Tatted Up In Victorian Times: Fascinating Photos Show The Work Of One Of Britian’s First Tattoo Artists Sutherland Macdonald
Victorian pictures always show stern-looking faces with people covering their bodies from head to toe in long clothes. But vintage images have revealed how some people living in 19th century Britain had a love of huge tattoos covering their entire chests and arms. And all of the pictures from the Victorian era show the inkings carried out by one of the first ever tattoo artists – Sutherland Macdonald.
Sutherland Macdonald was considered by many to be one of the greatest artists in the history of tattooing. It is said that his first exposure to tattooing was in the British Army in the 1880s. Already being an accomplished artist, Macdonald picked up the tattoo needles with ease. It was after getting out of the army that he started tattooing professionally. He worked first with hand tools, and in 1894 received a British patent for his electric tattooing machine. An 1897 Strand Magazine article written by Gambier Bolton stated, “that for shading or heavy work Macdonald still used Japanese tools, ivory handles and all”.
Sutherland Macdonald was at the forefront of the early 1900s tattoo fad, and probably did his share of cosmetic tinting. Because of his years as a tattooing sergeant-major in the Royal Engineers, George Burchett felt that Macdonald had an advantage over him in the competition to tattoo the “leisured people of taste”.