Well I already reported on Lyle Tuttle's Ukia BarBQue, but that was the tip of the Iceburg. Maybe you would expect to see the history of modern tattooing and the artifacts just lying about Lyles homestead. I'll tell you, though, seeng it is still just about an overload. And there is nothing there that he doesn't, literally, know everything about.
I found myself drifting into the "Tuttle Room" where, amongst other goodies, was the largest collection of machines I have ever seen and probably anyone else, for that matter. There was a huge display with row on row of machines laid out like some giant industrial coffee cup holder. The lower level had several more rows of carefully placed machines and three more piles of at least a couple of hundred more. Machines of every kind was represented as well as the rarest and oldest and the most curious tattoo machines of all times. Another display contained some unique and inventive machines from earlier times. After Lyle had spoken and answered questions for an hour or so, we all drifted to the last display.
Photos, Thanks to Tom Lockhart: West Coast Tattoo, Vancouver BC & Vince Hemingson of vanishingtattoo.com
The pile of old square back "Jonesy's" is so high, you can't even see the 15 or so roundbacks behind them. Left side pile and the right side pile picures on the left.
Here are a couple of machines that predate electricity. The clockspring wound "Stigmagraph" dates to about 1875. The thing about this display case was that it was pretty well filled with various frames from all across time. Rare and old and some were far past ever being used again, they had a story and Lyle knew nearly all of them. As I looked around at the group gathered around Lyle, it was quite a site to see all of these artists listening raptly to his every word and story. Shawn Anderson, Judy Parker, Tom Lockhart, Paul Booth, Rusty Savage, Lyon King and the others were all mesmerized. Once in a while someone would speak a little but our storys and experience seemed puny in comparison.
At one point Lyle picked up a frame and mentioned the name of Jerry Mathews. Lyon King suddenly perked up. "Wow, I almost bought some equipment and flash from his widow after he died". "Someone beat me to the cash and I missed out on the deal", he went on. A twinkle went off in Lyles eye as he said, "Yea, I knew somebody was after it so I bought everything". As we went on to other subjects I noticed the wheels turning over Lyon's way. Pretty soon he was making an offer on the frame and Lyle semed to mull it over abit before he decided to part with it. I could tell he was measuring the "home" the machine was going to..
Lyle considers Lyons offer on the old Jerry Mathews machine frame.
Lyle chooses the one he'll let go and Lyon looks pretty pleased.
This case was full of old machine frames and casting blanks for some of Lyles cool Tuttle Machines, like the frisco flyer and the Lyle Tuttle "O". Taking the time to tell a story for each machine or frame, we were in awe.
Tattoo history was screamin out of each display.
Finally I dragged out a couple of my own favorite tattoo machines and asked Lyle if he could take a look and maybe even verify the story I had on them. Well sure enough the Outliner I have used for the last 7 or 8 years really is a Cliff Raven "O" machine. Thanks to RJ Rosini for the trade. My shader has been my favorite for over 10 years and appeared to be an old original Owens Jenson. I was pretty sure that it was pretty original - one of the Victory style machines; it appeared to have original 12 wrap cotten covered coil wire with 3/8ths cores and even had the stock "animal marker" finger actuation when I first got it. I was always wondering why it did not have Owens Jensions prominent stamping. Well thanks to Lyle, I now know that it is a pre 1944 Victory model produced in Detroit and was named for the war effort. Lyle Tuttle is the millenium's tattoo curator, spokesman and all around man about town. Thanks Lyle.....