Richard Potter, Magician and Ventriloquist- deceased

Known as the first successful magician in America. He is also the first Black magician.

Born in 1783 and died at age 52 (1835). He performed throughout America.

Also doing a tour across America (as it was at the time), through Canada and down to the South and back up (about 4 or 5 years to do). With his wife Sally and an assistant travelling with them (remember no railways at the time).

He purchased property in Andover, New Hampshire and built a mansion there. The property is known as Potter Place. There is still a small graveyard nearby that contain his and his wife Sally’s remains.

Unfortunately, no picture of Richard Potter is available. He had a painting of himself done in 1815 (but it has not been found and photography was only invented in around 1841).

However, a nice anecdote is that he was the most seen person in America at the time, i.e. more people had seen Richard Potter than had seen anyone else.

Thanks to the article on Magicpedia, you can see some of the tricks that he performed:

Effects and show features that he performed included (from surviving printed Potter broadsides):

Frying Eggs in a Hat.
Rising Cards.
Breaking Borrowed Watches and Restoring them.
Handling and Swallowing Molten Lead.
Going into an oven with raw meat and remain until the meat was cooked.
Dancing on Eggs without breaking them.
Trouble Wit.
Shadow Puppets, with the play, The Broken Bridge.
Passing coins through a table.

Casual descriptions of some effects, written by people who may have never seen him perform include “Crawling through a Log” and the “Hindu Rope Trick”. There is no evidence that he ever performed these, and may be just legends.


Videos with Richard Potter

Documentary talk on Richard Potter. Showing the magic he did for first 25 minutes.

I watched the performance and i must say… very entertaining. This just shows you, presentation, presentation, presentation. The performance was superb.

Should get creative juices flowing for a lot of magicians. Cannot recommend enough, watch the first 25 minutes of magic, it is really worthwhile. (Performance by Robert A. Olson)

The rest of his story in this video, is very interesting.

Articles with mention of Richard Potter

America’s first Black magician has roots in New Hampshire.

Black Heritage Trail dedicates marker to honor historic magician Richard Potter.

African American Registry article on Richard Potter.

Products with Richard Potter

You can buy the story of Richard Potter from Amazon.

The first mentioned book below is the one by the speaker in the video.

Last updated on 2022-08-20

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