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Rethinking S.W. Erdnase

by Thomas A. Sawyer
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Rethinking S.W. Erdnase by Thomas A. Sawyer

This is the first digital-edition of Thomas A. Sawyer's Rethinking S.W. Erdnase, which was first published in a small hardcover-edition (of about 105 copies) in late 2015.

The book has an in-depth discussion of different approaches that might be considered in attempting to figure out who S.W. Erdnase was. Many people probably tend to "shoot from the hip," and to use intuition and common sense. Those are not necessarily the best tools available.

Rethinking S.W. Erdnase includes a fair amount of information regarding Frederic J. Drake & Co., including images relating to the 1912 Drake catalog (as found in the 1912 Publishers' Trade List Annual). The frontispiece is basically a portrait of Frederick J. Drake, based on his image in the 1912 catalog referred to.

The book attempts to place the Whaley-Gardner-Busby book (The Man Who Was Erdnase) into context. In the course of this book, the Whaley-Gardner-Busby book is the subject of criticism relating to Whaley's general approach in working on the book and regarding the weaknesses of the main conclusions of the book.

The book also looks at the cases of three of the main candidates (Edwin Sumner Andrews, Milton Franklin Andrews, and Wilbur Edgerton Sanders), to demonstrate some of their main strengths and weaknesses. That discussion may be helpful in the evaluation of other candidates.

Did Marshall D. Smith really illustrate The Expert at the Card Table? Was he really the "M.D. Smith" of the title page? Surely he was - well, pretty surely - but are there any reasons for doubting that? This book includes an extended discussion of that issue.

Essential reading for those seriously interested in the S.W. Erdnase authorship question!

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: The Nature of the S.W. Erdnase Authorship Problem
  • Chapter 2: An Approach Useful in Evaluating Candidates
  • Chapter 3: The Name "S.W. Erdnase"
  • Chapter 4: Coincidences
  • Chapter 5: Did S.W. Erdnase Have Earlier Writing Experience?
  • Chapter 6: The Copyright of The Expert at the Card Table
  • Chapter 7: The Principal Candidates
  • Chapter 8: Edwin Sumner Andrews
  • Chapter 9: Milton Franklin Andrews
  • Chapter 10: Wilbur Edgerton Sanders
  • Chapter 11: James McKinney & Co.
  • Chapter 12: M.D. Smith
  • Chapter 13: The State Hotel
  • Chapter 14: 73 Plymouth Place, Chicago
  • Chapter 15: Other Tenants at 73 Plymouth Place
  • Chapter 16: Frederick J. Drake & Co.
  • Chapter 17: An Informal Discussion of the Three Principal Cases
  • Chapter 18: S.W. Erdnase and Self-Publishing
  • Chapter 19: David Alexander's Theories
  • Chapter 20: The Real Impact of The Man Who Was Erdnase
  • Chapter 21: Comments on My S.W. Erdnase: Another View
  • Selected Bibliography and Colophon
List of images:
  • Portrait of Frederick J. Drake
  • The front cover of an early printing of The Expert at the Card Table
  • A page from a 1912 Drake catalog
  • A Frederick J. Drake & Co. letterhead from 1917
  • The back cover of an early printing of The Expert at the Card Table
  • An early Drake advertisement for The Expert at the Card Table
  • The first page of the copyright application
  • The front cover of the Drake catalog in the 1912 P.T.L.A.
  • Fuzzy Four-Footed Folks, printed by James McKinney & Co.
  • The title page submitted with the copyright application
  • A message from Frederick J. Drake

1st edition 2015, 145 pages, 11 images.
word count: 40475 which is equivalent to 161 standard pages of text

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