Tattoo Ideas from the Updike Collection

Our Updike Collection on the History of Printing contains a tremendous number of type specimen books, many of which have sections of cuts–small, reusable illustrations that printers could purchase to illustrate books, newspapers, broadsides, and the like. (We often describe them as “historic clip art”.)

More often than not, first-time viewers of these cuts will point to one and exclaim, “Wow, that would make a great tattoo!” Which brings us to two points:

  1. If you own a tattoo shop and want to work out a deal, get in touch;
  2. We have a LOT of fun ideas for tattoos.

We’d like to present a few recent inspirations, all from a recently cataloged specimen book from the G. Schildknecht type foundry in Brussels.

Religious tattoos are always popular, but does anyone really need to see another bicep graced by a sacred heart? Why not get a unique religious tattoo, like this image of St. Nicholas with three babies in a wooden tub?

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(If you don’t know the story of St. Nicholas miraculously resurrecting three babies who were chopped up and salted by an evil butcher, well, now you do.)

If that’s too tame for you, you could also get this image of an apparition of Mary in a… tree? Is that a mushroom cloud? Why don’t Mary or baby Jesus have limbs? If you know more about what this image is depicting, please let us know.

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If a religious tattoo isn’t for you, may we suggest an animal? Such as…

…totally stoked cat, disheveled porcupine, maned sloth with a weird face, or side-eye sheep?

For the truly fun-loving tattoo-getter, there’s always Dionysus, which is my preliminary identification of the fun-loving and wavy-eyedbrowed gent shown here:

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And finally, for those looking for a unique twist on the traditional “Mom” tattoo, how about this stylized face situation, with “Mom” on the banner?

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