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Posted: November 13th, 2017, 10:44 am
by lybrary
MagicbyAlfred wrote:Unfortunately, Bill was himself addicted to gambling, and typically lost all his copious winnings (hundreds of thousands of dollars) at the Faro table.

Erdnase seems to have had a similar problem. Read the passage on "pretty money" in expert: “Hazard at play carries sensations that once enjoyed are rarely forgotten. The winnings are known as "pretty money," and it is generally spent as freely as water.”

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Since this is, after all, an Erdnase thread, it seems fitting to quote from what is said of three card monte in Expert at the Card Table: ""But there is not a single card feat in the whole calendar that will give as good returns for the amount of practice required, or that will mystify as greatly, or cause as much amusement, or bear so much repetition, as this little game; and for these reasons we believe it worth of unstinted effort to master it thoroughly." Interestingly, it would seem from the foregoing quote that Erdnase's orientation toward the game was as a form of magical entertainment, as opposed to a con for card cheats.

I absolute agree. Erdnase describes it as amusement, as something to perform and entertain socially, not as a way to take the money.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 2:36 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
? anywhere else it's amusement rather than con/scam? Recall Hofzinser was using and teaching top/bottom changes which work for packets in his tricks - and instructed that the pack be inhand by default.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 3:22 pm
by Jack Shalom
Jon I asked that back in 2015 in another thread, and here are some replies I got from Philippe Billot:

"In More Magic published by Pr Hoffmann in 1890, he writes page 51:

This is more of a sharper's than a conjurer's trick, but it is a frequent experience with any one who is known to dabble in sleight of hand, to be asked, "Can you do the three-card trick ? " It is humiliating to be obliged to reply " No, I can't," and moreover the trick, neatly performed, may be made the occasion of a good deal of fun."

"In Magic No Mystery, published in 1876, we can read :

We explain here one of those tricks of gamblers which, thoagh as old as cards themselves, deceives hundreds every week at race-courses, in hotels, &c.

"A priori", it's not a trick for entertainment, it's "A Gambler's Trick Exposed""

"In Les Tricheries des grecs dévoilées (Card Sharpers Exposed) published in 1861 by Robert-Houdin, after he explained the three card trick, concluded :

"Cette tricherie ne se fait plus que dans les cabarets depuis que la police en a défendu l'exhibition sur la place publique."

This little trick is now confined to the low public houses, the police forbidding the exhibition in the streets.

May be that at time, in France, magicians begin to use it for entertainment."


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 3:51 pm
by observer
MagicbyAlfred wrote:
...Canada Bill is widely reputed to be the greatest three card monte hustler ever. .... Unfortunately, Bill was himself addicted to gambling, and typically lost all his copious winnings (hundreds of thousands of dollars) at the Faro table.


Addicted indeed, since anyone in Canada Bill's line of work would have known that Faro was as easily and routinely manipulated to the player's disadvantage as 3CM.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 3:53 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
Jack Shalom wrote:Jon I asked that back in 2015 in another thread, and here are some replies I got from Philippe Billot:

"In More Magic published by Pr Hoffmann in 1890, he writes page 51:

Thanks Jack. Looking back a little further we have the mis-printed spot cards ... no fuss then to show an ace and two threes way back then. So what's the history of the monte as magic trick? Maybe entertaining as a story about sharpers? But you might imagine a magician would keep the pack in hand and use a packet switch and/or palming to greater effect. More puzzling as it does not appear "tamed" or repurposed as magic item in that same text. Contrast the monte display/toss with discussions of the glide and the older "throwing a card" item.

Ask Harry to do an Ultra Move in context - or his turnover change. ;) I's difficult to see the item in perspective since I started out seeing tricks with jumbo cards and that routine with a fourth card rather than a betting context.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 4:52 pm
by Tom Sawyer
Just a reminder that Professor Hoffmann also described the "Thee Card Trick" in Modern Magic, which of course preceded the description in More Magic.

Without getting into details, the Modern Magic version (pages 76-77) is simpler, but it does go into the "bent corner" addition, as does More Magic.

Interestingly, Hoffmann introduces the trick in Modern Magic as follows:

This well-known trick has long been banished from the répertoire of the conjuror, and is now used only by the itinerant sharpers who infest race-courses and country fairs. We insert the explanation of it in this place as exemplifying one form of sleight-of-hand, and also as a useful warning to the unwary.

However, it looks as though, by the time of More Magic, the trick had cycled back around to being one that was being performed by magicians.

--Tom S.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 4:54 pm
by Bill Mullins
MagicbyAlfred wrote:
Jack Shalom wrote:Isn't there the story that Canada Bill offered to pay the railroad agents for the right for him to play on the trains exclusively, with his promise that he would only cheat people of the cloth?

Yes, Jack, there is indeed such a story. It first appeared in print in an article entitled, "Three Keerd Monkey," in the Little Rock Daily Republican, September 14, 1872, p. 3.

From a few days earlier, in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat of 9/10/1872 (and the text suggests it originally appeared in the Omaha Dispatch of 9/6)

Image Image


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 5:05 pm
by Bill Mullins
Jonathan Townsend wrote:Looking back a little further we have the mis-printed spot cards ... no fuss then to show an ace and two threes way back then.

I don't think anyone used mis-spotted cards to gimmick a monte display until DeLand's "Pickitout", in 1908.


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 6:15 pm
by Bill Mullins
lybrary wrote: It comes down to showing contact with McKinney be it by spatial proximity

Edwin S. Andrews worked at the C&NW railroad, whose Chicago depot was just a mile north of Printer's Row. Sounds plenty proximate to me.

Houdini came through Chicago regularly, and played at the Powers Theater (on Randolph, between Clark and Lasalle) in 1900 - 3/4 of a mile north of Printer's Row. Plenty proximate.

Marty Demarest laid out a convincing case that W. E. Sanders visited his folks at the Windsor Clifton Hotel (NW corner of Wabash and Monroe) in the winter of 1901-02. Walk one block west and five blocks south, and you are in Printer's Row. Or three stops on the El.

(and note that Congress and State, where Smith recalled his meeting with Erdnase, is only a block south of the State St. Station of the El)


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 6:18 pm
by Tom Sawyer
Speaking of "candidate viability" . . .

Richard Hatch recently mentioned a candidate suggested by Peter Zenner, namely E.D. Benedict.

Benedict has not been discussed much (so far!) on this thread, but it is interesting to me that he has been catapulted into being one of the leading candidates, based on several basic facts.

Without getting into detail, possibly the two main requirements for any Erdnase candidate are skill with cards, and writing ability.

Provisionally, it can be said that Benedict meets both of those requirements, or, actually, he comes close. At the moment it looks as though Benedict knew sleight of hand (whether with cards, I do not know). Also question has been raised earlier as to whether E.D. Benedict is the same guy who wrote for The Sphinx.

Benedict also has that highly interesting connection with McKinney's company.

So, I have been pondering this, and it has made me wonder whether, even based on these few facts, Benedict may have a stronger case than Gallaway. At the moment, I don't know, one way or the other. If he does, it tends to show that seemingly endless arguing (such as in the Gallaway case) does not necessarily contribute to the strength of a case, but that it can actually emphasize weaknesses that might otherwise have gone unstressed.

I'm not saying that Gallaway has a bad case, but then again, it appears that if one has the right facts, one does not need many to make a good case.

--Tom Sawyer


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 6:51 pm
by Richard Hatch
Zenner's E. D. Benedict candidate does appear to be at least as strong a candidate (to me) as Edward Gallaway. He has a clear connection to McKinney (mentioned in the bankruptcy records as owing $45.85 to McKinney), clear interest and reputed ability in magic, writing skill (contributed to the Sphinx and a preliminary stylometric analysis seems to show a close match to Erdnase), possible connection by marriage to Dalrymple, connection to Del Adelphia (who opened his act with an illusion Benedict had published in the Sphinx) and is the right age. He was in the business of distributing books and he went bankrupt shortly after the book was published (possibly explaining why he still owed McKinney money!). Zenner has hinted that he may even have been the "E. S. Andrews" who was a con man (found by Todd Karr). If he can establish that, I'd probably have to say "case closed"!


Posted: November 13th, 2017, 7:22 pm
by Tom Sawyer
Dick, those are all good points (at least, as of now!), and I think I had most of that in mind, even though I only focused on two or three things.

--Tom S.


Posted: November 14th, 2017, 2:31 pm
by Roger M.
On Sept 8th in this thread:

Our host, Richard K. posted this note:

"There is a new candidate, and a book is in the works about him. He's an interesting choice, but other than that I must remain mum."

Any updates you can share with us on this Richard?

With Peter Z's candidate (specific details not publicly shared by Peter yet), and this teaser from Richard, it seems there may be some new directions taken in the search?


Posted: November 14th, 2017, 3:56 pm
by Richard Kaufman
I cannot offer any more information.


Posted: November 15th, 2017, 9:23 am
by Jack Shalom
Chris's latest newsletter talks about 1900 Jackpots author Eugene Edwards. He tries to make the case that Edwards might be Erdnase, and Chris says he has a bombshell coming up. (Edwards is Galloway?)

One part of Chris's report that I find unconvincing is his claim that Edwards must have been a professional card shark, because of his inside info about how pros work. But at least in the excerpts Chris provides, Edwards does not say anything more than had been reported by DeVol at least a decade earlier. Chris's excerpts from Edwards feel very much like second-hand stories to me.

I'm not sure why Chris insists Erdnase was a pro. I think he actually has a better case for Galloway and Edwards if Erdnase was what he appears to be--a very interested amateur.


Posted: November 15th, 2017, 10:48 am
by Roger M.
As relates to Eugene Edwards book Jackpots - on October 25th, on his blog (which you should definitely be reading) - Tom Sawyer has already noted that the writing of Eugene Edwards reads an awful lot like Erdnase.

As for being an "expert", I strongly agree with Jacks observation above, with pretty much everything quoted in Chris's newsletter as an example of "expertise" able to be parsed from any number of books of the day, including the popular 40 Years A Gambler on the Mississippi by George Devol, published in 1887 - 15 years prior to EATCT.

Although reading Jackpots demonstrates the writing similarity is there, and is interesting - I'd hardly be confident enough to state that Edwards is Erdnase just based just on that similarity.

It will be interesting to see how the line is drawn from Eugene Edwards to Gallaway though ... which appears will be coming next from Chris's desk.


Posted: November 15th, 2017, 7:08 pm
by Ted M
Roger M. wrote:
Richard Hatch wrote:Looks like this Erdnase kickstarter campaign will meet its goal. Thoughts?

This is exactly what David Ben and Julie Eng have already done to perfection with The Experts at the Card Table.

I'm not sure what possible improvement could be achieved beyond what David and Julie have already done so well?

Maybe I'm missing something?

Er, what does the "secret of the Practice Board" mean?

Just for statistical interest, 90 people seem to have shelled out 200 clams for this book so far. It's way over its $5,000 goal at $23,000 with 19 days to go.

Personally I'm awaiting volumes 2 and 3 from David Ben, and I'll still have enough for Richard's Harapan Ong book...


Posted: November 20th, 2017, 6:02 am
by Tom Sawyer
Hi All,

During a lull like the present one, it might be interesting for people to think about what kinds of features make a candidate a “leader,” or for that matter, about the kinds of things that make a person a candidate at all.

Such features often have little to do with the strength of a candidate's case.

Regardless of that, I'll list a few that occur to me:

1. Reputation of a candidate apart from being an Erdnase candidate. For instance, we know of people like Hilliar and (if you are interested in card games) Foster, even apart from any discussion of them as possible candidates.

2. Support for a candidate on this Erdnase thread.

3. The field in which the candidate is known to have worked. Magician candidates, and there are several, tend to be a little more interesting than someone like Edwin Sumner Andrews, not just because their background tends to support their candidacy, but because most of the people who are interested in the Erdnase controversy came to it because of an interest in magic.

4. The physical appearance of the candidate. I’m not saying that this one is especially logical, but there is probably some validity to this. Men like R.F. Foster and W.E. Sanders seem to fit the stereotype of the suave gambler. Edwin Sumner Andrews just looks like a regular family man, and he obviously had a beautiful family, which certainly supports that view. Edward Gallaway looks like a bookish person, which apparently he was. But . . . as they say, looks can be deceiving.

In an earlier post on this thread, I mentioned a bunch of other, somewhat similar, factors. A few of them are worth repeating here. Actually, now that I look at them further, they all seem worth repeating. In my original post, I included a little discussion of each point, heavily edited here.

1. Accessibility of information.
2. Reputation of a person forwarding a candidate.
3. Colorfulness of the candidate. R.F. Foster (interesting to me, but not to most); Wilbur Edgerton Sanders (interesting to most).
4. Traction. For some inexplicable (to me) reason, some candidates, or would-be candidates, just seem to appeal to a lot of people.
5. Publicity. Obviously, people like Milton Franklin Andrews, Edwin Sumner Andrews, and W.E. Sanders have gotten (relatively speaking) huge amounts of analysis and publicity relative to that of most (perhaps all) other candidates.
6. Longevity. A candidate who has managed to hang on for a long time is kind of like mud on a boot -- hard to shake off -- no matter how weak the case. (This is not to say that all candidates who have been around a while have weak cases.)
7. Actual strength of the case.
8. Appeal of “the story.” I think some people are swept up by an interesting story that connects known evidence, no matter how utterly implausible that story may be.

--Tom Sawyer


Posted: November 21st, 2017, 7:16 am
by Tom Sawyer
Hi All,

All right, since the Erdnase lull continues, here are a few words about Cab No. 44, a 1910 novel by R.F. Foster. It appears that this was first mentioned in the Erdnase world by Dick Hatch on a different thread in 2003, then on this thread in 2005, first by Bill Mullins, and then by Dick again.

The book was also discussed by the late Hurt McDermott in his 2012 book Artifice, Ruse & Erdnase.

I notice that, in several places on Google Books, the book is discussed as having been the subject of an interesting advertising campaign, which involved a cab with the book title on it, and a kid who dispensed flyers, but that is not really what I want to talk about in this post.

The March 1910 A.L.A. Booklist lists it under “Foster, Robert Frederick,” and describes it as “A detective story of considerable interest, based on a wager between two financiers as to whether a suspect can elude the New York police for a month.”

So it appears that it was definitely written by the Foster who was well known as a card-game expert.

But I wanted to mention something else that seemed kind of unexpected to me.

I saw reference to a book titled The Body in the Shaft, by R.F. Foster, and I thought, “Hmmm. That’s interesting.”

Further investigation, however, determined that the author was a writer named Reginald Francis Foster (1896-1975). There are many scattered references to him on the Internet. Apparently The Body in the Shaft was first published in the UK in 1924 under the title The Lift Murder.

--Tom Sawyer