Leonard Hevia wrote:Erdnase didn't have a comprehensive plan to completely conceal his identity, otherwise the book would have said "Anonymous" on the spine.
I don't agree. Writing "Anonymous" would have invited much more inquiry much earlier. It is psychologically much better to write a name which most will gloss over. While "S. W. Erdnase" to us today sounds like a strange name, back then with all those immigrants from countries with foreign names, it would not have been a name that stood out or would have been particularly unusual. Erdnase reads and sounds very German. With all those German speaking folks in Chicago, and newspapers published in German, and public addresses given in German, it wouldn't be seen as a strange name.
There's two ways to show this is wrong:
1. "Erdnase" sounds German only if you pronounce it as if it were German -- and historically, it hasn't been pronounced that way. It's always been said "Urd-nace", not "Ehrd-nahseh". And Urdnace sounds weird, not like any normal word. It draws attention to itself. (Maybe to a native German speaker, it would look German, but in that case, it would call attention to itself because it says "Earth Nose." Or so some people say.)
2. History doesn't bear this out. When people first started speculating about the author, they interpreted it as a backwards English name, not as a German name. Rullman noticed it was E. S. Andrews backwards in 1928 -- 26 years after publication. It was 90 years after publication before Sawyer noticed it could be a German word.
Gallaway who was working in the print industry knew how easily it would have been for somebody to steal and reprint his book if he had no protection.
Then he also would have known how easy it was to steal his book if it had protection. Supposing a printer lived in New York and ran off a few hundred copies, and wholesaled them to the many "sporting goods" dealers -- Erdnase would have never even known about it. This is the sort of book that would have been sold under the counter. It wasn't even 3 years before Ritter plagiarized parts of the book -- copyright statements and registration didn't stop him (or the others who plagiarized sections).
Copyrighting the book, particularly registering with the printer (who knew the author) as the address of record, provided no benefits, cost him money, and provided a trail back to the author. It is evidence against anonymity.
Bill Mullins wrote:He may have been a professional magician (how would a background as a gambler have hurt that profession? We know magicians today are willing to let people believe that they are gambling experts).
Then why not publish it under his real name, if it would have helped him in his profession, for example if he was a magician?
If you think his real name was E. S. Andrews, he did.
Bill Mullins wrote:He may have owned his own business -- why would you care if your plumber (or your printer) used to cheat at poker?
Because a business owner has to do business with others. If I know he was a professional cheat why would I trust him with business matters, such as contracts, a fair quote, reliable work? What assurance do I have that he doesn't cheat here, too?
My banker has to be a man of trust. My plumber has to show up on time and fix the toilet. There are some jobs in which your reputation is based on what you do, not what you used to do.
Bill Mullins wrote:He may have been a laborer, or a miner, or a factory worker, or a baker, or a lumberjack -- there are dozens of jobs for which having formerly been a card cheat would make no difference at all.
Same applies here. If you are asking for a job at most any business and your resume - be it written, or by reputation - would say 'professional cheat' many will take a pass and hire somebody else. I don't know if you have ever hired anybody. I have. I read through many resumes and interviewed applicants. A cheating past doesn't really play well in that situation.
I have hired people, in two different contexts.
1. In my professional capacity as a engineer for the Army, where the people being hired had to be able to be granted a security clearance, I'd see resumes and the results of background investigations by the Defense Investigative Service. In these cases, like you say, a cheating past wouldn't necessarily be a good thing.
2. In my personal capacity, I've (in the last couple of years) hired plumbers, landscapers, foundation workers, tree trimmers, painters, roofers, auto mechanics, electricians, and alarm contractors. I didn't inquire what their backgrounds were, because I was picking them based on their competence, availability, reputation for doing good work and price. They could have been alcoholics, wife-beaters, or communists and it would have made no difference. I once had some carpet installed -- when the guys took off for lunch, they came back reeking of marijuana. It made no difference to me, because they worked hard and installed carpet well.
For some jobs, your reputation may be tainted by gambling and cheating. For others, it makes no difference. And for a very few, a reputation as a former cheat may be a good thing.
Bill Mullins wrote:or a miner, ... or a lumberjack
Come on Bill. Just a few posts earlier you argued that Gallaway couldn't have soft hands because he worked in the print industry . . . . And now you are arguing that Erdnase was a miner or lumberjack with hands as soft as a woman?
Pay attention. I was not arguing that Erdnase had been a miner or a lumberjack. I was arguing that having formerly been a cheat would not necessarily keep you from being any of a number of other professions later. The mining and tree cutting would come after the cheating, not before.
While my father never played cards or did any sleight-of-hand he thinks that somebody who has been trained as manual compositor would actually benefit for sleight-of-hand work.
If he never played cards or did any sleight-of-hand work, then why should I or anyone else trust his opinion about what makes a good sleight of hand worker?