Early Memoir of a Black Hairdresser, 1859.

POTTER, Eliza (1820-1893). A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life. Cincinnati: Privately Published, 1859.

8vo. (Spotting throughout, endpapers torn.) Original textured blue cloth, smooth spine gilt-decorated and lettered (light rubbing). 

FIRST EDITION. Potter was a freeborn Black woman who worked as a hairdresser and beautician in antebellum high society. In the preface, Potter muses: "nowhere do hearts betray themselves more unguardedly than in the private boudoir, where the hair-dresser's mission makes her a daily attendant. Why, then, should not the hair-dresser write, as well as the physician and clergyman? She will tell her story in simpler language; but it will be none the less truthful, none the less strange." In the employ of wealthy Cincinnatians, she traveled widely and recorded the social customs of New York, Saratoga, New Orleans, Paris, and London.

Notably, Potter describes the gallery of Cincinnati's renowned African American photographer, J.P. Ball (see Lots 53-56) in which he has displayed the work of his sometime collaborator African American landscape artist, Robert Duncanson: "The photographer J.P. Ball, who owns a magnificent daguerrean gallery, has a reputation that is known in nearly every State of the Union, and he has displayed on the walls of his gallery several of the finest landscapes painted by the accomplished artist Robert Duncanson." 

Very scarce and even scarcer in such fine condition, with internet records indicating that no copies have sold in over 30 years. Howes P-511.


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