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History of the “Hold Fast” Knuckle Tattoo

The photography for our tough-looking Bare Knuckle leather bicycle grips feature an unusual model: a friend of ours with “Hold Fast” tattooed on his knuckles. We’ve always thought his colorful tattoos were beautiful, but only recently did we learn the nautical history behind his iconic tattoo, which we’re sharing with you today.

In a recent guest column in our local paper, The Astorian, educator Julia Triezenberg of the Columbia River Maritime Museum shared the history of Historical Maritime Tattoos:

From the earliest days of maritime tattooing, sailors have covered themselves in images that symbolize their lives at sea. Designs represent faraway loved ones, everyday duties, personal triumphs and the many superstitions that dictate life on board…

“Hold Fast” written across the knuckles indicate a sailor’s career as a deckhand. It’s said that having “Hold Fast” on each of a deckhand’s fingers would give them the grip they needed to work with the ship’s lines and rigging.

Julia Triezenberg, Columbia River Maritime Museum
‘Hold Fast’ knuckle tattoo on leather bicycle grips model. Photo by Erin Berzel.

Julia’s article goes into much of the history behind maritime tattoos, with more examples and pictures. It’s a fascinating and short read – enjoy!

Read the full article here: Historical Maritime Tattoos in The Astorian >>>

Bare Knuckle Grips

A modern twist on our classic leather grips, the Bare Knuckle Grips feature modern cut-outs for both tactile finger holds and submarine windows to the chrome of your handlebars below.

Shop Leather Bicycle Accessories >>>

About Walnut Studiolo

Walnut Studiolo crafts original modern designs by hand in our Oregon workshop using only natural materials. We are a family-run company located on the North Oregon Coast. Learn more about us on our website:

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