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Flash from the Bowery: Classic American Tattoos, 1900-1950 Hardcover – 28 Nov 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Schiffer Ltd (US) (28 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764339281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764339288
  • Product Dimensions: 29.8 x 6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 555,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Cliff White is a biologist with Parks Canada, based in Banff, Alberta. A fourth-generation Banffite, he has a PhD in forest ecology from the University of British Columbia.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after seeing it in a tattoo shop's waiting room. My tattoo artist recommended it, saying it was a well used by her and I wasn't disappointed. It is packed with almost every conceivable classic traditional American tattoo design you can think of.

A great resource for people looking for ideas for some new ink, or an interesting coffee table book with a great story behind it. Either way, if traditional American tattoo designs are your thing then this is definitely the book for you.

I've already used 2 of the smaller designs as fillers on my half sleeve and I'm eyeing up a couple of others...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent Book ! Fast Postage
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ad76d50) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ab1de10) out of 5 stars Great Book! 1 April 2012
By Tattoo Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I found this book incredibly action packed with never before seen "classic" designs. This book is jammed packed with history unlike any other book that has come before it. Mr. White is incredibly knowledgeable in the history of tattooing and at around $100.00 this book is a STEAL! It's 400 pages in a hardcover edition with it's own hardcover case. Worth every penny and then some you will spend on it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ab1de64) out of 5 stars Great Book of Antique Tattoo Designs 23 Jan. 2014
By B. Wolinsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Today’s historians study tattoo art with great fascination, and it’s only become an intellectual curiosity in the past 20 years. Why not until that point, I don’t know, but I do remember that by the late 90’s there was greater interest in it. Perhaps there’s something fascinating about the kind of artwork that one would have permanently drawn on himself? Tattoos were worn mostly by sailors, and the designs were usually the same, but the question is why.

Flash From The Bowery is a book of original tattoo stencils from the Black Eye Barbershop on the Bowery and Chatham Square, the same tattoo parlor where the electric tattoo gun was invented. It was on The Bowery where you’d find all the tattoo parlors, the same street where Norman Rockwell got the idea for his painting of the tattooist inking out the sailor’s ex-girlfriends. It was a sleazy block, full of bars, flophouses, and what would eventually become CBGB’s. The designs in this book were the “archive” of Black Eye’s resident artist, and when he died in the 1950’s, an employee saved what he could of their supplies. The designs ended up in the hands of Cliff White, a modern day tattooist. But the designs themselves date back much earlier. In those days you couldn’t go to a Barnes & Noble bookstore and buy a full-color coffee table book of tattoos. The artists would trace or photograph the existing tattoos of their customers, and in exchange give them a discount on a new one.

The only problem is the history of the actual designs. I would love to know the origins of the flowers, skulls, dice, scantily clad women. By Cliff White’s account, most of the customers were sailors (hence the large number of ship tattoos) or circus employees. If there were foreign sailors getting tattoos done at Black Eye’s, then I wonder if the American, British, and European designs were markedly different. I saw a photo of some French criminals who were detained at Ellis Island in the 1900’s, and they had tattoos of women, boxers, snakes, the usual art. I’m going to guess that the cards & dice motif might indicate willingness to take risk, while the half-naked women were reminders of home. If you’re at sea for a few months, and there’ no women on board, perhaps the tattoo satisfies your erotic needs? The skulls could be descended from the memento mori (“remember, one day you will die”) of classical artwork, evoking a reminder of mortality. Paintings with this motto in mind usually placed a flower next to the skull, symbolizing life & death. Perhaps that explains why flowers were so popular in tattooing? Racism is also evident by the tattoos showing stabbed Chinese heads. Though the author assumes this was from the “Yellow Peril,” I believe it is from the US Navy campaign in China in the 1920’s (seen in the film The Sand Pebbles.)

You can include tattoos in the study of US history, and there’s plenty in there to compare the changes in American habits. Back in the 1950’s, tattoos were the kind of thing the wearer kept hidden, but nowadays they’re commonplace. It used to be considered low-class for women to have tattoos, but now I see “respectable” women with all kinds of ink-Japanese koi, scarabs, boyfriends’ names, even old fashioned sailor tattoos (in better quality than the originals.) Perhaps it has a lot to do with women’s rights? I can just imagine a high school student in the 1960’s showing up to school with a visible shoulder tattoo, the principal would’ve thrown a fit. Now, the principal can’t do anything about it. For teenagers, a tattoo has become a symbol that (at least in their own opinion) they’re all grown up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ab232dc) out of 5 stars Priceless 9 Jun. 2014
By Luke M. Meade - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains an astonishing number of authentic traditional tattoo designs. If you are a traditional tattooer, a tattoo historian, or a folk art enthusiast, this book is worth its weight in gold. Each page is thoughtfully laid out and the designs are boldly and skillfully outlined in black, unlike in "Sailor Jerry's Tattoo Stencils," where the designs are direct photocopies of original acetate stencils. The subject matter is understandably limited here- just about every design can be classified as a ship, an anchor, a woman, a flag, a dragon, a snake, or a rose; but within those subjects there is incredible variety and artistry. The paper quality could be better- the pages are a bit like children's construction paper, but this is more than compensated for by the book's size, and the sheer quality and quantity of the artwork it contains.
HASH(0x9ab23264) out of 5 stars A must have for any tattooer or even passionate collector. 16 Aug. 2012
By Christopher Guarascio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Cliff White has out done himself with this compiled collection of vintage tattoo flash (from his personal collection I might add). This is must for any professional tattooer or tattoo history buff. There is little to no fluff in this what-so-ever and jammed packed with classic icons. Flash from the Bowery: Classic American Tattoos, 1900-1950 will pay for itself in no time for any professional tattooer, in one to two tattoos from this incredible book of tattoo history.
HASH(0x9ab23738) out of 5 stars best kept collection of original acetate etchings 22 Nov. 2013
By jessica - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
For original outlines, this is your book! Each design was saved from the original acetate rubbing. A wonderful preservation of history for the bowery. The book has a well written short and sweet intro,...cool history of the electric tattoo machine display page, and a sprinkle of original color flash. Collectors and artists would benefit from having this in in their Shop or on hand. Alot of love was put into this. Great bargain for what it could make for you.
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