Richard Potter (1783 - September 20, 1835) was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He is credited as the first successful stage magician born in the United States and as the first black magician. Reportedly, Potter was the son of an English baronet and an African American woman (some say "slave"). He was educated in Europe and traveled widely before beginning his 25 year career. He started out working as an assistant to John Rannie, a professional magician in 1802.
One of The earliest records of Potter advertising a show was in Boston, November 2nd, 1811 at the Columbian Museum. He advertised his show as, "An Evening's Brush to Sweep Away Care, or a Medley to Please."
His best known illusion was "Crawling through a Log". Other illusions he performed included:
- Frying Eggs in a Hat.
- Hindu Rope Trick (Believed to be the first to perform it in the United States)
- 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.
Potter could also throw his voice, especially using bird sounds, with great skill.
Potter purchased land in Andover, New Hampshire and built a mansion referred to as Potter Place.
The IBM Ring 166 in New Hampshire is known as the Black Richard Ring.
Robert Olson, from Massachusetts, does a tribute show of Potter's magic, performing as Potter.
- Conjure Times: Black Magicians in America by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson.