Eustis Estate

Frank Howard

Gallery One

Learn more about the cultural context of some of the images on the wall to the right, look inside some of the books in the case to the left, or zoom in on many of the images in this gallery.

Japanese Influence on Western Tattooing

America’s enthusiasm for Japanese tattoo designs grew out of the commercial and cultural interplay that flourished between Japan and the West after 1853, as Japan ended two centuries of isolationist foreign policy.

Over the next several decades, Western merchant sailors and wealthy tourists flocked to the previously reclusive nation. The lush, dynamic, full-body compositions of traditional Japanese tattooing captivated Western travelers’ imaginations. Acquiring this spectacular body art—and undergoing the long, costly ordeal of being hand-tattooed by a Japanese master—became coveted status achievements for English nobles and British and American socialites of the late 19th century. Sailors also acquired Japanese tattoos while in port, and carried the new aesthetic home with them.

Japanese and Western tattoo artists swiftly adapted the traditional art form to the demands of Western popular culture: smaller, “souvenir” tattoos became the norm,  and a static design repertory of dragons, geishas, animals, and flowers—largely detached from their original symbolism—replaced the heroic warriors, comic figures, and powerful gods that had so enriched traditional Japanese tattooing. By the 1890s, several Japanese tattoo artists had set up shops in Europe, Great Britain, America, and Australia, and American tattooers were offering the “latest in European and Japanese designs.”

“Japanese”-style tattoo designs remain in high demand today, as Western consumers continue to respond to their enduring mystique and special appeal.

Frank Howard's Design Book

Look Inside

This early book of painted tattoo designs by Frank Howard features popular American imagery. Sentimental and patriotic designs like these permeated American culture, appearing on mass-produced ceramics, textiles, prints, and advertisements through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Prof. Frank Howard Promotional Biography and Tattoo Supplies List

Prof. Frank Howard Promotional Biography and Tattoo Supplies List E. Arnold, publisher London, c. 1898 Collection of Derin Bray

Biography and Tattoo Supplies List, page 1

Biography and Tattoo Supplies List, page 2

Biography and Tattoo Supplies List, page 3

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Tattoo Design Books, Stencils, and Equipment Owned by Joseph Hallworth
Probably Boston, c. 1907
Various materials
Collection of The Strong, Rochester, New York

Joseph Hallworth may have painted these tattoo designs from Frank Howard’s samples, possibly under Howard’s instruction. The tattoo machines were probably built and sold by Smith & Howard.