Winston-Salem museum chronicles history of tattoos

Winston-Salem museum chronicles history of tattoos

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Winston-Salem museum chronicles history of tattoos

State News

Posted 12:01 a.m. today

By LYNN FELDER, Winston-Salem Journal

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Once, tattoos were the exclusive territory of "loose women, sailors and prisoners," Harriett Cohen said.

But that started to change in the 1980s when rock stars and rock-star athletes started sporting skin art. Now, soccer moms and rock fans are equally likely to display skin that is adorned with permanent images — from mothers to monsters, from deities to demons.

Cohen and her partner in life and love of ink, C.W. "Chuck" Eldridge, own and operate The Tattoo Archive and The Book Mistress on Fourth Street. The storefront houses two businesses and a nonprofit organization.

The Book Mistress portion is a book store where you can browse through big, gorgeous, coffee-table books full of tattoo designs and smaller, soft-cover books that show specific tattoo and artifact collections. Many are out of print or hard to find. Cohen sells them in the store and online at

The Tattoo Archive is a tattoo museum; it’s a collection of tattoo memorabilia, gadgets, machinery and "flash," which is what drawings and paintings of tattoo designs are called. There is the tattoo shop in the back, where Eldridge does custom tattooing.

The nonprofit, The Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center, was formed in 1992 when Eldridge, who already had a large tattoo collection, inherited a "huge collection" from Paul Rogers, a legend in the tattoo world.Ed Hardy, a tattoo artist who achieved international fame when he developed a popular line of apparel and accessories, is one of four directors of the board of the nonprofit, the Paul Rogers Tattoo Research Center. Eldridge is another. Their stated mission is to "safeguard his (Rogers’) collection and his legacy in the tattoo world." A book about Rogers by Don Lucas calls him "The Father of the American Tattooing."Born in 1905 in Western North Carolina to a family of textile workers, Rogers went to work in cotton mills when he was 13. He didn’t make it past […]