Artifice, Ruse and Erdnase
The search for one who may not want to be found.
In 1902 under the pseudonym S.W. Erdnase and the title Expert at the Card Table, a book on sleight-of-hand with cards was published. This book became the bible for card magicians. To this date it remains arguably the single most important book on sleight-of-hand card magic. Some of the most respected masters of card magic, like the late Dai Vernon, have repeatedly pointed to Erdnase as their guide. The book has been reprinted and annotated several times over the past decades. However, despite the importance and standing the book has achieved, the author has never been identified. Many scholars, experts of magic and gambling, as well as historians and scientists have tried to identify who is hiding behind the Erdnase pseudonym. For instance the Scientitic American puzzle editor and dean of science and math populizers, Martin Gardner, spent many years searching for Erdnase's true identity. Several candidates have been suggested and portrayed as Erdnase, but to this date the identification remains controversial.
This book by Hurt McDermott collects, evaluates, interprets and extends the facts and findings concerning the major Erdnase candidates. They are carefully weighed against each other. Although through this work McDermott shows how he has formed his opinion of the most likely candidates, the book's primary purpose is to survey all existing theories, to put them under a common objective microscope, and to guide and help the reader to form his own opinion of who Erdnase might have been.