Scott Boersma



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It is the 1880s in Brighton, England, on the coast of the English Channel. A young boy depicts a scene of some of the men who work at sea. “Nearly all my sailor friends on the beach were tattooed. Of course, their tattoos were crude: just an anchor, a primitive attempt at a portrait of Lord Nelson or a declaration of ‘True Love’ made by some other Jack Tar ‘’teween the heaving decks of a sailing-ship’. But a few had fine tattoos, made by Japanese horis or Burmese craftsmen when their ships had docked at Rangoon or Akyab or Yokohama”.1 That young boy, George Burchett, would later practice the trade of tattooing, join the Royal Navy, and become a leading figure in England’s tattoo industry in the first half of the twentieth century. This example of tattooing within a British maritime community can help shed light on the practice among American sailors and maritime communities within the United States from 1860 to 1945.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



Tattooing Among American Sailors and Maritime Communities from 1860 to 1945

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