Thoughts on Erdnase, 101

Erdnase, Fig. 101

Mulling over the famous figure 101 that comes with the trick “The Three Aces” within TEATCT, here is a thought I have enjoyed nurturing for quite some time: What if there was a secret connection between the opening of the book (the original title on the frontispiece, to be precise) and this more or less closing feature of the book, the final drawing?

Unlike the other figures, this one does not only explain the ruse; in fact, it does deceive you, the reader. The display of the aces looks totally regular. Only when you know that there is a subterfuge involved, you will understand that the Ace of Diamonds is not what it claims to be, but something-or someone-else (the Ace of Hearts).

Now the same may be said about the triple of ARTIFICE, RUSE and SUBTERFUGE (= ARS (lat.) = art). I have always wondered why Erdnase used three nouns with roughly the same connotation here: You are being deceived expertly and artfully at the card table. Precision? (Erdnase obviously loved describing things in detail by doubling or tripling words.) PR blurb to make his book sound utterly important? Or simply a clever means of hiding something in the middle, in plain sight? That something might be “RUSE and.”

What is more, in American handwriting, figure I0I can be read forward as well as backwards. A hint at an anagram or at shifting words around?

Remember, “RUSE and” = “and RUSE” = “Andrus” = “Andrews” (!)

Finally, the book’s frontpage promises “over one hundred drawings.” The total of 101 figures delivers this promise, but only by the smallest margin. You may not call this cheating, but probably another artful subterfuge…

Pure conjecture, I admit. This could be more convincing if, say, figure 101 were really displayed on the very last page of the book, maybe on page 202, and if the book’s title went more like ART, ARTIFICE and ACES at the Card Table to resemble the three Aces in figure 101 even more closely.

Just a thought.

Here’s a bit more on Erdnase within my site.



Finding Religion in Card Magic (2)

I just noticed that card magicians really do hold strange beliefs:

They worship Method, their Trinity is Hofzinser–Erdnase–Vernon, and every day they meditate over naked angels on bicycles.

Erdnasen, aufgeschaut! – Erdnasians, beware!

EngelGenug geträumt, gezögert und vertrödelt – jetzt gehe ich es wirklich an: In spätestens zwölf Monaten soll mein Büchlein fertig sein!

Mehr als 100 Jahre nach S.W. Erdnase wird es höchste Zeit, in ein neues und aufregendes Jahrhundert der Kartenkunst aufzubrechen.

Das hat zwar nichts mit meinem kleinen Werk zu tun, aber es musste hier mal gesagt werden!

Zumindest der vorläufige Titel steht auch schon fest:


(Hinweis: Zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt könnten auch noch Subalterne, Substitute, Suppenkoma oder Sukkulenten Berücksichtigung finden.)


Enough of pondering, procrastination, and idle play – I’m going for it now: In about twelve months my book should be finished!

More than 100 years after Erdnase it’s about time to enter a new and exciting century of expert cardistry.

This is totally unrelated to my little effort, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

I already got a preliminary title down:


(Full disclosure: Subtleties, submarines, substitutes, subpoena, soup cubes or succulents may also be considered at a later date.)