Lonely Planet Writer

An online petition in Copenhagen is trying to save the world’s oldest tattoo shop

Tattoo Ole in Copenhagen has the distinction of being probably the oldest functioning tattoo shop in the world. Now it’s launched a campaign to keep it that way as it faces the possibility of closure.

Tattoo Ole operates from the city’s famous Nyahvn building and has been since 1901, although there has been a tattooist on the premises since 1884. Now the owner of the building wants to end their lease to expand the kitchen for the restaurant that is also in the building.

Majbritt Petersen, the owner of the shop, is refusing to accept this and has launched an online petition in an effort to save their lease. In a video posted to Facebook, she said the closure would be a “catastrophe”.


“It’s unique in the world of tattooing”, she said “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.”

All is certainly not lost for the tattoo shop. It’s not the first time Tattoo Ole has been under threat, having previously faced eviction at least twice in the past. The case is due to be heard by the courts on 14 September and the online petition will be presented at the case for evidence of the shop’s popularity and its unique place in history. Currently it has nearly 6000 signatures.

Copenhagen’s tattooing scene was the most famous in the world in the 1950s and ’60s as the ‘Tattooing Capital of the North’ and Tattoo Ole was the most famous shop there. Run by artist Bimbo at the time – who had previously inked King Frederik IX – he was known as “tattoo artist of kings, king of tattoo artists”. Some of the original designs from these artists are still available to get at the shop and are some of the most popular choices.