course it counts as evidence. :) Really, the printed words and the physical copies as artifacts are the best evidence we have (thus far) of Erdnase's identity. Evidence does not equal certainty (at least I've never equated the two), and runs the gamut from weak to strong, the perception of which, as we have seen in this thread, can be very subjective.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 24th, 2018, 9:24 am

magicam wrote:... runs the gamut from weak to strong, the perception of which, as we have seen in this thread, can be very subjective.


+1

What's coming into this discussion about people in the area at the time, writers of that time and other writings of that time are good background data. I'm tempted to buy a copy of the item which includes the Gardner correspondence to carefully review the source data for who recalls what about the illustrations and the model.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 24th, 2018, 10:12 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote: I'm tempted to buy a copy of the item which includes the Gardner correspondence to carefully review the source data for who recalls what about the illustrations and the model.


The Gardner-Smith Correspondence has long been out of print, and copies don't often come up on the secondary market (and when they do, they carry a premium price).

However, you can get a PDF copy in the "Expert at the Card Table" DVD set from Houdini Magic.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » May 25th, 2018, 1:39 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The Gardner-Smith Correspondence has long been out of print, and copies don't often come up on the secondary market
Here's one

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 25th, 2018, 11:20 am

Bill Mullins wrote: The Gardner-Smith Correspondence has long been out of print, and copies don't often come up on the secondary market (and when they do, they carry a premium price).


What I should have said was "You can get them on ebay."

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 25th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote: The Gardner-Smith Correspondence has long been out of print, and copies don't often come up on the secondary market (and when they do, they carry a premium price).


What I should have said was "You can get them on ebay."


How about "You can get them on ebay very rarely".

They don't show up on ebay that often. I keep a few different permanent "Erdnase" searches in my ebay account ... and these numbered volumes hardly ever show up - maybe one every few years.
For somebody who wants a numbered hard copy, this is definitely a "rareish" opportunity to get one.

It is on the DVD's, but that .pdf isn't quite as enjoyable as the numbered book.

(BTW - I've always found it the height of strange that the buyer of the actual correspondence ponied up the 10 grand for the originals at auction - then disappeared permanently and completely from view. If I recall correctly, he was some sort of relatively unknown screenwriter?)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Mckay » May 25th, 2018, 3:53 pm

Why do people pay so much for collectibles?

Is it because they think they can flip it for more at a later date? I can understand buying secret notebooks that are not available anywhere else. But to spend thousands buying something when the information can be found cheaply elsewhere makes no sense to me. The same with those who spend thousands on a first edition instead of just picking up a cheap reprint.

Unless there is an element of investment involved then I don't understand the mindset at play here.

Just curious if others can explain what is going on here?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 26th, 2018, 2:59 am

Not trying to be condescending here, but the fact that you ask the question tells me that an "explanation" wouldn't really explain it for you.

Some people are collectors, some are not. If you are, you understand that owning a particular item brings pleasure that is beyond its inherent "objective" value. If you aren't, then it's just more damn junk getting in the way. (and God bless the long-suffering wives of collectors) (collectors are usually male). The most recent issue of Magicol has a great article by John Lovick on being a collector of Penn & Teller memorabilia.

I started collecting comic books before I was a teenager, and while the object of fascination has changed several times since, I've always been accumulating something or other. In the late 1970s, I started collecting non-sport trading cards (anyone remember Wacky Packs? Odd Rods? Mars Attacks?). I still do, but now I concentrate on ones related to magic or magicians. (anyone have any extras of the magician cards that Abbots used to sell?)

I can download a PDF of Expert for free off the internet, yet every time a new printing variation comes out, I seriously consider buying it (30-odd different variants isn't enough . . . )

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Mckay » May 26th, 2018, 6:29 am

It sounds like John has a pretty cool collection. Penn & Teller are great.

I am really interested in the "metaphysics" of collecting. One of the best books I have ever read was about the Beanie Baby craze:

https://www.amazon.com/Great-Beanie-Baby-Bubble-Toy/dp/1591848008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527329848&sr=8-1&keywords=beanie+babies+book

Although with Beanie Babies - that is more a case of when something mildly collectible tipped over into being a insane bubble for financial speculation.

I can understand elements of collecting. Like owning a cool magic prop that is very rare. Often that prop is the only link left to a trick that nobody else performs anymore.

I find it harder with first edition books though. For instance - let's imagine a warehouse that knew nothing about magic found a stack 20,000 first edition Erdnase books. And started selling them off on Ebay for 5 bucks each. That would probably rob the collector of a lot of his joy in owning a first edition copy of Erdnase.

That suggests to me that the scarcity value of an object is an important part of collecting. And due to the laws of supply and demand - when something is rare - it tends to be worth a lot of money. So perhaps the financial side of it is an accidental by product of dealing in things in short supply?

I have started to learn more about magic history lately, and I guess a lot of collectors are those who really enjoy that side of magic the most. So perhaps the need to collect is a way of trying to connect with the history of magic in a living and tangible form?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby John Bodine » May 29th, 2018, 1:10 pm

Hi Joe,

I guess I can speak to your question, as I have one of the largest Erdnase collections, second to just one person I think.

For me it started when a dear friend introduced me to the book as I got serious about magic. He encouraged me to read it slowly, to really get into it. I loved the detailed description in a minimum number of words, the engineering behind many of the moves, and that so much could be described in such little space. I was also fascinated by the mystery of the author, that perhaps the greatest magic trick was the anonymity that has persisted.

For a few years I searched for and bid on first edition/first printings until finally acquiring one. The smell of the paper, the age, the simplicity. Yes, the words are the same as my first Dover copy, but for some reason this made the words it even more important for me.

I then started in earnest trying to collect and catalog the various variants, and now have something close to 100 different variants.

I have on several occasions taken a number of first edition/first printing to conventions, find the younger magicians who are also interested in Erdnase or at least moves from the book, then I sit down with them, hand out first editions and suggest we read through together. The reaction to this magical effect is priceless for me. The sense of wonder I imagine they feel, and then the serious way they go about reading and working through something in the book. Again, it feels to me like it becomes more important than had we done it with a Dover version.

My collection has increased in monetary value and some day I will part with all of it, but for now, it sits in a bookcase that I occasionally show to visiting magicians.

John Bodine

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Mckay » May 29th, 2018, 2:15 pm

Hey John,

Thanks for the intelligent response. Very interesting.

Just curious if it would ruin the mystery for you if the identity of Erdnase was ever conclusively proven? Or would you enjoy finally having the matter settled?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby John Bodine » May 29th, 2018, 3:58 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:Just curious if it would ruin the mystery for you if the identity of Erdnase was ever conclusively proven? Or would you enjoy finally having the matter settled?


I'd be more than happy to get to the bottom of who write it, it wouldn't change my interest in this particular book.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 29th, 2018, 4:30 pm

I would think, if anything ... confirming by consensus who the actual author was would allow us to investigate in detail what kind of amazing life Erdnase lead between roughly 1892 and 1902 ... and what on earth gave him the motivation to write EATCT?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » May 29th, 2018, 5:41 pm

Roger M. wrote:I would think, if anything ... confirming by consensus who the actual author was would allow us to investigate in detail what kind of amazing life Erdnase lead between roughly 1892 and 1902 ... and what on earth gave him the motivation to write EATCT?


On the other hand, knowing a name to 100% certainty may not tell us anything at all, because it could lead to:

1. A situation where there are no findable records. I am all the time researching names of that era who are essentially "unfindable" -- no census or other records. For example, an early scarce book on gambling is Koschitz's "Manual of Useful Information". I can find nothing on this author (and Koschitz is a fairly unusual name for that era).
2. A situation where a name is so common that you can't figure out which individual bearing that name is the one you are searching for. Suppose, for example, that it is determined that the author's name was E. S. Andrews, and nothing more. Is it Todd Karr's con man? Hatch's Edwin S. Andrews? E. S. Andrews, editor of the Williamston Enterprise newspaper? Rev. E. S. Andrews of Missouri? Methodist Episcopal Bishop E. S. Andrews of New York? Army Sergeant E. S. Andrews, who was stationed at Ft Barrancas, FL in 1895? E. S. Andrews who lived in Helena MT in 1895? E. S. Andrews who graduated from Harvard in 1895, and was in the Delta Sigma Delta fraternity? Farmer E. S. Andrews of Clinton Dale NY? E. S. Andrews of Powell, PA? Deputy Sherriff E. S. Andrews of Oupelousas, LA? Insurance agent E. S. Andrews, of Wisconsin? Spring Water Elixir salesman E. S. Andrews of Poughkeepsie, NY? Policeman E. S. Andrews of Waterloo, IA? Bicycle salesman E. S. Andrews of Santa Fe, NM?

A name is only a starting point.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 29th, 2018, 8:31 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:A name is only a starting point.


I made a point of saying "confirming by consensus who the actual author was", which would presumably require a whole lot more than just a name in order to reach said consensus ... at least a consensus in this thread :)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » May 30th, 2018, 5:56 am

Bloody hell! Have you still not figured it out yet? I suggest you put a list of names down and use a pendulum. It will probably work quite well. Or at least just as well as the methods you are all using.

Or just write each name down on a slip of paper, jumble them up and put the slips in a hat. Draw one out and that will be the answer. That will be just as likely a candidate as the methods you are all pontificating over. The advantage of this method is that it will save you all a lot of time and be just as inaccurate.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » May 30th, 2018, 5:59 am

Roger M. wrote:I would think, if anything ... confirming by consensus who the actual author was would allow us to investigate in detail what kind of amazing life Erdnase lead between roughly 1892 and 1902 ...


I don't think he was doing anything amazing between 1892 and 1902, Roger. By 1892 he had retired as a professional magician and was living in Minneapolis. On the 1895 Census he described himself as a "book agent". Not very exciting. Soon after the Census, he moved to Chicago where he continued to sell books through a team of salesmen.

and what on earth gave him the motivation to write EATCT?


We already know that - he needed the money! The income from the book was not enough to save him, however, and he was declared bankrupt in November, 1902.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » May 30th, 2018, 10:24 am

Zenner wrote:
Roger M. wrote:I would think, if anything ... confirming by consensus who the actual author was would allow us to investigate in detail what kind of amazing life Erdnase lead between roughly 1892 and 1902 ...


I don't think he was doing anything amazing between 1892 and 1902, Roger. By 1892 he had retired as a professional magician and was living in Minneapolis. On the 1895 Census he described himself as a "book agent". Not very exciting. Soon after the Census, he moved to Chicago where he continued to sell books through a team of salesmen.

and what on earth gave him the motivation to write EATCT?


We already know that - he needed the money! The income from the book was not enough to save him, however, and he was declared bankrupt in November, 1902.


Although I don't particularly agree with your conclusions Zenner, I do appreciate your friendly and engaging promotion of Benedict as your preferred candidate!!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 1st, 2018, 6:01 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:The Gardner-Smith Correspondence has long been out of print, and copies don't often come up on the secondary market
Here's one


And it went for $80.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » June 3rd, 2018, 6:33 pm

As of May 28, 2018, Bob updated his linguistic analyses between Sanders and Erdnase:

http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~coyne/erdna ... guage.html

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 6th, 2018, 10:44 am

Have you seen this advertised on ebay?

Product Description
Never before discovered!
Photographs of M.D. SMITH illustrator of Expert at the Card Table grave site. Location, Head Stone, Documentation, contracts, permit numbers, much more....100% correct or double your money back!
You will receive plot diagram, contract, location, and three photographs. Including something very secret and breaks the case.

£22.45 plus £21.41 to post the package to the UK?

I wonder what the "something very secret and breaks the case" item could possibly be ;)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 6th, 2018, 3:22 pm

Nothing I can see on eBay related to any secret M.D. Smith documents or grave site?

Link?

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Zenner
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 6th, 2018, 7:27 pm

Roger M. wrote:Nothing I can see on eBay related to any secret M.D. Smith documents or grave site?

Link?


Well, that's strange. I copied and pasted the wording exactly. There appears to be nothing there now. Perhaps one of our contributors has purchased it and will post their findings.

If I had believed the advert, I would have ordered it myself.

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 6th, 2018, 8:15 pm

The auction has already closed. Link.

Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 6th, 2018, 8:49 pm

I don't specifically recall reading about it, and haven't done a search for it ... but is Smith's gravesite anything "secret"?

Smith died in 1973 at 100 years old - I'm convinced he told Gardner everything he could remember ... so this ad makes very little sense unless the guy is auctioning some sort of secret about Smith himself.


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