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Posted: August 20th, 2014, 5:00 pm
Bill, great questions.
I’m not what I would call an expert on playing-card evolution, but I do discuss certain playing cards of the latter part of the nineteenth century on my card-game booklet blog (not my Erdnase blog), largely because of my interest in questions like, “What kind of playing cards did Professor Hoffmann use?”
But I have never been clear on when the transition to cards with indices can be said to have ended, as to mainstream US cards. R.F. Foster, in his Foster’s Whist Manual
(in an edition dated 1890), says:
The card next demanding attention is the Jack. This card was formerly called the Knave; but since the general adoption of the index, or squeezer mark, on the edges of playing cards, it has come to be known by the initial J, which stands for "Jack."
The foregoing can be seen on Google Books, in a copy digitized by Google from an example at Harvard University. The particular copy referred to is actually inscribed by Foster to the Harvard College Library!
In any event, it is difficult to generalize. And I have the impression that a lot of people writing about with the indices don’t really have a handle on when the transition can be said to have concluded, in part because you will see many generalizations that don't add up to much.
Personally, I doubt that Erdnase posed with different styles at different times, but it is quite possible that the differences portrayed in the illustrations are significant in various ways.
Posted: August 22nd, 2014, 9:20 pm
One of the reasons Bill Mullins’s most recent post on this thread is so interesting is that the presence or absence of indices on the fronts of the cards is an objective way of discriminating between different types of drawings in The Expert at the Card Table.
In that sense, it is somewhat parallel to the presence or absence of individual copyright notices on the pictures, as discussed a long time ago on this thread by Richard Hatch.
With regard to the indices, Bill’s post more or less presupposes that all of the illustrations were produced by one person -- and Bill provides a few possible explanations for the differences. (I don’t know what Bill’s opinion is on the question of whether more than one artist might have been involved.)
But if one surmises that more than one artist was involved, I guess a hypothesis would be that the drawings with indices were drawn by one artist, and that the ones without were drawn by a different artist.
Upon quickly going through all of the illustrations, the ones I see that portray cards without indices are Fig. 2, Fig. 33, and Fig. 83.
At the moment, I don’t see anything about those three that particularly distinguishes those illustrations as a group from the ones showing indices. (I see maybe 27 that seem to portray indices.)
Also, Fig. 33 is one of the illustrations for "Two-Card Stock," which starts on page 69. There are also two other illustrations in the section, Fig. 34 and Fig. 35. Fig. 35 shows only the backs, but Fig. 34 appears to show a little of one index, toward the right of the illustration. It seems reasonable to presume that those three illustrations were all drawn by the same person, and if this is the case, then one artist drew a card with an index and without an index.
Of course, the majority of the illustrations do not show the fronts of any cards. (By the way, I don’t necessarily think all of the illustrations were drawn by one person.)
Posted: August 22nd, 2014, 9:34 pm
If the artist was working very quickly, the easiest thing to leave out are the indices, because they're a pain in the ass to draw because they're so small.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 12:18 am
Tom Sawyer wrote: (I don’t know what Bill’s opinion is on the question of whether more than one artist might have been involved.)
1. That all illustrations were done by Marshall Smith.
2. That the illustrations were from life (not traced from photographs).
3. That Smith did a good job of conveying important details (for example, finger placement), and was sloppy on unimportant details (cuffs, indices, fingernails, etc.)
4. That the squiggle lines on the card backs were not meant to convey that the cards used were Bee 216s.
5. That Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
6. That there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter (oh, sorry, went off on a Bull Durham tangent there).
Smith probably didn't get paid a lot, and he didn't put more into the drawings than they required. Court cards take more effort to draw than low-value number cards, so we get lots of low-value number cards. The only illustration that requires specificity and accuracy in the values of the cards is the last one, so it is detailed.
(I've always been amazed at how much detail Kelly Lyles puts into Bicycle card backs.)
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 3:38 am
Just an FYI, by 1902 it would have been very difficult to find a deck of cards intended for serious play that did NOT have indices. They start showing up in the mid-1860s, roughly 35 years before TEATCT was published. Just a few years later in 1905, the Ritter book puts dozens of marked decks on display (he mostly shows the backs) and every single one of them is a deck of cards with indices.
Indices caught on so quickly that it's entirely possible Erdnase never saw a deck of cards without them.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 4:07 am
I don't know if anyone has brought this up before, but for some time now I've believed that the copyright notices were placed only under the illustrations where Erdnase felt he had some original thinking or innovation.
For instance, the Erdnase system of shuffling has plenty of copyright notices. Some of the more common shuffling moves do not. His system of palming has them, but not cutting to bridges, crimps or jogs. The Erdnase bottom deal section has them, as does the first second deal (the one he prefers). The other does not.
The vast majority of the Erdnase-invented shifts have them. The classic pass which is mush older than Erdnase, does not. Three card monte, which was ancient, does not.
Incidentally, the Erdnase first transformation has them, but the back palm and top change (2 moves we know he didn't invent) do not.
You guys get the idea.
Now, I'm not saying Erdnase was always correct when he assigned or omitted a copyright notice to/from something, and of course copyrighting an illustration doesn't protect the idea presented in that illustration, but I still think there's something to this theory. I think Erdnase thought he was protecting his ideas by copyrighting the illustrations that depicted those ideas. When the idea being illustrated wasn't his idea, he didn't add the notice.
By the way, considering the strange copyright notice at the front of the book, this sort of makes sense that the author misunderstood the kinds of protections he was or wasn't getting by adding a bunch of individual copyright notices throughout the illustrations.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 10:48 am
Thanks, Jason, for the info on indices. Your comments reminded me of the 1900 article
on Alfred Benzon. Those photographs also show cards with indices.
Also intriguing thoughts about copyright notices. Under current law, I believe, if the book were assembled and published today, the copyright to the illustrations would be held by Smith even if Erdnase put a notice under them. For Erdnase to hold the copyright, his agreement with Smith would have to explicitly transfer them, either as "work for hire", or another agreement in which Smith conveys them outright.
I don't know how it worked 100 years ago.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 12:48 pm
Jason, thanks for the clarification regarding the timeline of card indices. As for the hypothesis that Erdnase's copyright notices match techniques that he invented, I also followed that line of inquiry a few years ago.
I won't reiterate your examples, but I will note that there are meaningful exceptions. A few:
--Copyright notice for the first two illustrations of the Diagonal Palm-Shift (an Erdnase original), but not for the final illustration.
--Copyright notice for the First Method Transformation, as you point out. But that move had been previously published in several sources (in all cases attributed to Houdini), and as Darwin Ortiz observes, even the illustration closely matches one previously published.
--Some of Erdnase's original techniques are not marked with a copyright. His system of palming, for example, gives several methods for palming, but includes copyright notice for only some of the illustrations. More obvious might be the Sixth Method Transformation or the Longitudinal Shift--both explicitly Erdnase originals that lack copyright notices on their illustrations.
--Some of the techniques that we assume as ancient may not have been so old--at least not in the way that Erdnase describes them. Three Card Monte, as you say, was ancient. But Erdnase's methodology (or at least his writeup of it) was, as far as I can tell, original to him. (Just try learning Erdnase's Monte from Robert-Houdin or Maskelyne's write-ups! For that matter, try learning Vernon's from Erdnase's...) The same is true of the Mexican Turnover. While we have ample evidence that these moves were being used before Erdnase wrote his book, we don't have very good evidence that Erdnase was describing commonly used moves. Despite his lack of sticking his name on them, I think it's important to put an asterisk next to things such as his Monte hypes and his Mexican Turnover. Until evidence proves otherwise, they may be original.
In any case, I think it's a useful line of inquiry, but that there are too many exceptions to prove the rule.
(I do have a personal theory about the copyright notices. "But that is another story.")
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 5:42 pm
Completely agree with your exceptions to the "rule" as it were. I'm just wondering if the intent was to protect the images he felt contained information that was completely original with him vs ones where he was building on other work.
Somewhere between that intent and the actual execution could account for the discrepancies.
By the way, I know of one place the First Transformation was published prior to Erdnase, but the author (Selbit) only credits Houdini for showing him the move, not necessarily inventing it. Where is another?
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 6:22 pm
Jason England wrote:By the way, I know of one place the First Transformation was published prior to Erdnase, but the author (Selbit) only credits Houdini for showing him the move, not necessarily inventing it. Where is another?
Jason -- Here
is a description of Houdini doing what appears to be the color change. Here
is a description of the change, credited to Houdini (and the New Penny Magazine
of 2/9/1901 it is reprinted from would also contain it). Both predate Erdnase. They don't explain it but do describe it. (check your email for the newspaper account and the New Penny Magazine article)Here
some guy named Kaufman mentions that there are multiple publications linking the color change to Houdini. Maybe he follows the forum, and can list them.
Posted: August 23rd, 2014, 6:57 pm
Sorry, Jason, I should have included those references. Thanks Bill!
I will say that although we don't have an explicit statement along the lines of "Harry Houdini invented this lovely color change..." in the early literature, the first pictures of the effect show Houdini performing it, and the earliest appearances of the effect in magic literature name Houdini as the source. So for my money, it's Houdini's.
The only thing we really don't have--that I think we should have--is Houdini thumping his chest about "his" move being in Vernon's favorite book.
Posted: August 24th, 2014, 4:39 pm
I agree that Houdini has the strongest case. If I had to vote, I'd vote for him due to the published record.
But Houdini's reputation as a sub-par card handler makes you wonder if a third party (not Erdnase) didn't show it to him and Houdini got it into print first.
Posted: August 25th, 2014, 1:52 pm
Richard Hatch once asked
Anyone know . . . the date of publication of Selbit's book?
after having just previously posted
But Selbit's book also reached the States quickly and could well have been read by Erdnase while preparing his book. Frederick J. Drake advertised copies of Selbit's book in 1901,
David Alexander asked
the same question.
Some data points:
the book for sale in early Jan 1902.Mahatma
Jan 1902 lists the book for sale from the Mahatma offices.
The 11/29/1901 issue of The Showman
has a letter from Arizona Bill of San Francisco, dated 11/7/1901, saying the book has arrived.
Henry Ridgely Evans, writing in the 11/8/1901 issue of The Showman
, says "We are all waiting for Selbit's book to arrive in America." Two pages later in the same issue are excerpts of reviews of the book from The Star
, the Glasgow Herald
, and Sporting Life
The 11/1/1901 issue of The Showman
has letter from T. Nelson Downs and will Goldston favorably reviewing the book.
The Oct 11 1901 issue of The Showman
lists the book as being "on the market". However, in the 9/20/1901 issue is a letter from a Arizona Bill, now of Los Angeles, asking "Please forward me a copy of the Magician's Handbook, by the showman's friend, "Selbit," to whom kindly convey my compliments." So word of the book had gotten out in America by Sept 1901. Note that the 9/1901 issue of Mahatma said that Selbit was a sub-editor of The Showman
, and he did in fact have regular conjuring columns in the magazine. There was an unsigned profile of Houdini in the 1/18/1901 issue which may have been done by Selbit, offering an occasion at which Houdini could have taught the transformation to him.
The 10/4/1901 (a Friday) issue of The Showman
says that " "The Magicians' Handbook" will be ready next Monday [10/7/1901]".
The 9/27/1901 issue of The Showman
has this exchange in letters to the editor:
I sent you 2/9 for "The Magician's Handbook" last week, and received a receipt, but no book. How is this?
The book is not quite ready yet. At the last moment it was decided to put some more matter into the work, and consequently this delayed the date of publication. It is almost ready to be sent out now, and will be published during the next fortnight.
Selbit was on the front cover of the Sep 1901 issue of Mahatma
, and the text says "He is just putting the finishing touches to an encyclopedia of the magic art, a work entitled "The Magician's Handbook"."
So, best guess is that the book was published in the UK on or about 10/7/1901, and copies were in America by the first week of November. It was widely available (as these things go) by the first of the year. It is possible that people who knew Selbit had advance notice of the book and its contents (Arizona Bill did a snake handling act and was a regular correspondent of The Showman
Posted: August 27th, 2014, 2:24 pm
I have linked several times to a set of photos
of Alfred Benzon doing some gambling sleights. They include the earliest photos that I know of anyone doing either a second deal or a bottom deal.Here
is another early photograph of bottom dealing, from The Harmsworth London Magazine
v10 #58, May 1903. An odd technique is depicted -- the card is withdrawn lengthwise, instead of from the side.
Posted: August 27th, 2014, 2:38 pm
I'm sure this data is either not available or it has been discussed but it occurred to me while reading the 1902 ad for EATCT in the Sphinx that Erdnase was most likely a subscriber to The Sphinx. I wondered if anyone did a cross check on the old Sphinx subscriber list with the names of the usual suspects when it comes to his identity. That would assume there was an extant subscriber list for the Sphinx, which is a big assumption.
Posted: August 27th, 2014, 6:38 pm
I never heard of Erdnase, I was going to go back and read throught the thread but I don't have a month to go through the thousands of posts. This topic has more than 1.3 million views, amazing. I read up on Erdnase on Wikipedia so at least I know what it is about. Pretty interesting.
Posted: August 27th, 2014, 8:17 pm
You've never heard of Erdnase? You must not read magic books or do close-up magic. What type of magic do you do?
Posted: August 27th, 2014, 10:36 pm
I like close-up but don't have any books (at least not yet).
Posted: August 28th, 2014, 6:13 am
Bill McCloskey . . .
I can’t remember having heard that idea before. It seems like quite a good idea, too, though as you say it seems pretty unlikely that a subscriber list from The Sphinx (or, say, Mahatma) in those days would have been preserved -- but maybe such exists somewhere.
Also, it seems conceivable that Erdnase might have contributed articles (under his real name) to one or more magic magazines of that era. Or at least he might have been mentioned in some context or other. And I believe that membership rosters of the SAM exist, but I am not sure when the earliest ones date from.
I do think at least some checking of known names has been done already (people have said that R.F. Foster -- who some consider to be a candidate -- was an SAM member), but it occurs to me that such lists (membership rosters and such) might be the source of new names that could be considered.
(Personally, I don't consider Foster a candidate, in part because he was very concerned about protecting people from being cheated.)
Again, it's possible that these lines have already been investigated.
Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 12:05 am
To my way of thinking, any Chicago publisher which was operating in that city around the time The Expert at the Card Table was first published (in 1902) should be of some interest -- at least, if they published magic books.
One Chicago publisher which many magicians know is the Max Stein Publishing House. A predecessor of that company was The Stein Co., which was in operation in Chicago during the Erdnase era (though I don’t know whether Stein issued any magic books during that era).
The Stein Co. was at 348-350 State Stret in 1902, according to The Publishers' Weekly, January 25, 1902.
This is within what one might consider the "Erdnase area" of town.
Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 1:53 am
Interesting. So it was maybe 400-500 feet south of where State met Congress. In other words, a short walk from where Smith recalled meeting Erdnase.
And while recent posts on your blog seem to rule out the existence of a hotel at the SE corner of State and Congress in 1902, a 1906 Sanborn Fire Insurance shows that west side of State, from Vanburen (1 block north of Congress) to Harrison (1 block south of Congress; Congress started at State and went east, and State was uninterrupted from Vanburen to Harrison on the west) had several hotels. It also had two theaters (the Trocadero, which seems to have been a burlesque house, and an unnamed Dime Museum).
Stein was a bit of a seedy outfit. In Nov 1898, one Max Weiss was arrested there and charged with printing and circulating immoral literature and pictures.
The Chicago History Museum has some records
from Max Stein Publishing in their archives.
Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 3:31 pm
Bill Mullins makes a very good point about other hotels, and there were undoubtedly yet others in the general area as well. The State Hotel (or Bartl's Hotel) looked like the best candidate, and maybe it still is, even though it turns out to be a little further away from the intersection of State Street and Congress Street than previously thought. I have the vibe that Smith's account leaned toward the east side of State Street.
The Stein Co., and Bartl's Hotel, and Drake, and McKinney were all extremely close to each other. (The Publishers' Weekly, February 22, 1902, shows Drake's location as 352-356 Dearborn Street. McKinney's address is often seen as 73 Plymouth Place. The other two addresses are shown a couple of posts ago. Of course, modern Chicago maps are very different than maps from the 1902 era.)
Posted: September 4th, 2014, 2:11 pm
The Expert at the Card Table
exhibits an interesting mix of printing variations across the first edition. These aren't major changes--I've not seen evidence that any of the book was re-set during the first edition. But there are still differences that enter the print run, probably due to the technology used.
As Tom and others have discussed, the copyright page (page 2, unnumbered, first edition) seems to have suffered some damage. I've not seen a first edition copy with any major differences from the errors that have already been discussed.
Similar damage is noticeable on page 29 (first edition), but I have seen some variety in how that damage printed across the first run. The copy that I have seen with the least damage is, interestingly, Edward Gallaway's copy at the Conjuring Arts Research Center. (I believe Gallaway was the main typesetter of the first edition.) Regardless, every first edition I've seen has damaged text on that page, and as a result you will see some punctuation variance--a colon or semicolon after the word "dealing," for example--in editions of the book that have been re-typeset (the "bible" edition) or copied and repaired (Revelations).
However, it's not always reliable to examine only first editions in order to determine the author's original text. Because of the printing and plate-making processes that were probably used, there are various artifacts that entered the first edition. A notable example would be on page 181 (first edition), where it appears that a semicolon follows the phrase "the two-handed shift" near the middle of the page. But an examination of subsequent editions reveals that the dot on the semicolon disappears, suggesting that the actual text might be a simple comma that has been joined by a printing error in the first edition. Indeed, an inspection of the layout standards that were used in the first edition show that it was intended to be a comma--the dot does not aline perfectly with the comma, it is misshaped according to other semicolons used, and the spacing used in the text differentiates between commas and semicolons.
So what matters more: the particular way that the first edition was printed, or Erdnase's original text? That was the question I confronted while editing a new edition of The Expert at the Card Table
SHAMELESS PLUG: It is now available for sale here:https://www.createspace.com/4585106
It should be available through Amazon.com shortly. This edition re-sets the original text in a slightly larger format, preserving the page- and line-breaks of the first edition, but determines its text and punctuation from an examination of a variety of copies and editions. (It also includes a 20-page index to the entire book, along with a few other extras.)
It's not always possible to know Erdnase's original text. But I'd rather aim for using his work as a standard, instead of accepting the quirks of any particular printing.
Posted: September 4th, 2014, 2:59 pm
Bill Mullins wrote:
6. That there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter (oh, sorry, went off on a Bull Durham tangent there).
They didn't have AstroTurf or the DH in 1902...
Posted: September 4th, 2014, 6:40 pm
I found Marty Demarest's post of earlier today to be of high fascination, in part because I have been intrigued by the possibilities of variations within the first printing of The Expert at the Card Table.
As I mentioned on my blog, John Bodine provided me with information regarding the verso of the title pages of four different copies of the first edition. They all seem to exhibit the same degree of damage, type-wise.
I'm pretty sure that the first edition was printed from plates, and generally any further plates derived directly or indirectly from those are going to be basically the same, or, more likely, become worse with each new plate. But with all of the publishers involved, it is possible that there was some branching along the way, and a publisher may have gone back to an earlier printing and derived new plates from there. (This could even happen where the publisher doesn't change.)
I'm wondering how Marty -- in his new version of the book -- handled the oft-mentioned "five mistakes" in Erdnase.
Posted: September 5th, 2014, 9:51 am
I'm wondering how Marty -- in his new version of the book -- handled the oft-mentioned "five mistakes" in Erdnase.
Tom, the short answer to your question is that "The Indexed Expert"
(as I've come to think of the new edition) handles the famous "five errors" by including nineteen of them.
The long answer is that, in addition to the complete, original text of The Expert at the Card Table
and a full index, the book also features an "Errata" that describes and corrects nineteen errors of description and depiction that are in The Expert at the Card Table
. (The errors are retained in the main text of the book.) These errors are purely instructional--they are those that might mislead or confuse a reader with regard to Erdnase's techniques and tricks. An example of one of the "Errata" listings is below:
Page 53, BOTTOM DEALING.
"The [s]second[/s] [third] finger and thumb do the work." (DAI VERNON)
(The word "second" is struck-through, but I don't know how to display that here.)
Each of the nineteen errors is credited to the person who first openly explained and corrected it. This crediting may not be exact, given the underground nature of Erdnase's "scholars." (I use the word "scholar" with a deliberate dose of sarcasm. The notion of tallying and hoarding Erdnase's errors like so many secret treasures is, I find, ridiculous and unscholarly.) For example, Dai Vernon spoke of three technical errors in the book, and yet I could only find a single one of those errors that he first explained himself, either in print, audio or video. As a result, some of Vernon's discoveries are probably credited to Ray Grismer in the "Errata," because it was Grismer who discussed them openly.
Typographical, grammatical, mechanical and linguistic errors have been left unchanged and unnoted in the text of the book. One reason for doing this was to restore Erdnase's text to the publisher/author's original version. The Expert at the Card Table
has become so edited, annotated and expurgated in recent years, that I felt it was time to make a serious effort to conserve a masterpiece of literature. I also think that Erdnase's errors are characteristic of the author, and lend a distinct flavor to his book. They can even provide clues to his identity. Anyone professing to make a textual comparison between Erdnase and another writer should probably be working with Erdnase's original text, and not the many erroneous versions that have been published. The difference between a comma and a semicolon, or the words "sleight" and "slight," are essential in that sort of work.
However, I am also personally very interested in all the variations that creep into a book--especially first editions of The Expert at the Card Table
. I've greatly enjoyed the posts on your blog, Tom
, that delve deeply into that aspect. It would also be interesting to hear, from collectors and scholars who have substantial Erdnase collections, about the changes that gradually entered into subsequent editions. For example: Who changed the "Table of Contents" on page 5 (first edition), from "Top Loosing One Card" to "Top Losing One Card"? And why were two illustrations and more than two dozen important pages--by Erdnase and Vernon's own admissions--cut from Revelation
? (Even more mysterious to me: How could magicians praise that book for including "the entire working content" with "all the original illustrations," as it was in reviews such as Jamy Ian Swiss's in Genii
?)The Expert at the Card Table
has an extensive and fascinating history of publication. I'm happy to have been able to add to that legacy, and I hope that the restoration of the book's text, the creation of a full index and the inclusion of an "Errata" will be useful to all readers of Erdnase.
Posted: September 6th, 2014, 6:28 pm
Marty, thank you for all your contributions,,I look forward to the new book
I believe that between Jason England's collection and my collection of various printings we have the most complete printed history of Erdnase. I have been assembling a document that lists all of the known (to me) variants and plan to out it onto the web before long. This includes minor variations such as changes to advertising, binding, printing bugs (early Drake) and color variants of both paper and hardback. I would be happy to share the current list with anyone who is interested ahead of it going online. I believe my collection spans approximately 80 of the over 90 known variants. Should you be interested in me looking anything up in any of my copies I'm also happy to do that.
Posted: September 8th, 2014, 10:54 am
John--yes please! (Will try to contact you through other channels.) Jason England brought some of his collection to The Erdnaseum and it was inspiring to see the extent of The Expert
's printed history.
One of the variations that interests me the most is the change made to page 5 (first edition). As far as I know it's the first example of Erdnase's text being entirely reset in an edition of The Expert
. When did that happen? And did the "new" page 5 replace the old one in all subsequent editions, or is there evidence that the original survived?
The new edition--"The Indexed Expert"--is now available through Amazon.com
. Shipping should be faster than they state. For my money, the index is my second favorite part of the book: 20 tightly packed pages of reasons and ways to reencounter the original.
John, can you tell me if this is the first complete index?
Posted: September 8th, 2014, 3:09 pm
Marty, thanks for the kind words about my current S.W. Erdnase blog a few posts ago.
The index (as portrayed on Amazon.com) to your new edition looks amazingly detailed.
I'm sure that John Bodine will have a better answer regarding page 5, but I have a copy with one page of advertisements in the back, showing the Drake address of 179 North Michigan Avenue.
The book's main text ends on page 178. There is no page number whatsoever at the bottom of page 5. (I suppose it had worn away from the plate, or someone may have removed the remaining fragment.) That page uses the word "Loosing."
The Publishers' Weekly, Volume 113, Part 2, 1928 (based on a "snippet view" on Google Books) appears to show that Drake planned to move to that address on April 1, 1928. The same source also confirms that a move to that address took place.
I believe they used that address until probably 1940.
In summary, I have a copy from 1928 or later that has the word "Loosing" on page 5.
Posted: September 8th, 2014, 4:35 pm
John Bodine wrote:I would be happy to share the current list with anyone who is interested ahead of it going online. I believe my collection spans approximately 80 of the over 90 known variants. Should you be interested in me looking anything up in any of my copies I'm also happy to do that.
Hi John - I'd most definitely be interested to take you up on that offer. I've sent you a PM. Thank you.
Posted: September 8th, 2014, 10:48 pm
Regarding page 5, the number 5 was clear on the first edition first printing but my 1905 dated copies all have the 5 all but gone, just a little bit of I but not at all discernible. By c1918, none of the copies I have show signs of the number 5 at the bottom of the page.
The first time the wording is changed from loosing to losing is in the 1934 Powner edition.
As Richard Hatch has previously noted, the plates moved from McKinney to Drake to Frost and then to Powner. The Frost variants also have the broken Chicago and misspelled "loosing" on page 5.
Posted: September 8th, 2014, 11:52 pm
Not about typesetting but about binding. A while back I spoke with someone who has done lots of research on the Oz books (first printed and published in 1899/1900) and he has found that it was not uncommon for a printing house to print many copies of the signatures but not bind them all immediately. He also found that with the Oz books there were copies with the same signatures inside but different color boards, as is the case with the different variations of Erdnase.
I suspect this accounts for the differences in color for both the 1905 pictorial HB and the later c1918 HB that can be found in different colors but with exactly the same cover art.
This could also explain why some HB variants have the script "the expert at the card table" on the front board but have a 1905 date and others of the same HB style are c1918. Drake could have been using up earlier printings of the signatures with a newer style binding. This would imply that despite the 1905 date in some of the HB, the signatures had been printed in 1905 but the binding and shipping was done later.
From what I gather, at the time it wasn't uncommon to grab the next piece of cloth, bind some of the signatures, and ship the book. When the printing house ran out, they would grab the next available piece of cloth for the next binding run, having already printed a stack of signatures that may have been sitting a while in the stock room.
I know of 3 variants (maybe 4 as I think Jason has one I haven't accounted for) with the 1905 date, 205 pages, embossed script boards and I know of 2 variants with only 178 pages and the same board treatment.
Also worth noting, one of the first editions I have is signed by G. R. Reeves, Aug. 1903. Mr. Reeves was a magician from Australia. I suspect that he subscribed to the Sphinx and ordered shortly after the first advertisement, giving enough time for the book to be shipped to Australia by the time he dated it.
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 2:52 pm
Speaking of Drake's involvement with The Expert, I've always had my doubts about any direct, personal connection between Erdnase and the firm. I believe that there have been claims and implications of a relationship between Drake and Erdnase, but I've never seen any evidence for it.
The evidence suggests that Drake could have acquired the plates for the book during McKinney's bankruptcy sale, and that might have been the extent of their involvement.
Moreover, Drake was publishing card books at the same time Erdnase published his. (Card Tricks and How to Do Them, for example, was published by Drake in 1902.) If there were a relationship between Erdnase and Drake, it doesn't seem to have prompted Erdnase to use the firm as either a publisher or a printer.
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 3:00 pm
A couple of points of possible interest to Erdnasians:
--As Tom implied above, it is possible to preview the index to the new edition of The Expert at Amazon.com
--I will be discussing some new Erdnase evidence at an upcoming history conference in Helena, Montana
, next weekend. However, before you buy your ticket, please note that the presentation I'm giving is not specifically about Erdnase, and is directed toward (an albeit very informed) layman audience. A small amount of the Erdnase material will only be touched upon as it relates to the subject at hand. Nevertheless, it is new, evidence-based material that hasn't been discussed elsewhere. There will be a Q&A after my talk, and I'd be happy to discuss more in person with anyone there. (At some point, I'm sure, it will find its way to magicians. I know Richard--an article is coming...)
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 4:30 pm
Marty -- I note that one of the other participants in the conference is Martha Edgerton Plassmann. Is she related to Wilber Edgerton Sanders?
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 8:00 pm
Just got my copy of Marty Demarest's new edition of Erdnase and am very favorably impressed! Great job, Marty and designer Jake Spatz! I can't imagine anyone interested in the text not needing/benefiting from this fine and affordable edition.
I did spot one errata omission: The only magician (other than Erdnase, who may not have been one!) who is referenced by name in the text is Charlier, but his name is misspelled in the original, as it is here, as "Charlies" on page 128. The index does show the "Charlier" reference on p. 128, but the Errata section doesn't mention the typo. It may have been a typesetter error in the original, or it may be that the author misremembered the name of the sleight, which might tell us something about his familiarity with the magic community and conjuring literature.
In any case, great job and I encourage everyone to order copies! I got mine from Amazon, ordered on Sunday, September 7th and received it today, Wednesday, September 10th (I do have amazon prime, so got free 2 day shipping...).
Posted: September 10th, 2014, 8:37 pm
Marty, just ordered it!
Posted: September 11th, 2014, 10:52 am
Bill--Martha Edgerton Plassmann was indeed related to Wilbur Edgerton Sanders. She was the daughter of Sidney Edgerton, Montana Territory's first Territorial Governor, and a second cousin of WES. Unfortunately, she died in 1936, so I've been unable to ask her about her cousin! The Martha Edgerton Plassmann mentioned in the Conference brochure is (I assume) a part that is being reenacted for a fictional "debate" between Wilbur Fisk Sanders (WES's father) and Samuel Word. I do not know who is taking Plassmann's part.
Dick--thanks for the nice words! It's great to see you posting here again as well as on Tom Sawyer's blog
Just a note, the omission of "Charlies" [Charlier] from the "Errata" is deliberate. The "Errata" in the new edition
only lists The Expert
's nineteen technical errors--errors of description or depiction that might confuse students of Erdnase's techniques and tricks. Since "Charlies" doesn't really lead to any misunderstanding of the technique itself, it is treated as a typo or printing error. Those are reproduced in the text of the book, but not noted in the "Errata."
I contend that "Charlies" is either a printer's error or a typo on the part of the author, since it is correctly spelled "Charlier" in "The Acrobatic Jacks," p. 192 (first edition). It is indexed in that context under "Shift (One Hand)," since it is a technique, not a person that Erdnase is discussing there.
Posted: September 11th, 2014, 7:08 pm
Understood, thanks, Marty! Again, I'm very impressed with the work that has gone into this, as well as the production value, and it certain deserves to become the "standard" edition for students of the work for some time to come...
Posted: September 11th, 2014, 11:30 pm
I'm surprised I haven't seen this posted before now.
Back in the spring, Jason England did a streaming "At the Table" lecture that is available
now for download from various dealers. I'm watching the DVD version as we speak (which I got from Jason). During the lecture, Richard Hatch emailed a question: "Jason, is it true that Steve Forte is doing a commentary on Erdnase?"
Jason hemmed and hawed a bit, and said the question put him on the spot, but did end up saying that, yes, Forte is doing a book for magicians on cards, and it will include a section on Erdnase.
So there's that to look forward to.
(And by the way, Jason's lecture is excellent. No surprise there -- he's one of the best card men working today.)