ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » April 1st, 2015, 5:40 pm

I find your "puzzle posts" contrary to the tone of the rest of the thread Scott.

If you don't want to partake in the sharing of information related to Erdnase (as has always been the goal of this thread), that's fine ... but one would have to wonder what then you find of interest in this thread?
Last edited by Roger M. on April 1st, 2015, 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 1st, 2015, 6:54 pm

Mr. Lane, unless you have something worthwhile to contribute other than selling stuff and nonsensical messages, please stop.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby KenHerrick » April 1st, 2015, 7:57 pm

Perhaps it would behoove those of us who, in this Forum, are interested only in the "Erdnase" who wrote the book, not to encourage, by replying to them, those who go astray. Sorry...awkward English.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » April 1st, 2015, 11:10 pm

Mr. Lane,
Is the website swerdnase.net yours? I am thinking it is, as the sole item in the store is your book, although it seems there are no copies for sale.

Richard Evans
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Evans » April 3rd, 2015, 11:14 am

Bill Marquardt wrote:What do you think of the following?

"As some have conjectured, there was more than one author to Artifice, Ruse and Subterfuge at the Card Table. The secret to understanding this is to first reverse the letters in the name of the alleged author, S. W. Erdnase. This gives us ESANDREWS. It is then necessary to separate the letters into an earlier construction, which was "E. S. and R. E. W. S.," and before that, "E.S. and E.W." (The underlines are mine, for the sake of clarity.) Here is the backstory, or at least part of it:

"In 1901, a well-known gambler whose initials were E.S. and who traveled between Chicago and the east coast, was discovered to be a cheat and suffered for it with a severe beating. Friendless and nearly broke, he decided the world of "advantage play" was no longer suitable as a way of life. By chance, he encountered a popular magician (E. W.) at a fair. The two of them became friends of a sort and discussed the art of card manipulation, comparing notes and sharing ideas.

"E.S. proposed the idea of co-writing a book exposing the secrets of the card cheat, with an additional section on card magic in order to promote greater sales. To maintain anonymity, they decided to claim authorship as "E. S. and E. W."

"Not long afterwards, the magician got cold feet. He had heard rumors of the proposed formation of a national organization of magicians, The Society of American Magicians, an idea he had supported during his visits to Martinka's shop. He did not want to be known as an exposer of magical secrets, fearing that someone would recognize his initials and suspect him. He asked E. S. to eliminate the magic portion of the book but E. S. refused. E.S. appealed to the magician's ego by insisting that a little added confusion would maintain the secrecy of their authorship yet their initials would still be there on the cover of the book.

"E. S. suggested further obfuscating the name of the author(s) by adding the letters 'R' and 'S' to the original "E. S. and E. W.," as in "ESAND(R)EW(S)," to create a normal sounding name, E. S. Andrews. The magician agreed so long as the name would be reversed to add another level of deception, thereby creating the infamous "S. W. Erdnase."

"Soon after the publication of the book, the magician became a member of the S.A.M. and later advanced to the office of president, which he held for many years. By now you have probably realized that he was none other than Erich Weiss, better known as Harry Houdini. E. S. returned to a life among his family in the Midwest. Houdini went to his grave 24 years later without having ever revealed his complicity in the writing of the book known as The Expert at the Card Table."

- Anonymous



Interesting, Bill. Where is that taken from?
I made a similar suggestion for an alternative interpretation of 'SW Erdnase' on page 63 of this thread (admittedly, without implicating Houdini).

Richard

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Bill Marquardt
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Marquardt » April 3rd, 2015, 12:19 pm

My post was meant as something of an April Fool's joke, however, it is based upon an actual theory I created to fit the facts. I put the idea into a narrative form, and placed quotes around it to distance myself from it. That's the joke part.

There is no evidence to my knowledge that the scenario I created is true. It is fun to speculate, though, and I have long suspected the "and" part of the reversed name might be an actual clue that there were two or more authors. Wouldn't it be cool if Houdini actually was the second author?

I just looked at your previous post and see that your idea was quite similar. Great minds...

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » April 7th, 2015, 2:00 pm

SwanJr wrote: My research is going to be published in the Magicana Erdnase issue, but in quick summary: by publishing in Chicago where the Comstock Laws were almost universally ignored, Erdnase would have much less need of anonymity than in most cities in the United States, including New York where the law was enforced vigorously. However for reason's of safety while travelling, it was prudent to use a false name, since you could be arrested anywhere in the States if you used the U. S. Mail to distribute your work; therefore almost everyone who sold gambling supplies from Chicago used a pseudonym to sell their wares. Most did not go to too much trouble beyond that to remain anonymous.

- Hurt McDermott


Comstock on Metafilter.

Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » April 25th, 2015, 10:36 am

Did anyone hear anything about Scott Lane's lecture? How did it go?

Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » May 23rd, 2015, 6:03 pm

Hi All,

We are coming up on the 25th anniversary of Jeff Busby's "scoop" of John Booth relating to Jeff's "suicide or snuff" theory.

If you have a copy of Thaumaturgist, No. 15 (“Special Erdnase Edition,”June-July 1990), you have seen that it indicates a dateline of May 25, 1990, and that it was mailed on May 29, 1990. The issue was rushed out, so that Jeff Busby could beat John Booth to the punch basically regarding John’s revelations of Jeff’s “suicide or snuff” theory.

It is a somewhat complicated story (summarized in The Man Who Was Erdnase), but briefly, it appears that Lynn Healy had learned the theory from Jeff, and Jeff considered the theory to be confidential.

I don’t know in detail what Lynn’s side of the story was, but it is clear from that Thaumaturgist and The Man Who Was Erdnase that she also did some of her own research on the topic.

Still, I can understand Jeff’s position.  Anyway, the result was that Jeff beat John to the punch, in Thaumaturgist, No. 15, in which he outlined the original “suicide or snuff” theory and published a picture of Milton Franklin Andrews.

There is actually much more to the story, including some involvement in connection with the Inside Magic newsletter.

The account in The Man Who Was Erdnase on pages 127-131 is not completely one-sided, and it does tell some of Lynn’s side of the story. Nonetheless, to me the account comes across as heavily weighted toward the Busby-Whaley side of the dispute.

--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 » May 24th, 2015, 9:58 pm

Hi All,

In Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase, Hurt McDermott, in discussing Edwin Sumner Andrews's second wife, says that, “Dolly could well be a nickname for Adelia,” the thought being that Dolly (or Dollie) could have been named after Dalrymple’s mom.

I don’t think that is the case, based on information in the November 2011 issue of the Seeley Genealogical Society Newsletter, page 14, where it says, “Jennie named her daughter after her mother Dolly (wife of Ebenezer Seely). Her brother S.M. Seely also had a daughter, Miss Dolly Seely of Chicago.” This information is apparently from Linda Crocker, the editor.

The reference to S.M. Seely’s daughter appears to be an aside. Most of the discussion is about the other Dolly, Jennie’s daughter.

We know from a clipping in Richard Hatch’s “Reading Erdnase Backwards” that Dolly’s dad was named S.M. Seely. The end of the quotation quotation above thus appears to refer to Andrews's second wife.

Something else I find rather interesting is that the same newsletter (in the same section, information from Linda Crocker) indicates that this Jennie’s husband at the pertinent time was Addison Bates Crosby. It has been mentioned in this thread and also in “Reading Erdnase Backwards” that Edwin Sumner Andrews’s first wife was Elizabeth Crosby.

My supposition is that Andrews met his second wife via Elizabeth or Elizabeth’s relatives.

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » May 25th, 2015, 1:13 am

A fun article on Erdnase in today's San Francisco Examiner, despite a number of unfortunate typos (143 pages? Boutin? etc.):
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/ ... id=2931064

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Zenner
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 7th, 2015, 10:27 am

June 9, 1900. Census time. Edwin S. Andrews (age 41); Dorothea Andrews (age 33); Ethel Andrews (age 10); and William E. Andrews (age 6) are all lodgers at 1750 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado. Edwin is a travelling agent for the RR. He was born in Minnesota and his parents were born in Pennsylvania. Dorothea was born in California and her parents were from New York. Both Edwin and Dorothea stated that they had been married for 17 years. That puts their wedding in 1883, when Edwin is said to have married Elizabeth Crosby!

June 13, 1883. Edwin S. Andrews (age 24) marries Elizabeth Crosby (age 20) in Chicago, Illinois. [Why? Have they eloped?]

Dolly Frances Seeley was only 16 in 1883. Did she get married under the name ‘Elizabeth Crosby’ because she was either under age or didn’t have her father’s consent?

“The age of consent in Illinois is 17. However, it is illegal for a person 18 or older to commit sexual acts on a person under the age of 18 if he/she has a position of authority or trust over the victim.” [Wikepedia]

Food for thought and maybe discussion?

But I still don't believe that Edwin S. Andrews was 'Erdnase' ;)

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Tom Sawyer
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » June 7th, 2015, 11:54 am

A newspaper article (July 7, 1898) reproduced in Richard Hatch's "Reading Erdnase Backwards" indicates that "Dolly Seely" and "E.S. Andrews" were married the previous day. Richard reiterates that July 6, 1898 date for the marriage elsewhere in the article.
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 7th, 2015, 3:22 pm

Yes Tom, but in the 1900 Census they both said that they had been married for 17 years. That puts the year back to 1883, the year when Andrews married "Elizabeth Crosby". The whole point of my posting was that it seems that he married the same girl twice - the first time was illegal and the second time legitimised the marriage. Check the Census for yourself!
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Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 7th, 2015, 6:03 pm

The most straightforward explanation is that the Census was wrong (which happens A LOT).

Elizabeth Crosby and Dollie Seeley were not the same person; there are too many other contemporary records that describe them separately for this to even be considered.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 7th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Ah but, Bill. Not only does it say that they have been married for 17 years, it says that Dorothea is the mother of two children and that those two children are still alive. They are then listed as Ethel, age 10 (born in March, 1890) and William E., age 6 (born in July, 1893). And their parents were, supposedly, only married in 1898?

Something fishy was going on...
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 7th, 2015, 7:53 pm

It doesn't say that Dorothea was their mother, it says that two children lived in the household. The census taker probably canvassed the house and interviewed someone who said that Dorothea was born in California, and made the assumption that Dorothea was the kids' mom and that therefore their mother was born in CA. But their mom was Elizabeth, and the 1910 census reflects this --- it says that the kids' mom was born in Illinois and their father was born in Minnesota, which is consistent with what we know about Elizabeth and Edwin. The 1910 census also says that Edwin and his wife have been married 11 years, but says her name is "Frances" (Dollie's middle name).

While the 1900 census says that Edwin was married 17 years, if you look at the entry next to "Dorothea", you can see that "2" has been written over the "17".

Again, the most reasonable explanation was that the census taker made a mistake. There is no reason to think that Dollie had anything to do with Edwin before Elizabeth's death, or that Dollie and Elizabeth were the same person.

If you look at lots of census records, you find little mistakes all the time. The census takers weren't paid very much and would often get information from neighbors or other people who might not know the right answers to questions.

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Zenner
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 7th, 2015, 9:31 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:It doesn't say that Dorothea was their mother, it says that two children lived in the household.


At the top of the column it says "Mother of how many children" and the answer is "2". There is no attempt to indicate that she was their step-mother.

Bill Mullins wrote: While the 1900 census says that Edwin was married 17 years, if you look at the entry next to "Dorothea", you can see that "2" has been written over the "17".


Or "17" has been written over the "2". If the former then why wasn't "2" written over the "17" after Edwin's name?

Bill Mullins wrote: Again, the most reasonable explanation was that the census taker made a mistake. There is no reason to think that Dollie had anything to do with Edwin before Elizabeth's death, or that Dollie and Elizabeth were the same person.


Well it is possible that the enumerator made a load of mistakes but then again it is possible that Mr & Mrs Andrews were covering up a past felony. How come you're so adamant?

Bill Mullins wrote: If you look at lots of census records, you find little mistakes all the time. The census takers weren't paid very much and would often get information from neighbors or other people who might not know the right answers to questions.


And then again it could be that he was deliberately given wrong information.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 7th, 2015, 10:49 pm

Believe what you want.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 8th, 2015, 12:58 am

Zenner wrote:How come you're so adamant?


Because Bill M. has demonstrated over a period of years that his Erdnase research is, quite simply, second to none.

Yours included.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 8th, 2015, 1:10 am

Thanks, Roger, but nearly everything we know about Edwin Sumner Andrews comes from Richard Hatch, not me.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » June 8th, 2015, 6:52 am

I think that I have read everything that Richard Hatch has written about his candidate but I don't recall anybody commenting on the anomalies in that 1900 Census.

Being criticised by Messrs Mullins and "M" will not affect my belief that something was fishy. I merely brought it to your attention, gentlemen.

Perhaps Richard "H" would like to comment. I have searched for Elizabeth Crosby "of Chicago", age 20 in 1883. I couldn't find one apart from her marriage to E.S.A. There was one in Peoria and another in Cherry Valley, both in Illinois, and either one of them could have been working in Chicago and have her named purloined by Dorothea Seeley. It happens.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 8th, 2015, 10:09 am

Zenner wrote:
Being criticised by Messrs Mullins and "M" will not affect my belief that something was fishy.


Are you serious? "Criticized"?

This thread, the most in depth examination of the identity of Erdnase available anywhere, is totally comprised of posts from people openly exchanging ideas.

Some ideas gain traction, some don't.

Don't confuse the fact that people aren't jumping up and down thanking you for presenting your ideas with any sort of a critique.

Enjoy participating in the ongoing discussion ... and don't get all twisted out of shape when folks don't immediately buy into your comments as a new,and revolutionary discovery.

Perhaps further investigation on your part will bolster your case?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 8th, 2015, 10:28 am

Roger M. wrote:...
Perhaps further investigation on your part will bolster your case?


following along that tack - an easy way to gain traction is to post the source data and offer conservative interpretation so that others can build. Unstated presuppositions and unfounded conjectures are fair sport/clay pigeons.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » June 14th, 2015, 5:52 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:Mr. Lane,
Is the website swerdnase.net yours? I am thinking it is, as the sole item in the store is your book, although it seems there are no copies for sale.


Scott Lane's book from 1992 "Gambling Card Sharps: How to Beat a Cheater" is now available as a PDF here http://www.lybrary.com/gambling-card-sh ... 22500.html

While it is not about Erdnase, it is about sophisticated cheating methods very much in the spirit of Erdnase's teachings.
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Roger M.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 15th, 2015, 1:42 pm

This line in the blurb is interesting:

"Much of this book's material is from French Lick, Indiana, the reputed origin of the elusive author of The Expert at the Card Table"

Obvious question would be, how can you have a "reputed origin" of somebody for whom you have absolutely no idea in the world who he actually is?

What a load of rubbish.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 18th, 2015, 5:15 pm

Just making sure folks are keeping up to date with Tom's blog on Erdnase, with lots of recent posts on the subject.

https://erdnasequest.wordpress.com/

As Tom ramps up for the release of his new book, his blog posts reveal his extremely interesting thinking on Erdnase and the ongoing identity search.

Tom's new book promises to be a great read.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Sawyer » June 19th, 2015, 12:17 pm

Roger, thank you so much for those laudatory comments! That is very kind of you, and I appreciate it a great deal.

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

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » June 23rd, 2015, 2:28 pm

New edition of Erdnase.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » June 28th, 2015, 4:45 am

Roger M. wrote:
Zenner wrote:How come you're so adamant?

Because Bill M. has demonstrated over a period of years that his Erdnase research is, quite simply, second to none.

Yours included.


Zenner, thanks for your contribution to this thread. I certainly agree with Bill that census information isn't necessarily reliable, so you could be barking up the wrong tree; but on the other hand perhaps you are on to something -- in any case nothing in the responses to your observations adequately disposes of your concerns. As for Roger M.'s remarks, alas sometimes people confuse quantity with authority and doubt with scholarship.

On other fronts ...

Over 6 years ago in this thread, I suggested that a bibliographical study of Expert could be fruitful, but since then little progress seems to have been made in this area. There has been some discussion recently about the bibliographical elements of Expert, such as the font used and the means of printing both the first edition and the Drake editions.

By the early 20th century, hand-set type a la Gutenberg was largely a thing of the past in commercial printing, being left to very small, custom printers and to the “artisan” printing movement. Large print jobs were done from Linotype or Monotype. But Linotype and Monotype machines were not cheap, so most of the smaller job printers would have their work composed by larger printing companies (such as the local newspaper) and receive set type in galleys.

It takes much study to understand both the history of printing technology and printing practices, and without such training, neophytes are bound to run into many dead-ends, or worse, to rely on fragmentary or incorrect information and believe therefrom that the problem has been solved. For example, at least one suggestion was made that Drake could have done a photo-facsimile of the first edition. While doing so would have been technologically feasible, such a theory overlooks the prohibitive cost of doing so and thus the fact that a second-tier publisher like Drake would have never gone to such expense for a book like Expert. It’s a practical certainty that Drake printed from the same type plates used for the first edition.

The only way to get an accurate bibliographical picture of Expert is to consult with an expert in the field. If and when this is done, some new and valuable facts bearing on the authorship question may have been gleaned.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » June 28th, 2015, 9:28 am

magicam wrote:The only way to get an accurate bibliographical picture of Expert is to consult with an expert in the field. If and when this is done, some new and valuable facts bearing on the authorship question may have been gleaned.


I have consulted with an expert. While I don't really disagree with anything you wrote, there is one point that I think can't be stated as strongly as you have. EATCT has more than 100 illustrations. Essentially the same process would be used to print these illustrations as would be used for a photo-facsimile reproduction. If a small printer like James McKinney could print such an illustrated book then Drake would certainly be able to do a photo-facsimile. At least I don't see a reason to categorically rule it out as you have. On top of this, an examination of digital scans of two editions by the expert I consulted suggests that a facsimile process was used. However, the expert could not make a strong and categorical statement about this. But he thinks it is likely from what he examined. Unfortunately the digital editions available to me were not of sufficient quality that we can really draw a strong conclusion from it. However, to rule it out like you have done, purely on what you think are economical reasons, is just as wrong a conclusion as you blame others have come to.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » June 28th, 2015, 10:10 am

magicam wrote:As for Roger M.'s remarks, alas sometimes people confuse quantity with authority and doubt with scholarship.


I've always respected your writing, and admired your knowledge Clay, and it's certainly good to see that you don't let the overall quality of both diminish when you're dolling out insults.

If I'd been addressing you directly, I'd expect nothing but the best you could come up with, but considering that you were nowhere to be found in this thread for the past three years, I'm surprised you went out of your way to focus on me personally.

It's very sweet of you to pay me your attention, but I'm forced to ponder its true meaning.

Thanks for dropping by.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » June 28th, 2015, 8:08 pm

lybrary wrote:I have consulted with an expert. While I don't really disagree with anything you wrote, there is one point that I think can't be stated as strongly as you have. EATCT has more than 100 illustrations. Essentially the same process would be used to print these illustrations as would be used for a photo-facsimile reproduction. If a small printer like James McKinney could print such an illustrated book then Drake would certainly be able to do a photo-facsimile. At least I don't see a reason to categorically rule it out as you have. On top of this, an examination of digital scans of two editions by the expert I consulted suggests that a facsimile process was used. However, the expert could not make a strong and categorical statement about this. But he thinks it is likely from what he examined. Unfortunately the digital editions available to me were not of sufficient quality that we can really draw a strong conclusion from it. However, to rule it out like you have done, purely on what you think are economical reasons, is just as wrong a conclusion as you blame others have come to.


Chris, your efforts are to be commended, and I’m not sure they’ve been adequately acknowledged in this thread. That said, I’m not surprised that your expert (though I’m not sure what his/her expertise really is) wouldn’t make any firm statements – doing so wasn’t possible because digital scans are wholly inadequate (and believing that better quality scans would have made a difference bolsters the point about the perils of amateurs doing bibliographical work). One must have the original documents in hand for side-by-side comparison, and nothing less. I’m not trying to knock you – in fact I applaud your efforts – but your expert should have told you up front that there would be little gained by the study of digital images.

As for your belief that Drake could have produced a photo-facsimile of the first edition, I can add little other than: economics always informs printing practices, Drake was in the business of making money, first and foremost, and to divorce technological capabilities from economics completely undermines sound bibliographical analysis.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby lybrary » June 28th, 2015, 8:44 pm

I didn't mean to suggest we should ignore economics. What I meant was based on what I have found out about print technology and print practice back then, I don't see a justification to rule out a facsimile. I would agree if it is stated less strongly, such as a facsimile edition is perhaps less likely based purely on economical terms. However, also more likely based on other logistical terms regarding the original plates which I have pointed out earlier in this thread. So factoring in several aspects it doesn't appear to be more or less likely in my opinion.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby David Scollnik » July 1st, 2015, 8:57 am

Zenner wrote:June 9, 1900. Census time. Edwin S. Andrews (age 41); Dorothea Andrews (age 33); Ethel Andrews (age 10); and William E. Andrews (age 6) are all lodgers at 1750 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado. Edwin is a travelling agent for the RR. He was born in Minnesota and his parents were born in Pennsylvania. Dorothea was born in California and her parents were from New York. Both Edwin and Dorothea stated that they had been married for 17 years. That puts their wedding in 1883, when Edwin is said to have married Elizabeth Crosby!

June 13, 1883. Edwin S. Andrews (age 24) marries Elizabeth Crosby (age 20) in Chicago, Illinois. [Why? Have they eloped?]

Dolly Frances Seeley was only 16 in 1883. Did she get married under the name ‘Elizabeth Crosby’ because she was either under age or didn’t have her father’s consent?

“The age of consent in Illinois is 17. However, it is illegal for a person 18 or older to commit sexual acts on a person under the age of 18 if he/she has a position of authority or trust over the victim.” [Wikepedia]

Food for thought and maybe discussion?

Your wikipedia excerpt relates to today and has little to do with how things were in the 1880s.

Back in 1883, the age of consent was much younger than 17. In Illinois, it was 10. Google Age of Consent Laws by Stephen Robertson, University of Sydney, Australia.

http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/case-studies/23 ... &source=24

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » July 2nd, 2015, 1:05 pm

Earlier in the thread, Peter Zenner suggested (from an anomaly in the 1900 census) that Elizabeth Crosby Andrews and Dollie Seeley Andrews (Edwin's first and second wives) might be the same person. From the Sterling Daily Gazette (Sterling IL) 29 July 1895 p 4:

"In the evening, the picnickers returned, reaching the city about 7 o'clock. The picnic is an annual affair and is always enjoyed. Those present were Messrs and Mesdames E. S. Andrews and children, of Chicago, S. M. Seeley, George McCallister and children, Michael Burk, E. E. Sheetz and children, A. M. Hetfield; Mrs. Ralph Seeley, of Des Moines, and Miss Dollie F. Seeley, of Chicago."

This article describes Mrs. Andrews (Elizabeth) and Dollie Seeley, both being at the same place at the same time. Ergo, they are two different people.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 5th, 2015, 4:22 pm

Does anyone on the forum live in the DC area and can check on one of the Library of Congress first edition copies? Apparently one of them has an advertisement for the book pasted inside and a review tipped in. I examined two first edition copies at the LoC about 15 years ago and don't have easy access to my notes of that visit, so don't recall seeing this copy offhand. Apparently it is copy 1, which I would think would be one of the two copies submitted with the copyright application, but perhaps not.
Here's a link to the LoC entry on the first edition, which lists the Adrian Plate/Houdini copy as Copy 3 (and mentions the inscription "Sold by James McKinney and Co,... Chicago" on the title page)
http://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/holdingsIn ... Id=6789584
Here's what it says about Copy 1:
"GV1247 .E66 1902 Copy 1 Advertisement mounted on p. [2] of cover. Photocopy of newspaper clipping laid in."
It is a bit confusing, however, as they seem to list two Copy 1s, one part of the McManus-Young Collection (which I assume is the one with the advertisement and clipping) and another that I assume is one of the two copyright submission copies. I recall examining two copies when I was there, the Plate/Houdini copy and the copyright submission copy. I don't recall seeing the advertisement and clipping. Hope someone can follow up and report on this!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » July 7th, 2015, 5:47 am

ERDNASE FOUND

Pull up a chair and grab a coffee.

The man who used the nom-de-plume "S.W. Erdnase" was none other than Chicago magician, Harry Stuart Thompson. Harry was born on February 28, 1858, which means that he was 44 on February 28, 1902, just after the copyright application was made out. What did Marshall D. Smith say? Between 40 and 45? He would have been 43 when he had the illustrations drawn.

Smith said he was about 5'6" in height. I don't know exactly but you can tell from a photograph in 'The Sphinx' that he was a shorty. (See the March, 1910, edition, volume 9, page 9) He is seen perched on a piano stool in order to raise himself up a little higher.

Harry was a commercial traveller at the time of the book, specialising in printing inks. He had been brought up in his father's printing and publishing company, J.S Thompson & Co of Chicago, and his brother Frank was still a printer in 1902. On page 16 of his book he refers to printer's ink used in the marking of playing cards and, of course, he speaks with authority. He gave lectures on such inks and even presented specimens to the United States National Museum in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Wilson mentioned in 'The Sphinx' that Harry "is interested in magic more from the ethical and literary standpoint than from the operative side, as he does not give entertainments of any kind, although he often mystifies his brother ‘knights of the grip’ with his skill in pure sleight of hand. Mr. Thompson has one of the largest and most practical collections of books, newspaper and magazine articles on magic extant" (See the December, 1905, edition, where Harry's photograph features on the front cover)

So yes, 'Erdnase' had access to virtually everything available on sleight of hand AND was an expert in the execution of it. Readers of books on Houdini will recognise his name as they were close friends and correspondents. Why wouldn't Harry show the other Harry a few moves which were later shown to a few others and then miscredited?

You might be wondering why he concealed his name. It seems, from correspondence that I have had with his grand-daughter, that the family were very religious. She sent me a photograph of Harry in his library and there is a cross affixed to one of the bookcases. The thought of him being an ex-card cheat would not have gone down very well in society and the book was obviously marketed in that way in order to sell it.

He had a steady job and was regularly included in the 'Chicago Blue Book', so why did he "need the money"? Dr. Wilson often mentioned the help that Harry gave to the Vernelos when they were setting up 'The Sphinx' and I suspect that he was helping financially as well as practically. Harry was a great supporter of magic and magicians and I doubt that the S.A.M. would have succeeded so quickly had it not been for his role as Western Representative. He used his journeys to cities far and wide in his regular job to promote the S.A.M. as well.

Harry eventually retired from the road and became the manager of Ruxton's Printing Ink Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. He died there on December 20th, 1930, at the age of 72, and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery, Roseville. It seems that he might have lost his interest in magic later on in life. After many mentions of his activities in 'The Sphinx' early on, I can find no mention there of his passing. By 1930 he seems to have been forgotten by the magic world.

I suspect that you are wondering why he used the name 'S.W. Erdnase'. O.K. In 1901 E[mory] C[obbe] Andrews graduated from university in Chicago and went to work in the Chicago office of Ruxton's, the company for which Harry worked. Why 'S.W. Erdnase' and not 'S.W. Erdnace'? I don't know. They sound the same.

I came to realise that Harry was 'Erdnase' way back in April, 2013, but have kept it to myself for two years as I have been researching his life and times in the hope of making a book out of it. It took a long time to get a response from his descendants. Circumstances have forced me to come clean now and there may well be a book in due course.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jack Shalom » July 7th, 2015, 7:10 am

I guess I'll ask the obvious follow-up questions:

Why Harry, and not one of the other candidates?

Is there a smoking gun?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Hatch » July 7th, 2015, 9:03 am

Certainly an interesting candidate! If his brother was a printer, why work with McKinney? To keep the family in the dark about it? The same argument was made by Gardner about MFA's family not knowing he was the author.
Why keep it secret from his brother magicians? Do we have other samples of his writing style to compare to Erdnase?

Looking forward to hearing more about him!


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