Currently reading : The Original Tattoo(ing) Family
The Wagners were a family of acrobats and circus performers who tattooed in New York at the turn of the 20th century. Gus Wagner was a sailor, circus sideshow act, and self described “globetrotting artist and taxidermist.” Having learned tattooing from tribesmen in Borneo and Java, Wagner preferred analog tattooing with handmade instruments and largely ignored the electric tattoo machine, which was gaining steam in the late 1800s. After meeting his to-be wife Maud Stevens Wagner in 1904 at the St. Louis World Fair, he traded tattooing lessons for a date, and Maud ultimately became his apprentice and one of the United States’ first female tattooers. Their daughter, Lovetta Wagner, although eschewing tattoos on herself (in an ironic form of rebellion, perhaps?), became a tattooer under the training of her parents. The last tattoo she completed before her death in 1983 was a rose on Don Ed Hardy.