Vanish Magic Magazine #98 | Page 8

The five-year journey of the film


For ErdNAse

S . W . Erdnase is the pseudonym of the man thought to be the most notorious card shark of the 19th century . His book “ The Expert at the Card Table ” is now considered the card conjurer ’ s bible , making it compulsory reading for any magician . It took more than 30 years after its publication for the true value of the book to be appreciated . His true identity is still uncertain and remains a great mystery , leaving even the best illusionists in the dark . In our film the greatest magicians of our time go in search of the long-lost genius . They talk about the rumors of his supposed suicide and other stories that will chill you to the bone . No proof of the many legends appears to exist , but in searching for him we learn about the true significance of his book . Along the way , we are given valuable insights into the history of deception through the ages and the origin of some of the best-kept secrets of the contemporary world of magic .
S . W . Erdnase ... The pseudonym of the most notorious hustler of the 19th century . Today his book “ The Expert at The Card Table ” is known as the bible of card magic . It is a must-read for every magician . The value of the document was not recognised until 30 years after its release – too late for the author to witness the success of his work and too late for every slight-of-hand artist who would have liked to get to know him . His true identity is still unknown and makes for a mystery which leaves even the best illusionists in the dark . Today , numerous theories exist about the person who might be hiding behind the alias . In the movie “ The Expert at the Card Table - Looking for Erdnase ” renowned magicians and Erdnase researchers present " their " favourite theories and take the viewer along the search for the mysterious author .
The first person to seriously investigate S . W . Erdnase was journalist Martin Gardner : In the 1940s he tracked down the book ' s illustrator , Marshall D . Smith and conducted an interview with him , which would become the basis for many theories . In Gardner ' s theory Erdnase is a crooked gambler and alleged serial killer named Milton Franklin Andrews who committed suicide in San Francisco in 1905 . The name Andrews comes up in many theories , in fact : if you read the pseudonym S . W . Erdnase backwards , you get the name E . S . Andrews . This piece of information became the starting point of the theory of Richard Hatch , who has been dealing with the mystery of Erdnase for over 20 years now : Edwin Sumner Andrews was a traveling agent , working for the Chicago & North Western Railroad company around 1900 and presumably robbed passengers of their money with sleight of hand during poker games on the train . The third prominent theory follows Charles Edward Andrews - the Gambling King of North Indiana , potentially a con man and swindler from the northeastern United States who was accused of fraud in several cases after the turn of the century . The film highlights these three theories among others . The interviewees ( Richard Turner , Laura London , Richard Hatch , Jason England , Guy Hollingworth and several more ) present and discuss arguments for and against the various candidates , cleverly captivating the viewer ’ s attention .
The viewers are offered a look behind the scenes of historical and contemporary magic . Thereby they get to the bottom of human curiosity . The movie raises a question of conscience : What is better – being ignorant and fascinated or being enlightened and
8 SEPTEMBER | 2022