Tattooer For Royalty - Sometimes George Burchett's workshop temporarily becomes a beauty salon , with tattooing there's no need for cosmetics . Burchett's needle supplies tinted lips , eyebrows - even today complexions. 1951. Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut

By Mark McConville


STUNNING RETRO pictures have offered a glimpse inside the studio of a 78-year-old tattoo artist who was a favourite with royalty.

Tattooer For Royalty. A client calls and considers a number of designs . Should it be elaborate – such as this fiery dragon which George Burchett inscribed on the chest of King Frederick IX of Denmark. On the walls of his atelier hang photographs illustrating some of Burchett’s past assignments. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


The incredible images show a client considering a number of designs including a fiery dragon that tattooist George Burchett had inscribed on the chest of King Frederick IX of Denmark.

Tattooer For Royalty. Now that it is festival year, many visitors to Britain are having the festival’s emblem tattooed on their arms. First the design is traced, and then the skin is punctured with a dye – filled electric needle. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


Other striking shots show a sailor home on leave having Burchett colour an old design, Burchett tattooing a butterfly on a young woman and Burchett preparing his needles for future clients at the end of the day.

Tattooer For Royalty. A good deal of George Burchett’s commissions are re-tinting old designs . A sailor , home on leave , calls to have a design coloured . Burchett’s assistant and son , Leslie , looks on. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


The remarkable photographs were taken in George Burchettā€™s tattoo studio in 1951 and offer a glimpse into his world.

Tattooer For Royalty. Though tattooing is popular today , it is not new . It began with the body – paintings of primitive man , which passed into tattooing because this made the designs more durable . Down the centuries it has spread throughout the world. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


George Burchett was born on 23 August 1872 in the English seaside town of Brighton, East Sussex and became one of the most famous tattoo artists in the world.

Tattooer For Royalty. Butterflies are popular designs with young ladies. They like them to show when wearing evening dress. As his right wrist suggests, Burchett’s body is also tattooed. On his own skin he allows students to practice their art. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


Having been expelled from school at 12 for tattooing his classmates, he joined the Royal Navy at 13, developing his skills while travelling overseas as a deckhand on HMS Vincent. After absconding from the Navy, he returned to England.

Tattooer For Royalty. The day’s work is over. The clients have gone. And George Burchett prepares his needles for future clients. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


With a studio on Mile End Road, and 72 Waterloo Road, London, Burchett became the first star tattooist and a favourite among the wealthy upper class and European royalty.

Tattooer For Royalty. This is George Burchett’s sign – famous in the world of tattoo , This 78 – year-old Londoner is an artist. He loathes crude tattooing and – as his sign indicates – likes to remove it. 1950.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


Among his customers were King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and King Frederick IX of Denmark. Though it was reputed that he tattooed the ‘Sailor King’ George V of the United Kingdom, there is no reliable evidence to attest to this actually being the case.

Tattooer For Royalty. Here is a fragment of George Burchett’s art: St. George in conflict with the dragon, monsters with eyes agleam … all in striking colours. Burchett’s grand opus was the time he tattooed a man all over – a task involving months of work. 1951.
Mediadrumimages / TopFoto / Retronaut


In the 1930s, he developed cosmetic tattooing with such techniques as permanently darkening eyebrows. He continued tattooing until he died suddenly on Good Friday in 1953 at the age of 80.