TATTOO: 1730s-1970s Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection

My body is a blank canvas, it is void of any ink except for pen ink that finds its way on my hands when I work. I have a deep fascination for tats. It is a life commitment when applying a certain tattoo to your body. From stigma to cool, tattoos have become a cool trend. It is more uncommon in certain cultures to have people without tattoos. Taschen collects some of Henk Schiffmacher’s assembly of over two centuries of tattoo history. It is more than a walking billboard for some, tattoos are a personal expression of individuality. TATTOO: 1730s-1970s Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection from Taschen is a fascinating read even for non-tat lovers. It is a historical bodily image of humanity through tattoos.

Celebrated tattoo artist Henk Schiffmacher shows off designs from around the world in images from his private collection.

One part history book, one part art book, and one part fascinating memoir, this book is an overview of more than two centuries of tattoo history intermixed with an intimate look at the lives of tattoo artists, and the personal struggles and triumphs, occupational hazards, and artistic courage that have defined so much of this history.

Adoring the body with permanent art–yes, we’re talking about tattoos–has been commonplace for thousands of years. For more than the last four decades, legendary Dutch tattoo artist and historian Henk Schiffmacher–aka Hendrikus Johannes Everhardus Schiffmacher, aka Hanky Panky–has been collecting stunning tattoo artifacts, examples and designs that have finally made their way to print with Taschen’s recent coffee table book TATTOO 1730s-1970s Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection. Equal parts history book, art book and fascinating memoir, TATTOO is a veritable tome of more than two centuries of tattoo knowledge delivered in an easy-to-read and awe-inspiring format over the course of five different chapters. The famous first edition printing is limited to 10,000 individually numbered copies, spans almost 450 pages with 700+ images (edited down from the more than 40,000 that Hanky Panky had to work with).

Schiffmacher brings a fascinating perspective to tattoo history through his personal reflections and wild tales of adventure. In this book, we learn not only about the history of tattooing but also about the adventures behind the making of one of the largest tattoo collections in the world, by a self-taught tattoo artist in love with the art and its innovators.

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