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Circus tattooing - Charlie Wagner et. al. - the Germany connection - anyone?

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My research into the tattooed ladies of yesteryear, botany in tattooing and the historical basis of truly feminine tattooing (WRT WTF I want on my skin and via trying at ascertain the names of the various styles) has brought me to Charlie Wagner but I'm a nosy bint and always want more information. There seems to be some evidence of (much of) the circus tattooing tradition having come over fro Germany but I'm having trouble finding and following the threads.

This lady, who I now know to be Jean Carroll an ex-(genuine)bearded lady who had her beard removed and tattoos applied for the love of a contortionist, has been one of main my references and inspirations for the style I'm after since before I found you lovely lot or had the foggist of information about the history of tattoo. Turns out she was tattooed by Charlie Wagner. Take a peek between the figurative work.

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This lady, another long standing inspiration, turns out to not only be a circus artist and Americas first female tattooist but Maud Wagner the wife of Charlie Wagner. See palm trees and botanical work on the arms.

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So, yeah, looking further I found this lovey example of his work including really rather botanically correct 'growing' roses, some primroses and few other bits. The use of negative space seems to be beginning to develop.

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I also found this old flash (no idea of date or artist, maybe 40's) with fabulous botanical poppies.

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I must admit I'm most happy to find genuine historical references to follow up my gut feeling that there must have been more flowers included in design at some point in tattoo history and that they probably looked rather like the work of the early botanists (specifically Basillus Besler and others from the 17th and 18th century).

So, yeah, I'm after any information that's to had about this period in tattoo history in America and I'd love it if there was anything anyone could tell me about European tattooing pre/during this period.

Anyone?

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I am no expert here, but solid information on tattooing in that era is really hard to come by. I don't think that really anybody was doing any documentation of tattooing, so I think most of what we're left with is photographs and business cards. I think it is in the introduction to the Tattootime reissues that Ed Hardy notes that prior to I think the 1980s, there had only been two books about tattooing published in the English language.

That said, for Internet sources, check out Chuck Eldridge's Tattoo Archive. He's been documenting tattoo history for decades and is probably the single best source about this kind of stuff.

For books, Margot Mifflin's Bodies of Subversion is essential. It's about women and tattoos, and she writes a fair bit about circus sideshows, and the book is just excellent. She recently published a new edition of it too.

Stoney Knows How by Leonard "Stoney" St. Clair and Alan Govenar is a delight. Stoney started off tattooing in the circuses so there's plenty of circus stories in there. There's also a documentary of this, check the Ed Hardy thread for a link to it.

It is hard to come by and usually extremely expensive, but George Burchett's Memoirs of a Tattooist is about European and American tattooing in the earlier part of the 20th century. It's a bit sensational, but is a cool read.

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Thanks Graeme!

For books, Margot Mifflin's Bodies of Subversion is essential. It's about women and tattoos, and she writes a fair bit about circus sideshows, and the book is just excellent. She recently published a new edition of it too.

Ordered that earlier this week - should be here end of next week <twiddles thumbs>

I've spent many an hour digging through the archive you linked - great stuff. Glad to hear I'm on the right track and that it really is a case of join the dots. Will see if I can get hold of Stony Knows and Memoirs of a Tattooist. Good tips. I'm trying to find a copy of Tommy Palazzolo's short 1967 documentary The Tatooed Lady of Riverview (is about Jean Carroll) but failing spectacularly on that front, unfortunately.

Do you know anything about the use of colour in tattoos of that period by any chance? I managed to find this (Jean Carroll again) but the tattoos are already well aged it's very hard to see any details.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/zombieamelia/4963655331/lightbox/

I'm not after having a totally historically accurate reproduction of circus work from this period - what I'd really would love is to see if it's doable to develop these largely lost aspects of historical tattooing into something that works in the modern world. Proper historically based tattoos but really for women, almost as if the sideshow world had continued on providing Dietzel then Sailor Jerry then ... with colleagues who had made flash that had then been further developed over the years. 'scuse me while I try to invent a history that never was.. :confused:

- - - Updated - - -

Also - any tips on which other 'names' I should be looking into would be grand!

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So this book has absolutely no written information other than side-annotations, but it has an unmatched wealth of old photos -- especially those of tattooed women.

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ISSUU - Brochure ATM Publishing by KIT Publishers

Don't mind the price tag, there are almost 1300 photos in this book. It's an essential in any collector's library. I've thought about posting a bunch of them here but I don't know if that's really an OK thing to do. I'd love to share some valuable history, but I also want you guys to give all of your money to the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum. :) Here's one of my all-time favorite pictures:

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Wow! That's beautiful!

I'm pretty close to Amsterdam, as it happens. Do you know if they exhibit the photos?

- - - Updated - - -

Oh, sorry. Does it say who she is?

Book list is getting long - better watch it doesn't eat my tattoo budget.

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I have never been to the ATM, but being that the Mingins collection is in their hands, I think it's safe to say that the photos are on display. I think that would actually be the best place to go for information, especially on European tattooing.

No info on who the woman is, sadly.

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:o should have thought of that myself, shouldn't I. Ho Hum. I suppose I always thought it was just another part of the trashy tourist attraction thing there's such a lot of there, rather than an actual museum...

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Ah, right, just read up on the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum situation. Awful. Sounds like there's not a lot of hope of them being open again in the sort term. All the more reason to buy the book I suppose - will drop into the popup shop next time I'm in town though.

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Ah yeah, should have mentioned that the actual museum is shut down at the moment. It is a pretty horrible situation, so sad to see peoples' greed get the best of something so beneficial to so many people. Although also very touching to see the tattoo community come together and support Henk's repossession of the collection. But yeah, I highly recommend that book. Especially given the time at which the photos were taken, it's really amazing to see that everyone in each picture is either beaming with joy or standing very tall and proud to display their tattoos. Reminds you that all of this is so much greater than any one person.

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check out albert parry's book, published in 1933. he interviews tattooers from that era as well as some cool pieces of tattooing history in it. it's not jammed with photos but it's affordable and a good read.

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This lady, another long standing inspiration, turns out to not only be a circus artist and Americas first female tattooist but Maud Wagner the wife of Charlie Wagner. See palm trees and botanical work on the arms.

tattoos-034.jpg

Just stumbled back in here and saw the above ^. She is, of course, wife of Gus Wagner. Sorry folks.

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