Inside the world’s oldest tattoo shop – The Local Denmark

Posted in Tattoo Shop on Sep 04, 2017

Majbritt Petersen has owned Tattoo Ole since 2010, the first female owner in its storied history. Photo: Davut olak

Imagine Copenhagen, and perhaps the very first thing that comes to mind is Nyhavn. Virtually anytime the Danish capital is highlighted in the international media, its a good bet that the story will be anchored by a beautiful shot of the harbours colourful buildings and bustling crowds.

But what many may not realize is that tucked into the basement of the iconic Nyhavn 17 building, with its orange facade and red letters, is a piece of cultural history that is in danger of disappearing.

The modest underground locale has hosted a tattoo artist since 1884, making it the worlds oldest still functioning tattoo parlour. For nearly a century, the shop was the only place in all of Scandinavia to get tattooed. Its initial clientele was primarily sailors and prostitutes and today the shop is one of the last vestiges of Nyhavns seedy past.

Over the years, the shop was owned by a number of colourful characters including Tattoo Ole Hansen, who became renown the world over for his ship tattoos and hand-made tattoo machines. Tattoo Oles name has graced the shop since 1947 and inside you will still find a proudly-displayed photo of his most famous client, King Frederik IX.

Tattoo aficionados from around the world make the pilgrimage to Denmark just to get inked at Tattoo Ole, where current owner Majbritt Lille Ole Petersen and Michael Rams Thomsen continue the tradition established before them.

Petersen, who has owned the shop since 2010, said that she desperately wants to keep Tattoo Oles rich tradition alive and doesnt want its 133-year history to end on her watch.

Its not just my shop, even if it is my shop today. It is also all the other guys shop who had it before, she told me when I visited the parlour to get an old-school Ole ship tattoo.

Everyone who has had this shop is not family related, but everyone has worked together. We have a commitment to keep the shop in the old spirit. Before I took over the shop I was learning from the guy who had the shop before me and so on and so on, Petersen added.

The owner of the Nyhavn 17 wants to convert the tattoo shop into kitchen space. Photo: Davut olak

People have come here for generations to get tattoos. Weve tattooed grandparents and then the parents and then the kids when they get old. They want to come back here because it is familiar and it is very special to come here, she said.

According to Petersen, it is not just the global history of tattooing that would suffer a blow if Tattoo Ole is forced out. She says an important piece of Copenhagen will be lost forever if Nyhavn is further sanitized into a tourist destination.

[Nyhavn] has a very dark past. There used to be only hookers and thieves and the scum of the scum. Nobody wanted to live in Nyhavn. Danes used to say that youd know you reached Nyhavn when you got a knife stuck in your back, she said. This fancy area is very young, it started in the 1980s. This is one of the only old places left of Nyhavn what Nyhavn was once.

Both Petersen and fans of the tattoo parlour from around the world are putting up a last-ditch effort to save Tattoo Ole. Petersen, who is the first female owner in the shops long history, is contesting the owners decision to terminate her lease, arguing that its historical value is worth preserving. She will present her case in court on September 14th.

See the article here:
Inside the world's oldest tattoo shop - The Local Denmark

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