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Dec. 3, 1899: Tattooed East Coast girls

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: December 1, 2010 - 7:14 PM
A Minneapolis Tribune report on a new craze among East Coast girls is more evidence that it takes nearly a century for such trends to take hold in the Upper Midwest.

Are Being Tattooed

The present rage among Eastern girls is to have their arms tattooed. A girl at Newport last summer appeared on the bathing beach with bare arms, of course, and on the dimpled flesh was a dainty tattooed design. Since then scores have followed her example.
 
The girls say when in evening dress they can wear long gloves, and even if the glove is removed a pretty tattooed mark is rather an addition than otherwise. A dainty blue anchor, a shamrock leaf, a heart or arrow, or even a copy of one’s pet dog is a favorite design.
 
The Hindu used to be the master hand at tattoo work, but his methods were rather harsh. He jabbed the needle in a quarter of an inch with no compunction, and after five minutes most people had to give up and rest. At present in New York there are several girls who make a good living tattooing. They sponge the spot on the arm with cocaine and then, when all feeling has departed, they rapidly use the little needle, and the patient does not suffer in the least.
 
At present the shamrock done in green is the favorite design, but the American flag is also a popular mark.

 

 
In the early 1900s, Glenwood Beach -- now Wirth Lake -- was the place to show a little bare skin in Minneapolis. (Image courtesy mnhs.org)

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