The Expert at the Card Table

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The Expert at the Card Table
Cover
Author S. W. Erdnase
Illustrator Smith, M. D.
Country USA
Language English
Subject Card tricks, sleight of hand, magic
Genre Non-fiction
Publication date
1st Ed., 1902
The Expert at the Card Table: The Classic Treatise on Card Manipulation
Expert at the card table.png
Cover of the 1995 edition.
Author S. W. Erdnase
Illustrator Smith, M. D.
Cover artist Ed Smith Design
Country USA
Language English
Subject Card tricks, Sleight of hand, Magic (illusion),
Genre Non-Fiction
Publication date
1904
Published in English
1950s
ISBN 978-0-486-28597-9
Preceded by 1st Ed., 1902

The Expert at the Card Table: The Classic Treatise on Card Manipulation, often referred to simply as Erdnase (or even The Bible), is an extensive book on cards and magic written in 1901 by S. W. Erdnase, a pseudonymous author whose identity has remained a mystery for over a century.[1] As a detailed manual of card sharps, the book is considered to be one of the most influential works on magic or conjuring with cards.

The Expert at the Card Table is the most famous, the most carefully studied book ever published on the art of manipulating cards at gaming tables."

—the Foreword by Martin Gardner, p. vii.[2]

Description of the book[edit]

Despite his widespread influence on the magician community, the author's identity remains an unsolved mystery. Many believe his real name was E.S. Andrews (S.W. Erdnase spelled backwards). (See Gardner's Foreword, pp. vii-ix.)[2]

Originally the author started selling the book for $2.00 in 1902 and the next year it dropped to $1.00 and he sold the rights. Although the author did not renew the copyright, the book has remained in print since 1902, albeit small private printings on occasion.[3] The influence of this book is such that it has been issued in annotated form;[4] translated into Japanese, German, Spanish, French, and Italian;[3] and issued as a series of DVDs by a professional magician, demonstrating and explaining Erdnase's techniques and methods. Among numerous demonstrations of techniques described in the book, the most comprehensive reviews of the sleight of hands are the same-titled DVDs published by Allan Ackerman, Wesley James, R. Paul Wilson and Revelations series of Dai Vernon. A featured show of the story of Expert of the Card Table is also performed regularly by UK magician Guy Hollingworth.[5]

"The Professor" (Dai Vernon) is credited with popularizing this influential text in the community of professional magicians. Well past ninety years of age, Vernon was fond of quoting from it, with page numbers, when discussing card techniques with his colleagues at the Magic Castle.[6]

In Expert Card Technique, Jean Hugard said of it, "... perhaps no other book in all the list of conjuring books has been so avidly read, so affectionately regarded."[7] Erdnase's glossary of terms was in itself extremely influential, and has been reproduced more or less directly by numerous authors, including Hugard,[7] and Henry Hay.

The book is divided into sections. Each section describes individual card manipulation techniques. This article will describe the sections in précis form.

Foreword, Preface, and Introduction[edit]

Martin Gardner wrote the foreword to the 1995 edition. S. W. Erdnase's preface and introduction from the 1902 edition follow.

Card Table Artifice[edit]

Professional Secrets begins Erdnase's general discussion of card play with emphasis on card manipulation for the advantage of the reader, magician or card sharp.

Technical Terms[edit]

Erdnase defines important specialty words and topics to be used throughout the remainder of the text.

Erdnase System of Blind Shuffles[edit]

Sixteen shuffles and card cutting techniques are explained. Those are divided among eight subsections on different types of shuffles and cuts, with illustrations.

Bottom Dealing[edit]

The technique of bottom dealing is explained, with illustrations.

Top and Bottom Dealing with One Hand[edit]

The technique of bottom dealing is explained. Illustrations omitted.

Second Dealing[edit]

The technique of second dealing is explained, with illustrations.

Ordinary Methods of Stocking, Locating, and Securing[edit]

Techniques of arranging the order of the cards in the deck are explained, with illustrations. This is referred to as "stacking the deck" in modern terms. As Erdnase uses the terms, the "stock" is the portion of the full deck that has been "stacked" with "culled" cards.

Stock Shuffle[edit]

Techniques of arranging the order of the cards in the deck, while shuffling, are explained, with illustrations.

Erdnase System of Stock Shuffling[edit]

Seven individual techniques are discussed in detail, with illustrations. Each technique applies to a different number of cards to be stocked, from two cards to twelve and two methods of Euchre stocking.

Erdnase System of Cull Shuffling[edit]

Four individual culling techniques are discussed in detail, with illustrations. Each technique applies to a different number of cards to be culled. Erdnase defines culling as "the act of selecting one or more cards." The culled cards may be stocked, as described earlier in the text.

Erdnase System of Palming[edit]

Five card palming methods are discussed, with illustrations.

To Maintain the Bottom Palm While Dealing[edit]

The technique is discussed, with illustrations.

To Hold the Location of Cut While Dealing Shifts[edit]

Three techniques are discussed, with illustrations.

To Ascertain the Top Cards While Riffling and Reserve Them at the Bottom[edit]

The technique is discussed, with illustrations.

Mode of Holding the Hand[edit]

The technique is discussed, with illustrations.

Mode of Skinning the Hand[edit]

The technique is discussed, with illustrations.

The Player Without an Ally[edit]

The general strategies are discussed. Eight techniques for implementing the strategies are discussed in detail, with illustrations.

Three Card Monte[edit]

Techniques for both European-style and Mexican-style three-card Monte are discussed, both honest and manipulated, from the viewpoint of the dealer, with illustrations.

Legerdemain[edit]

Twelve sections define and discuss over thirty techniques of performance magic, with illustrations. Erdnase defines legerdemain as sleight of hand with cards, as opposed to his definition of card tricks.

The techniques Erdnase presents, with illustrations, in this section are as follows:

Legerdemain (a general discussion of sleight of hand card illusions)[edit]

  • Shifts
    • Single-Handed Shift
    • The Longitudinal Shift
    • The Open Shift
    • The S. W. E. Shift
    • The Diagonal Palm-Shift
  • The blind shuffle for securing selected card
  • Forcing
  • Palming
  • Changes
    • The Top Change
    • The Bottom Change
    • The Palm Change
    • The Double-Palm Change
  • Transformations - two hands
    • First Method
    • Second Method
    • Third Method
    • Fourth Method
    • Fifth Method
    • Sixth Method
  • Transformations - one hand
    • First Method
    • Second Method
  • Blind shuffles - retaining entire order
    • First Method
    • Second Method
    • Third Method
    • Fourth Method
    • Fifth Method
  • Methods for determining a card thought of
    1. By the Riffle
    2. By Springing Flourish
    3. By the Cut
    4. By the Gaze
  • To get sight of selected card
  • The slide
  • Favorite sleights for terminating tricks
    • Catching Two Cards at Fingertips
    • Leaving Selected Card in Hand of Spectator
    • The Revolution
    • Cards Rising from the Hand

Card Tricks[edit]

Fifteen card tricks are discussed. Erdnase defines card tricks as including either or both sleight of hand and self-working illusion effects. The latter do not always require legerdemain for their performance.

The techniques Erdnase presents, with illustrations, in this section are as follows:

Card Tricks: Explanatory (a general discussion of card tricks)[edit]

    • The Exclusive Coterie
    • The Divining Rod
    • The Invisible Flight
  • Tricks with the prearranged deck
    • The Traveling Cards
    • The Row of Ten Cards
    • The Acrobatic Jacks
    • A Mind-Reading Trick
    • Power of Concentrated Thought
    • The Acme of Control
    • The Card and Handkerchief
    • The Top and Bottom Production
    • The Three Aces
    • The Card and Hat

References[edit]

  1. ^ Silverman, Rachel Emma. "Fresh Clues Could Reveal Magic-Trick Writer Who Pulled a Disappearing Act a Century Ago", The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2000. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Erdnase, S. W (1995) [1902]. The Expert at the Card Table: The Classic Treatise on Card Manipulation (1st Ed. reprint ed.). Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-28597-9. 
  3. ^ a b England, Jason (2007). "The Expert at the Card Table Editions". Retrieved January 8, 2008. 
  4. ^ Ortiz, Darwin (1991). The annotated Erdnase. Magical Publications. pp. 270 pages. ISBN 978-0-915181-21-6. 
  5. ^ James, Wesley (2007). "Expert at the Card Table by Wesley James" (7 volume DVD). Retrieved January 8, 2008. 
  6. ^ Johnson, Karl (2005). The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist (Adapted edition ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Co. pp. 368 pages. ISBN 978-0-8050-7406-2. 
  7. ^ a b Hugard, Jean (1940). Expert Card Technique: Close-Up Table Magic (Second Edition ed.). New York: Dover Publications, Inc. pp. 448 pages. ISBN 0-486-21755-8. 

External links[edit]