The Magic of Richard Potter
In this week’s History of Magic, we’ll look at the life of the African American Richard Potter, the very first known American magician to achieve success in the land of his birth. Richard Potter was born in Hopkinton, Massachusetts in 1783 and was the natural son of estate owner Sir Chares Frankland and one of his servants called Dinah. Potter’s father’s wealth enabled the future conjuror to receive a fairly good education. In 1798 Potter travelled to England as a cabin boy. It was in England where he met the Scottish magician/ventriloquist John Rannie, who captivated the young Potter. Rannie convinced Potter to join him as his protégé and they began a tour of Europe. One of Rannie’s tricks was to remove the head of a chicken then restore it, and it became Potter’s job to find live chickens that had the same appearance in each town they performed in.