Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Victorian Era Tattoo Designs - Which Will You Choose?

When my great-great-great-grandfather John Lawson came to Australia from Sweden, he proudly sported an anchor tattoo as a memento of his life as a sailor.

John Augustus Lawson, in his later years as a lighthouse keeper. Yeah, he had a pretty good life.

You might be surprised to learn that it wasn't only sailors who were getting inked in the Victorian Era. This article from The Guardian about the increasing respectability of the modern tattoo also includes a potted history of tattooing in England. (Apparently Winston's Churchill's mum had a tatt of a snake on her wrist. Cool.)

While I was researching "Oriental" things that Colonial era people liked (for this article), I came across a great article from 1892 that included four illustrations of tattoos by Hori Chio, a famous Japanese tattoo artist.

Here they are, for your enjoyment.

Oriental Tattooing. (1892, October 1). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 1 Supplement: EVENING NEWS SUPPLEMENT. Retrieved September 9, 2015, from

And here's a bonus quote from the text of the article:
"A young American woman conceived a strange idea and had a monster crab etched upon her shapely calf. The secret got out at a bathing resort."  

If you use one of these designs, drop me a line in the comments. I'd love to see a Colonial tatt on a modern arm.