Part of a Potter & Potter (20% buyer’s premium) April 2 sale in Chicago, The Expert at the Card Table was bid to $14,000 (£10,770) and set an auction record for a work the auction house called “the most legendary tome related to gambling, cheating, and card sharping ever produced”.
Illustrated with over 100 drawings “from life” by Marshall D Smith, this was the principal book attraction in a collection formed over several decades by Tom Blue. Other highlights, however, included $7500 (£5770) bid for a 1905 first of FR Ritter’s Combined Treatise on Advantage Card Playing and Draw Poker and another of $7000 (£5385) for an 1865 first of Gerritt Evans’ How Gamblers Win.
Illustrated here is the binding of an anonymous Grand Exposé of the Science of Gambling… from 1869 that made at $3600 (£2770). This anonymous exposé of the various techniques used by professional gamblers, swindlers, card cheats and cons included “…a hold-out devised by a former prisoner of Sing Sing, Three Card Monte, deck switching, marked and altered cards, and other methods of cheating”.
These were skills that, judging by the narrative tone, had been obtained from first-hand experience, said the cataloguer.