Skin Deep: Early Prison Tattoos Preserved In Formaldehyde
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University began a study of prisoners’ tattoos. Instead of doing the sensible thing and photographing them however, they removed pieces of skin and preserved them in formaldehyde.
Tattoos at the beginning of the 20th century, especially in prison, were not the sophisticated pieces of art that tattoos are known to be like today. Instead of imprinting the skin using needles, tattoos of the past were ingrained using tools such as razor blades or broken glass, with the ink substituted for pencil refills or charcoal mixed with water, fat or urine.
Although quite comical in nature, the like skin-art is still extremely intricate based on the tools that were available to the artists.
And if you’re familiar with ink on your skin, you can see where the beginnings of the American Traditional style sprouted from.