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Jay Brown: Fred Marquand – The Story of an Unknown Northwest Tattooer

By Jay Brown
Fred Marquand is not a name that you first associate with old-school tattooers. Most think of Waters, Zeis, Jensen, Rogers, Wagner, Barber, Moore, Tuttle, Bowery Stan Moscowitz and his brother Walter (their father was a tattooist as well), Crazy Philadelphia Eddie and the like, but the name Marquand doesn’t come up in many conversations…

Most people have no idea who this Bellingham, Washington tattooer was, or the important contributions he made to tattooing. Recently I was able to handle the sale of the last of the Marquand original hand painted flash boards through my museum for Michel Dewitz of Ancient’s Art Tattoo in Renton, WA. Marquand and Michel were friends when Michel was tattooing in Bellingham… Okay, back to Marquand.

Fred Marquand got into tattooing at an early age, but he didn’t start tattooing professionally until 1920.

“I was brought up in an atmosphere of Norwegian sailors,” Fred said. “And had my first tattoo work done at 12. I don’t regret it at all and it is a fascinating hobby. However no one should ever have a tattoo put on that they will be sorry for later on…”*

The picture shows Fred in front of his desk holding a machine with flash behind him that we know to be his first set. In 1923-27 Marquand joined the Navy and took his craft to sea.

Correspondence through the 20s shows that Fred was in touch with many of the suppliers of the day, Chicago Tattoo Supply House (CTSH), J.F. Barber, Waters, Zeis, Jensen and others. Fred was a great illustrator and painter that you can see in his work. In the 1930s Fred worked for Bill Moore’s CTSH doing design sheets for a couple of years. Fred was quite the artist and was far beyond the tattooers of the time. So his designs were sold to tattoo studios around the country, and the world through Moore’s CTSH, with only “CTSH” to mark the pages. At this time I am trying to find as many catalogues from CTSH as I can to try to find the sheets Marquand did.

Fred opened his shop after his stint in the Navy and operated it until WWII when he enlisted in the Navy due to his past experience in his earlier years, and for the war effort. Rumor has it that Marquand gave up tattooing and joined the Navy at the request of his wife who didn’t like him being in the tattoo shop atmosphere. Michel Dewitz and I determined that he tattooed long after he told his wife he quit. We found tattoo designs from the mid to late 1950s, so Fred was probably tattooing at sea.

Fred Marquand ran into a young Michel Dewitz, and since Michel was a tattoo man, Fred took to him quickly and they became great friends. After Fred’s death, he left all his tattooing stuff to Michel, who later, not knowing what is was worth, sold it to Erno for his tattoo museum in San Francisco. A large portion of the collection was sold or traded off and eventually what was left wound up back into the hands of Michel Dewitz.

The Northwest Tattoo Museum had the honor of helping Michel disperse the last of the flash to various other tattoo museums and collections all over the world. In doing this, I had the privilege of handling some great tattoo history, all the large boards which are 16″ x 20″ (which there was 11 of, all originals) and a 10 page set that was Marquand’s first set that were all 11”x 17” and also originals.

The artwork is in my opinion some of the most beautiful tattoo designs every made in the American Traditional form from the 1920s and 30s. Sheet’s now reside with the collections of Dana Brunson, Buddy Wheeler, the Triangle Tattoo Museum and Nick Ackman all from the US. Brett Stewart from Australia, Jimmie Skuse from the Bristol Tattoo Club and Paul Shudehill from Rambo’s Tattoo Museum, both in England, and the last two reside at the Northwest Tattoo Museum here in the US as well.

I think Fred would be proud that his work is out there all over the world. Fred Marquand, that unknown tattoo artist from Bellingham, who contributed a lot to tattooing, his designs have been changed and redrawn over and over, his name was forgotten, ’til now…

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of history that I recently came across. A little different from my usual articles, but I had to share.

*Quote from Strictly Scuttlebutt Navy Magazine by Stan Blumenthol from 1944*

(Jay Brown is a tattoo artist, machine-builder and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. Jay can be found at A Fine Art Tattoo Studio, in Moscow, Idaho.)

5 responses

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