The hunt to find the true identity of S. W. Erdnase
, the author of The Expert at the Card Table
, published in 1902 in Chicago, has been raging for more than a century. The book is as revered by gamblers and magicians as the Bible is by Christians.
One of the first and most active Erdnase hunters was well-known science writer, puzzle expert, and magician Martin Gardner, who erroneously thought he identified cardshark and murderer Milton Franklin Andrews as being Erdnase. After Andrews many other candidates were proposed, but none had a case strong enough to withstand scrutiny. None wrote like Erdnase, nor had sufficient opportunity, nor even a good motive, to write the book. Their cases were largely based on wild theories built on little evidence, and held together by flawed assumptions.
DI Dr. Chris Wasshuber, a trained scientist, engineer and hobby magician with an interest in puzzles and hard problems, took on the challenge of trying to find Erdnase. Rather than continue to massage the same old evidence, he decided to look for new documents that would aid in the search. In a breakthrough discovery, he found the James McKinney and Jamieson-Higgins bankruptcy files from 1903. James McKinney & Co. was the printer for the self-published The Expert at the Card Table.
In this ebook Dr. Wasshuber tells the story of how the bankruptcy records were found, and how they allowed him to zero in on Edward Gallaway. Over the course of four years, Dr. Wasshuber inspected and searched in countless newspapers, archives, and genealogical records to piece together the remarkable life story of Edward Gallaway, a learned printer and entrepreneur, who was fluent in German, who had an insatiable appetite for reading and knowledge, and who most surprisingly also had a three year circus career. Every new piece of evidence found about Gallaway further confirmed that he was S. W. Erdnase.
Dr. Wasshuber hired renowned forensic linguist Dr. John Olsson to conduct a detailed study of the writings of Erdnase, Gallaway, Roterberg, Hilliar, Sanders, and Wilson, which resulted in Gallaway most likely being the elusive Erdnase due to their very similar linguistic profiles. Dr. Olsson's entire report is included in this ebook.
The ebook includes all the primary evidence on which Dr. Wasshuber bases his conclusions, except the bankruptcy records, which are available separately. A century old mystery has been solved. Erdnase has been found. Read the fascinating story and learn everything we know about a man who made quite a name for himself in the print industry, but whose alter ego would become revered by gamblers and magicians the world over.
- The Mystery
- My Interest in Erdnase
- The Prosecutor Takes on Gallaway
- Physical Appearance
- Wrist and Sleeves
- Soft Hands
- Linguistic Analysis
- Dr. John Olsson's Report: The Linguistic Magic of Erdnase
- 'There is no evidence'
- Anagrammatic attributions
- The knaves
- The magic of language
- The magic of the individual
- Language change over time
- Change and individualism
- Focus of the investigation
- Why vocabulary is important in authorship studies
- Vocabulary sources
- Aspects of vocabulary: very long words
- Aspects of vocabulary: words relating to cognition
- Aspects of vocabulary: relative rarity of the lexicon
- Period and manner of composition
- Author consistency
- Conjunctions and punctuation: a series of author choices
- Decline of the semi colon
- The comma in relation to conjunctions
- Punctuation in relation to 'or' and 'nor'
- Style comparisons
- Comparing Expert and Roterberg
- Comparing Expert and Hilliar
- Comparing Expert and Wilson
- Comparing Expert and Sanders
- Summary of tests
- Comparing Expert and Gallaway
- My Comments To Olsson's Report
- Cinnamon Word Analysis
- Analytic Negative
- Copyfitting Book
- The Monotype System Part I and II
- Comparing Hands
- Traits, Habits and Interests
- Religious Questions
- Business Knowledge
- Gambling and Magic
- Pretty Money and Stock Market
- Learning from Failure
- Erdnase Spoke German
- Cover, Title Page, and Bookplate
- Career and Circus
- Estimating Books
- My Thoughts on the Smith Recollections
- Dalrymple Deception
- The Name S. W. Erdnase
- Eugene Edwards
- Edward M. Vernelo
- The Book
- The Copyright Registration Form
- Alexander August Gallaway
- Further Research
- Appendix 1: Copyright Registration Form
- Appendix 2: Estimating for Printers
- Appendix 3: Marshall Gardner Letters
- Appendix 4: Western Carbon Paper and Supply Company
- Appendix 5: McKinney & Gallaway Co
- Appendix 6: Copyright Registration (How To Price Job Printing Properly)
- Appendix 7: Interesting News Reports
The hunt started in January 2015. First edition 2016; Last update 2019, 295 pages.
word count: 95008 which is equivalent to 380 standard pages of text
Reviewed by Hans-Christian Dr. Solka (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★ Date Added: Wednesday 30 November, 2016
Chris Wasshuber solved a more then 100 years old mystery.
The search for Erdnase has been going on for decades.
But at now the magic community may be pretty sure Edward Gallaway will be generally accepted as S.W. Erdnase.
Chris Wasshuber can even explain the name S. W. Erdnase.
Erdnase actually comes from the German words Erd (earth or soil) and Nase (nose).
Chris Wasshuber explores Gallaway's opportunity, motive and means to prove his theory. Gallaway must be S.W. Erdnase!
Reviewed by Chet Cox (confirmed purchase)
★★★★★ Date Added: Wednesday 30 November, 2016
The description is wrong in one place, right at the end. Dr Chris' Hunt for Erdnase began a LOT earlier than 2015. Why 2015 became the year that a full "scientific detective" search was truly possible, is the start of this story.
The evidence is compelling. There are no conclusions based on "this cannot be coincidence." Perhaps it needed the sort of training of a scientist with no agenda. The way the data came together, and the pathways taken, including the fascinating dead ends, makes this the detective mystery of the year. Or, if you are a magician, of any year.