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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 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.