contact us    |    accessibility    |

Key Object Page

<< back to key collections page

<< back to this object's collection page

Tattoo of a Lady

This month’s object is a portion of skin, showing a coloured tattoo. This came into our collection from James Bell Pettigrew, who was conservator of the museum from 1869 to 1875. We don’t know anything of the person who had this tattoo, or who the lady depicted is meant to represent, but tattooing had been popular in Britain amongst seamen since the voyages of Captain Cook in 1769. In the nineteenth century it was said that royalty had adopted the practice, with an article in The Hammersmith Monthly Pictorial Magazine of 1898 entitled “Tattooed Royalty: Queer Stories of a Queer Craze” details some of the aristocrats believed to have been inked. It tells us that, ‘There are about twenty tattoo artists in London, some good, some very bad, some very indifferent’.

Tattoo of a Lady
Subscribe to the Surgeons' Hall Museums News Feed