on her back is the battle of waterloo


The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and other nations in what is now New York believed tattoos had healing powers, applying them over sore joints or broken bones. Tattooes also were marks of protection, with symbols representing guardian spirits or Manitous. Because everyone’s life story is unique their tattoos were unique.

…Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus, too
And proudly above the waves the red, white and blue
You can learn a lot from Lydia…especially if you visit Tattooed New York at the New York Historical Society. 
(watch Groucho Marx sing Lydia the Tattooed Lady)
I hate needles, but apparently most Americans have gotten over that fear.  Nearly one in five American adults sport at least one tattoo. Tattooed New York  traces the art of tattooeing and is full of interesting facts.  For instance, Britain’s Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was inked during an 1862 visit to Jerusalem.  This started a craze among the upper crust.  Lady Randolph Churchill – mother of Prime Minister Winston Churchill- kept her tattoo hidden (a bracelet covered the snake on her wrist).


Olive Ann Oatman was captured by Tonto Apaches. She was later sold to Mohave people and tattooed in order to ensure her safe passage to the after life.


“Getting my mastectomy tattoo helps me to close the door on a difficult chapter and finally move on.. After getting the tattoo I could look in the mirror without averting my eyes form the sight of my chest. I was whole again.”  Gigi Stoll





Ink for a typography artist

I will not be running out any time soon to get inked, even though after walking through this show, I have new appreciation for the history, art and craft of tattooeing.

Tattooed New York
February 3 – April 30, 2017
New York Historical Society


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