120 unique tattoo images hand-picked from the Schiffmacher Collection

Henk Schiffmacher


Literally a metal device that prevents a ship or boat from drifting, the anchor came to represent a sailor’s last resort in stormy weather, a symbol of well-grounded hope.



The anchor is the second symbol in the trinity ‘Faith-Hope-Love’, and stands for perseverance and loyalty. In Christian faith it means salvation, the anchor resembling the cross: stability is founded on faith.

The anchor stems from the Latin word ancora and the Greek agkura, meaning ‘bending’, and is related to the ankle, the Achilles Heel, mankind’s weak spot.

In the nautical world it symbolises a completed journey across the Atlantic Ocean. It is by far the most tattooed symbol in the world of seafaring men, also due to its simplicity of form and the respect the object receives as the saviour of the vessel, preventing it from hitting reefs, from going adrift, providing some time to catch one’s breath, a well deserved break during a difficult trip. In Dutch we say ‘better lose an anchor than the whole ship’, meaning ‘lose a leg rather than a life’, i.e., better a small loss than everlasting sorrow.

In September 2012 I tattooed a tiny anchor on rock legend Lady Gaga. That very same night 200,000 people ‘liked’ this activity on social media: an absolute record. I dedicate this booklet to her and to another person of fame who we know also had an anchor tattoo: Sir Winston Churchill, especially because he showed himself worthy of wearing this symbol as proves his steadfastness in his resistance to the Nazis. To Gaga and Winston, and may the anchor enjoy more popularity in the world of tattoos. I hope this booklet be helpful in reaching this goal.

Henk Schiffmacher


This is the fourth volume of a series of publications dealing with major themes in tattoo art. They feature a superb selection of Western electric tattooing that are hand-picked from the Schiffmacher Collection. These high quality, collectible publications elaborate on themes that can be admired, will inspire and educate,