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Re: Erdnase

Posted: September 28th, 2010, 7:09 pm
by John Bodine
Thanks Leonard, i guess by thoughts i meant any new thoughts or leads on this. In my haste i clearly left the intent out.

i'd also be interested in any developments from Todd Karr and Dick Hatch!


Re: Erdnase

Posted: September 29th, 2010, 6:16 pm
by Leonard Hevia
Understood John. Wiseman's work is definitely interesting. I know that David Alexander is currently studying the diaries of his candidate Wilbur E. Sanders. The pond is still right now...

Re: Erdnase

Posted: September 30th, 2010, 11:02 am
by Roger M.
It's been linked to a few times before, but Mr. Wilbur E. Sanders epic tome on Mine Timbering provides an interesting opportunity to compare language use while this thread goes through a slow period: ... 0/mode/2up

Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 10th, 2010, 3:57 pm
by Geno Munari
For Richard Hatch-

You wrote in an early post, quoted here:

"The earliest known advertisement for it is in the Sphinx in November 1902. (It is briefly mentioned in the September issue.) What was he doing with copies in the meantime? The first edition copy in the Houdini collection at the Library of Congress had been Adrian Plate's copy, and written in Plate's handwriting (at least I believe it to be Plate's handwriting!) at the bottom of the title page it says "Sold by James McKinney and Company" and gives their Chicago address. How did Plate, in New York, know this? I assume he might have seen an advertisement for it in the non-magical press. I'm looking for such an ad. If anyone spots it, please let me know!"

(Genii Forum Post by R. Hatch Feb. 7, 2003)

Did you ever get any more info on this post?

On another topic:

In Erdnase's EACT: In the magic section there are many inclusions about mentalism or "Methods for Determining a Card Thought of" and then further on, "A Mind-Reading Trick", and further on, he writes, "
Or he may assume the power of mind-reading", which is about a pre-arranged deck.

There is really a lot of information on mind reading etc. in this book of gambling sleights and legerdemain. If the collaborator, and if there was a collaborator, he or she must have had a good deal of knowledge about this subject.

Why would the main writer, who appears to be a hard core player, "because he needs the money", dabble or include mind reading in this book about cheating at cards?

Erdnase was a player and pretty unlikely to have performed mental magic. But he may have.

So the collaborator of EACT may have had a good deal of knowledge about mind reading.

Harto (Harte) could have been the collaborator as reported by many sources. He was a mentalist. Here is the listing in Magicpedia:

James S. Harto was a professional magician that performed a mind-reading act as "Chandra, The Mystic".
His first performance as at the Bristol Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1886.

Interesting because Worcester was not so far away from the home of MFA.

The above are just notes and ideas that may have some interest to some of you. No dogma or proven points. Any thoughts?

Oct 10, 2010

Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 11th, 2010, 8:16 pm
by John Bodine
Has anyone researched the E.S. Andrews who wrote "Andrews' Mercantile Protective Method" in 1889 as mentioned in the Sessional Papers of the Parliament of Canada? ... ws&f=false

Or the creator of the E.S. Andrews' (Chicago) Knee Splint referenced here? c1890 ... ws&f=false

Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 19th, 2010, 11:45 pm
by Richard Hatch
Geno, no additional information on the Adrian Plate/James McKinney connection or possibly non-magic ads for the book predating the November 1902 Sphinx ad.

John, those are both new "E. S. Andrews" references to me and the second seems particularly interesting, given both the "Chicago" reference and the fact that the Knee Splint looks rather like a card hold out!

Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 22nd, 2010, 2:04 pm
by John Bodine
i think the Dr. E.S. Andrews is a bit too old but a doctors hands would certainly be kept in good shape. He had 3 sons, 2 of which i've found names for and neither was an E.S. but perhaps the third son...

On a separate note... i believe Marshall Smith attended the SAM convention in May of 1947. Any idea how many people attended and if he had other contact with magicians? i'm curious to know how many copies of the book he may have signed.

And finally, yesterday was Martin Gardner's birthday, certainly someone we owe thanks to for his part in the Erdnase puzzle - a puzzle he was unable to solve before his passing.


Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 31st, 2010, 8:37 pm
by Roger M.
One thing the new iGenii access has allowed is the ability to re-read, in a linear format, some of the finest of the columns that have appeared in Genii over the years.

One of those columns is The Giorgio Letters by Tony Giorgio.

Long time readers of Genii will recall that Giorgio began the series of columns with a somewhat withering attack on Erdnase's credibility.
He vacillated initially.......finally deciding that Erdnase was in fact a magician, and had never moved under fire.

His statement is unequivocal by the end of the initial series of columns.......Erdnase was a magician masquerading as a hustler.

Now taken as a linear "weekend read" (thanks to iGenii) I've just completed reading ALL of Giorgio's columns.
I have to admit that I have mixed views on Giorgio's opinions and statements, but that he continually backs up his opinions with actual examples and hard evidence of why he thinks Erdnase wasn't a gambler or hustler......but rather a magician.

I should point out that I have consummate respect for Tony Giorgio, and that the weight of his statements as to why he thinks Erdnase wasn't a hustler seem to acquire more impact when read "all at once" iGenii lets us now do.

I temper Giorgio's opinion with my own opinion that Giorgio definitely was "making hay" with his initial columns taking Erdnase and those who "worship" Erdnase to task.
In fact, it would be fair to say that "The Giorgio Letters" got their initial traction by Giorgio's unrelenting "attack" on the dogma surrounding EATCT.
Nothing scores readers than somebody "taking the piss" out of a dogmatic piece of text.
I will submit though that Giorgio hardly "came up with" this theory just to get a column in he argued endlessly with his friend Dai Vernon about this very topic years before he ever wrote for Genii.

So, the "making of hay" may be fairly offset by Giorgio's undeniable authority on the subject and re-begs the question................."could Erdnase have in fact been a magician?"

The question has been asked many times before, but personally I've always felt it to be a ridiculous question when I heard, or read it being posited.

Reading "The Giorgio Letters" one after the other this weekend, the weight that Tony Giorgio puts behind his overall argument seems to be weight that can't be simply ignored..........and weight that has never been credibly addressed or rebutted, something Giorgio gleefully points out in a recent "Giorgio Letters" column.

I suggest folks with iGenii access read The Giorgio Letters in their entirety, and then ask the question:

"Could Erdnase have been a magician"?

Personally, I'm just asking the question.......if anything, my mind is far more open after reading Giorgio's writings than it was before reading them, but I'm not convinced one way or the other just yet.

It might be fair to say that Tony Giorgio's work in his series of columns on who Erdnase might have been has never been fairly placed in the overall context of the search for the author of EATCT.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: October 31st, 2010, 9:19 pm
by Glenn Bishop
I also have the opinion that Erdnase was a magician. And I think that he may be one of the first magicians playing the part of the magician/card shark.


Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 1st, 2010, 1:25 pm
by Jeff Pierce Magic
John I also stated a few pages back that I thought he might be a doctor, although I had nothing to back it up with, just a hunch.

There were over 1200 attends at the 1947 SAM convention in Chicago.

Jeff Pierce

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 3rd, 2010, 5:31 pm
by John Bodine
Thanks for the information on the SAM Convention Jeff. i remember seeing a picture, maybe in TMWWE, of Smith with several magicians, signing copies of the book. Would love to get more information about the convention, handouts, etc. but imagine most of it is in the Gardner-Smith correspondence or TMWWE. Time to go reread.

As for magician vs. gambler, my money is on gambler. Working the cellar but exploring several other areas of advantage play. To describe with such clarity the moves in the book, the psychology and timing of those moves, and recognize that much of their original work was not suitable for the table and therefore moving those pieces to the legerdemain secion - in my opinion places the author more as a gambler than magician. But before passing final judgment, i'll go reread the Giorgio letters.


Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 8th, 2010, 1:49 pm
by Sebastien L.
Roger, have you read Steve Forte's article on Erdnase in Genii? It is also available on the Genii archive and may prove illuminating.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 8th, 2010, 5:51 pm
by Roger M.
I have read that article.......but it was long enough ago that your suggestion above causes me to to read it once again tonight.

Further to my thoughts above, the gist of my post is that, if one accepts Giorgio as one of the few "real" hustlers......then his many dozens of comments as to why Erdnase wasn't a hustler should likely be addressed for the record.

It's not obligatory of course :) , and there are many who might suggest that Erdnase purposely threw in some distinctly "wrong" terminology to further conceal his tracks.

I've spent 40+ years firmly on the "he was a gambler" side of the equation......but I do hold Giorgio high in terms of respect, and consider him one of the very few true hustlers to have put his thoughts down in the popular press.

I believe one would have great difficulty with all of the "Giorgio Letters" in hand at once, and being called upon to refute each of Giorgio's points (and he made perhaps 60-100 different ones).
If anything, reading them all on iGenii has made me more open minded than I was prior.

............but off now to re-read the Forte Genii article.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 8th, 2010, 8:47 pm
by elsielefe
"how would people feel about an Erdnase price guide and comprehensive list of editions and variations? "

I propose we call such derivative works "Urdnase" and encourage such things.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 11th, 2010, 9:39 am
by greg manwaring
On a side note, has anyone here handled decks from back in Erdnases' era and compared it with the decks that we're used to handling today? In terms of size, card stock, etc. Were moves harder to execute on the card stock from back then? I'm just curious.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 11th, 2010, 10:42 am
by Richard Kaufman
Decks from 1910 are pretty much the same in feel as now.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 11th, 2010, 12:07 pm
by greg manwaring
Thanks Walt, uh, I mean Richard!! ;)

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 11th, 2010, 2:50 pm
by Richard Kaufman
In collecting DeLand material, I've also had a chance to handle decks of cards from the period. They were coated (shellac, I think) with a nice finish and handled very well.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 8:05 am
by Magic Fred
Having briefly reviewed Giorgio's comments, and knowing the name by reputation only, I must say I was extremely surprised and even disappointed by many of his observations.

I did appreciate and agree with a lot of what he has to say but, in my opinion, a significant amount of his tearing down required first the erection of straw men...

As one example, consider his comments regarding using the top palm to palm off a setup of 20 cards or more. Granted, Erdnase doesn't specify a complete strategy for using his palming system to gain an advantage, but I think it is pretty clear to anybody who studies the book that Erdnase had something rather more sophisticated in mind:

He references games other than Poker throughout the book and, for example, there are games where you can bust a player by ensuring he receives just one high/low card - a stack of 4 cards is enough to bust, or at least have information on the cards held by the first 4 players. If you can't win in the long run with that kind of advantage, you shouldn't be in the game.

Further, there are games where the cards are dealt 2 at a time to players, 3 at a time etc. (as opposed to rounds of single cards) thus significantly shortening the "stack size to benefit" ratio.

Even if my specific examples are flawed it is still incorrect, in my opinion, to assume that Erdnase would have advocated the palming of a 20 or 30 card top stock and then use this assumption to ridicule him.

In anticipation of the inevitable - yes I am aware of Mr Giorgio's lofty reputation and this is not an attack on his character nor his expertise. I just happen to disagree with some of his analysis and I hope I have provided enough evidence to back up my reasoning.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 9:07 am
by El Mystico
There are several signs in the book that Erdnase taught gambling techniques - eg p22, teaching a blind shuffle in 5 mins, p24 the size of hand doesn't matter, p73 refering to instructing certain players.
Of course, this doesn't prove that he was a gambler himself.

But, from my reading, I'm not convinced he performed card tricks; eg p 172 he doesnt say "I'm giving you my patter", he says he has 'garnished' the tricks to show the part that patter plays.

Nor do I see any sign that he taught the tricks to others.

p122 convinces me that he did perform the 3 card monte as an entertainment. Although the comment there about bearing repetition, and the comment on p119 about amateurs entertaining friends suggests to me that's what he did.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 12:49 pm
by Ryan Matney
El Mystico,

It has long been said that the conjuring section was written by someone other than Erdnase. That would explain the inconsistencies you site.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 1:49 pm
by El Mystico
Hi Ryan;

Sorry, I wasn't very clear.

I've followed most of the debates about Erdnase over the years; I know the two author theory.

I think I was trying to make two points.

First - in terms of Georgio's claims that he wasn't a gambler - the signs are in the book that he taought gambling techniques.

Second - if the magic section was written by someone else, he picked someone who doesn't seem to have mixed much with other magicians, didn't teach card tricks, and seems to have performed as an amateur.

Lots of "seems" in there I know!

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 3:29 pm
by Roger M.
The erection of the Straw Man is an excellent point Magic Fred.

Reading your post caused me to go back and re-read a few things myself.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 5:21 pm
by Ryan Matney
El Mystico,

Ah, ok, I see now.
I forget who was supposed to have written the magic section but I'm sure it's in this thread somewhere. Maybe Max Holden?

Interesting thoughts though.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 6:56 pm
by Magic Fred
To me, it is abundantly clear that the same man wrote both sections of the book.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 17th, 2010, 9:21 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
Was that another straw man erection?

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 18th, 2010, 3:45 am
by Magic Fred
I must confess that I have no idea what you are referring to.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 18th, 2010, 1:16 pm
by Magic Fred
Another example is in using known facts about Milton Franklin Andrews to discredit Erdnase and his book.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 2:46 pm
by Magic Fred
If anyone's interested, there are also ample grounds to doubt Mr Giorgio's "strongest" piece of evidence - that of Erdnase's language.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 7:26 pm
by Bill Mullins
Where does Giorgio describe issues with Erdnase's language?

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 7:29 pm
by Magic Fred
In his Genii columns. He says it's his strongest evidence to suggest that Erdnase was not a gambler.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 7:39 pm
by Bill Mullins
I supposed you were talking about his Genii columns. Which one is my question -- issue date?

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 7:48 pm
by Magic Fred
He mentions it throughout, But for example:

"Perhaps the most persuasive evidence in support of my contention that the author of Expert was a magician and not a card cheater is found in the language employed by the author. "

-August 2003

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 8:12 pm
by Roger M.
I'm certainly listening................

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 8:22 pm
by Bill Mullins
Thanks. But his argument is one of opinion: "I don't think Erdnase sounds like a gambler." Which is hard to refute, and hard to support with evidence.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 20th, 2010, 11:23 pm
by Pete McCabe
I think Erdnase was a writer.

I don't think people write something as long as Expert, especially something as technically demanding, without being a writer first. I think he was a writer who enjoyed practicing and doing (but not necessarily performing) sleight of hand. I think he studied gambling and magical techniques, as so many do who enjoy practicing and doing sleight of hand. He collected what he learned, and developed many ideas on his own, and wrote a book.

I should point out that I am not a really serious student of the subject, and I have no real argument to advance my opinion. But I know this: whoever it was that wrote the book, the only fact we know absolutely for sure about him is that he wrote a book.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 21st, 2010, 2:33 am
by Magic Fred
He supports his argument with what he believes to be evidence. Therefore it is very easy to refute (or at least attempt to) either by presenting contradictory evidence or by demonstrating that his evidence is flawed.

Just because something is voiced as an opinion does not mean it can not be convincingly shown to be wrong, or at least likely to be wrong. The phrase "just my opinion" is not a magical justifier of all viewpoints. As readers of the Genii forum should certainly have realised by now!

Giorgio points out evidence that suggests the author of the book was certainly a gambler. He also presents evidence that the book must have been written by a magician. Therefore he concludes that the author enlisted the help of a gambler, thus explaining those portions which make it plainly obvious that the author was intimately familiar with gamblers and the world of hustling.

I, however, feel his logic in arriving at his conclusions to suggest a magician is flawed. If it can convincingly been shown to be the case, then we are left only with compelling evidence that Erdnase was in fact a gambler.

Of course we can never be completely sure, but if the arguments don't stand up then there is no reason to believe that the book was written by a magician. I believe there are strong grounds to believe that the book was written by one man, and that he was a gambler.

I have already highlighted one example which I believe refutes Mr Giorgio's claims that Erdnase was not writing from experience regarding his system of palming, and I believe I can cast similar doubt on most of the evidence used to conclude that he was a magician.

The language issue, for example, (assuming Mr Giorgio is correct that Erdnase does not use the terms one would expect) can be easily explained due to the fact that Erdnase informs us that he is entirely self taught. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that he did not socialise with such company where he would have picked up the common hustling terms of the times.

It is also quite probable that Erdnase dabbled in magic, and was at least familiar with a number of the classic texts of the time, thus explaining how certain phrases from the magicians world may have crept into his vocabulary. Not having been schooled by hustlers, he would have had no impulse to strictly segregate his language used when talking about the two different branches.

In short, I do not believe the language used supports the conclusion that the book was written by a magician.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 21st, 2010, 3:11 am
by Magic Fred
I would find it difficult to disagree with any of that, except for my contention that he was certainly a gambler.

In fact, it is the same reasoning that is largely responsible for my conclusion. His cheating "systems" are just as beautiful and elegant as his writing style. So, as it would be logical for an accomplished writer to conclude that Erdnase was also an expert in that field, it is logical for a gambler to conclude that his cheating expertise comes from "professional" experience.

I do believe, however, that the true artistry in his methods has been somewhat clouded by the recent projects proclaiming to have brought his techniques to life in video format. They are not a fair reflection of what is described in the book.

P.S. Is there a problem with the quoting feature? I can't seem to get it to work. I hope it's clear which posts I am responding to.

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 21st, 2010, 1:55 pm
by Ryan Matney
So, if you think the same man wrote both sections of the book and this man was also a gambler that was familar with working real games and cheating to make money, then why all of the card presentations with elaborate patter? What use would those ever be to a real gambler who wanted to hide his skill?

Also, there are several instances in the magic section that suggest he did in fact perform card tricks pretty often. And the fact that he included a sleight that belonged to Houdini and some of the other magic suggests that he had a subscription to Mahatma or Stanyon's Magic or at least had read them.

I'm not an Erdnase scholar at all but I also remember there being a famous exclusion of a gambling technique that was popular at the time. Someone could chime in and help me here as I can not find where I read this bit.

Vernon asserted that because Erdnase "betrays no confidences" he does not explain the currently (at that time) popular technique and surely knew of it.

But to my mind, that would also strongly suggest that he did not move in gambling circles and did NOT know about the current technique. Being self taught as he proclaimed, why would he?

Just to play devil's advocate as I do not have a strong opinion on this, but doesn't that suggest a magician with an armchair interest in gambling?

Re: Erdnase

Posted: November 21st, 2010, 2:05 pm
by El Mystico
Are we getting a picture of a loner?

Someone who didn't know other gambling cheaters; which explains why he spends so little time discussing working in conjuction with partners - which I understand is the most common way of cheating at gambling.
And why his knowledge of magic is limited to a few books.

PS Ryan - what are the suggestions that he performed card magic quite often? Yes, I can believe he did three card monte as amateur entertainment. but other examples?