Whether you live in tattoos, gadgets, history, or all three, there has been a fascinating evolution of modern tattoo machines in the early 1800s into the hands of one of the greatest inventors of all time: Thomas Edison – who filed 1000 patents, including light bulbs and phonographs
In 187676, Edison invented the ‘stencil pen’ – a device that drills holes of various shapes and designs on a piece of paper placed on top of an object. The holes then made will fill with color and create a stencil effect on the surface of the item.
Interested in stencil pens, NYC tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly took the idea one step further and modified Edison’s invention in 1891 by adding a tube and needle system so that the pen could ink on the skin using rotary technology. Although most people credit O’Reilly as the inventor of the modern tattoo machine, the patent is actually owned by O’Reilly’s apprentice Charlie Wagner, who can further modify the machine to include on / off switches among other things. . He patented that machine in 1904.
But back in 1891, things progressed rapidly in the tattoo world, and just 20 days after O’Reilly invented his machine, Thomas Riley of London, England, filed a patent, using a modified doorbell in a brass box to make it. A brand new type of iron: Electronic magnetic coil machine.
Alfred Charles Smith also designed two coil tattoo machines from London in 1899, although Percy Waters of Detroit patented a machine in 1929 to have two coils sitting parallel to the frame. It became a staple of tattoo artists almost everywhere, and 50 years later Carol “Smoky” Nightingale of Washington, D.C., filed various changes to the frame by adding front and rear spring apertures, all with the goal of creating a more comfortable tattoo experience.
Like any industry and any technology today people are pushing the boundaries creatively and with the machines they make and every tattoo artist would have to change their machine to their own personal characteristics to say that no two tattoo machines are the same.
If this brief history of the Dragonhawk mast pen rotary tattoo machine awakens your appetite and you feel the need for a new iron to come, check out the huge range on the web. You don’t have to spend a fortune – there are plenty of competitively priced suppliers – and you can even find the machine of your dreams!