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FROM THE VAULT: Tattooed with portraits of loved ones

By Staff | Jun 10, 2016

The American soldiers leaving San Francisco for the Philippines are responsible for an entirely new lovers’ idea. They have the portraits of their sweethearts skillfully tattooed upon their backs. “Professor” Jake Londella is the man who makes a living by tattooing the faces of infatuated folks upon each other’s backs. Londella’s business brings him into contact with men, women, and children. Women are his best customers. Says he, regarding his particular mission:

“During the war I tattooed many a soldier’s photo upon his sweetheart’s arm, and the soldier often had her picture or name written by herself produced upon his breast. Many british soldiers have had the portraits of their wives or sweethearts tattooed on the back before going to South Africa. It is a fad with the officers especially. I know one who has the portraits of two girls tattooed upon his breast with their names beneath them.

“You would be surprised to know how many woman bare their arms and necks for the needles. It is becoming a fad here just as it did in London years ago.

“Yes, a woman is usually scared when she sees the instrument and ink, but she gives me less trouble than a man when she discovers that tattooing doesn’t hurt much after all. Last week I spent a half day working on the arm of a bride-to-be. Years ago she had a man’s name placed there.I had to obliterate it by filling in with a flower design. She said it would never do for the groom to know about the other man.

“Here is a list of the designs I tattooed upon the limbs not long ago of Mrs. Frank Caldwell, the actress: Snake, horses, peacock, and butterflies,”

– From the Tribune Archives, June 30, 1900

Retyped by Piper Laughridge

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