TATTOOS seem more popular than ever but we go back to the 1960s with this picture, taken from the Spring 1966 edition of Sphinx, the works magazine of Joseph Sankey and Sons.
The magazine has been loaned to us by Pat and Terry Jordan of Coseley.
The original story is as follows: “When 24 years old John Bouckley of Manor finishes work, he swaps his gas welding gun for the electric needle of the art tattooist. John is a spare time tattooist – and a clever one.
“At school leaving age, he tossed up between earning good money in a job and the offer of continuing his education at art school. The job won. He eventually came to Sankey, but he could not give in to his artistic talent.He took up oil painting and then, five years ago in a sea front tattooist’s booth at Blackpool, the bug bit. So fascinated was he by the craft of the electric art needle, by the very real art-form scope it presented, that he bought an expensive kit.
“Since then, he has made a local name for himself as an accomplished tattooist. Men come from miles around to the Red Lion Inn, a stone’s throw from Albert Street works, where over a weekend, John will etch around 15 different tattoos. People will allow their beer to go flat just watching that needle. In red, brown, green, yellow, blue and black ink, he creates ‘paintings on skin’, the multi-needle buzzing out technicolor pictures.
“Across the chest and trunk of one man, John recounts, he tattooed the Lord on the Cross and is near completing a similar tattoo over the back and shoulders of a Manor works welding mate.
“He recalls only once tattooing a woman, but vividly remembers some tattoos which could only be described as weird. One fellow had an entangled snake’s design around his neck and throat. Another had a large green diamond shape between and just above his eyes.
“Does a tattooist refuse ‘way out’ requests? Naturally he does: John will not, for instance, tattoo the younger age groups.
“Religious pieces appear to be the favourite, although he has complied with scores of orders for simple designs on the sweetheart line.
“A question he is sometimes asked – is a tattoo entirely indelible? No, it will come off, but three separate coats of three kinds of acid have to be applied to the skin, and quite often this burning process leaves a slight scar.
“John Bouckley is a self taught tattooist, and a gifted artist. He loves this hobby and carries it out in a responsible manner.
“Through him, a man can become a walking masterpiece.”
Were you “inked” by John at his Bilston pub parlour? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org