Anyone who could save 10 cents in America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries could go for one of the many Dime Museums Who would have counted the country, marveled at all kinds of curiosities: a flea circus, a dog that could count, a sword swallow, witches, a Siamese twin, an albino, a woman with a beard.
The projects, which were halfway between a museum, a circus theater, a zoo, and a strange show, were another surprise in the store: a woman covered in tattoos from head to toe – except for her neck, face, and hands. So she can show herself in public as a respectable lady. Artoria Gibbons, who performed in circus and dime museums, was one of them Tattooed lady. She stood on her back Last Supper By Leonardo da Vinci, fragments of Raphael and Michelangelo’s paintings were on her arms and legs.
Gibbons’ photo – we see a pretty girl from the 1920s – was included in the recently published book tattoo. From 1730 to 1970. Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection, In it, the Dutch tattoo king displays a selection of his enormous and impressive collection of photos, drawings, prints, engravings, and tools.
In his coffee table mega book (5.5 kilograms), Schiffmacher (68) takes the reader through the history of tattooing from different continents. From New Zealand Māori, natives of Papua New Guinea and Borneo, to ancient Japan, crew members of various explorers’ boats and merchant fleets crossed to the west. Unlike peoples of that time it is still considered exotic, where body decoration indicates a certain position in society or perpetuates the rite of passage, in Europe and America tattoos were initially intended mainly for sailors and soldiers.
Perhaps the story in the book ends in 1970, the year singer Janice Joplin got some little tattoos and proudly showed them on TV. This moment, writes honorary media professor Henry Benders in his book, published this year Tattoo treatment, Which we consider the birth of tattoo culture today.
Tattoos were once a sign of resistance and rebellion and now you discover on a summer day at the beach in Scheveningen that it is even more special to not have a tattoo than it is. In the United States, half of adults under the age of 40 now have tattoos, Bonders writes, in Europe it’s between 20 and 25 percent. In 1995, the Netherlands had nearly 300 tattoo parlors, and by 2020 there will now be over 3,500.
Tattoos became mainstream, celebrity tattoo artist. Schiffmacher, for example, has appeared in his reality soap, and has participated in shows like Bobo is on the busH in Big brother VIPReceived a royal tribute and decorate the Royal Blue Tattoo’s series of paintings, vases, and tiles from Royal Delft.
In interviews, Schiffmacher sometimes complains that tattoos might be a little commonplace, now. And that everyone made it without any meaning of history or meaning. In his book he shows that tattoo culture has a deep, multi-layered and rich history and that it is a pleasure to look at. Also only in a book on paper.
A copy of this article also appeared in the NRC Handelsblad on January 8, 2021
A version of this article also appeared on nrc.next on January 8, 2021