Caveat Emptor

Hey, no experts here… but we have been collecting and looking at junk for over 30 years. So this current eBay listing got our interest. Cool dragons, old lightning bolts and lettering on a trunk full of tattoo artifacts. Sign us up.

Then, something just didn’t feel right. So we checked with other collectors and antique guys who know about old paint and age.Top dealers, collectors in other fields and tattooists who know what they are doing. Not so fast! They all cried. Step back and take another look. The first ‘tell’ being that clean black line painted over a beat to shit old white hinge in the top left corner. Why is that black line so crisp?
And where’s the ink mess? Black Ink spots should be around the holes that were drilled into that folding piece of wood supposedly used for the upright machines to rest in while the guy was tattooing.

Next, stylistically, the outlined wings on the eagle don’t trap the paint. Never seen this type of loose line and wobbly paint on a tattoo sign or folk art item before. It’s like bad crayon book coloring. Maybe works for wonky modern drawings, but not seen in the 1920’s. Logically a tattooist would want to completely fill in outlined areas. Always finish coloring and shading up to the black outline. A sign serves as a portfolio for the tattooists work.
The machines inside are unidentified. One even employs the classic Mud Flap Girl as a cut out frame. This does not seem like the 1920’s. If it ever was a machine frame, it was probably made later like in the sixties or seventies.

Then there’s this half dollar sized blotch in the green painted lid. So why does the nice dragon painting go right over the dashed out area? Wouldn’t the douse on the lid have also taken a chunk out of the dragon? Looks more like new paint over an old box. Same methods as the decorative Electric Tattoo painted box, that at this typing, is still suffering along on eBay. These are both nice looking items. Obviously created by a very skilled artist/craftsman. They probably started out being sold as out as very cool, nice looking decorative items. Problem is, once into the marketplace, they move up the bs ladder until somebody swears they are real. As in “found in my grandfathers dusty old attic” real.

Now the box maybe have been a tattooists box. But the paint probably has been improved, embellished or added on recently. Then you have to wonder, just how did Mr. Tattooist carry this here box? Like a dead goat or a bag of concrete? Where are the attachments for handles or rope straps?

Important note: We are talking about the item, here not the seller. Nobody is blaming the seller. He probably doesn’t know. And he made the right move running it by Chuck Eldridge. Who we all know is reputable and would never betray the Paul Rogers Trust.

Problem is that the eventual buyer will someday figure it out. Feel ‘took’ and likely give up on a cool field of collecting. It’s a time bomb waiting to go off. A rather expensive one.


Picture Information courtesy eBay

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