Posts Tagged ‘ history ’

A Salute to Sailor Jerry

theman_7Sailor jerry was one of the greats of old school tattoos when they weren’t referred to as old school but just tattoos. Almost everyone with eyes has seen his work somewhere or something inspired by his work. He created some of the most notable tattoos designs to come out of the old school.

Born in 1911 as Norman Collins, it is said he got the nickname Jerry from a donkey named jerry theman_1that his father owned. The sailor part I can only imagine came from his time in the navy.

The navy was where he saw the world. Especially Southeast Asia, where he was influenced heavily for his own artwork. He opened his first shop in Honolulu’s Chinatown. A haven for drunk military men, and one of the only places at that time to get a tattoo.

Most of his tattoo designs where navy inspired. The famous large ship with the words Homeward Bound is one of his most famous designs. He was also notorious for drawing beautiful women with perfect breast. Many in military like outfits or one brunette who appears naked in a martini glass.

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When he died in 1973, Sailor Jerry left specific instructions with his wife that the shop and his artwork where to be offered to his three protégés, Don Ed Hardy, Mike Malone, or Zeke Owen. If neither of them wanted it the shop and artwork where to be burned to the ground.

111545165_f4435d0c56Mike Malone decided to take over the business. In the 1980’s when tattoos became more popular he Malone teamed up with Hardy to release books of Sailor Jerry Flash to sell to tattoo shops. (Flash- tattoo designs, usually hung on the walls of tattoo shops for customers to see and choose from or get an idea from). Sailor Jerry designs where soon hung on walls of tattoo shops everywhere.

In the 1990’s came the Sailor Jerry Limited brand of tattoo inspired clothing and accessories. The brand has even teamed up with Converse shoes to make sailor jerry chuck taylor’s.

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Sailor Jerry brand rum soon came as well. The spiced rum came from a recipe that is said to come from a recipe found among Sailor Jerry’s personal belongings and to be a seafaring style of rum.

 

 

 

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Tattoos in the Circus

circus_poster1900The popularity of tattoos did not just come from sailors and island tribes. In the 19th and early 20th centuries the circus gave a big boost to the popularity of tattoos.

It all started in the early nineteen hundreds  when a tattooed man, which was very rare for the times, went to work for a circus. Circuses soon started to compete with each other over whose tattooed performers had the best ink. The major circuses would all have about three tattooed performe1950circustattooposterrs at all times. There would be tattoos in the freak shows and regular circus acts.

Tattoo artists would even travel with the circus over the summer. The circus was great publicity for them and a free showcase for their work. They where also usually paid by the circus.

The debut of the cross country railroad around 1869 brought circuses to even more people than before and even more people to be mesmerized by the tattooed performers.

In the 1890s, the new electric tattoo machines made getting tattoos much easier and more tattooed people showed up to work at the circus. By 1920, it is said that there where 300 circus performers who had full body tattoos and many where making as much as $200 a week, a lot of money for back then of course.

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