ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » October 23rd, 2014, 3:44 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote: Alexander discovered that Sanders liked to write anagrams of his name in his school notebooks. It is therefore not unreasonable to believe that Sanders created the name S.W. Erdnase as an anagram of his own.

If I were named W.E. Sanders and had been working on anagrams of my name for several years, I think the best I could come up with would be E.S. Andrews. It's a perfectly legitimate name and far superior to the awkward S.W. Erdnase.

Jason England wrote:I think Erdnase was looking for weak anonymity and spelled his name backwards.

I agree.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 4:18 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:The ONLY way? You are saying that it is absolutely impossible that once he was done with the manuscript of his book, that some guy named Sanders—who liked creating word puzzles with his name—could not possibly see an opportunity for creating this one before the layout was done? That he could only have come up with the idea beforehand so he had to pick an illustrator with the name Smith to create such a puzzle?


I suppose you're right, that it could be something he composed after the ms. was complete. But it's much more likely that it is only a coincidence.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 4:22 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:If I were named W.E. Sanders and had been working on anagrams of my name for several years, I think the best I could come up with would be E.S. Andrews. It's a perfectly legitimate name and far superior to the awkward S.W. Erdnase.


If Sanders hadn't been a mining engineer, this would be true. However, Erdnase = "earth nose" in German, so the pseudonym is uniquely appropriate to Sanders. He had spent the previous years sniffing out ore throughout the Pacific NW and elsewhere.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 4:46 pm

Roger M. wrote: W.E. Sanders is actually no further along as a candidate than he was when David first noted him years ago.


While I don't consider Sanders to be a "slam dunk" for Erdnase, I've got to give Marty credit for how much he has strengthened his candidacy.

1. The "Mutus Nomen" evidence shows he was interested in magic.
2. His gambling debts show he was a "sporting man", further supported by the purchase of multiple decks of cards.
3. Marty developed a time line that allows for his being in Chicago in the winter of 1901-02, when the book was published (although I think he spent more time developing the Snow Creek mine in Idaho that winter than Marty seems to).

To be sure, these are all only coincidences, but that's all we have for MF Andrews, or E.S. Andrews, or Edwin Sumner Andrews.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jason England » October 23rd, 2014, 4:50 pm

The whole "Erdnase" = "Earth Nose" in German is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

It might be interesting if "Earth Nose" meant something in German (or English for that matter), but it's not like mining engineers in German-speaking countries are actually called "Earth Noses" or any such nonsense.

We're back in Dr. Matrix land again.

Jason

PS: For those who don't know the Dr. Matrix reference, he was one of Martin Gardner's alter egos and was constantly pointing out fascinating coincidences within numbers, bodies of text and so on.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » October 23rd, 2014, 7:19 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:If I were named W.E. Sanders and had been working on anagrams of my name for several years, I think the best I could come up with would be E.S. Andrews. It's a perfectly legitimate name and far superior to the awkward S.W. Erdnase.


Not necessarily. Part of the purpose of the pseudonym could well be to sound like a pseudonym…to let people know there's a secret behind it and to invoke an air of mystery…very apropos for a book on card sharping and magic. If the book was published as E.S. Andrews, it would just sound like a regular ("legitimate") name and be frankly less interesting. The name "Erdnase" definitely stuck in my mind when I first read it and fit well with the careful/cloaked tone of writing in the book itself.

The fact that "Erdnase" is foreign sounding and has meaning (in German) makes it an even more intriguing pseudonym. So given Sanders involvement with anagrams and the fact that he was a mining engineer and knew German, I can't think of a better pseudonym than SW Erdnase. The misdirection and red herring with ES Andrews just makes it better. He must have been very happy with that.

Bill Mullins wrote:
Roger M. wrote: W.E. Sanders is actually no further along as a candidate than he was when David first noted him years ago.


While I don't consider Sanders to be a "slam dunk" for Erdnase, I've got to give Marty credit for how much he has strengthened his candidacy.

1. The "Mutus Nomen" evidence shows he was interested in magic.
2. His gambling debts show he was a "sporting man", further supported by the purchase of multiple decks of cards.
3. Marty developed a time line that allows for his being in Chicago in the winter of 1901-02, when the book was published (although I think he spent more time developing the Snow Creek mine in Idaho that winter than Marty seems to).



The Dalrymple connection was another new significant discovery made by Marty.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » October 23rd, 2014, 9:04 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:1. The "Mutus Nomen" evidence shows he was interested in magic.
2. His gambling debts show he was a "sporting man", further supported by the purchase of multiple decks of cards.
3. Marty developed a time line that allows for his being in Chicago in the winter of 1901-02, when the book was published (although I think he spent more time developing the Snow Creek mine in Idaho that winter than Marty seems to).

This is what I have always found compelling. This and the fact that he was a writer. Sorry Jason, but as a writer, I can tell you that writing is not easy and a "first time out" hit is rarely—if ever—the "first time": there's been a LOT of practice that is either unseen and/or ignored. And THE hardest thing I find to write: trick and sleight of hand instruction.

I also like the possible Del Adelphia connection. I wonder if someone is trying to ferret out his letters and other effects (effects as in "stuff" not magic) to see if there is more there. Who knows; maybe Kalush's letter is there.

Keep digging guys; I think that you have a long way to go.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » October 23rd, 2014, 10:11 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
Brad Jeffers wrote:If I were named W.E. Sanders and had been working on anagrams of my name for several years, I think the best I could come up with would be E.S. Andrews. It's a perfectly legitimate name and far superior to the awkward S.W. Erdnase.


Not necessarily. Part of the purpose of the pseudonym could well be to sound like a pseudonym…to let people know there's a secret behind it and to invoke an air of mystery…very apropos for a book on card sharping and magic. If the book was published as E.S. Andrews, it would just sound like a regular ("legitimate") name and be frankly less interesting. The name "Erdnase" definitely stuck in my mind when I first read it and fit well with the careful/cloaked tone of writing in the book itself.

The fact that "Erdnase" is foreign sounding and has meaning (in German) makes it an even more intriguing pseudonym. So given Sanders involvement with anagrams and the fact that he was a mining engineer and knew German, I can't think of a better pseudonym than SW Erdnase. The misdirection and red herring with ES Andrews just makes it better. He must have been very happy with that.


Thank you Bob! I was going to respond to Brad Jeffers but you articulated exactly what I was thinking. Jason believes that Alexander's theory is preposterous, but a close reading of David's article in Genii will reveal that it is far from it. By his own admission, David spent two years searching for an E.S. Andrews that fit his loose criteria and found it unproductive.

I also found David's thoughts on "The S.W.E. Shift" fascinating. It is an interesting coincidence that W. E. Sanders' initials are exactly the same as this shift. Admittedly, the letter "S" has been shifted to the top, but then this is the title of a...shift.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » October 23rd, 2014, 10:58 pm

I don't know if this has been mentioned in this thread before, but the term 'Erdnase' or the plural of it 'Erdnasen' is a term that has been used in German literature. See for example http://books.google.com/books?id=mM6CAA ... en&f=false

And it basically means hill or ground wave or some other elevated feature of the ground.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 23rd, 2014, 11:20 pm

Bob Coyne wrote: The Dalrymple connection was another new significant discovery made by Marty.


I debated mentioning the Sanders/Dalrymple issue, but ended up not doing so because I don't think Marty has demonstrated it to the same extent he's done with some of the other pieces of evidence.

He's developed two links:

The first is an illustration in Puck magazine by Dalrymple, which purports to picture Wilbur Fisk Sanders (WE's father). Note that an illustration doesn't show familial relationship, which is what Erdnase told Smith existed. Also, as I have said elsewhere, I think the person that Marty says is WFS is not him, but rather a grizzled miner character meant to personify Montana.

The second is standard genealogical research. Ben Sanders told Marty "On 18 Feb 1790, Elizabeth Dalrymple, of Stair, Cumberland, England married Sir Myles Sandys of Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland."
and from that marriage, Marty and Ben posit that there was a familial relationship between Dalrymple the cartoonist and W. E. Sanders. (Note that this detail doesn't come out in Marty's original Genii article, but is in his Montana article of about a year ago).

If they families did connect at some point, I suspect it was well before 1790. On Ancestry.com is a family tree for the Montana Sanders family (maintained by Benjamin E. Sanders – is it he who Marty quotes above?) that shows that WE's and WF's Sanders ancestors lived in America since well before 1790. WE's GGGGGrandfather, Tobias Saunders, lived and died in Rhode Island but was born in 1629 in Buckinghamshire, England (not Midlothian, Scotland). So if the relationship is in this line, Dalrymple and WE Sanders must be very, very distant cousins.

Neither of these links seems sufficiently strong to me to confirm Erdnase's statement to Smith that he and Dalrymple were related.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 24th, 2014, 4:21 pm

Hi All,

Well, this has been a particularly interesting group of recent posts!

The series does "round out" better several of the arguments that have been raised in the past.

Actually, though, to me it is more notable for the insights it provides into the different ways different people think and reason, and into the various things that various people think are important (or unimportant). It is striking that such a variety of opposing conclusions have been drawn from basically the same set of known facts.

Also, it is interesting to see the differing personalities of participants, to the degree that those personalities are reflected in the posts.

--Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » October 25th, 2014, 12:24 am

Glad to have been entertaining Tom! Remember that scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe says "Are you not entertained?!!!"

Today's Tom Sawyer
He gets high on you
And the space he invades
He gets by on you

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 25th, 2014, 6:56 am

Oh, and by the way, I thought Chris Wasshuber's comment above about "Erdnasen" was quite edifying.

I do not remember seeing that pointed out by anyone else.

I believe that the focus heretofore has mainly been on "Erdnase," not "Erdnasen," though the existence of the latter as a bona fide word lends credence to Erdnase as a word.

--Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » October 25th, 2014, 7:31 am

Tom, further to the plural form "Erdnasen" you will find that it has been in use not just to describe hills and mountains, but also to describe animals (dogs, pigs, ...) and children that do a lot of digging in the ground. With animals it is easy to understand, because their noses (German "Nasen") literally get full of dirt/soil (German "Erde"), hence "Erdnasen". But it is also used for children that constantly have their face/nose close to the ground and dig and play around with soil.

While I have not yet found usage of "Erdnasen" for adults and in particular miners or other professions, the gap of proof has been considerably closed by the existing usage we have established so far.

Hurt McDermott and myself thought that this also strengthened the case for August Roterberg since Roter-Berg literally means in German "Red Mountain or Red Hill" - so two ways of describing the same thing: 'Berg' and 'Erdnasen'. Roterberg has been put forward as Erdnase before for many good reasons but it seems there is no current champion for him. I think that the Erdnasen term usage to describe hills and mountains does strengthen the Roterberg case.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Luis » October 26th, 2014, 12:19 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I don't know. Finding the guy's name perfectly spelled out seems to be possibly more than a coincidence. Has anyone played around with moving the lines and trying to find any of the other "Sanders-ish" things Jason has cited as possible points of false interest?

Are there any other names that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle right or left?

Are there any other proper nouns or geographical locations that are spelled out by sliding a line in the triangle to the right or left?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, then I would say that we have to consider the fact that "W E Sanders" is spelled out properly to be of great significance.


Drawing targets around the holes, It is possible to arrange the “pyramid” text in a way that reads E S Andrews.

Since E and S seem to be the author’s given names initials, they are found in the same line, and then if we skip a line to show a separation between them and his family name, we can arrange the remaining seven lines to read Andrews. (There are other ways to arrange the lines to obtain the same result.)

Embracing the whole calendar of Slights that
are employed by the gambler and con-
jurer, describing with detAil and illus-
tration every knowN expedient,
manoeuvre anD strategem of
the expeRt card handler,
with over onE hundred
draWings from life
by M. D. Smith

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » October 26th, 2014, 5:10 pm

I've e-mailed Prof Richard Wiseman hoping that he might offer his opinion as a psychologist about the debate regarding the pyramid and the hidden name.

I have been unable to spell another name or word vertically as has been accomplished with WESANDERS. Luis' suggestion requires skipping a line which I think is an inherent flaw.

However, several lines contain multiple letters to spell WESANDERS. If it was indeed intended as a clue about his identity, lacking any other research that has been compiled, how would someone use the pyramid to deduce the name?

But if W.E. Sanders was the author, as many believe, is it not an amazing coincidence that his name can be spelled vertically at all.

It would have been much stronger if the first letter of each word in one sentence spelled the name, or the first letter of each line. Shifting the lines to place the letters in a column does impose an order. It is much less impressive when the letters are merely bolded and appear random.

EMBRACING THE WHOLE CALENDAR OF SLIGHTS THAT
ARE EMPLOYED BY THE GAMBLER AND CON-
JURER, DESCRIBING WITH DETAIL AND ILLUS-
TRATION EVERY KNOWN EXPEDIENT,
MANOEUVRE AND STRATEGEM OF
THE EXPERT CARD HANDLER,
WITH OVER ONE HUNDRED
DRAWINGS FROM LIFE
BY M. D. SMITH

Regardless of this debate, I am still convinced that W.E. Sanders is the author based on the research that has been published. Hopefully more information about his life will be found to augment this.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » October 26th, 2014, 10:51 pm

Given the letter frequencies in English, the letters of the name, and the number of letters in each line I calculate an almost 10% probability that one can spell WESANDERS. That is just way too high a probability that one could put any significance on it, in my opinion.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » October 27th, 2014, 12:16 am

Buried inside the name "S. W. Erdnase" is the name "Ed Asner". Lou Grant fans take note.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Dustin Stinett » October 27th, 2014, 1:09 am

Bill, you've got spunk.

I hate spunk.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 27th, 2014, 4:29 am

Hi All,

In view of the first two paragraphs of Chris Wasshuber's follow-up post (above) about the word "Erdnasen" (October 25), the whole “Earth-nose” or “Earth-promontory” idea has now gained much more plausibility in my mind.

I suppose it will take some time for all that to become further developed and further analyzed. However, it appears to me that the clearer it is that “Erdnase” is a “legitimate” word, the less power the whole “name reversal” argument becomes. The situation instead becomes more of a toss-up between the following two things:

1. A pen name based on a reversal of the author’s name into S.W. Erdnase (giving the name E.S. Andrews as the author’s “real” name).

2. A pen name based on a German word, “Erdnase.” (The author’s real name might be completely unrelated, like “John Smith.” Or an anagram could also be involved.)

Of course, other possibilities exist (but I still don’t think anyone is claiming that Erdnase is a real name).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » October 28th, 2014, 11:42 am

I think attaching importance of any kind to the word "Erdnasen" is even more patently silly than attempting to legitimize "Erdnase" as a defined word.

The entire "Earthnose" pursuit, including all of its derivatives is an utterly pointless detour.

S.W. Erdnase is E.S. Andrews in reverse....there you go!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 28th, 2014, 1:57 pm

Hi All,

When I wrote S.W. Erdnase: Another View back in 1991, my attitude on this specific issue was basically as follows: S.W. Erdnase's real name was probably Andrews, but it didn't have to be "E.S. Andrews." I think I got drawn into that last part by arguments that had been made relating to people named Andrews, but with different first and middle initials.

But I was not locked into that view.

In time -- relatively recently, like probably during the past three or four years -- I began to lean more toward the straightforward analysis stated by Roger in the final sentence of his post immediately above. I figured that the author's real name was probably (not certainly) E.S. Andrews.

However, this was predicated on my belief that "Erdnase" probably was not really a "normal" German word -- even though it had that flavor. Of course, the name all along still seemed to say "earth promontory," and no one has really explained that away.

Based largely on what Chris Wasshuber has said recently on this thread, and also on the fact that I am unaware of anyone claiming that "Erdnase" for some reason is not a "legitimate" word (even if it is used only rarely), I have changed my view on the word.

This, in turn, has to my mind significantly weakened the straight name-reversal theory.

I go into this in great detail in a post I made on my S.W. Erdnase blog yesterday.

--Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » October 28th, 2014, 2:54 pm

The discussion of Erdnase as a German word is fascinating and I find name reversal argument too easy. I groan every time I see a character named Alucard in a vampire story.

This thread is enormous and it's been a while since I read the Genii article expounding on the W.E. Sanders research. Have there been any suggestions as to what the SW in the pseudonym would represent, if anything. Or are they just leftover letters. I thought it could refer to location, as in southwest, but that's just a vague idea.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » October 28th, 2014, 4:50 pm

I thought 'Alucard' is a playing card made from aluminum :roll:
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Pete McCabe » October 28th, 2014, 5:41 pm

This pdf contains the word "erdnase" in a discussion that is clearly not about magic, but about nature and other things that make it more likely it refers to earth. Google does not translate "Erdnase," though.

http://www.spielgruppe.ch/cm_data/fachtagung_programm__erdnasen_und_mooshaende.pdf

I found this in a few minutes but it does seem to me as if the basic question of whether erdnase "means" anything to a German speaker should be fairly easy to establish.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » October 28th, 2014, 6:40 pm

That .pdf is interesting.

Above, Chris Wasshuber brings up the "Erdnasen" connection, and in the .pdf, the footer contains the following text (bolding and colored font by me):

KURSLEITUNG: Andrea Schneider (Waldzauber) & Daniel Mülli (Rucksackschule), mit zahlreichen

"Waldzauber" in the .pdf, and Chris's last name is "Wasshuber" ... and with that, I rest my case!! Chris Wasshuber is obviously ... well, Chris Wasshuber.
... I guess I don't have a case to rest after all :)

Myside or confirmation bias will pretty much let you find anything you want to find if you go into the process looking for proof of something that you already either believe, or strongly support.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » October 29th, 2014, 5:23 pm

Hi All,

It is definitely useful to be familiar with the term "confirmation bias," if one is going to talk about possible weaknesses in the things people say about "who Erdnase really was."

On the other hand, it appears to me that the mere fact that arguments or facts resulted from a confirmation bias does not necessarily impair the arguments or facts.

Basically, in the case of Erdnase, the facts gathered as a result of a confirmation bias (as well as arguments derived from those facts) may well be weaker than other facts and arguments -- or they might not be.

Thus -- again, in the context of Erdnase discussions -- one is simply left with determining how good (or poor) an argument or facts are, regardless of whether or not the person locating the facts (or making the argument) was significantly influenced by a confirmation bias. (Wikipedia has what appears to be an excellent article on confirmation bias, for those who may disagree with what I just said.)

--Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » November 8th, 2014, 1:32 am

Hi All,

One of the better-known publishers of The Expert at the Card Table is the Gambler’s Book Club, in Las Vegas. I looked at their website, and it appears as though the version they are now selling is a Dover version.

Back in the olden days, like the early 1970s, I would occasionally visit the Gambler’s Book Shop in Las Vegas, typically with other members of my family. I don’t remember too many details, but on one of those visits, John Luckman gave me the copy of The Expert at the Card Table that the GBC was using (or had used) to produce a GBC version of the book. The book he gave me was basically a copy with the spine chopped off. I have discussed that elsewhere in some detail.

Well, he probably gave it to me -- but if he sold it to me, it was at some very nominal price, like a dollar.

The idea for this post actually stemmed from my thinking about a little discovery I made at the Gambler's Book Shop. It had to do with the small blind-stamped picture on the back cover of early London editions of Modern Magic.

If you have studied that stamping, you know that it shows playing cards, dice, counters, and what I assume is a dice-shaker -- not what one would necessarily expect to find on the cover of a magic book. Well, at the Gambler's Book Shop I saw a completely different book with that same blind-stamped image on the back. It was probably a Hoyle published by Routledge before Modern Magic.

--Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Marty Demarest » November 10th, 2014, 12:48 pm

Jason, I'm glad you took the opportunity to continue your discussion here. I know that the Genii Forum only pays a fraction of what you make at The Magic Café, but at least it stays open later, eh?

It's interesting to have read both your and Richard Hatch's thoughts regarding Erdnase's engagement with magic. I think we're looking at the term "magician" in slightly different context, but I suspect we are all in general agreement in the nature of our speculations. Erdnase was the kind of nerd who would travel around with six decks of cards in his personal belongings, right?

We also agree about David Alexander and Richard Kyle's work. I have my own doubts, which is why I investigated their work thoroughly before devoting much time to examining Sanders. But while you and I probably share some questions and caveats, we disagree about the basic facts. David Alexander was not an amateur detective, he was a respected professional. He did not fabricate or insert evidence into the case they constructed. And he didn't modify their work to accommodate their conclusions.

I'm grateful that you bought four copies of the Winter, 2013 Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Thank you. But please be sure to also pick up a copy of David Alexander's original article in Genii, January, 2000. (It was also reprinted with my article in the September, 2011 Genii.) In that text, Alexander makes clear the timeline that he and Richard Kyle followed, the standards they used and the method they followed. Their investigation was not arbitrary and their conclusions were not random. They weren't just spouting their own opinions and they had evidence behind their claims.

If you are like me and want to investigate a little further (it is, after all, quite a deductive leap they make!) you can track down the (exceedingly collectible) booklet The S. W. Erdnase Report, which recounts Kyle and Alexander's process with the aid of contemporary notes and letters. Or you could contact Richard Kyle himself--he's quite clear about the events, and has retained a lot of evidence from that period. Penny Alexander has also shared her recollections, and many of Alexander's friends have related details about his long investigation into Erdnase--including his rigorous search for an "Andrews."

When considering the plausibility of Alexander and Kyle's hypothesis, I found it useful to learn how word games and anagrams were commonly played in America at the end of the 19th Century. Periodicals such as The Youth's Companion, and books such as Magic No Mystery and Cassell's Book of Indoor Amusements are, I think, representative references. I've also looked into the authorial use of pseudonyms. See Carmela Ciuraru's book-length Nom de Plume for a good overview of the phenomenon. And there are numerous examples of both pseudonyms and word games in all kinds of literature circa 1900.

I don't say all this to baffle you with facts. These are a few examples of investigations I've done. I have compared my subjective skepticism with objective answers. I consider it good reasoning, and I assume you've been at least as diligent.

I have not found any evidence that Alexander fabricated evidence or proceeded according to any random or personal whim. What evidence do you have?

Meanwhile, I also wonder: What evidence necessarily links the name "Andrews" with The Expert? I think that insisting Erdnase's name must be "Andrews" is exactly like painting a target around a bullet hole. Aside from reading the author's name backward, what evidence links the name "Andrews" with the publication of the book? And if you do insist on reading the author's name backward, what evidence suggests that it is the only thing you should read backward? Why should anything be read backward at all? Why overlook the fact that the name "Erdnase" makes linguistic sense to a large portion of the world's population? (My grandmother, whose native language was German, thought Erdnase's name was a nickname, like "Jimmy Half-Thumb" or "Tom Rosycheeks." Why would you ignore a name like that?)

Devotion to the name "Andrews" has led to some of the most egregious examples of confirmation bias in the whole Erdnase investigation. Martin Gardner bent himself (and the truth) trying to justify "Andrews." He made a baseless claim to the Library of Congress, assuring them that he had evidence that the book was written by a "James Andrews." He also clearly demonstrated plenty of confirmation bias when, after Marshall D. Smith remembered Erdnase's real name as "something with a W," Gardner leapt in with "Andrews?!" I'm not saying Gardner's Erdnase work is all bad, but some of it gets pretty close to painting targets. And how about David Ben's self-citing, after-the-investigation "profile" of Erdnase? I have no reason to believe that it wasn't tailored to suit Richard Hatch's research into E. S. Andrews.

I think David Alexander and Richard Kyle tried explicitly to eliminate that sort of bias from their work, and I think they did a pretty good job of it.

Where we'll probably never agree is on The Expert's status as a work of literature. Jason, if you can easily write an engine repair manual that will stay in print for more than a century, and which will inspire people with no interest or special knowledge in engines to take up engine repair as a hobby and a career, and even seek to understand Jason England the man and mechanic, to quote your book, to sell Jason England T-shirts and limited-edition Jason England wrenches--then I say: Why are you waiting? I assume it's at least as good a gig as being an instant download superstar. ;-)

Erdnase has attained a degree of literary success that few authors will ever attain. And I'm not just talking about more than 100 years in print and trophy prices for first editions. Erdnase wrote something much more sophisticated than a mere "how-to" book. Instead, he gives card manipulation the literary treatment of artistry. (Contrast the index entries for "Mechanics" and "Art" in the edition I just edited. How's that for embedding a shameless plug?) Erdnase's legacy goes far beyond "the moves," which, frankly, seem to be in eclipse even among Erdnase "experts." Erdnase's success transcends the technical qualities of his educated prose and his adroitness with tricky literary qualities such as voice and perspective. Even more impressive than all that, is that Erdnase created a HE to talk about. The author of The Expert not only wrote a great book, but he created the singular and indelible character: S.W. Erdnase.

Fortunately, we don't need to haul out our respective levels of experience and education in order to evaluate The Expert's status as a work of literature. Generations of readers have judged the book for us. I've edited two editions for the general public, and I can assure you, readers find Erdnase's voice, topic, style, and the mystery of the book to be fascinating. They don't consider it to be the equivalent of an engine repair manual.

Not all writing is art, but every bit of writing is craft. And like card artists, verbal artists must master their craft. It takes practice to write well professionally.

But unlike card manipulation, writing leaves a trace--the writing itself. And while writing--they physical object--can be destroyed, some record almost always remains: snippets of compositions in notebooks, sightings in the company of papers and manuscripts, schedules that accommodate plenty of compositional time, a literary education and interests, habits of curious observation and note taking, abandoned poems and stories... I assure you that if you were to remove all evidence of the great first novels you named, you would still find evidence that their authors were professional writers.

I peg Erdnase as being someone who was a writer, a publisher, and had a reason to disguise his name. Everything else we say about him is pure speculation. Every conclusion we draw about how Erdnase handled cards, how much Erdnase cheated, to what extent Erdnase performed magic--it's all guessing. The only primary evidence we have is a book.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » November 10th, 2014, 1:26 pm

Is there a wiki for the erdnase text?

For example, is he the "reformed gambler" ?

here's one for a book by Eco as an example: http://eco.ids-mannheim.de/wiki/Hokhmah
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » November 10th, 2014, 8:24 pm

Marty, great post!
Can you provide more details about The S. W. Erdnase Report? I'm sadly not familiar with it and would hope to remedy that!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 10th, 2014, 9:18 pm

In the spirit of Marlo, Randi, and Ockham (for very different reasons), the time seems right to introduce a competing, radically different, and not nearly as interesting Erdnase theory.

Assumption 1: Your typical gambler would neither know nor need to know 90% of EATCT's contents to obtain a sufficient gaming advantage.

Assumption 2: The proximity of copyright dates for EATCT (2/17/1902) and Drake's Roterberg reprint entitled "Card Tricks, How to Do Them..." (2/15/1902) is no coincidence.

Assumption 3: The length and intensity of Erdnase research to date - largely inconclusive research - means something in terms of what hasn't been found.

Assumption 4: The author's numerous references to "we" mean something.

My takeaway: There was no Erdnase, or Andrews, or any single author. The book was a house job perpetrated by Drake, compiled from a number of sources - including (but not limited to) Roterberg. The TINE theory.

Commence the tomato hurling!
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby MManchester » November 10th, 2014, 9:36 pm

Assumption 4: The author's reference(s) to "we" mean something.


Do you think that we could refer to a single author and the illustrator?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 10th, 2014, 9:48 pm

MManchester wrote:
Assumption 4: The author's reference(s) to "we" mean something.


Do you think that we could refer to a single author and the illustrator?


No - not in context. To wit:

Works on conjuring invariably devote much space to the consideration of card tricks, and many have been written exclusively for that purpose, yet we have been unable to find in the whole category more than an incidental reference to any card table artifice; and in no instance are the principal feats even mentioned.


We modestly claim originality for the particular manner of accomplishing many of the manoeuvres described…


Etc. etc. etc. The "we" here is more of an equal (or group of collaborators), not a hired gun illustrator. Of course, the word "we" could simply have been a stylized version of "I..." but that would leave me with only three bases for TINE. :geek:
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 10th, 2014, 10:53 pm

I like the theory. No tomatoes from me :-) I think looking more carefully at Roterberg's involvement, be it directly or indirectly, is warranted.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » November 10th, 2014, 11:23 pm

I believe that Roterberg's involvement has already been postulated by some folks, and also dismissed for various reasons.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » November 10th, 2014, 11:45 pm

For me reading Erdnase reminds me of somebody who grew up speaking German and then later switching to English. The primary reason for this is that Erdnase likes to use noun constructs which are very typical German. This is not something one would use if you learned German as a second language in my opinion. Therefore Erdnase was in my opinion an immigrant from Germany. This makes Roterberg the primary suspect. Many of the facts that we try to line up with Erdnase, placing him in Chicago at the right time for example, or putting a deck of cards in his hands, etc. are trivially true for Roterberg. Why he has been so easily dismissed by the larger Erdnase research community is beyond me. If it wasn't Roterberg himself maybe it was somebody he knew, a fellow immigrant from Germany who saw how Roterberg earned a nice amount with New Era Card Tricks, and tried to replicate his success with his own book. Roterberg perhaps was only helping that person.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » November 11th, 2014, 1:17 am

Tossing specific names into the ring with absolutely no evidence to support them seems completely counterproductive.

Once you remove the need to actually provide evidence in support of a specific candidate, and further to make that evidence of some substance, the search deteriorates into a pointless joke.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby JHostler » November 11th, 2014, 7:09 am

Roger M. wrote:Tossing specific names into the ring with absolutely no evidence to support them seems completely counterproductive.

Once you remove the need to actually provide evidence in support of a specific candidate, and further to make that evidence of some substance, the search deteriorates into a pointless joke.


I'm not sure which post you're commenting on, but perhaps you should re-read mine. No one "tossed out a name with no evidence." I simply suggested that the book was likely a group effort, and that Roterberg may have participated - the evidence (YES!) being that both his and "Erdnase's" books were submitted for copyright within two days of each other... and, coincidentally (?), Roterberg's book was published by Drake.

If you feel the need to join the "Earth Nose" crowd, or compelled to assume the existence of only one primary author, more power to you. The hunt is fabulously entertaining. All things considered, the proximity of those two copyright dates - which I don't recall anyone ever mentioning - provides a more robust clue than many of the endlessly rehashed word games and flimsy "psychological profiles" we continue to produce.

Perhaps someone in the know can advise me on exactly how Roterberg has been ruled out. At this point, I'm not sure we could rule out Maurice Ravel. (Look hard enough and you'll find "BOLERO" in the text.)
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » November 11th, 2014, 7:37 am

I was never a big supporter myself of the pyramid thing, as a mean of proving Erdnase's identity. It was a curiosity for me. However, I recall that the idea was to slide the lines so that they remain within the text frame. It's a lot harder to come up with stuff with that restriction.


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