The practice of tattooing has long been in existence – spanning cultures, meanings, methods, traditions, and, much to the surprise of many, several thousands of years. While the United States of America has only existed for a few hundred, it might be news to some that tattoos debuted in American culture not long after the birth of the land of the free.
Host and combat veteran Johnny Joey Jones explores its inky origins — true experts and enthusiasts track the first known tattoo back to an iceman — and takes a deeper look at how tattoos have been used to celebrate our patriots and U.S. soldiers, who marked themselves during our most impactful wars.
Exploring trends dating back to the 1800s – from those with rough and tumble lives reflected by their choice and quality of fresh ink, to the nation’s highest society aristocrats – Jones asserted that much early-on tattooing was done by trial and error:
“Before machinery was available, tattoos were being done manually,” noted Jones.
The series traces the first documented tattooer in New York City back to Martin Hildebrandt, who likely utilized a method called hand-poke tattooing – or infusing ink into the skin by repetitiously tapping needles into it. Having served on a ship called the S.S. United States, he first began tattooing when he was a sailor; fighting in the Army of the Potomac, he tattooed many of his fellow comrades throughout the Civil War.
“He would do a lot of markings so that the soldiers could be identified in case they were injured — or if they were killed, their families could identify them,” noted Michelle Myles, co-owner of Daredevil Tattoo and series guest.
But as the nation became more mechanized and industrious, so did tattooing — with the practice quickly graduating into a widely accepted form of self-expression.
By the 1900s, the newly invented electric tattoo pens buzzed with fervor throughout the country. And by 1936, it was reported that one in every 10 Americans had at least one tattoo.
In the series, Jones revisits post-WWII life in America, chronicling the explosion of the popularity of our colorful nation’s tattoos. The series also sees Jones getting new ink by fellow Army vet, Will XX of the Blaque Salt Studio.
“I work really hard to be original in everything that I construct,” the artist declared, illustrating the pride he takes in his work — and the passion he finds in the art of tattooing.
To get a look at Johnny Joey Jones’ new body art, and learn more about the history, prevalence, and importance of tattooing, sign up on Fox Nation today.
Military members and veterans get one free year of Fox Nation if they sign up now through this Memorial Day (May 31st).
Fox Nation programs are viewable on-demand and from your mobile device app, but only for Fox Nation subscribers. Go to Fox Nation to start a free trial and watch the extensive library from your favorite Fox News personalities.