Geno Munari wrote: Not one other candidate, besides Andrews, can be connected to a deck of cards. And after looking at the evidence available to me it is a very compelling argument that MFA was indeed Erdnase.
For instance: Andrews's family having knowledge of his magic books and tricks.
2. Testimony from Harte (Harto)
3. Testimony from Dunham.
4. Testimony from Pratt.
5. MFA's use of a form of anagram on many instances.
6. The police finding books on magic in his belongings. Why would MFA carry books like that around if he was just a card cheat?
7. Nothing more has been heard of the author EATCT, since MLF's death.
8. No one has claimed authorship, nor is there any hint of the author ever signing a copy. Surely, if the person writing the book had lived a normal life someone would have claimed authorship. The author was dead and probably never signed a copy. No other claimes were made by anyone else especially from those who were associated with MFA, such as Pratt et al.
9. It was never reported in the tome TMWWE about the private cipher code book MFA had in his belongings and reported in the newspaper. This topic has not even thoroughly discussed or researched.
10. The comments that Walter Gibson made about Erdnase pointing to MFA.
11. Even Smith's commets about Erdnase were no totally clear in his own mind.
12. MFA like to watch magic acts. (see below about Del Adelphia)
Also Whaley writes of loose ends such as:
1.The Andrews and Walsh families. Connie Barrett says Ed Minkley is unwilling to be interveiwed.
2. Info on George Taylor
3. The allegation about Hilliar's pirated books that he brought to Drake.
4. What were August Roterberg's activities in Chicago around 1901-1902. The Card in Hank effect in Expert was in Roterberg's book, New Era Card Tricks, called Penetration of Matter, and uses the same value and black color card, a 5, in the drawing.
5. Edwin Hood who claimed to be a long time friend of Erdnase.
6. The letters of Harte (Harto) that disappeared and never found. Some letters were bought possibly by Waldo Logan and J. Elder Blackledge.
7. Info on Nulda Petrie/Eva Howard. Why is the name Nulda unique to only her. It does not seem to be used any other person.
8. Julia Darby and why did MFA carry press clippings about her missing trunk.
9. Did Charles Ellis leave the US?
10. Del Adelphia and Hugh Johnston's claime they met Erdnase when they were playing the Empire Theater in Denver. We know MFA caught ever magic act possible. MFA was in Colorado then.
And there are more.....Respectfully. GM
Hi Geno, thanks for weighing in on this topic of mutual interest. As you know, I have been rather critical of the MFA theory, though I do find him still to be a "person of interest" in this saga. However, I'll take a moment to comment on some of your points above:
2. Harte told several people he was in contact with Erdnase. That does not have anything to do with MFA. He told no one that MFA=Andrews. Pratt is the only one who made that connection and deserves credit for leading Gardner to that theory of authorship.
3. Durham said Harto told him he had contact with Erdnase. No connection to MFA from Durham...
4. Pratt's testimony can be attacked from many angles, chief among them the fact that he is caught in several lies, such as telling Gardner he knew nothing about any articles in the press about MFA, even though he had already sold the Malted Milk Murder article to Kanter, without ever mentioning it to Gardner. Everything Pratt told Gardner about MFA that can be verified came from that article, including a few things that are not true. It is possible that Pratt knew MFA, though he never claimed to. Instead, he claimed to have been friends with the Taylor brothers, who were friends of MFA. MFA would show the Taylor boys moves, and they would show Pratt. Later Pratt claimed to recognize some of those moves in the book and made the connection (he claimed) that MFA=Andrews. The photo he sold Kanter claiming it was Erdnase is almost certainly a photo of Pratt's older brother. It is certainly not MFA (this is the frontispiece photo in TMWWE). I credit Pratt with being the first to connect MFA to Erndase, but I don't have any high degree of confidence in his testimony, considering it conjecture, based on his reading of the Malted Milk Murder article.
5. Can you give us some examples? MFA gives several aliases in his confession/alibi letters. None of them Erdnase, and I don't recall that any of them were anagrams of his name either, though I could be wrong.
6. Not sure what this proves since we don't know what the books were. If one was EATCT, that would certainly be of interest to his case... But MFA's older brother, who went to California to collect his belongings and advised him to lay low in Australia till the heat was off (evidence of a fairly close filial bond, I think) told Gardner he knew nothing about a book his brother was supposed to have written...
7. This is a strong circumstantial argument in favor of MFA, who conveniently died before the book became a best seller...
8. With more than 3 years after publication for MFA to claim authorship and sign a few copies, I'm not sure this helps bolster his case. I know of at least one copy of the first edition that has "E. S. Andrews" written on the title page (reported in an issue of The Magical Bookie). I'd like to find that copy. Doesn't mean it is a copy signed by the author, more likely an addition by a later owner who recognized or read about the name reversal, but I'd sure like to see it!
9. This is interesting, but not sure where it leads..
10. Gibson's comments led Gardner to Pratt, who, like Gardner, lived in Philadelphia, so that is a dead end (Gibson's info came from Pratt). Strangely, in Radner's book on Poker ghosted by Gibson, he quotes from EATCT and credits the authorship to James Andrews, not MFA! Possibly Gibson was confused due to Gardner's theory of JamES Andrews being a potential candidate, as published in Gibson's CONJURERS MAGAZINE prior to the Radner book.
11. Gardner at the time called Smith's recollection "clear as a bell" and got a very good physical description which remains consistent through subsequent interrogation, and is at variance with the known facts (age and height) of MFA. And Smith is careful to distinguish what he does recall from what he is unsure of...
12. I'm pretty sure this has been discussed before, but Hugh Johnston was just 11 years old when MFA died and the Empress Theater where he recalled meeting Erdnase backstage was not built until two years after MFA died and didn't change its name to the Empress till several years after that. So if Johnston was introduced to Erdnase back stage (and I think the claim worth considering), he could not have met MFA, who had been long dead.
Phew! Back to packing for the TAOM!
PS: As I see it, here are the strong points in favor of the theory of MFA authorship:
1.Last name Andrews
2. Knowledge of material in the book (though he got caught doing the spread, which is not mentioned in the book). Another way of saying this: he is the only current candidate in whose hands we can place a deck of cards
3. Death in 1905 before the book became popular...
Those pro points must be balanced against the many negative points: Youth and lack of education in contrast to the mature voice and sophisticated original techniques in the book, lack of credible testimony tying him to the book, variance in age and height with the testimony of the only eyewitness to the creation of the book, Marshall Smith. I'll raise a point on the MFA theory that I don't think has come up before: There was a nationwide manhunt for MFA after he became the prime suspect in several killings. Surely the police forces at the time interviewed as many known associates of MFA as they could find in their hunt for him. His murder/suicide at the end of that manhunt was a front page story for weeks nationwide, perhaps comparable in our day to the O.J.Simpson saga. Does anyone else find it strange that in their hunt for information on MFA, no one ever identified him as Erdnase (if, indeed, he was Erdnase?) Wouldn't MFA have found it helpful to use the book (assuming it was one of the ones he had with him when he died) to teach his gambling partner Ellis (whom he tried to murder) better card technique? I believe the police also found several decks of marked cards in his possession. Erdnase discusses marked cards in a dismissive way in his book, would Erdnase have had several decks on him several years later (oh, how the mighty have fallen... The "expert" is caught doing the spread...)?