Friday, August 17, 2018

Origins of American Tattoo's

I was at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and saw an exhibit that was so interesting. It was called "Lew the Jew and His Circle". Lew the Jew was one of the most influential tattoo artists in New York City's Bowery at the beginning of the 20th century. His circle in the Bowery District included Bob Wicks, Charlie Wagner and Millie Hall. These people were central figures in the creation of the American tattoo industry during the first part of the 20th century. Their contributions to stylistic and technical developments for tattoos impacted the medium for decades:

Here is some tattoo flash art by "Lew the Jew"

Tattoo Flash Art from 1905

The two drawings below are from the 1940's

Here the flash art done by others:

Bob Wicks 1930 Flash Art
1930's Millie Hall flash art-Hall was one of the most important female tattoo artists of the 1930's and 1940's
Lew the Jew would correspond (via snail mail) with San Francisco Bay Area tattoo artists "Brooklyn Joe" Lieber and C.J. "Pop" Eddy and share ideas:

The following are Lieber's shop signs from the 1940's and 1950's:

Here is a C.J. Eddy shop sign:

And some Lieber flash art:

I am not a tattoo person but it was really interesting to see some of the history around tattoos.


  1. Yes, this was very interesting! And I liked reading about the female tattoo artists from the 1930's - 40's too. Thanks for sharing and linking on Amanda's Books and More!

  2. ...Tattooing is something that I will never understand. Thanks for sharing, stop back again.


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