Over the last quarter of a century, Brad Fink, the co-owner of Daredevil Tattoo, has been slowly amassing an impressive collection of tattoo memorabilia. So when Daredevil moved to a new, more spacious location on the border of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, the tattoo shop expanded to include an onsite museum.
In 1961, New York City banned tattooing, blaming the ban on a hepatitis B outbreak and declaring it “unlawful for any person to tattoo a human being.” Incredibly, that ban was in place until 1997, when it was finally lifted. That same year, Brad Fink and Michelle Myles opened shop on the Lower East Side.
Daredevil has since moved to a new location, and opened the Museum of Tattoo History, a showcase for Fink’s treasure trove of tattoo memorabilia. Inside you’ll find all kinds of artifacts from the early history of modern body art. There are antique tattoo machines, old news articles, and original photos of historic tattoo artists like Millie Hull (once known as “New York’s Only Lady Tattooer”) and the infamous Charlie Wagner.
You can see original artwork by tattoo legends like Bert Grimm, August “Cap” Coleman, George Burchett, and New York tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly. There’s also one of Thomas Edison’s electric motor-driven pens, which was famously repurposed by Samuel O’Reilly in 1891, becoming the first electric tattoo needle, revolutionizing the tattoo industry.
Know Before You Go
The museum is part of the Daredevil Tattoo shop and can be visited during regular shop hours from midday until 10 p.m. Entrance is free.