Eletrical Tattooing

  • Unidentified (American), Eletrical Tattooing, ca. 1920s-1930s, painted wood with iron and brass trim and electrical fittings, tattooing needles and ink, paper card, labels, metal box, and glass bottles, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, 1986.65.379

A New York tattoo artist, Samuel Reilly, invented the electric tattoo machine in 1891. He adapted Thomas Edison’s design for an electric pen, in which a reciprocating motor powered a needle, to create a tattoo machine that was faster and less painful than previous hand methods. The machine needed to be portable because early American tattoo artists traveled constantly along the eastern seaboard, selling their craft to sailors at the different ports. Needles of various sizes, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a small bottle of tattoo ink appear inside this box.

Title
Eletrical Tattooing
Artist
Date
ca. 1920s-1930s
Location
Not on view
Dimensions
overall: 22177 in. (55.943.217.7 cm) box: 20 7814 387 in. (52.936.417.7 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. and museum purchase made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson

Mediums
Mediums Description
painted wood with iron and brass trim and electrical fittings, tattooing needles and ink, paper card, labels, metal box, and glass bottles
Classifications
Keywords
  • Object – written matter
  • Object – flower – rose
  • Object – weapon – dagger
Object Number
1986.65.379
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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