Sunday, November 25, 2012

1898: 100,000 People Tattooed in London

I have finally found evidence that this trend not only existed but was in fact extremely wide spread. Harmsworth claims that in 1898 there were over 100,000 tattooed. It also confirms that the trend started among the royals of the world.

It also says that there were about 20 tattoo artists in London, but one in particular did the best work and was most famous. His name was Professor Riley.

This article leads me to believe that since the trend was so widespread and this Professor Riley so well known, aristocratic women most likely went to him to be tattooed. Also, it seems as the trend grew, it became more and more acceptable and thus it was not such a far-fetched idea that women would be allowed to participate.

Harmsworth magazine also claims that the best tattoo artists in London were rivaling their Asian counterparts and were in fact very skilled.

Some examples of tattoos below:


  1. That is super exciting that you finally found evidence for the tattoos being performed and that they were so many recognized tattoo artists. Looking forward to seeing more of your research as you dive deeper into the topic.

  2. I talked to you in class about this source and how relieved you were to find it--bravo! Your topic is particularly interesting but definitely one of those lesser known ones. But your post makes me wonder--if more than 100,000 people were tattooed at the time, why was it hardly talked about? Was it still, despite its popularity, associated with some type of negative stigma? For example, were the royals and upper-class men and women who received tattoos looked upon differently than those who were NOT tattooed? Were they the "rebels" of the time? I'm curious as to what you might think.

  3. I have the theory that it was more widely talked about, I just don't have access to the documents I need. They are probably in the British Library in London. It seems that aristocrats used tattooing as a way to differentiate themselves from the middle class. It was becoming harder for the upper class to stand out because with factories and department store goods, everyone had access to the same goods so it was possible to see a middle class woman and upper class woman in the same outfit which they deemed unacceptable! Tattooing was just one of the ways they tried to differentiate themselves. They also practiced tight lacing of corsets to make their waists extremely small.