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Over Easter in 2013, Jirina and I flew to over to Stockholm for an extended weekend of vintage shenanigans. I wanted to share these gorgeous tattoo designs that date back to the 1920s and 1930s and originate from Denmark. They are the courtesy of Sjöhistoriska museet in Stockholm.

I first saw these designs pop up on my Instagram feed a few months back – and immediately fell in love! Most notably, with the finger waved babe holding the globe. Also, who could resist a badass raven haired dame with a booty, riding a chameleon? I sure can’t. So I knew that I couldn’t miss this “Faith, Hope and Love” exhibition of vintage sailor tattoos at Sjöhistoriska whilst we were in town. I have since decided that the lady with the globe will be my very first tattoo.

The “Faith, Hope and Love” exhibit is open until the end of 2014 so if you’re in Stockholm, it is definitely well worth a visit. All of the text is in Swedish, though, so you would probably get the most out of it with an English speaking guide. In fact, I’d love to see it again with a guided tour as apparently the exhibit features a gender aspect that we didn’t fully grasp because of our less-than-perfect Swedish skills. The images alone, however, are so fascinating! Have a peek right below.

1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos 1920s tattoos



Late 1920s singing sensation and actress Helen Kane is one of my favourites. With her coquettish vocals, a distinct Bronx dialect and risqué lyrics, she gave the flappers a voice. One look at those big, expressive brown eyes and bee-stung lips, it is no wonder why the original “The Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl” inspired the legend that is Betty Boop. Helen Kane was like an all singing, all dancing kewpie doll come to life – armed with sass a plenty. “If it’s naughty to vamp the men / sleep each morning till after ten / then the answer is yes, I want to be bad!”, she sang in 1929.


Born Helen Schroeder on August 4, 1903 in the Bronx, Kane was starstruck from an early age. By the time she was 15-years old, Helen was performing onstage professionally, touring the Orpheum Circuit with the Marx Brothers. Kane spent the early and mid-1920’s trouping in vaudeville as a singer and played the New York Palace for the first time in 1921.

In 1928 Helen Kane was appearing at the Paramount Theater in Times Square. She was singing the popular song “That’s My Weakness Now,” when she interpolated the scat lyrics “Boop-Boop-a-Doop.” “I just put it in at one of the rehearsals,” she later said. “A sort of interlude. It’s hard to explain – I haven’t explained it to myself yet. It’s like vo-de-o-do, Crosby with boo-boo-boo and Durante with cha-cha-cha.”

Helen Kane

Helen Kane

The audience went crazy and only four days later, Helen Kane’s name went up in lights. Seemingly overnight, she came out a star. “One day I had fifty cents,” Helen laughed, “and the next day I had $50,000.”

At the height of her fame in late 1928 and early 1929, there were Helen Kane dolls and Helen Kane look-alike contests, appearances on radio and in nightclubs. “Money was falling off trees,” the singer said of her big success in 1928.

In 1929, Paramount Pictures signed Helen Kane to appear in a series of early musicals. Her first of three 1929 films was a comedy titled Nothing But the Truth, in which Helen has a small role but she got to sing “Do Something”. She next went into a cute college musical, Sweetie, starring Nancy Carroll. Kane was teamed with Jack Oakie – and the comedy couple handily stole the film.



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Welcome to 21st Century Flapper!
My name is Riikka and I hail from Helsinki, Finland. I'm a film researcher and a freelance journalist, a sartorial devotee of vintage fashion and endlessly fascinated by early 20th century visual culture. I write about film, fashion, design, architecture - and all things old and pretty.

Olen helsinkiläinen elokuvatutkija ja toimittaja, jolle 1900-luvun alkupuolen visuaalinen kulttuuri on todellinen intohimo. Blogi sivuaa kiinnostuksen kohteitani 1920- ja 1930-luvun elokuvista aina ajan muotiin ja designiin asti.

Don’t hesitate to say hi or contact in case of any questions at
riikka @ 21stcenturyflapper.com

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