Tatuering > Maskiner

Paul Sayce is a mine of tattoo information and has very kindly shared with us a little of his encyclopaedic knowledge. In this article he talks about the birth of a tattoo machine that pretty much all have felt its effects – quite literally.
Before we had the tattoo machine people tattooed with hand tools and tattooing was referred to as pricking, and although the ‘Los Angeles Sunday Times’ dated the 21st of October 1884 ran an article stating that tattoo artist ‘Professor’ Samuel O’Reilly of New York was using a tattoo tool run on batteries, it wasn’t until some seven years later that O’Reilly patented the world’s first tattooing machine at the United States patent office on December the 8th 1891 (patent number 464,801).
The second tattoo machine patent issue went to British tattoo artist Tom Riley who after having fought in the ‘Boar War’ took to the brush and attended art classes in the city of Leeds in Yorkshire, England, before setting up as a tattooist in Liverpool then in Glasgow, Scotland with a final move to his famous tattooing studio at 432 The Stand in London.
Tom’s patent for his tattoo machine was issued to him on the 28th of December 1891, twenty days after his Irish American cousin Samuel O’Reilly patented the first.
The difference with Riley’s unit was that it worked by electromagnetism complete with a single coil working the machine in a vibrating way by tapping a back spring that moved the needle bar forward as opposed to O’Reilly’s (and Edison’s) machine that was a rotary and span the needle bar around, producing an in and out movement.
And just for histories sake and the record the first Englishman to buy and use a make and break (trade term) vibrating machine was Bill Thomas of Ludgershall, Wiltshire, England who paid tattoo artist Tom Riley the sum of five pounds for in 1904.
Three years passed before the next patent on a tattooing machine came along and this time it was the Englishman and superb London based tattoo artist; Sutherland Macdonald who gained a patent on the 29th of December 1894 (patent number 3035) and again just like O’Reilly with Edison there was some debate as to whether the machine was all Macdonald’s doing as his invention looked and could quite possibly have derived from the perforating instrument that three Englishman, Newton Wilson, Andre Hanson and Michael Treinen had invented and patented on December the 7th 1878 (patent number 5009).
This instrument followed by Macdonald’s tattooing machine was similar in aspect to both mechanisms being encased in a metal jacket to cover its working movements, but that it seems is where the symmetries ended as the Wilson, Hanson and Treinen instrument needed no electric power as it was clockwork, as well as the fact that it was not at the time patented as a tattoo machine but as a lace perforating sewing machine instrument.
In later years Newton Wilson did go on to sell it as a tattooing tool and advertised it as one in the catalogue of his sewing machine factory.
It was England’s Alfred Charles South who patented the world’s first twin coiled tattoo machine on the 30th of June 1899 that is recognized today by tattoo artists as the forerunner to the tattooing iron (Iron being the trade term for tattoo machine).
And it was after Alfred South’s iron entered the market, that things started to really take off for the twin coiled machine, especially in the United States who added to this the vibrator, which moved a lot quicker than their British counterparts who favoured the rotary machine. For in 1904 New York’s Charlie Wagner who was regarded as one of the best tattoo artists of his day filed for his own tattoo machine patent on the 19th of April.
Then came the likes of Percy Waters of Detroit who Patented his own version of the twin coiled machine in 1929, this being the last tattooing machine to gain a patent until Carol Nightingale patented a more complex item in 1979, which allowed the coils and contact screw to be adjusted to allow for different set ups.
Bringing us back to today, where a number of new machines that are run on air via a compressor have hit the market, which might sound cool and ahead of its time but running tattooing machines this way has been tried before, but somehow never took off.
And who do we have to thank for inventing the world’s first pneumatic stencil pen, none other then Thomas Alva Edison who patented his device on the 25th of June in 1878. So yes it’s all been seen before and tattoo artists old and new sure owe a large debt to Mr Edison.
All of this of course is without mentioning the likes of Joseph Hartley, Milton Zeis, Paul Rogers, Huck Spaulding, Bill Jones, Colonel William Todd, Sailor Jerry Collins, Bill Moore, Mickey ‘Sharpz’ Lewis, Mickey Bee, Jimmy Jack, Lyle Tuttle, Johnny Lee, Bill Furness, Lionel Titchener, Jack Wakefield (who made the first rotary tattoo machine in England in the 1940’s), Jack Zeek, Charlie ‘Cash’ Cooper, Jack Ringo, Jock of Kings Cross and Ian Frost who are only a few amongst many who have and still do make some the finest make and breaks and rotary machines money can buy. Sadly though many of the mentioned here have now passed away, but whatever way you look at it, they certainly left their edible mark on tattooing history.

Please visit www. http://tattoorevolution.co/2015/03/a-brief-history-of-the-tattoo-machine/ to read the whole article!