S.W. Erdnase: the puzzle in the person

S.W. Erdnase: the puzzle in the person

Over 100 years ago, a man named S.W. Erdnase poured his life’s work into what is now considered the bible of card magic. Boasting a bouquet of secrets practiced only by the most technically elite card magicians worldwide, the book was appropriately called, The Expert at The Card Table.


Since publication, one mystery has surrounded the book that surpasses every secret in the book itself. Who exactly was S.W. Erdnase? It turns out this was not his real name, but a pseudonym used by the author. It’s a question that has been widely asked by all those in the magic world - from the legendary spanish magician, Juan Tamariz, who believed that Erdnase was L'Homme Masqué (one of the greatest magicians of all time), to magic retail giant, Ellusionist, who spent much of 2016 campaigning for an answer. Other suspects included a well educated mining engineer and a homicidal, suicidal con man. Erdnase’s real identity will likely never be known so the genius who wrote the ultimate book on how to puzzle an audience or cheat a casino leaves an eternal mystery around himself.


In The Expert at The Card Table, one sleight called The Diagonal Palm Shift has come to have particular prominence in the magic community, with a cult following of its own. It promises the ability to achieve the impossible and delivers on that promise with a frustratingly obvious, but not at all easy, solution. This single sleight gives magicians the ability to extract any chosen card from the deck and then do with it what they please to baffle their audience.


To celebrate my love of the book and of the Diagonal Palm Shift sleight, I have merged the two concepts to create a T-shirt design, which is itself a puzzle. Only those who know about the move will understand the design - that now includes you!

Author: Sam Richards


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