Pre-Order: Tattooist Karl Finke (1866-1935)

If you’re a fan of vintage tattoos, tattoo history and tattoo books we invite you to Pre-order this new volume of never-before-seen classic tattoo flash by German tattooist Karl Finke. Advance copies can be ordered before July 31st here: [button color=”green” size=”medium” link=”″ target=”blank” ]Pre-Order[/button]DesignOfHowBookWillLookLike

Before Christian Warlich (1891–1964) became the most iconic and probably most received German tattooist of all times Karl Finke (1866–1935) from Hamburg was the most famous tattooer from St. Pauli. During the ongoing research project by Nachlass Warlich on the history of German tattooing, with a focus on Christian Warlich, an album of designs by Finke was stumbled upon at an archive in Dresden. This album is now to be published in conjunction with accompanying English & German texts.

The original album by Finke has 82 pages of flash, around 180 tattoo designs, which will be completely reproduced in the new edition.            The only handpainted historic European tattoo flash book ever published is Christian Warlich’s ‘Vorlagealbum’. Now – 36 years after Stephan Oettermann’s first edition of the Warlich album – Karl Finke’s Buch No. 3 [Book No. 3] follows. Besides Warlich’s in Europe, and outside of Europe only C. H. Fellowes’ and Ben Corday’s design books, Finke’s album until now is the only flash book edited in it’s entirety as a separate publication.

Karl Finke ranks as one of the most important figures in German tattoo history. Together with Christian Warlich, he was one of the protagonists of the Hamburg tattoo scene in the first half of the twentieth century.


As with some of his American contemporaries, for Finke, practicing the art of tattooing went hand in hand with working at circuses. Up until now, he has been described somewhat ambivalently. Among other things, as a professional sportsman, a ‘freak’, a passionate artist or an old-fashioned tattooer in decline. So it seemed as if everything there is to say about Finke had already been said. However, the recent rediscovery of his album of designs from the 1920s reveals new aspects of his work.

The text for Finke’s Buch No. 3 aims to function as an aid to analyzing the album. Finke’s work is contextualized within cultural history with a special focus on sideshow phenomena and tattooed attractions. Through an iconographic analysis of Finke’s drawings, Anglo-American influences on German tattooing are explored. Furthermore, there is a brief analysis of the role of the tattoo in the collective imagination of the Weimar Republic. This is based first and foremost on the interest of some of the Neue Sachlichkeit [New Objectivity] artists, in particular the German painter Otto Dix.

This is a crowd-funded project. The new edition of Finke’s flash book can be pre-ordered till July 31st: [button color=”red” size=”medium” link=”” target=”blank” ]Pre-Order[/button]

Tattoo Artist since 1990 and creator/publisher of Tattoo Artist Magazine since 2003

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