Ear pi*r*i*g before "the Gun" was invented

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Dane
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Ear pi*r*i*g before "the Gun" was invented

Postby Dane » Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:27 am

Hi everyone!
Does anybody want to tell what it was like to get your ears pierced, before they used the pi*r*i*g gun, and how they pierced ears professionally at hairdressers and jewellers?
I’ve sent some posts to the forum about “pi*r*i*g and Boys” (General>Family>pi*r*i*g and Boys). The forum is about boys getting (both of) their ears pierced. When I was about 5 years old, I really wanted to have it done, but my mother discouraged me, most effectively by telling me that it was very painful to have it done :cry: . The year must have been around 1977, but that really shouldn’t matter. I just hope that someone that had his or her ears pierced professionally before the pi*r*i*g gun was invented, would like to share that experience :) .

Dane

Old_Timer

Postby Old_Timer » Sat Sep 17, 2005 3:21 am

I am old enough to remember when pierced ears were considered "trashy" and "nice" girls simply did not get their ears pierced.

Pierced ears became popular in the northeastern USA in the 1960s. Most girls got their ears pierced at home, either by a friend or did it themselves. The usual method was to hold something against the back of your ear and push a needle through from the front. The most common things to hold against the back of the ear were a cork, a cut potato or an ice cube. The ice cube had the advantage of numbing your ears, but it also had the disadvantage of dripping on your neck as it melted. After the needle was pushed all the way through the ear and into whatever was behind it, the needle was pulled out and an earring inserted into the ear. It sometimes took a bit or poking and probing to get the earring post to come out the freshly made hole at the back of the ear.

I pierced my own ears just before Christmas in 1964. To mark the spots on my lobes where I wanted them pierced I wore a pair of screw on earrings that made my ears look pierced for several hours. I purposely screwed them on as tight as I could so that when I took them off they left an indentation on my lobes where I wanted to pierce them. I sterilized a safety pin by holding it in the flame of a match and then cleaning both the pin and my ears with rubbing alcohol. I tried using an ice cube behind my ear, but found that with only two hands I could not control the safety pin, the ice cube and my ear all at the same time, so I dropped the ice cube into the sink and just shoved the safety pin through my ear. After I removed the safety pin I put a gold stud in my ear and did not have too much trouble finding the hole in the back of my ear for it to come out. Then I repeated the process on my other ear, but did not bother with another ice cube.

Another device that had limited popularity for a few years were self pi*r*i*g earrings. These were small hoops with a sharp point on one end and a hollow tube on the other end. The earrings were put on the ears so the sharp points were against the front of the lobe and the holow tube was aginst the back of the ear. The spring tension in the hoops was enough to gradually force the sharp points through the ears and into the hollow tubes over a period of a few days. Of course you had to wear them day and night until they pierced your ears. The biggest problem was keeping them in place while sleeping, combing your hair, etc.

While I was in college I met a girl who had small hollow gold tubes in her ears. As soon as her ears had been pierced the tubes had been inserted from the backs of her ears. Then her ears were allowed to heal tightly around the tubes so they could not be removed. The tubes were just large enough to put the post of a regular earring through them. When she was not wearing earrings all that showed from the front was the ends of the tubes, but from the back a small flange was visible on each tube. The idea behind them was that only the gold tubes would come in contact with her skin, so she did not have to worry about allergic reactions to the metals in her earrings. The flanges on the back of the tubes were to prevent the earring clasps from touching her skin. I don't know where or when her ears were pierced, other than it was someplace in Portugal or Spain.

Old Timer

Dane
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Postby Dane » Sun Sep 18, 2005 3:48 am

Thanks a lot Old Timer, for your most detailed explanation! I’m not in any doubt that it must have been more painful and risky to get pierced with a needle, compared to the gun they use today. I guess you had to be quite determined, to have your ears pierced back then! I think it’s really strange that having your ears pierced in the early 60’s, gave you a reputation of being trashy. After all, in only 40 years, the states have changed into the most earring-loving nation in the western sphere.
I’ve read a little about those self-piercing earrings that you mentioned too. The first time I read about them, I thought it was a joke or something. But after searching for info about them I found a few descriptions, but not a single picture. There’s so little information available, that I’m sure the self-piercing earrings must have gone out of fashion many years ago.
I never heard about anyone who wore a tiny gold tube through their earlobes, as the Spanish girl you saw in college. However, it almost sound like there’s a resemblance with todays body-art enthusiasts, who stretch their earlobes to fit much larger ornaments than standard earrings.

However I was wondering how the jewellers did ear pi*r*i*g in the 70’s before the pi*r*i*g gun was invented. I believe that however it was done, I would have tried it back when I was 5 years old and first wanted to get my ears pierced around 1977, had I been allowed to have it done.
I remember clearly, how a jeweller advertised ear pi*r*i*g with a big sign outside the store in a high-end mall, back around 1977 when I was 5 years old or so. I was instantly fascinated by the thought of wearing earrings. My mom however, discouraged me from asking more about it, by telling me that the procedure was very painful. Today I just find it hard to believe, that they would pierce peoples ears using a needle in a very respectable jewellers store as late as 1977, and I am trying to find out if they might have used some equipment that was designed for that specific purpose, before the pi*r*i*g gun was introduced.
I’ve been asking around in another forum too and actually there was a woman who had her ears pierced with a needle at a jewellery store as late as the early 80’s(!!!). However there was another, who told me that she had hers done with a tool that resembled some kind of hole punch.
Although it’s a lot of years ago, I’m just curious to know how painful or gentle it would really have been to have my ears pierced, had I been allowed to back in 1977.
In my family, there was not a single person with pierced ears back then. I guess they actually thought of it as trashy too. So I could never have it done at home with a needle.
Although your writing does not answer all my questions, your reply is very highly appreciated. Thanks a lot.

Dane

PS: Still hoping that somebody out there once tried to walk into a store and have his/her ears pierced, before the “gun” was invented.

Old_Timer

Postby Old_Timer » Mon Sep 19, 2005 4:20 am

Dane,

I have never been pierced with a pi*r*i*g gun, so I can't make a comparison between that and being pierced with a needle. As I remember after all these years, pushing the safety pin through my lobes and then putting in the earrings did not really hurt at all. I remember that with the "look pierced" earrings you had to screw them on very tight to make your ears look like they were pierced. That pinched every time you put the earrings on, but after ten or fifteen minutes the pinched feeling would go away. Then you would screw them tighter to get a better look. Pushing the safety pin through my ears did not hurt any more than the usual pinch from screwing on "look pierced" earrings tight enough to make my ears really look like they were pierced.

Old Timer

acerbic_cherry

Postby acerbic_cherry » Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:26 pm

Hi. I got my ears pierced by a friend when I was a teenager. With a needle. I numbed my ears with ice and was chewing on some gum. I marked the spot on my ear-lobe with a felt pen. The pi*r*i*g took all of about 5 seconds and apart from a slight tingle, was not painful. I then rubbed some vaseline on my ear-lobes and onto a pair of small hoop ear-rings and wore them. Several times a day, I moved the ear-rings back and forth through the holes, to keep crusts from forming in the holes.

After about a week, my ears healed. That was it.

I cannot imagine that there would be any less pain from a pi*r*i*g gun. The concept is exactly the same. It comes down to your pain tolerance and to the skill of the piercer. Good Luck.

ad314
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Postby ad314 » Mon Sep 19, 2005 11:06 pm

About 1972 I got my ears pierced in Dallas in a piecing salon that used a tong like tool with a sharp pin on one side and a pad with a hole in it on the other side to brace the ear lobe. A thin, short metal tube was slid over the pin before pi*r*i*g. The handles of the tong like device were then pulled together, pi*r*i*g the ear lobe. When the tongs were opened, the pin slid back out of the front of the pierced lobe and the tube was then holding the pierced hole open. Then she put a stud through the tube, pulled the tube out the lobe back side and snapped on the stud back.

This seemed to work really well.

I do recall a friend of mine had here ears pierced in about 67-68 with a pi*r*i*g gun, so they were invented about mid 60s or so.

Back in the mid 50s I recall a girl in my class had here ears pierced with a needle and evidently they just pulled some thick thread through the lobe and left it there to keep the hole open to heal. Once in a while she'd slide the thread back and forth to keep it loose. Seemed to work OK for her, but not too esthetic for a while.

Interesting thread.

Dane
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Postby Dane » Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:00 pm

That is probably the most detailed description I have read on how professional ear pi*r*i*g could be done earlier, if not by using a needle. I never heard of that method before, only I have heard of somebody who had her ears pierced with a tool that resembled a “hole punch”. She mentioned that after the pi*r*i*g had taken place, fitting the jewellery into the hole actually hurt more. But the tong that pierced the earlobe, leaving a tube in place to guide the jewellery through sounds ingenious. Also it sounds like much more gentle technique, than I would have expected.
I’m surprised at how little pain some of you other people experienced when getting it done with a needle and an ice cube. At least I would think of any method that is quicker, as being gentler too.
Of cause, any adult should not have any trouble with surviving ear pi*r*i*g no matter how it was done. However, I used to be terrified by needles in general but still I think that getting my ears pierced like Ad314 had it done, would have been okay. It doesn’t sound to me as if it was really as painful as I was told back then.
I never thought that the ear pi*r*i*g gun actually existed back in the 60 also.
Thanks a lot Ad314. I really learned something new there.

Dane

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Sep 22, 2005 7:39 pm

I'm still trying to find out exactly when the "gun" was first used/invented. This is interesting to me as I've always been fascinated by ear pi*r*i*g, perhaps as it wasn't very popular in the southern US when I was a child, and pierced ears always caught my attention. I'll write more later when I have time.

Dane
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Postby Dane » Thu Sep 22, 2005 10:50 pm

Greetings ”Guest”
I’m looking forward to knowing what you can find out. I was just surprised that the pi*r*i*g gun existed in the 60’s. How long ago is it that you think that pierced ears were not accepted by everyone in the southern US?
Take care
Dane

ad314
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Postby ad314 » Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:17 am

Sorry, but somehow my username was omitted on the last post. It wasn't until about 1966 that pierced ears became popular and accepted for "nice" girls in the south. Don't know why the stigma before then, but there seemed to be. Until that time girls with pierced ears were few and far between. Don't know why my fascination with pierced ears, but ever since I first saw someone wearing pierced earrings, I wanted my ears pierced.

They still get my attention to this day.

AD314

Dane
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Postby Dane » Fri Sep 23, 2005 2:28 pm

I went searching on the web for info about ear pi*r*i*g tools that have been used during time. On this site (www.freepatentsonline.com) there is a lot of extremely detailed information on various patented pieces of equipment, but the oldest patent I could find were filed in 1977. By the way, that was a spring loaded pi*r*i*g gun, more or less of the same type they use today.
I have not really been able to find any more information on any of the older systems, but I will keep trying.
Dane

akshun

Re: Ear pi*r*i*g before "the Gun" was invented

Postby akshun » Sat Sep 24, 2005 12:07 am

Thanks Dane for posing a fascinating question which had also crossed my mind, and to everyone who has contributed replies.

My interest in earrings began in the early ‘60s, aged about 7, when I saw a woman wearing sleeper hoops . I couldn’t understand how they stayed on her ears. No one I knew had pierced ears so I had no idea that she could have had holes made in her lobes.
In the mid 60’s two sisters joined my school and they too wore sleepers. By then I knew about pi*r*i*g and was intrigued, but I didn’t even consider that I could have mine pierced – boys/men just didn’t do that!! Fast forward though the early 70’s when the ear pi*r*i*g fashion took off for teenage girls followed by the punk era.
Now I have three holes in each lobe, all done at home. First pair with a needle & cork, second with a stud, and the last with a gun (Caflon).

I have a small collection of ear pi*r*i*g instruments dating back certainly to the 50s & 60s and possibly earlier but I haven’t been able to confirm this.

When was the “gun” invented? Depends how you define “gun”. Let me suggest it is a device which uses the earring stud to pierce the ear in which case the earliest I have dates from a US patent 3187751 of June 1965.
The device that I suspect may have been used in my two early experiences above is a British patent 765220. This is not spring operated but is more like a syringe. This uses a needle with a hollow blunt end into which a sleeper or wire earring is placed. The needle is pushed through the lobe with the “syringe” plunger and the earring follows it through in one action.

A trawl through the US patents throws up a vast array of ideas to make pi*r*i*g simpler or less “painful” and traumatic. Try two from July 1880, 229581 and 230073. (the date is correct 1880 !)

There have also been several nice old stories in the ear pi*r*i*g section of BMEzine.com. Have a look “An ear pi*r*i*g experience in the 1960's” and others from Jan.2002

Happy hunting!!

Enjoy ear pi*r*i*g.
Ian

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Sep 25, 2005 5:38 am

You impress me Akshun! You know a lot about the equipment they used before the “gun”. After searching for information on the various patents, I understand that the term “pi*r*i*g Gun” could cover a lot of different designs. Well what I meant when I use the term, was a spring-loaded device that, when a trigger is pulled, inserts a stud through the ear and mounts a clasp, in one quick motion. The Coren Etal seems to be spring-loaded, but requires a lot of motions to do the trick :D .

Ad314: What really surprised me a lot, was that it sounds like you had your ears pierced in 1972, by an instrument that was patented in 1880 :shock: . The patent number is 229581 and it looks like a tong. It works by driving a thin tube through the earlobe and into a hole in the opposing jaw of the instrument, after which, a stud it guided by hand, through the earlobe using the tube. Of cause it might have been a new instrument, which used the same technique.
I found drawings and a description of the instrument using the patent number, and surprisingly I found a place on the Internet, that has one for sale at a price of 35 dollars! (Maybe something for Akshuns collection?)
I’d like Ad314 to see a picture of it, to see if she can recognize it. I think it would be really wild if they have been pi*r*i*g ears in Dallas, using instruments that were 98 years old!

ad314
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Postby ad314 » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:34 am

I'm sure the instrument wasn't made in 1880, but could well have been on the same principle. It worked really well and could be autoclaved as it was all metal, probably stainless. I've been thinking of writing the place (they're still in business) and asking if they still use it and who made it, etc. It really didn't seem as crude as it sounds, and was certainly not painful, during or after.

Where'd you find the patent number?

AD314

Dane
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Postby Dane » Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:00 pm

Hi Ad314
I thought it sounded highly improbable too, that they used an instrument in 1972 that was manufactured back in 1880. But it must have worked in exactly the same way as the original patent. I read the patent (in most details) and it sounds like exactly the same instrument.
I got the patent number from the guest calling himself "Akshun" two posts back from this one. He mentioned some other numbers in that post too and I found pictures of them as well as some two other patents from 1977 and 1978. The only one I can't find drawings of is patent 765220.
I think it's still really amazing if it was so gentle and painless to have your ears pierced with it, as I'd expected the opposite, just because it must have been a slower procedure in general, as well as slower during the actual pi*r*i*g as well.
The other patent from 1880 that "Akshun" mentioned, looked very different. It was spring operated though, but other than that, it seems like there was no really easy way of guiding the jewellery through the earlobe, after the pi*r*i*g.
I hope that you will write again, if you hear something interesting from the salon that did your ears.
By the way, one place to look for drawings and text, describing the various patents, is: www.freepatentsonline.com It's a pretty slow site and it's not every time you will find what you are searching for in their database. But I didn't find the perfect patent-search engine yet :x
Take care
Dane


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