Sailor Vern (right) and Paul Rogers
Vernon Ingemarson, also known as "Sailor Vern", was born May 26, 1919. During the course of his career, Vern worked on both the east and west coasts. In the late 1940s, he spent some time in Norfolk Virginia with "Cap" Coleman, and it was there that he and Paul Rogers first met. According to health department records, in 1947 Vern open his own shop at 512 East Main Street, Norfolk, just down the street from Coleman. Research done by the Archive in 1991 found no record of this shop in Norfolk's city directory.
Vern also operated arcade-type tattoo shops on San Francisco's Market Street. During his later years when Vern lived in San Francisco, he built tattoo machines for many local artists. Sailor Vern learned a lot of his machine skill from the Coleman/Barr school as Paul Rogers had done before him. The frames that he built in the 1970s and 1980s were gas welded. Using one-eighth inch strap steel, Vern designed a practical machine that he could easily produce in the basement of his home in San Francisco.
Most of the frames were engraved with "Sailor Vern" and sometimes a small anchor design was engraved on the frame as well. Because of the simple side bar design, Vern's frames were easily built as left or right-handed machines. All of Vern's machines came with a tube assembly that he made from brass tubing, usually with a rubber hose grip. By the mid-1980s Vern began to lose his eyesight and this put a damper on his machine work. Vern died of pneumonia on July 21, 1988. His sizable tattoo collection was sold to Jane Nemhauser.
Tattoo Archive © 1992