Mystic Seaport is featuring a traveling exhibit from Philadelphia’s Independence Seaport Museum – Skin & Bones, Tattoos in the Life of an American Sailor. The exhibition runs through September 5, 2011.
Skin and Bones – Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor
The exhibit traces the progression of purpose and design to the present. Some of the connections are surprising: The famous red star logo of Macy’s department store is believed to have been inspired by a tattoo founder R.H. Macy got while on a whaling voyage in the South Pacific on the Emily Morgan (a predecessor of the Museum’s 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan).
Skin & Bones brings together the most comprehensive presentation of design flash on this subject. From eagles and flags, to ships and animals, to lost shipmates and loved ones, visitors can survey the evolution of tattoo design through the decades. One of the oldest surviving books of American flash, bearing the name C.H. Fellowes, belongs to Mystic Seaport and is on display. Visitors can also see the range of tattoo-making tools, from rather crude sail-making needles to Samuel O’Reilly’s revolutionary electric tattoo machine of 1891.