Ancient Egyptian Needles
Tiny bronze tattoo needles discovered at an Egyptian dig. These date back to 1450 B.C. but the oldest on record are from before 3000 B.C. Source: Tattoo Road Trip
Ancient Thai Needle Kit
Traditional Thai tattoo tools were made from quill-like bamboo needles. Split in two and razor sharp, they range from six to twelve inches in length. Source: Naga Tattoo
The Maori of New Zealand used bone chisels to carve designs straight into the flesh. After the lines were cut, the chisel was dipped into ink and and tapped into the gashes. Source: PEM
Polynesian Rake Needle
Polynesian tattoos required two people. The artist used a rake like tool to hold the ink and a hammer to puncture the skin. The assistant would hold the skin taught so the vibrations wouldn’t affect the design. Source: Tomoski
Japanese Tebori Needles
Tebori tattoos are done completely by hand, with the tattoo artist creating a rhythm with his hand motions similar to that of an electric machine. Source: Tune In Tokyo
Edison’s Electric Pen
In 1876, Thomas Edison created an electric stencil pen for some unknown reason. While the pen never took off commercially, it was converted into a forerunner of the modern tattoo machine. Source: Engtechmag
O’Reilly’s Rotary Two Coil Needle
In 1891, Samuel O’Reilly realized the potential of Edison’s electric pen. Adding an in reservoir and tube system to feed the needle using an electric (rotary) motor, the modern machine was born. Source: Wikipedia
Advanced Rotary Needle
A more condensed, modern version of O’Reilly’s rotary machine. Source: Wikipedia
Modern Electro-Magnet Machine
Today’s tattoo machines run on a two coil (or one or three or any other variation) system. The basic premise is that electromagnetic circuit causes the needle to move up and down. Source: Wikipedia
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