Not just religious symbols

Being a passionate-compulsive/obsessive researcher of material related to the world of tattoo – both historical and modern – I came across an object that immediately caught my attention and I couldn’t help but adding it to my collection.

In an antique dealer in northern England I found a wooden block (stamp) similar to the ancient ones that were used in Loreto.

The only difference is in the subject engraved on the stamp: Loreto’s ones all have religious images whilst on this stamp there are two crossed cannons with a anchor in the middle. This stamp, dating back to the 19th century, was used as a guide for the tattoo once the ink had been pressed onto the skin.
Since the stamp had a clear maritime symbology, I’ve asked my friend M.M. (Massimo) for some help, since he’s an expert as well as a collector of WWI military materials.

Comparing the image with the effigies on the buttons of historical military uniforms, we came to the conclusion that the symbol of the two crossed cannons represented Napoleon’s Italian Navy battalion of coast guard gunner’s in 1796/1814, during the Italian Kingdom.
In the old War Navy, the crews were generally formed using the same system in place for thse merchant Navy: sailors were hired on a voluntary basis among seafarers and paid for every single armament and only for the actual embarkation period.
After this brief historical research, my mind begun to fantasize about this incredible object rich in history yet mysterious at the same time. Looking at the stamp, I’d like to imagine military scenes where the sailors were being tattooed while on board their boats or at some docking ports.

Thanks to this little hand-sculpted wooden stamp, the stories of our past are preserved and have found a way to reach us in the present day.

Like in a puzzle, another tile enriches our history and our future.

Long live tattooing, an art full of emotions and meanings.

Stampo in legno per tatuaggio del XIX sec. con emblema del corpo della Marina (Cannonieri Guardiacosta)

Dettaglio