Gus Wagner may be the first real tattooer, gem collector, totem carver, heavily tattooed man, world traveler, circus performer, and taxidermist all-in-one the world had ever laid it’s eyes upon. Having traveled to port towns from San Francisco to Capetown and all points between, he ended up learning the craft of tattooing from tribesmen in Java and Borneo.
Bringing the art to the states, he spent many years as a circus performer and tattooer. From 1890 and on, he helped electric tattoo machines come to the forefront of the artform. To end his adventuresome life of seemingly tall tales, fate would have it that lightning would be his demise in 1941.