Early Jesuit settlers document widespread tattooing among the Native American Indian. Among many of the tribes unique tattoo designs were used to mark outstanding warriors and a sign of arrival to manhood.
The Ontario Iroquoians used elaborate designs to identify those very high in social status and in many North-West American Tribes the women were tattooed on their chins as a sign of marriage or commitment.
The first permanent tattoo shop was established in New York City in 1846 by Martin Hildebrandt who began his craft by traveling to both side of the civil war tattooing the names of soldiers and sailors sweethearts as it was seen as a sign of good luck. Hildebrandt spent the next 20 years training artist in his craft. The 2nd shop opened in the United States also provided probably the most significant invention on the tattoo industry.
Samuel O'Reilly was the founder of this shop and in 1891 invented the first electric tattooing machine. Prior to his invention the needles were dipped in ink and the artist would manually puncture the skin only two or three times a second. The electric machine allowed an artist to draw directly on the customer skin.
The 1900's were an emerging time for tattoos in the United States. Prior to this period it was mostly an unknown art and moved into an age where advertising became more prominent.
Today the Tattoo art form continues stronger than ever gaining more social acceptance on a broader scale. Once looked at as something reserved from criminals, low life's and biker gangs. Tattoos can been found in every economic and social scale in the United States. Prominent celebrities proudly display their artwork on network television broadcasts. Musicians from every genre can be seen blazing tattoo designs from a single small tattoo to more elaborate and extensive full body art.