NJFSC Chapter #44S..........PHS Affiliate #1A..........APS Affiliate #95
Society & Member's Galleries....
As we continue to add more galleries, some will be for public display while many will be reserved for members access only.
Featured Covers Gallery
November 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal New Jersey Civil War Covers -Wyman the Wizard!
If you were to conduct a detailed review of the 190 Civil War
patriotic covers illustrated in NJPH whole nos. issues 100 and 117, or the
online exhibit of covers shown at NOJEX, you can begin to see the
emergence of some interesting patterns among the covers. An obvious
pattern is that there are several different correspondences represented in
the illustrated covers. After years of viewing them in the light of other
historical facts, interesting accounts of the people represented in the addresses
will provide possibilities of several stories behind the covers, not including a
statistical review of the postmarked towns, the various stationery printers,
destinations, or more importantly the sentiment of the soldiers and civilians
who used these envelopes.
One particular correspondence can easily pique the viewer’s interest and raised the
question, for me repeatedly, who was “Wyman the Wizard?” Now this is certainly an unusual
addressée, i.e., a Wizard. Looking further there were others addressed to Jane Wyman, who
was eventually identified to be Mrs. Wizard, aka Mrs. Jane Wyman. A closer review of them
begins to indicate a suspicion that another individual was part of the circle of friends or
perhaps relatives of Wyman. Not all of the correspondence was just between husband and
wife, but included “fan” mail to John at various cities he traveled to perform.
Years after starting this collection an advertising cover came to market from a philatelic
auction house that became a must-have for the collection and was subsequently purchased. It
was a very elaborate and finely detailed illustrated advertisement for “Wyman the Wizard” with a picture of the wizard which was eventually proven to be an accurate likeness from other
sources. It contained a circular announcing his appearance and performance at a forthcoming
event in Connecticut and two complimentary 25c tickets for the organizer (see Figure 2). He
was a ventriloquist and a magician.
John was a member of The Society of American Magicians, the foremost society of
magicians, at the time and still in existence today. He was one of four magicians among the top
15 wealthiest showmen listed over 150 years ago and just third from his friend P.T. Barnum, the
richest showman in the world. Not bad considering they charged about 25 cents admission to
their shows. Because of his notoriety, there is a good amount written about him. Since this is an
information article principally about Civil War patriotics used in New Jersey, the following is a
brief biographical sketch of the Wizard.
He was born John Wyman, Jr. in Albany, NY, Jan. 19, 1816 of a merchant father who
planned a business career for him. After his graduation from Albany Academy he got a job
behind the counter in a Baltimore auction house. Early in life he had shown a talent for mimicry
and entertaining so soon he left the auction business and opened at the Baltimore Museum as a
With his twin talents, ventriloquism and magic, plus a knack for getting his name in print,
he was an early success. Before long he had performed for President Van Buren. Later his
inexhaustible bottle trick was a source of great delight for Fillmore and his cabinet. Lincoln had
Wyman entertain his guests at the White House on four occasions. For almost 45 years Wyman
the Wizard performed tricks and ventriloquism and his performances featured prizes to those
who visited his show. Such attractive items as $40 gold watches, family Bibles, table sets, canes,
silverware and pen-knives were given to lucky ticket holders, some ads promising a present for
Others not so reputable were also in the gift show field. Many of his competitors offered
similar showers of prizes. But some of the gift show operators were swindlers pure and simple.
They advertised costly gifts, sold tickets at a reasonable price, then skipped out the back door.
Their only trick was the unexplained, but mob-provoking, disappearance of the advertised
performer. Wyman, however, was “completely reliable, an honest professor of legitimate
deception, a talented entertainer. If he advertised a $40 watch as a gift, you can be assured the
watch would not only be given away but be worth $40.00.”
He was an early pioneering ventriloquist who achieved considerable reputation in the
United States. He wrote a book on magic (1860) and another on ventriloquism (1861), both of
which are still referenced today. He was an early pioneer of the ventriloquist’s (wooden) doll,
the great grandfather of Charlie McCarthy. John flourished from the 1840s through the 1860s.
As best that be could be determined from his correspondence, his travels were to the more
populated northeastern states especially PA, NJ, and NY. He lived with his wife in Mount Holly,
NJ, and later in Burlington. Wyman died in Burlington, N.J. on July 31, 1881. He was 65.
Nothing is yet known of the details of the entire correspondence, i.e. its provenance, its
scope or size or when it was uncovered.
Fortunately John used the patriotic covers, as did his correspondents, in a selective
manner. That is, all the used covers were the best designs of the era, specifically Magnus, Berlin
& Jones, and McGee. We thank him for his unexpected legacy to philatelists.
As a testimony to the amount of travelling he did, a display of these covers addressed to
Wyman shows many of the cities in which he travelled, and only one in this collection is
addressed to his home, when he lived in Philadelphia. Despite Wyman’s wide reputation, he
seemed to prefer to perform in the smaller American cities, and their smaller halls and school
sites, instead of the larger venues.
A number of the letters to Jane E. Wyman (née Jane. E. Prout), are addressed to her in
Fall River, Massachusetts, which is where her original home was. It appears that these letters
may have been written close together, perhaps to Mrs. Wyman on a visit home. John Wyman
would be buried in Fall River in 1881,4 as was his wife many years later in 1898.
On his retirement, John and his wife resided in Philadelphia, at 612 North Eleventh
Subsequently, the Wymans moved to Burlington, New Jersey,6 where they had a home of
some size. The following covers are all addressed to the corner of Union and St. Mary Streets in
Wyman was certainly an interesting person, who happened to live in interesting times. It
is our good luck that he lived and travelled so much in New Jersey during his career, and sent so
many nice covers to his wife during this period. With the addition of covers he received from
others, it is a serendipitous addition to the collecting of Civil War patriotic covers.
[We will attempt to show other New Jersey Civil War patriotics to commemorate the 150th
anniversary of the Civil War. If you are interested in seeing Richard’s full exhibit, it is currently
on view at McCulloch Hall in Morristown, for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It can also
be viewed online in our Free Online Library at www.NJPostalHistory.org, or by going directly to
1 From Vol. 42, No. 4 of M.U.M. (MAGIC-UNITY-MIGHT), Volume 42, Number 4, September, 1952, pps 97 - 99):
Published monthly by the Society of American Magicians. Christopher Milbourne, ed., “45 Years a Wizard,” on
the Magical Past-Times website at http://www.miraclefactory.net/mpt/view.php?id=81&type=articles
3 Evans, Henry Ridgely, The Old and The New Magic, Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company, 1906,
accessed on GoogleBooks at http://books.google.com/books?id=l_s-
20the%20new%20magic&f=false Nov. 29, 2011.
4 Milbourne, Christopher, op cit.
6 Evans, op cit.
Past Featured Covers
August 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal New Elizabeth, NJ Marking
ELIZABETHTOWN STAMPLESS POSTMARK ALTERED TO READ “ELIZABETH”!
This newly-discovered Elizabeth postmark falls at the time the name was changed from
Elizabethtown to Elizabeth, and a new handstamp was created from an existing Elizabeth-town
postmark. Read more.....
May 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal Civil War Patriotic Covers from New Jersey.
The cover below is dated Mar. 10 from Bloomsbury, NJ to West Liberty, Ohio, with the imprint of S.C. Rickards, Stationers, 102 Nassau Street, N.Y., and shows one of the rare New Jersey Civil War patriotic images.
February 2011 Issue of the NJPH Journal A Folded Letter in art - was it from New Jersey?
This painting by Jacques-Louis David, painted in 1821, shows two Bonaparte princesses reading a stampless folded letter from their father, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon. Was it written to them from New Jersey?
November 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal REVOLUTIONARY WAR COVER
The cover of our most recent journal features this Revolutionary item, from Don Chafetz’s prize-winning exhibit of Morris County Mail Service, 1760 to 1850.
August 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal NEW JERSEY ILLUSTRATED LETTER SHEETS
These items were made popular by the nice ones that exist from the California Gold Rush days, and those used during the Civil War, where they depicted contemporary scenes at the top of the letter sheet, the rest of which was then used to write a letter.
Earliest examples usually included an attached sheet and were used as stampless folded letters.
Later ones were more like letterheads, and were sent enclosed in envelopes.
May 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America!
Treasure Island Scout Camp occupies a fifty-seven acre island in the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The camp is operated by the Cradle of Liberty Council (formerly the Philadelphia Council), Boy Scouts of America. Read more.....
February 2010 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a 1995 cover of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, the last of the conventionally-powered US aircraft carriers, decommissioned in 2009.
This great ship served almost 50 years in service of her country.
November 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a Holiday Greetings from Viet Nam
Just before Christmas of 1971, a GI-produced Christmas card was distributed to the troops of the 101st Airborne for them to send home. A hand-made envelope served to carry it home to New Jersey.
As it was late in December, member Jim Walker used a U.S. air mail stamp instead of the usual free frank available to soldiers in combat,
August 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a a Graf Zeppelin cover.
L127 First Trip to the USA in 1928. Special credit to John Trosky for this nice article!
WEB-SITE SPECIAL: an addendum to this article with additional information on an originating 1928 LZ-127 cover from Len Peck!
May 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a DPO cover from Maurer, New Jersey.
A pretty little letter sheet invitation from a local hotel in Maurer (now part of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County), NJ turned up at the Garfield-Perry Show in Cleveland, in JWF (Jim Faber’s) stock. Used in 1905, it is from a community that literally does not exist anymore. The location is now the site of a large “tank farm” belonging to Chevron.Read more.....
February 2009 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a cameo campaign cover.
A December 15, Hoboken, NJ postmarked Embossed Cameo Campaign Envelope produced by William Eaves was offered this March by Robert A. Siegel Auctions featuring a beardless Abe Lincoln. Only a few examples are known. This Hoboken, New Jersey cover hammered on March 25, 2009 for $2600.00 before the 15% buyers premium! Read more.....
November 2008 Issue of the NJPH Journal featuring a cover of seasonal greeting.
A RFD ”Season’s Greetings” post card, cancelled December 24, 1915 with a Pittstown, NJ postmark, sent by the carrier on Route 2 out of Pittstown to the people along his route. Special thanks to Member Jim Walker for sharing this cover. Read more.....
Members: One of the benefits of membership is sharing your interests and collections! If you would like to share an interesting single item from your collection, or have multiple items to share - the NJPHS Galleries offer you the opportunity to put your collectibles on center stage. Please e-mail your webmaster about contributing to our on-line Galleries. We can even help you if you do not have a scanner or digital images. Just ask. Remember, we are always looking for articles of interest for the NJPH Journal, and would welcome your contribution whether it's a single page or five page article.
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