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Samuel Cox Hooker and his Rising Cards

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Gregg Webb (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 06 December, 2023)

Samuel Cox Hooker and his Rising CardsDr. Wasshuber's book is a fascinating look at the great mystery of how a deck of cards in a houlette which is sometimes out in plain view and other times covered by a glass bell jar and at other times suspended by ribbons, can have called for cards rise from it. At other times the said cards rise above the houlette.

Along with the card rising tricks, there is a teddy-bear's head that nods and shakes the head in response to questions. Then it rises in the air as mysteriously as with the card rises.

Only a handful of people know how the effect was really done. It was not a public show. It was built into a house of Hooker, the scientist and magician, and done to fool magicians. When John Gaughn and Jim Steinmeyer recreated it by permission from the estate, they were sworn to secrecy. We are assured that 2 people were probably backstage assistants - hidden assistants. It is one piece of modern folklore that John Mulholland as a young lad was one of these assistants.

Dr. Wasshuber takes us through the earlier history of the trick. Some versions of rising cards would be actually better for the public showing of this effect, since the show would have to travel from stage to stage and the version built into Hooker's house was not portable. Then Dr. Wasshuber built various working models of the various attempts at recreating parts of the effect. His final conclusions are really that there were new technologies just emerging at the time that helped fool the magicians present in the audience. Another of his hypotheses is that multiple methods were used for the different versions of the basic effect of cards rising based on if a deck was supplied, or borrowed, and cards selected or called for.

One thing that is interesting is the seating arrangement that was strictly controlled so that only certain lines of sight were allowed. All we truly know are from careful notes taken during the earlier versions, and then during the recreation of the show. So, while only a few people really know, I was always interested in this trick, yet didn't even know what went on during the trick, which gave it such a legendary reputation.

Dr. Wasshuber is both a scientist and a magician, and his book is an intriguing look at this mystery, and I'm glad I read it. I'm sure that one of the methods explored is the correct one or close to it, and I learned a lot of earlier methods, and got to watch a puzzle of both a scientific and a magical mystery being dissected.


Illustrierte Magische Bibliothek: Band 5: Das Buch der Kartenkunstst├╝cke

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Gregg Webb (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 14 November, 2023)

Illustrierte Magische Bibliothek: Band 5: Das Buch der Kartenkunstst├╝ckeNow that I realize that Erdnase was bilingual and spoke and could write in German, I have been interested in looking into the books on magic and gambling and cheating that would have been available to Erdnase when he lived in Chicago, from Roterberg's Magic Shop. Roterberg's would have carried these as well as magazines and also magic apparatus.

Willmann considered his teachings about cards to be a complete school unto itself. Anyone who switched the Aces to the Queens for a card trick was certainly making a statement for the history books. That way the patter could be more interesting and amusing.

The translating ability of Lybrary.com is very interesting in itself, and easy to use. You only have to hit a "translate" button after each turn of the page. Said button is near the page-turning button. You only have to select what language you want, I chose English, but there are many many offered. I must say that I felt like I was getting into multi-cultural research to use this feature. I recommend it.

I also recommend looking into the German connection for those interested in Erdnase and The Expert at the Card Table.


The Expert at the Card Table

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Gregg Webb (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 14 November, 2023)

The Expert at the Card TableI am an author and innovator of card tricks and routines as well as other sleight-of-hand interests and have been reading Dr. Chris Wasshuber's book about Erdnase. In my teens I had the Expert almost memorized but switched to other newer techniques. Since reading the book about Edward Gallaway as the probable author of The Expert, I decided to revisit the section on the running up of hands with the jog shuffle and to study the math involved again.

Also after reading Jack Pots, written probably by Erdnase, and about stories of poker players and poker games, I am now realizing that even the introduction to The Expert, and onward, are truly written by someone who was there and knew for sure what was going on. Jack Pots was written by Eugene Edwards, which is surely a pseudonym of Erdnase (Edward Gallaway). I now realize why Dai Vernon was so enthused by The Expert.

The German language connection of The Expert has caused me to also look into the German books and magazines about magic and cheating at cards just before the turn of the last century.

As it turns out, at least 6 of the card tricks in the second section of The Expert are borrowed from German books and magazines by Willmann and Conradi to mention two.

And so The Expert is valuable on many levels and more than the sum of its parts. History, brilliant writing, and word usage, in addition to the "moves" and strategies in the book, all run through the man nicknamed Erdnase.


The Cardsharp and his Book

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Gregg Webb (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 10 November, 2023)

The Cardsharp and his BookI am an author and Lybrary.com publishes and carries my eBooks. Doctor Wasshuber mentioned to me in passing that he was interested in the Erdnase mystery and that he felt the evidence for Edward Gallaway being Erdnase was overwhelming. He mentioned that he had written a book about it. I proceeded to obtain the book, The Cardsharp and his Book, and read it. Although the section on forensic studies of the language used is difficult to wade through at first, and necessarily so, in the end is convincing when you understand how the science works.

There are other aspects of the book that are of a different nature, and to me, they were even more visceral and compelling in a down-to-earth way. I'm referring to the biographical facts about the man in question. He is fluent in German and English and wrote for German-American newspapers and English-speaking newspapers.

He also worked in the printing industry. He took time off to travel and gamble and he took time off to perform magic in a circus. Both activities put a deck of cards in his hands for both gambling at poker and doing magic. Interestingly, concerning printing, he worked for the company that printed the Erdnase book! In a book on printing that he wrote, there are photos where you can see the same unusual hands which we see what are surely tracings of, in the Expert. There are art experts who feel that the illustrations in Erdnase are done from photos. Also, in a book on printing, Edward Gallaway is seen doing card manipulations with thin 4" rulers found in printing schools.

Returning to writing, Gallaway wrote newspaper stories about poker games which were compiled into a book called Jack Pots: Stories of the Great American Game. The book was written, supposedly, by Eugene Edwards, which is a pseudonym of Gallaway's. In it, you find out how he got to know so much about poker from traveling and gambling. And, you see what a great writer he was. This is not a textbook. It is a storybook and has humor irony and pathos and fascinating uses of interesting words and dialects. Houdini's copy of Jack Pots is in the Library of Congress complete with his handwritten notes in the margin. Another link to greatness is the fact that Jack Pots is illustrated by Ike Morgan who also illustrated Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz!

Many of the other contenders for the authorship of the Expert have Andrews as their name. Andrews spelled backwards, etc. Well, Gallaway's great aunt was an Andrews, and his favorite author was an Andrew. Getting back to the German language connection, when in Chicago Gallaway lived across from Roterberg's Magic Shop. German magic books and magic apparatus were very good at this time. Gallaway would have been able to read German language magic books. At least 1 trick in Erdnase, The Three Aces trick, is from a German book. There were also at least several books on cheating at cards in German, at this time. After reading these, he probably concluded that he could improve on them, and write in English, but still use them as a blueprint.

Another interesting thing is that Gallaway went to a school growing up that specialized in speed drills for math. This would have helped him with his estimating of the price for a printing job but it would have also have helped when using his original system to run up hands for differing amounts of players and differing amounts of cards. Not everyone could do the math in their heads, but he could.

In conclusion, Erdnase is a nickname for a boy in the German language. Dirty Nose would indicate a boy who was so active outside as to be always a bit dirty. Perhaps Erdnase is actually his childhood nickname. His German language nickname.

Displaying 1 to 4 (of 4 reviews)