Ephemera

Schoolgirl Tattooing 1898

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American Notes,

Schoolgirl Tattooing. January 8, 1898

Fashionable society over here is suffering from an epidemic of tattooing. In Paris tattooing was a fashion; in England it was a fad; but here in New York it is a perfect mania, and a mania that has extended from the members of the National Guard to the very schoolgirls. The family crest, the club crest, the portrait of the only girl you ever loved, and the design of the coiled snake are amongst the most popular decorations, and presently in New York there will be scarcely a single arm or shoulder to be found devoid of adornments in Indian ink. A certain up-town young ladies’ seminary has taken the complaint badly, and the tattooing professor has been called in to place a rosebud accompanied by a motto in Greek characters upon the shoulder of each pupil. These pupils, by-the-way, have formed themselves into a secret society with inaugurating rites of deadly mystery- so it was said.


Earlier today my friend Paul King sent over this clipping from an 1898 newspaper about the ‘mania’ of tattooing in New York. I’m all for secret societies with deadly mysterious inauguration rites.

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