ERDNASE

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Bill Mullins
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 19th, 2020, 3:32 pm

Zenner wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:Edwin S. Andrews was related (by marriage) to Louis Dalrymple.

Credit to Richard Hatch for much of this research.


I must admit that I don't remember that particular post, but I do have a copy of Erdnase Unmasked, which contains Richard's essay 'Reading Erdnase Backwards'. On page 27 we get the paragraph, "Based on what we know, Edwin was the right age, in all the right places at precisely the right times, with a history of CARD PLAYING activity and a POSSIBLE family relationship (by marriage) to Louis Dalrymple."

If you are reading this, Richard, would you mind confirming that you eventually found evidence that Andrews was actually related (by marriage) to Louis Dalrymple. If you did then I shall apologise to both Bill and yourself for suggesting that Benedict was the only candidate with a link to the name Dalrymple.

Whatever your answer is, Benedict is the only current candidate who was both a customer of McKinney and also a performer of sleight of hand with cards. To my mind, at least, those two facts indicate that he was Erdnase; all the rest is icing on the cake.


While I don't want to speak on behalf of Richard, let me point out that Erdnase Unmasked was published in 2011, and I established the relationship between E. S. Andrews and Louis Dalrymple much later; the post I mentioned it in was Oct 15, 2017, and I believe I found the final links about a week prior. But Richard found the key bits of information -- that both Andrews and Dalrymple had relatives named Seely, which is what I was specifically acknowledging Richard for -- much earlier. He first mentioned it in this thread in 2003, and there it stood, tantalizingly, until 2017.

Bill Mullins wrote: Or maybe he was an okay stage magician, but was not even the right guy:
The Kearney NE Daily Hub, 3 Dec 1891, p 3
"If Kearney people have the impression that Benedict is a second class magician they are entirely mistaken -- Benedict hails from Australia and he is making a trip east from the Pacific slope."


Couldn't find that quote. All I got on page 3 of that newspaper was "Benedict the famous prestidigitator at the opera house tonight" and "We can assure the public that Benedict is a magician of more than ordinary reputation."

I've sent that page to you by email.

I'm not as convinced as you are that the Benedict who Herrmann was not better than is the same Benedict who dealt with McKinney. The Benedict you've been advocating was born in Ohio (per the genealogy book you've linked); the performing Benedict of the 1880s/1890s may well be a different one, from Australia. It may be true that "Australia" is a bit of puffery, as you suggest, but maybe they are different guys. Hard to say right now, and as more information becomes available, it may clear the matter up.

But suppose they are the same guy. Then Benedict and M. F. Andrews are the only two candidates who have what I'd call a "good" position with respect to sleight of hand with cards -- Benedict in magic, and Andrews in cheating. That only puts Benedict in the same position as any other card magician in Chicago who knew a guy named Andrews. Which is probably a bunch.

I still don't think that his business relationship with McKinney makes him more likely than someone without one. That factor doesn't correlate in any way that I've seen with other authors and other publishers. And by the same logic, I don't think Gallaway having been employed there makes him any more likely. There simply isn't a big track record of authors who worked in the printing industry taking advantage of those relationships when publishing their own books (or if there is, no one has bothered to analyze it).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 19th, 2020, 4:04 pm

I just noticed that Markus Magnuson ("mam" here on the forum) has updated his single-page Erdnase thread, to take it as far as last fall.
I hadn't been checking it, but I recall that it stayed at its initial length for some time, even as the "real" Erdnase thread grew longer and longer.
mam, if you are watching, thanks! That is a really useful piece of work, and to keep it current is most helpful.

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 19th, 2020, 4:48 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:I still don't think that his business relationship with the McKinney makes him more likely than someone without one.

How can someone who had no business relationship with the book's printer be Erdnase?

The fact that Benedict has been proven to have had a business relationship with McKinney is the strongest piece of evidence in his favor.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » February 19th, 2020, 8:19 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote: I'm not as convinced as you are that the Benedict who Herrmann was not better than is the same Benedict who dealt with McKinney. The Benedict you've been advocating was born in Ohio (per the genealogy book you've linked);


"Benedict the Magician" is the only performer who used that billing. He was born in Lansing, Michigan. His parents were "of Toledo, Ohio" but at the time of Edward's birth they were staying at a hotel in Lansing.

Bill Mullins wrote:the performing Benedict of the 1880s/1890s may well be a different one, from Australia. It may be true that "Australia" is a bit of puffery, as you suggest, but maybe they are different guys. Hard to say right now, and as more information becomes available, it may clear the matter up.


I know that you will do your best to prove me wrong, Bill, but I don't believe that there was an Australian "Benedict the Magician".

Bill Mullins wrote: But suppose they are the same guy. Then Benedict and M. F. Andrews are the only two candidates who have what I'd call a "good" position with respect to sleight of hand with cards -- Benedict in magic, and Andrews in cheating.


Did you really mean to put "M.F. Andrews" just then, Bill? Age 29, 6ft 1½ins tall, and no evidence of him having all that magical knowledge?

Bill Mullins wrote:That only puts Benedict in the same position as any other card magician in Chicago who knew a guy named Andrews. Which is probably a bunch.


Have a look at the customers' names in the McKinney Bankruptcy Files. Do you recognise any of them as card magicians other than "E.D. Benedict"? He was 41 at the time of the publication of Expert (Smith was only one year out) Your "bunch" has diminished to ONE!

Bill Mullins wrote:I still don't think that his business relationship with McKinney makes him more likely than someone without one.


WHAT? (I am really trying hard to stop myself from being "derogatory" now.) Why would McKinney print the book without having a business relationship with the author/publisher?

Bill Mullins wrote:That factor doesn't correlate in any way that I've seen with other authors and other publishers. And by the same logic, I don't think Gallaway having been employed there makes him any more likely. There simply isn't a big track record of authors who worked in the printing industry taking advantage of those relationships when publishing their own books (or if there is, no one has bothered to analyze it).


There is no evidence that Gallaway could do any sleight of hand or have the knowledge to write Expert. How Chris can place him in that cold room showing card tricks to Smith defies logic.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Lyons » February 20th, 2020, 9:02 am

Has anyone ever run TEATCT and a couple of Hoffmann books through modern stylometric software?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 20th, 2020, 11:28 am

A customer who brings a job in for printing, pays, then picks it up a month later has almost no relationship with the printer.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leo Garet » February 20th, 2020, 11:37 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:A customer who brings a job in for printing, pays, then picks it up a month later has almost no relationship with the printer.

On the money. Who knows what things were like when whoever-Erdnase-was was putting the book together.

The experiences I've had with printers is that unless it's a one-man band, you rarely see the same person twice. And if it is a one-man band, Mister Kaufman's comment applies.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » February 21st, 2020, 8:01 am

Leo Garet wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:A customer who brings a job in for printing, pays, then picks it up a month later has almost no relationship with the printer.

On the money. Who knows what things were like when whoever-Erdnase-was was putting the book together.

The experiences I've had with printers is that unless it's a one-man band, you rarely see the same person twice. And if it is a one-man band, Mister Kaufman's comment applies.


Now come on chaps. You and I know that "Erdnase" didn't just walk in with a job and then pick it up. The copyright application was made by "S.W. Erdnase, care of Jas. McKinney & Co., 73 Plymouth Place, Chicago, Ill.". There was more to their dealings than you are insinuating.

You are indicating that the fact that E.D. Benedict was a customer of McKinney at the time the book was published doesn't mean a light.

Others have said that we can ignore everything Marshall D. Smith said because he was recalling an incident from 40-odd years before. Others have said that the book was written by people for which there is no proof that they knew anything about sleight of hand.

There are people who are seriously trying to find Erdnase and there are those who will pour cold water on anything that might take us one step nearer. I get the impression that they don't want him to be found. Why? I don't know - maybe they don't want the game to end.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » February 21st, 2020, 8:33 am

I neither know nor care who Erdnase was but I will say that from what I have been reading Benedict seems a reasonably good candidate.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » February 21st, 2020, 8:52 am

Zenner wrote:Now come on chaps. You and I know that "Erdnase" didn't just walk in with a job and then pick it up. The copyright application was made by "S.W. Erdnase, care of Jas. McKinney & Co., 73 Plymouth Place, Chicago, Ill.". There was more to their dealings than you are insinuating.


That claim needs support. Why does a service provided by a printing company suggest more than a service provided by a printing company?

You are indicating that the fact that E.D. Benedict was a customer of McKinney at the time the book was published doesn't mean a light.


No, people are indicating that merely having been a customer of a printing firm doesn’t mean that customer was Erdnase


There are people who are seriously trying to find Erdnase and there are those who will pour cold water on anything that might take us one step nearer. I get the impression that they don't want him to be found. Why? I don't know - maybe they don't want the game to end.


The goal isn’t to find anyone who COULD be Erdnase, but to actually find Erdnase.

That means every claim must be analyzed.

You yourself have no problem throwing ‘cold water’ on others ‘evidence’ that points to their candidate. So clearly water throwing isn’t the issue.

What you mean to say, I think, is you don’t want people throwing water on YOUR Candidate. If you really wanted to find the true Erdnase you would welcome every question and criticism as necessary to insure the steps being made are indeed forward.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Lyons » February 21st, 2020, 9:18 am

Joe Lyons wrote:Has anyone ever run TEATCT and a couple of Hoffmann books through modern stylometric software?

The reason I ask:

Here are some quotes about Hoffmann previously posted, forgive me for not posting all of the authors names:

"First of all, stay tuned for Martin Breese's upcoming CD-ROM release of the entire file of The Magic Wand. The very first issue (1910) begins a series by Professor Hoffmann analyzing moves in Erdnase"

"I believe Charlier is also mentioned in Hoffmann's 1889 Tricks with Cards"

"On Stanyon's "Magic" I find first advertizing of Erdnase on December 1904 and book prise was 4/6. If I understand well it was pounds. How much it was on dollars than time? All three books of Hoffmann sold by same price."

"Also, Professor Hoffmann did a long series called "Some Useful Card Sleights" which quotes Erdnase extensively starting in the first issue of the British magazine "Magic Wand""

"which you attribute to Hilliar was actually plagiarized by Hilliar from Professor Hoffmann's MODERN MAGIC, p. 11 (the introductory remarks to Chapter II). It would not be surprising that Hoffmann's writing style might have influenced Erdnase,"

"I guess it's not surprising Hoffmann would sound like Erdnase at times, given the influence ARTIFICE, RUSE had on him and how deeply he immersed himself in THE EXPERT"

"I think you have it backwards. Modern Magic was much more of an influence on Erdnase than Erdnase was on Hoffmann."
What is the title of a 1911 magic book that has about thirty references to The Expert at the Card Table?

Answer: Our Magic, by Maskelyne and Devant. The Erdnase book is referred to many times in Professor Hoffmann's "Bibliographical Index of Card Tricks," as found in that book."
I don't suppose you see cancels too often in magic books, but I do have at least one book translated by Professor Hoffmann in which the title page is a cancel."

"Hoffmann's columns in _The Magic Wand_ starting in Sept 1910 are the first major recognition in the magic community of the book (although, per personal communications with Will Houstoun, Hoffmann was mentioning the text favorably in correspondence several years earlier)."

"A phrase which was discussed on another thread (but with several people from this thread taking part) is "unflinching audacity." The phrase was used by Professor Hoffmann in More Magic"

"Unrelated second question: Do we know where Sanders might have seen the Mutus Nomen trick under that name? How many places was it in print at the time?It's in Chapter 3 of Hoffmann's Modern Magic titled "The Pairs Re-paired"

"THE TRAVELING CARDS:
- Erdnase: "Sleights: Masterly feats of Palming and Unflinching Audacity."
- Hoffmann: "...lies in dexterous card-palming supplemented by unflinching audacity on the part of the performer."

THE ROW OF TEN CARDS:
- Erdnase: "The trick is one of the very best of those not requiring sleight of hand."
- Hoffmann: "The trick in the above form is one of the best of non-sleight-of-hand feats."

"Others have identified Sachs, Hoffmann, and Roterberg as sources for Erdnase. I'd suspect that he learned the Eight Kings stack from Hoffmann."

"And his analysis of Hilliar's description of the Charlier Pass is compromised, because Hilliar's description in Modern Magician's Handbook (1902) is taken from Hoffmann's More Magic (1890), so he is really comparing Erdnase to Hoffmann"

"Gift of the gab" is used in King Koko by Prof. Hoffmann"

"Do other magic/gambling books of or before that era refer to the SLEIGHT as palming ‘off’ or just palming?
Prof Hoffmann, More Magic p. 23 "If proficient in sleight of hand you might again pick up the cards with the indicated heap undermost, thereby making the chosen card the top card ; palm off that card,"

I have noticed some common stylistic choices and repeated phrases from Modern Magic and TEATCT not previously mentioned and I'm sure that stylometric software has advanced greatly in the last few years, so does anyone know if this has been done?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby El Mystico » February 21st, 2020, 10:27 am

I can't answer your question, but to me the biggest problem with Hoffmann as a possibility is his published annotations of Erdnase (available in the old Gamblers Book Club edition). I gave away my copy years ago, so can't quote you any examples, but his notes made it clear that he really didn't understand Erdnase!

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 21st, 2020, 10:43 am

It's not Hoffmann!
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Joe Lyons » February 21st, 2020, 10:59 am

El Mystico wrote:I can't answer your question, but to me the biggest problem with Hoffmann as a possibility is his published annotations of Erdnase (available in the old Gamblers Book Club edition). I gave away my copy years ago, so can't quote you any examples, but his notes made it clear that he really didn't understand Erdnase!

Thanks, Dominic, I haven't seen those annotations. I doubted Hoffmann anyways primarily because surely Thomas Sawyer would have outed him by now.

My thoughts are these:

1) Whether a ghostwriter or a magician/gambler surely the author has written before - he's too good at it.

2) With modern stylometric software and the ready availability of most of the written works of magic of that time period being on PDF it seems the author could be discovered whether he's Erdnase or not - much in the way that DNA advances are just now solving many older crimes.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 21st, 2020, 11:54 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:It's not Hoffmann!
What brings you to that opinion?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 21st, 2020, 12:01 pm

If you give any credence at all to Smith's recollections, Hoffmann couldn't have been Erdnase. He was too old (born 1839, age 62 when the book was published); his accent would have been British (Gardner's notes show that Smith remembered the author having had an American accent); every photograph I've seen of him showed him with a full beard (Smith couldn't remember a mustache); Smith thought the author was from NY, not England; to my knowledge, Hoffmann never went to America.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 21st, 2020, 1:37 pm

Honest question follows this paragraph*. Agreed if absolutely certain about the author being the same and singular person as Gardner met. However, we have an unreliable text by an unreliable printer and reports from an unreliable prankster author/reporter. "Erdnase, S. W." is the name in the text. According to Gardner the fellow did not say that was his name or do an "Elwood P. Dowd" introduction with his business card and a phone number crossed out and invitation to dinner. ;)

Bill Mullins wrote:If you give any credence at all to Smith's recollections...
* No mention of the particular style of palaver we find in the divining rod and exclusive coterie routines - or was that typical for card tricks and unremarkable?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 21st, 2020, 2:31 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:I still don't think that his business relationship with the McKinney makes him more likely than someone without one.

How can someone who had no business relationship with the book's printer be Erdnase?

The fact that Benedict has been proven to have had a business relationship with McKinney is the strongest piece of evidence in his favor.


If you knew that someone had written a book, and you didn't know who its publisher or printer was, but you knew that the author was connected to a printing firm, then it makes sense to investigate whether that firm published the book. It would make sense for the author to leverage the pre-existing relationship.

But here, we have a known print shop, and an unknown author. If you want to find the author, why would you start by looking at employees or customers or clients of the print shop? The development of the book doesn't start with the print shop, and then reach out to people who are associated with it. It starts with an author, who has an idea. He then would find someone to publish or print it. Working from the printer to the author puts the cart before the horse.

Consider an analogous book -- The Modern Wizard, the first book written by by Augustus Roterberg, published in early 1896. Suppose the author was unknown. The book was self-published, as was Expert (says so right there on the title page, also like Expert), and it was printed by Johnston Printing Co. If you started looking for the author there, you'd come up empty, because Roterberg had no known relationship with Johnston prior to hiring them to print his book.

Or look at other books printed by McKinney: were any of them written by people who previously had connections to McKinney's firm? I'm not aware of such.

I think the following is a good summary of the relationship between Erdnase and McKinney:
Sometime prior to late December 1901, Erdnase wrote a book. He hired M. D. Smith to do illustrations. He needed a printer. Perhaps Smith recommended McKinney, or perhaps he went to Printer's Row and McKinney was the first door he walked in (and maybe McKinney recommended Smith, if things happened in that order). Either way, McKinney needed a printer, found McKinney, and hired him to print the book. As part of the service, Jamieson (at McKinney's office) filled out the paperwork for the copyright and sent it in. Erdnase picked up his books, and they never met again.

The process of "Erdnase needs a printer, finds McKinney, and hires him" does not require that Erdnase had a pre-existing business or employment relationship with McKinney, and given the typical relationships between self-publishing authors and the printers they hire, the odds are strongly against it. That's not how it happens. It is much more likely that he found McKinney by word of mouth, via McKinney's advertising, or any of the myriad ways one of us would find a tradesman whose services we need.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 21st, 2020, 3:03 pm

Zenner wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:the performing Benedict of the 1880s/1890s may well be a different one, from Australia. It may be true that "Australia" is a bit of puffery, as you suggest, but maybe they are different guys. Hard to say right now, and as more information becomes available, it may clear the matter up.


I know that you will do your best to prove me wrong, Bill, but I don't believe that there was an Australian "Benedict the Magician".

Maybe not. But that would be a matter of faith; the evidence is that at least one Benedict the Magician was from Australia.

Bill Mullins wrote: But suppose they are the same guy. Then Benedict and M. F. Andrews are the only two candidates who have what I'd call a "good" position with respect to sleight of hand with cards -- Benedict in magic, and Andrews in cheating.

Did you really mean to put "M.F. Andrews" just then, Bill? Age 29, 6ft 1½ins tall, and no evidence of him having all that magical knowledge?

I don't think MFA was Erdnase, as I've said several times in the past. The comments speaks for itself: MFA has more documented skill with cards of the type described in Expert than any other prominent candidate.

Bill Mullins wrote: And by the same logic, I don't think Gallaway having been employed there makes him any more likely. There simply isn't a big track record of authors who worked in the printing industry taking advantage of those relationships when publishing their own books (or if there is, no one has bothered to analyze it).


There is no evidence that Gallaway could do any sleight of hand or have the knowledge to write Expert. How Chris can place him in that cold room showing card tricks to Smith defies logic.

At least we find ourselves in agreement on one point.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby performer » February 21st, 2020, 3:08 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:It's not Hoffmann!
What brings you to that opinion?


I doubt it was Hoffman. He was British and lived in England as far as I am aware. Is there any record of him visiting America at any point so he could have been in touch with the artist? And I think if he indeed meet Smith he would have been quite old. I think the artist described someone much younger.

One thing I did find interesting is that he wrote his magic books under a different name because he felt that if he didn't it would affect his career as a lawyer. I suppose if he were to write a book on cheating at cards he would have to be extra careful and I can quite see him changing his name again!

I doubt it though. If he had ever met Marshall D Smith the artist would probably have mentioned a British accent.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 21st, 2020, 4:30 pm

A few days ago, I mentioned the existence of a book from the 1756 that used the word "Erdnasen". Imagine my surprise when, on Wednesday, I received Chris Wasshuber's newsletter, in which he says while revisiting the nickname theory "I found a further example from much earlier, 1756".

So, even though he doesn't participate here any more, he does lurk, and continues to take things previously done by others and put it into his own writings as if it was his own work.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 21st, 2020, 4:36 pm

Some time back, Richard Evans noted that the title page of Expert included in the copyright application was kerned differently from the one in published copies of the book. Here are the two versions, one laid over the other.

Image

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 21st, 2020, 6:14 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:A customer who brings a job in for printing, pays, then picks it up a month later has almost no relationship with the printer.
Bill Mullins wrote:The process of "Erdnase needs a printer, finds McKinney, and hires him" does not require that Erdnase had a pre-existing business or employment relationship with McKinney, and given the typical relationships between self-publishing authors and the printers they hire, the odds are strongly against it. That's not how it happens. It is much more likely that he found McKinney by word of mouth, via McKinney's advertising, or any of the myriad ways one of us would find a tradesman whose services we need.
Brad Henderson wrote:Why does a service provided by a printing company suggest more than a service provided by a printing company? People are indicating that merely having been a customer of a printing firm doesn’t mean that customer was Erdnase.

All of the above comments with regard to the relationship of Benedict with McKinney are absolutely correct!

Benedict and McKinney were most likely not drinking buddies. They may have never even met. However, Benedict has been proven to have had a business relationship with the McKinney printing company and although "merely having been a customer of a printing firm doesn't mean that customer was Erdnase" is true, it is also true that whoever is Erdnase was a customer of the McKinney printing firm.

We should not discount this bit of evidence in favor of Benedict. I think it may be the only piece of direct, rather than circumstantial, evidence that exists for any candidate.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 21st, 2020, 7:08 pm

@Bill, do later editions follow the kerning of the first or the copyright application?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 22nd, 2020, 12:03 am

Brad -- my comments were just as much about Gallaway as they were about Benedict, and what you are saying doesn't apply to Gallaway. WRT to Benedict, if Zenner had said "I think that when McKinney went bankrupt, Erdnase still owed him for printing the book, and therefore the list of creditors contains his identity," then your reasoning makes sense (not sure I agree with it -- there's no evidence for [or against] it -- but at least I follow it). But the claim has never been that specific -- it's always stated like I said earlier: a person known by McKinney is more likely to have been Erdnase that someone who wasn't known by McKinney. I always took that to mean a person known by McKinney prior to the printing, because obviously McKinney knew him post-printing.

Jonathan - The title pages of later editions are completely re-typeset, starting with the 1905 Drake Hardbound editions (like the Houdini copy at the Library of Congress). So when people talk about the plates going from printer to printer, it doesn't include the plate for the title page.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 22nd, 2020, 3:50 pm

Let's please avoid spoilers here at least for the next week until everyone has received their copies.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby magicam » February 22nd, 2020, 7:56 pm

Hey all, I've not followed this thread of late, so apologies in advance for any rehashing or ignorance of Erdnase news! One of Brad's and Bill's posts got me thinking ...

Brad Jeffers in part wrote:Benedict and McKinney were most likely not drinking buddies. They may have never even met. However, Benedict has been proven to have had a business relationship with the McKinney printing company and although "merely having been a customer of a printing firm doesn't mean that customer was Erdnase" is true, it is also true that whoever is Erdnase was a customer of the McKinney printing firm. [text italicized by magicam]
Depends on how we define 'customer', and what such a business link is ultimately trying to prove. Does being a customer require some degree of direct contact with one or more of McKinney's people in the course of book production? If no, then what is the helpfulness (relevance, strength) of establishing such a link when trying to prove the author's identity? If yes, then what evidence to date shows that Erdnase, as author himself, had any sort of direct, authoritative contact with McKinney during book production? Examples of such evidence would be a timely diary entry from a McKinney employee, discussing a visit from the man who wrote the card gambling and magic book, or a Smith recollection of Erdnase talking about the latter's personal dealings or meetings with McKinney.

Or, are we assuming some sort of personal contact on the strength of the book's mere existence? Such an assumption seems neither unreasonable nor irrational, but I think one could propose a fairly plausible story-line that would render it false: Erdnase did indeed meet with Smith for the illustration work, and did indeed pay Smith with a check, unbeknownst to Smith drawn on an account that wasn't in Erdnase's actual name. For reasons we may never precisely know, Erdnase did not want his real name known in relation to the book, at the least to certain groups of people. (How truly he wanted anonymity could be debated, but the fact that he was rather publicity shy seems axiomatic.) Thus he had no direct dealings with McKinney and instead used an agent to manage and pay for the book production. (McKinney might or might not have known it was dealing with an agent, but either way that agent would be the only customer of McKinney's practical, and perhaps even legal, concern.) McKinney used its own address for the copyright registration because that's what the agent asked (such an accommodation was apparently not a problem for McKinney). ***

*** What was the significance of requiring an author's contact address in the copyright application? Would its absence nullify the copyright, or was it just a bureaucratic requirement with no practical import? Was the LOC supposed to mail an acknowledgement of receipt of the books and application, and was possession of this receipt important for some specific reason? Any takers? :)

To my knowledge, we still only have two sources of direct evidence on author identity. The first is his book, the words in it and its artifactual characteristics. This is both direct and irrefutable evidence of Erdnase's existence and identity. The rub is in the interpretation of such evidence (as we’ve seen over the years in this thread!). The other and more problematic source is Marshall Smith's recollections of Erdnase's appearance, physical stature, words, manner of speaking, etc. Absent Smith's deception, the rub for this evidence has three strands, which can sometimes be very difficult or impossible to disentangle: the assessment of the interviewer's accuracy in recording the question and Smith's answer; the interpretation of what Smith said; and the assessment of its reliability (largely due to memory accuracy concerns). All things considered, it seems fair to say that Smith's testimony falls on a continuum; bits of it seem irrefutable (e.g., that Smith met a man who played a role in the production of the book), and other bits, especially when groaning under the weight of a strained interpretation, seem readily refutable.

Asides: If Galloway were the author, would he thus qualify as a McKinney 'customer'? If Galloway were a sometime employee or a sometime partner of McKinney, would that qualify as a business relationship with McKinney?

Brad Jeffers in part wrote:We should not discount this bit of evidence in favor of Benedict. I think it may be the only piece of direct, rather than circumstantial, evidence that exists for any candidate.
Are you saying that Benedict's business relationship with McKinney constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was Erdnase?

Bill Mullins in part wrote:Jonathan - The title pages of later editions are completely re-typeset, starting with the 1905 Drake Hardbound editions (like the Houdini copy at the Library of Congress). So when people talk about the plates going from printer to printer, it doesn't include the plate for the title page.
Collector's speak aside, if the typesetting in the book only differs on the title page, then its a reissue, not a new edition. The 1905 Drake publication is a reissue of the first edition.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 22nd, 2020, 11:35 pm

Clay -- When I said "edition", I was not speaking in bibliographic jargon, but was using the term as other Erdnase collectors I have seen use it. Each separate printing, distinguishable from other printings by differences in cover, pagination, typesetting, printed cover prices, binding, etc., being a separate "edition". Dunno what the correct technical term would be -- impression? printing? issue?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 23rd, 2020, 12:37 am

Bill Mullins wrote:Some time back, Richard Evans noted that the title page of Expert included in the copyright application was kerned differently from the one in published copies of the book. Here are the two versions, one laid over the other.

Image


I think that many of us have assumed that since a copy of the title page was enclosed in the dated copyright application, then copies of the book itself were available at that time. But if the title page included with the copyright application was from a different print run than that of the book itself, I suppose that the assumption isn't valid.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 23rd, 2020, 2:54 am

magicam wrote: Are you saying that Benedict's business relationship with McKinney constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was Erdnase?

No.

What I'm saying is that Benedict's name appearing in the McKinney bankruptcy files constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was a customer of the McKinney printing company. We know for a fact that Erdnase was a customer of McKinney. Benedict is the only candidate that has been proven to have done business with the company.

I consider the strength of this piece of evidence to be on par with that of S.W. Erdnase being an anagram of W.E. Sanders.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » February 23rd, 2020, 7:03 am

Brad Jeffers wrote:
magicam wrote: Are you saying that Benedict's business relationship with McKinney constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was Erdnase?

No.

What I'm saying is that Benedict's name appearing in the McKinney bankruptcy files constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was a customer of the McKinney printing company. We know for a fact that Erdnase was a customer of McKinney. Benedict is the only candidate that has been proven to have done business with the company.

I consider the strength of this piece of evidence to be on par with that of S.W. Erdnase being an anagram of W.E. Sanders.


Thanks for your support Brad. I don't believe that those two pieces of evidence are "on par" though. The point is that, as far as we can tell, Benedict was the only customer of McKinney who had knowledge of, and ability with, sleight of hand.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Tom Gilbert » February 23rd, 2020, 7:32 am

Is there any evidence that Benedict had published some other books or something requiring McKinney's services?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 24th, 2020, 9:09 am

Brad Jeffers wrote:...Benedict's name appearing in the McKinney bankruptcy files constitutes direct evidence that Benedict was a customer of the McKinney printing company.
Creditor, supplier, customer?
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 24th, 2020, 12:21 pm

The copyright page included with the copyright application does not have to be from any print run. It could simply be a printer's proof struck from the title page plate, done before the book was printed.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » February 24th, 2020, 12:22 pm

So before long, it will be appropriate to start talking in depth about Steve Forte's new book and his thoughts on Erdnase. Should that discussion stay in this thread? or should a new one start up? (I vote for this thread). (and, yes, I already have Opinions)

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 24th, 2020, 10:27 pm

Yes, this thread.
I think it should be okay by this Thursday. Most people should have received their books by then (at least in the States).
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Roger M. » February 25th, 2020, 10:14 am

Geez ... perhaps we could give those who are still waiting for their books in other countries a bit more time in order not to completely spoil their reading of the Erdnase chapter(s)?

I'd like to continue to visit this thread as I've done for years now, but not at the expense of having my much anticipated reading of my as yet to be delivered Forte book ruined by having the Erdnase contents repeated here, rendered along with a massive dose of "personal opinion" (as is the delightful wont of this thread).

I don't even have my delivery notice yet, so definitely won't be in receipt of my book by "Thursday".
Whatever, spoilers suck at the best of times ... especially so on a $300.00 investment. Think twice about opening the thread up to breaking down Forte's Erdnase chapter(s) on "Thursday" please.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 25th, 2020, 11:57 am

Roger, I assumed everyone who ordered the book in the USA would have it by then. Mine showed up last week. I am happy to delay the spoiler.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Christopher1979 » February 25th, 2020, 11:58 am

Just to say - Reading through Steve's thoughts and ideas on Erdnase was like reading an exciting novel. I couldn't put it down. Going to read through it a second time and hopefully by the time I have digested it all it will be ok to chat on the forum about it.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » February 25th, 2020, 12:21 pm

It is interesting. I found myself intrigued by some of the information on gambling houses and how the crime syndicates operated. I would be interested in more of that information - not for any connection to Erdnase per se, but just for the sake of interest in the topic. If anyone has any good book recommendations on that, I’d appreciate them. Feel free to PM to not take this thread into a tangent


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