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I just spent two hours reading this thread and looking at the amazing stuff in it. It just reinforces how little I actually know about the recent(ish) history of tattooing. So fascinating.

I'd contribute my stepdad's tattoos, but I'm not sure he'd let me take pictures of them -- I think he's self-conscious about them. He was placed in an orphanage in Chicago along with several of his siblings in what had to be the early 40s...and at some point got his hands on a bottle of ink and decided to tattoo not only himself but most of his siblings, too. The Sisters at the orphanage finally caught him, though, so some of them escaped, heh. I was always amazed he didn't have any from his time in the Army, since he lied about his age to get in (maybe he does, and just didn't tell me about them). Just crazy stories about backing a tank into an officer's car, and playing drums in Chicago with all-black jazz bands before that was a comfortable thing for a young Italian guy to do.

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on my Uncle-in-Law. artist unknown but done on Market St in 1955:


Market Street in San Francisco? If so, I have a hunch as to who did them.

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Oh, and does anyone know anything about these photos? Found them uncredited on line but they look maybe Burchett-y to my untrained eye. Pretty sure they're the back nad front of the same man

These are indeed photos of the same man. His name is George Smith, of Sheboygan, WI, and was tattooed by Amund Dietzel. The photos I've got are dated 1928. and nearly every tattoo he's got, can be matched to Dietzel flash. The back piece as well, 'The the Ascension of Christ' was a personal favorite of Dietzel's. There are at least 4 examples of it in photographs, and it's mentioned in a newspaper article as well.


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This came across my newsfeed today. Poked around and didn't immediately find it, so posting here! Pic captions are taken directly from the article.



A snake around the neck is a sign of drug addiction.


This inmate is not an authoritative thief, but has tried to imitate them with his tattoos to increase his standing within the prison. The lighthouse on his right arm denotes a pursuit of freedom. Each wrist manacle indicates a sentence of more than five years.


The eight-pointed stars on this inmate’s shoulders indicate that he's a criminal.


This prisoner is one of many who contracted syphilis, AIDS, or tetanus while being tattooed in unsanitary conditions. (GNARLY!)


The devils on this inmate's shoulders symbolize a hatred of authority and the prison structure. This type of tattoo is known as an oskal (grin), a baring of teeth towards the system.


A dagger through the neck indicates that a criminal has murdered someone in prison and is available to hire for further hits. The drops of blood can signify the number of murders committed.


The skull and crossbones on the prisoner's shoulders indicate that he's serving a life sentence, and the girl "catching" her dress with a fishing line on his left forearm is a tattoo commonly linked to rapists.

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