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Dispatches: Skin & Bones II

March 8, 2010


A couple weeks back I hoped on a train out of Penn Station, and after raving about it for months, I finally made it down to the Philadelphia maritime museum.  The initial premise was to explore the Skin & Bones exhibit that I wrote about back in April last year, which is about American sailor tattoos, their origins, meanings and stories.

The Skin & Bones exhibit brought a lot to the table, and some of the lessor known artists, along with their original flash books and art works were among the highlights.  C.H. Fellowes, CV Brownell, Charlie Wagner and a Philly local, Sailor Eddie and his wife Esther were among some of the featured artists.  Of course there was some Sailor Jerry in the mix, however I was happy to see some of Paul Rogers’ works, as he was the creator of the modern electric tattoo gun, and thus paved the way for everyone going forward.  Personally, I not only enjoyed the artistic element, but I really enjoyed the historical aspect of the whole exhibit.  There were a lot of old photos and video footage of guys lining up to get tattooed during wartime and aboard their ships, as well as some footage from of the dockside shops of the early 1900s.

Charlie Wagner

Paul Rogers

Traditional Flash

The Skin & Bones exhibit definitely hit he spot and had a lot more material than I initially expected, however just as good as Skin & Bones was, the rest of the museum was equally as impressive.  There was a fantastic level of detail ranging from pristine models ships, a small craft section full of beautiful boats, a boat building shop where anyone could learn the fundamentals to building your own small craft, a fantastic section on the local ship building, all the way to access aboard the U.S. Olympia, a Spanish American War battleship, and the WWII Becuna, a Cold War submarine.  It was nearly closing time, so we had full reign of both the Olympia and Becuna, and got to really explore the ins before getting the boot.

Olympia & Becuna

US Olympia

USS New Jersey

Torpedo Tubes

Submarine Gauges

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2010 17:26

    Think about how hard you had to be to have your entire back and arms done in 1943?

  2. Anonymous permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:22

    what you have listed as sailor jerry is actually done by a tattoo artist named Bert grim He even signed it.

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