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Tattooing in the United States began with the adoption of the practice from Chinese sailors, who crossed the Pacific Ocean to the United States. The first recorded occurrence of tattooing in the U.S. occurred in 1847, when an African American sailor named Sam Patch was tattooed in a hospital in Salem, New Hampshire, by a fellow sailor who mistakenly believed that Patch was already tattooed. Patch created the permanent tattoo, with the sailor’s help, using a homemade tattooing machine made from an ax. Patch’s tattoo has been preserved in the collections of the Newburyport, Massachusetts Library and Museum and the Warden and Scholars at the Old State House.
Technology has advanced tattooing as a form of body art, and today it is used as a popular form of decoration, fashion statement, and as part of military tradition. In addition to decorative or status tattoos, some people receive medical tattoos to help track medical conditions, to remember significant dates in their lives, or to mark injuries from participating in sports or in military combat.
Tattooing, in its most basic form, is a technique for memorializing generations of a family line or tribal identity. Since it potentially conveys messages about life, death, and cultural identity, its current cultural relevancy has caused tattooing to develop into a form of modern art. Like other forms of art, tattooing today is distinguished from nonart tattooing in its use and intended purpose. Tattooing has become increasingly popular and shows increasing acceptance by the public, possibly because of its unique style, ability to last a lifetime, and cultural and religious significance. Tattoos gained popularity and acceptance in the 1950s after World War II, making their popularity rise through the 1970s and after.
An improvement on the stencil tattoo is the tintype, developed in the 1860s. The stamp and paint were enclosed in a thin glass plate or nickel-plated copper foil, which became the subject for its imprint. A tintype was used in addition to regular body piercings to create a temporary tattoo. In some cases natural pigments were incorporated in the film, therefore tattoo designs can be changed over time, resulting in a several color effect. d2c66b5586