Jolting Erdnase

ZZZauber_Erdnase_Fr

Whew, this year is off to a promising start! Gambling and cheating expert Steve Forte has just announced his two-volume tome, Gambling Sleight of Hand – Forte Years of Research. It will include a 130-pages chapter called “The Erdnase Factor”, and it may bring about a major shift (pun intended) in the perception of our Dark Lord!

As Forte teases,

Was Erdnase a cheater who plied his trade with moves and systems that he invented? Unfortunately, my findings suggest that Erdnase was neither a cheater nor an expert at the card table! I expect this chapter to jolt many cardmen.

Looking forward to learning more soon!

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On a side shift note: Rumor has it that Forte’s great-grandfather (on his paternal side) might have been Erdnase, as his name is artfully hidden in the frontispiece of TEATCT…


 

 

Have You Seen This Bookplate Before?

Gallaway_bookplate_300dpi

The reason why I’m asking is quite an exciting one: This bookplate belonged to the man some scholars believe to be S.W. Erdnase: Edward Gallaway. In his library, a copy of The Expert at the Card Table was found, with this very bookplate inside. Gallaway owned other books on gambling, maybe also on magic. Each bookplate found can help in identifying Erdnase. So if you have ever seen this bookplate before in a book or two, or have some old libraries of magic and gambling books (most likely from the 1850s to the 1920s) to haunt, please give it a try and give a shout to Chris Wasshuber over at Lybrary, the main researcher who favors Gallaway as the man who was Erdnase!


 

10 Good Reasons Why This Man Was Erdnase

(…and one or two why probably not.)

Following the lines of, uhmm, “special thinking” and wild inductive reasoning often displayed in the Erdnase thread over at the Genii Forum,  minutes and hours of my own dedicated research and uninformed opining have unearthed that the author of The Expert had, in fact, always been around, hiding in plain sight before us and even among us, as he was no outsider to our community. On the contrary, he was and is one of our most respected practitioners and innovators!

This man…

  • like few others had the expertise to perform all the sleights described in the book with “unflinching audacity”
  • was interested and well-versed both in gambling and magic
  • was a true artist but also a logical, almost scientific thinker
  • could write well and did so elsewhere
  • preached to be natural and to handle the deck lightly
  • loved a good secret and fooling the boys (and he did keep many secrets over decades)
  • was almost always in need of money
  • became, in fact, the biggest promoter of his own book
  • had a special reason for using the anagram “Erdnase”: At one point in time, in New York City, a Dr. S. Weenas (sic!) was his optometrician
  • hid and displayed his name very prominently on the famous title page of TEATCT, centered within the inverted pyramid text:  DetAIl eVERy kNOwN:

ErdnVern

Finally, Erdnase has been found. TEATCT was written “by DAI  VERNON, the Expert Card Handler”. There can be no doubt that he’s our man!

Yes, yes, I know what you’re saying… Officially, Dai Vernon was only born in 1894, and the book appeared in 1902. What a boy wonder! Or maybe he just cheated about his real age. Was he probably about 15 years older than he claimed? Considering his early proficiency with cards, this could be true! Or maybe it was a father and son ploy, elaborately planned and executed over decades (just like some U.S. White House takeovers). And yes, he didn’t choose to be called Dai Vernon until much later on, but, hey, maybe the guy was just planning ahead! All part of the ploy.

Vernon’s the man. Case closed. Thread closed. Now let’s move on to other secrets, please:

  1. Who was the mysterious Frenchman (?) “Mr Charlier”?
  2. Who invented the legendary Horse Drop?
  3. And who is “R.G.”, the German/Austrian (?) author of the early card book, Ein Spiel Karten (A Deck of Cards) from 1853?

Go, Geniis!