Danes show support as world’s oldest tattoo shop fears shutdown

Punvi Kalia
Punvi Kalia - [email protected]
Danes show support as world’s oldest tattoo shop fears shutdown
The Nyhavn building that houses the historic tattoo shop. Photo: Mahlum/Wikimedia Commons"

'Tattoo Ole’, located at Copenhagen's historic Nyhavn and possibly the world’s last remaining tattoo shop still at its original location, is facing closure.


The owner of the building and the owner of the tattoo shop are engaged in a legal battle, with the former having ended Tattoo Ole’s lease.

The tattoo parlour will be converted into a kitchen for the restaurant that occupies other floors of the building, say the owners of the tattoo business.

Online petitions as well as support groups have been started by supporters of Tattoo Ole to spread the word and gain as much opposition to the shutdown as possible.

So far, around 6,000 people have signed an online petition to save the iconic tattoo shop.

According to the petition, this is not the first time that the owners have tried to close down the ink parlour, with previous iterations of the tattoo shop having survived bids to have it closed. 

Majbritt Petersen, the current owner of the shop, is now trying to save the historic tattoo parlour.

"They want to have a bigger kitchen, and I want to save history," Petersen says in a video posted to her Facebook account last week.

“We believe that it would be a catastrophe if this historical shop were closed down. It’s unique in the world of tattooing and therefore we hope you will support the case by writing a signed letter where you state why this shop has to stay open at this specific location,” Frank Rosenkilde, who started the petition as well as the online support group, told The Local via a written message. 

Rosenkilde, who has been tattooing for 40 years, has his own tattoo museum along with a tattoo shop.

The Nyhavn 17 shop comes with a history and legacy that the petition aims to protect.

Having begun in 1884 as a table in the far corner of the Nyhavn shop, a tattooist is believed to have worked on the premises continuously ever since, Petersen told The Local via written message.

By the early 1930’s, Nyhavn 17 was a regular tattoo shop boasting renowned tattoo artists.

From 1947 the shop was taken over by Ole Valdemar Hansen, who was also known as Tatovør Ole. A succession of popular tattooists helped the establishment maintain its reputation over a period of years.

”The Nyhavn 17 tattoo parlour might be the most described and documented anywhere. The parlour has been several times in the press, books and literature over the years and is, by some, still described today as the original birthplace of Danish tattooing as we know it,"  writes Rosenkilde.

Up until the 1980’s Nyhavn, with its many tattoo parlours, was at the centre of tattooing in Scandinavia, and many of the artists who worked there still inspire artists from all over the world today, he added.

The case is scheduled to go to court on September 14th.

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