1st Colored Magician, J. Armstrong, Cabinet Card, Real Photo Postcard, Southern


Out of stock


1st Colored Magician, J. Hartford Armstrong, Cabinet Card, Real Photo Postcard, Southern

850 / BIN / Famous, Courageous, Talented. Who billed himself as “The 1st Colored Magician.” The real photo postcard portrays the young, handsome magician seated holding a New York Central RR Line schedule, rolled just right so the Railroad ‘s name on the schedule’s cover is clearly legible.

The cabinet card is an image of Armstrong and his wife-who assisted him in his acts. Armstrong has a fixed, somewhat wizardly stare. On the reverse in his own hand, 

Please make me 3cuts from 

This photo one half tone

Size of oval, photo one size of

no (3) regular paper and 

one sizes of no (2) for

tickets Let me Know

what the four will cost


(85) 4 x 6 oval

(60) ? in 5” keep border

(85) “ “ 1 ⅞  “ “

Armstrong Maintained a weary pace as he, his wife, and daughter traveled to venues to perform. As “colored” people traveling predominantly, but not exclusively, throughout the South, his family would have suffered daily humiliations in designated cars for colored. Many of these cares barely accommodated humans, poorly made with plank seats.

Also, the Armstrong’s would have known about the constant horrors of lynchings-terrors that threatened whole communities; the bravest and most intelligent of travelers modified their behavior to avoid the slightest confrontation. In short, many times the Armstrong’s road in fear.

And finally, of the several dozen photos, I have had over the years, I have never seen anything where the Armstrongs coddled white caricatures of black people to gain white approval. 

and past through towns about

Dimensions: Cabinet Card: 8” x 5.75; Postcard: 3.375” x 5.375”

Date: Early 1900s (1910 -1920)

Origin: Estate of Ellen E. Armstrong (daughter)

Condition: Please see photos as they are an integral part of the condition report and ask any questions that you have about the item so that we can satisfy you.

Provenance: Estate of Ellen E. Armstrong (daughter)

Maker: Ballenberger’s Spartanburg, SC

About Us: Southern Picker Antiques in Darien, GA. is open by appointment. My partner, John and I, for 40+ consecutive years, have never lost our enthusiasm for inspiring objects and art. Without art, there would be a whole lot of days I’d just stay in bed! Google: James Allen Southern Picker NYTimes to read a profile about us.

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Additional information

Weight 1 lbs
Dimensions 10 × 8 × 2 in