Samuel F. O’Reilly
After emigrating from Ireland in 1871, Samuel F. O’Reilly set up his tattoo business in the back of a barber shop at 11 Chatham Square, New York City. This image, showing a woman’s legs was considered quite racy in the late 1800s.
“A lady, when crossing the street, must raise her dress a bit above the ankle while holding the folds of her gown together in her right hand and drawing them toward the right. It was considered vulgar to raise the dress with both hands as it would show too much ankle, but was tolerated for a moment when the mud is very deep.” As told by The Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility.
That sounds just like our image, the subject holding her garment with both hands, it almost looks like she could be standing in mud. This drawing is from a notebook dating to the 1880’s. It appears he used his wife’s initials, M.F.O.R. (Mrs. F. O’ Reilly,) to illustrate a four letter sample in a banner.
This is thought to be one of the earliest known examples of American tattoo flash, and possibly one of the earliest pinups penned by a tattoo artist.