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Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry

by Sonja Myburgh & Adeline Wilkinson

We hope you like the navy and tattooing as much as Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins did because that’s the inspiration for our Sailor Jerry Room. It depicts the life and times of Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, with a double, wooden-framed bed and a single bed situated above it to give you that navy bunk feeling. Also, the room is full of “tattoo flash”, all drawn by Norman Collins.

Tattoo flash is a stereotypical tattoo design printed or drawn on paper or cardboard, and may be regarded as a species of industrial design.

Feeling creative? In the room is a lightbox equipped with tracing paper, pencils and the history of flash. Bring out the aspiring tattoo artist within and display your creation next to the tattoos previous guests have made. And remember, as Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins once said: “I haven’t done my best yet… only my best so far.”

In his early days, Jerry was hand-poking Pelikan ink tattoos. At the age of 19, he was cutting his tattoo chaps in the infamous arcades of State Street in Chicago. Here he joined the navy which took him across the Pacific to China and Japan, a journey that sparked his lifelong interest in Asian art and culture, after which he settled down in Hawaii in the early 1930’s. There he started up his own tattoo shop and for 40 years he put ink on the fighting men of the Pacific.

The reason for his popularity was his deftly-crafted, boldly-lined style, which was a combination of American designs and traditions coupled with Asian coloring and sensibilities. This style is visible on the tattooed walls of the room, as well as in the paintings and flash work portrayed throughout.

His one-of-a-kind tattoos and flash work would eventually find their way into the secretive world of Japanese tattoo masters. Sailor Jerry became one of the first American tattoo artists to correspond directly with these masters – trading colors, designs and techniques.

With spiced rum being a drink most associated with sailors, a group of Sailor Jerry fans created a rum named after Norman Collins to keep his legacy alive. They’d first started with a small clothing brand in Philadelphia, collaborating with local artists to make leather goods, sneakers, t-shirts and other products featuring Sailor Jerry’s flash work, but since Sailor Jerry spent half of his life as a sailor and the other half tattooing sailors, it was a natural move to create the choice drink of sailors to honour his name. A cult soon grew around the rum, and pretty soon, it outsold anything else they made.

So grab a bottle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum at our bar and experience his unique style as you head into the enchanting world of the Sailor Jerry room!

For more information please contact our office at +27 (21) 422 3074 or
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