Discovered! Bee 216…Erdnase?
Recently one of our board members found what might be the only existing example of the Bee 216 deck. This was printed by the New York Consolidated Card Company for a very limited time around the year 1900, and although the back design appears in catalogs and illustrations, no other complete deck is known. What is even more exciting is that our deck is in mint condition. What this means is that for the first time we can determine exactly what the cards that Erdnase used felt like! For example, the deck is very thin (52 cards is 14.50 mm!) and very smooth (Cambric finish wouldn’t be used until 1910!). Fittingly, Erdnase wrote, “For superior work the cards should be new, thin, flexible and of best quality.”
The back design of the Bee 216 is another very interesting thing. Anyone who has studied Erdnase sufficiently has noticed that the illustrations clearly indicate that he was using Bees. This can be seen by the Ace of Spades in Figure (101). On even closer examination of the illustrations, you can see in many of the Figures (see Fig. 75, for example) that the back design is not redrawn but just a squiggle is used. This is very possibly just a shortcut by the illustrator, and this has been our opinion for many, many years. But, on discovering the Bee 216 deck, a new theory arose. What if this design, which matches M. D. Smith’s “squiggles”, was actually the type of card Erdnase used at the time the book was illustrated?
This discovery was first revealed on February 26, 2013, the 111th anniversary of the copyright registration for The Expert at the Card Table, on our erdnase.com website.