"A Tattooing Artist": A Must-Read Article from 1902
08:49 AM
For near-daily gems of tattoo history, The Vanishing Tattoo's Facebook Page is a great source. Two days ago, they posted this incredible gem: a 1902 NY Tribune article entitled A Tattooing"Artist." A must-read piece.

The article discusses tattooing as an art form, how "real silk-stocking society women" were tattooed, tattoo trends at the time, and even how tattooers practiced on children. Here's a taste from the article:

When schools on the East Side opened a few weeks ago, the teachers were astonished at the number of tattooed youngsters who appeared for beginning their schooling. Some of them were as variously decorated as the saltiest of seaman, and the boys who had escaped the needle were so envious that they only wanted an opportunity to join the ranks of the "skin pictures" as the tattooed boys were called.

The designs were not unlike those one sees on the arms of grown men. Youthful taste had not been allowed to assert itself, for the reason that the tattooers were simply practicing on the boys that they might do better work on the men who came to them. So there was the usual round of anchors, eagles, stars, butterflies, frogs, snakes, hearts entwined and bleeding hearts.

Then, in a careless moment, one of the tattooers made a mistake. He wanted to try some religious emblems, and was not particular as to the faith of the victim. In everlasting ink he put a picture of the crucifixion, popular with Roman Catholics, upon the chest of a Jewish boy. The father naturally objected and complained to the boy's teacher.
There are also salty scenes from inside the shop of Elmer E. Glitchell aka "Electric" Elmer, the "Wonder Tattooer," of Chatham Square:

The young man bared his arm and the operation began. The "professor" washed the skin with antiseptic and shaved away the hairs. He rubbed a little cocaine into the skin and then stenciled the design. He turned the current into his electric outline machine, and at the rate of a thousand punctures a minute traced the outline. The patient winced once or twice at first, but soon got used to the pricking sensation, and made no complaint. There was little or no sign of blood. The "professor" held out his arm that the patient might select the colors he desired, and the arm made a perfect color sheet. Blue, red and green were the colors that appealed to the merchant and the outline was soon completed with a brush...
Read more from the American Newspaper Repository.

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