Author Archives: Gemma Angel

The Tattoo Collectors: Geoff Ostling

As a researcher who specialises in the preservation of tattooed human skin, I have encountered some extraordinary things stored away in archives, museums and private collections in the course of my work. But I don’t just work with the dead … Continue reading

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An Unfortunate Amalgam: Syphilis, Tattooing & Mercury

The late 19th century was an exciting time to be a tattooist in Europe and America. Foreign influences such as the beautiful and accomplished Japanese irezumi, combined with technological invention in the form of Samuel O’Reilly’s 1891 electric tattoo machine, … Continue reading

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Magic, Sex & Superstition: The Winged Phallus Tattoo

In January 2010, just 3 months into my PhD, I went to Paris on the first of what would be many research trips. Whilst there, I visited the anthropology department of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) with my supervisors … Continue reading

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The Tattoo Collectors: Film & Fiction

When I was a child, my favourite Roald Dahl story was Skin, a macabre tale about an old tattooist named Drioli, who has a magnificent work of art tattooed on his back by the famous painter Chaïm Soutine. One day … Continue reading

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From the Storage Archives: “Mort Aux Vaches!”

Science Museum Object Number A544: Preserved human skin, tattooed with a series of patterned dots and crosses; initials and lettering in French; two hearts, including one pierced by arrows; and the head and torso of a man. Dimensions: h353mm x … Continue reading

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From the Storage Archives: The Wounded Tattoo

Science Museum Object Number A544: Preserved human skin, tattooed with a series of patterned dots and crosses; initials and lettering in French; two hearts, including one pierced by arrows; and the head and torso of a man. Dimensions: A544 h353 … Continue reading

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From the Storage Archives: The Unseen Sailors’ Tattoo

Science Museum Object Number A747 & A754: Preserved human skins, tattooed with a pair of eyes. Dimensions: A747 h137 x w88mm x d1.5mm; A754 h144mm x w86mm x d2mm* *Depth measurements are given at their thickest points. Date: c.1830-1900 Of … Continue reading

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