Free Vintage Christmas Cards in the Public Domain

Hope everyone is having an awesome weekend! I sure am. Someone just scored a sweet deal on a bunch of vintage trading cards (those images to come soon!)

Now I’m in the Christmas spirit. And I hope you are too. Coming your way are eight vintage Christmas cards in the public domain, originally published in the early 20th century.

I edited these images a bit in Pixlr, but you can find the originals under ‘Christmas cards’ tag in the NYPL public domain collection online.

 

How to Print & Decorate Your Vintage Christmas Cards

Printing out your vintage Christmas cards is super easy, but decorating them is the fun part. Use card stock paper to print out your greeting cards and decorate them with puffy paint, glitter, or found objects like buttons, yarn, and dried flowers. You may even like them better as is.

Other crafty ideas to consider:

  • Resize them to create small note cards or magnets
  • Resize them even smaller for Christmas jewelry and pendants
  • Create your own Christmas wrapping paper
  • Make your own Christmas mugs
  • Change the image resolution in Photoshop to create Christmas posters
  • Use Photoshop to convert images into simple lined drawings for coloring books

For more free Christmas illustrations check out last year’s post on antique Xmas graphics and typography.

Editing Your Vintage Christmas Cards for Free

If you follow this website, then you know I don’t hide my love for Pixlr. Pixlr is Autodesk’s free online image editor. It’s the one I use the most, but there are other free editors as well.

In the mean time, here are 10 more free online photo editors to try, courtesy of The Balance:

  • Gimp
  • Paint.net
  • Inkscape
  • EasyComic
  • Pixia
  • Photo Pos
  • Artweaver Free
  • Photoscape
  • Krita
  • Photobie

The History of Vintage Christmas Cards

Ever stopped to think of how Christmas cards came to be?

Here are a few tid-bits on the history of Christmas cards from Smithsonian Magazine:

The most talked-about origin involved wealthy 19th-century arts patron, Sir Henry Cole, who wanted an easier way to send Christmas letters in bulk. So he contacted artist, J.C. Horsley, and took their illustration to a London printer to print 1,000 copies. These original vintage Christmas cards were printed on Cardstock and featured people celebrating around a holiday table or helping people in need.

These cards were produced in the late 1840’s, but Christmas cards themselves didn’t catch on till decades later.

*Henry Cole also played a significant role in developing London’s renowned Victoria and Albert Museum.

More Free Christmas Stuff

Before I wrap up this post, here are more free Christmas resources to check out. Enjoy!

Watch free Christmas movies

Free stock photos of Christmas trees

Christmas Gifs to share online

Twinkling Christmas lights graphics

Listen to free Christmas music online

More free Christmas music downloads

Free printable Christmas gift wrap

Big list of Christmas freebies

Get free Christmas catalogs

public domain vintage christmas cards with holly gift box

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6 Iceberg Illustrations from the 19th-Century

It’s getting colder and I can’t wait for snow!

I’ve also been spending some serious quality time with the British Library’s public domain collection. They have awesome vintage iceberg illustrations, along with arctic animals, igloos, and more illustrations from 19th-century arctic expeditions.

Arctic foxes, penguins, walrus, and more cold-weather animals are definitely on the way. In the meantime, check out these sweet vintage glacier images (love that sunset iceberg above!)

Where Do Icebergs Come From?

So, how exactly do icebergs form?

Let’s ask our friends at the National Snow and Ice Data Center:

  • Icebergs are formed when large chunks of ice sheet break off from glaciers. In case you were wondering the difference between an iceberg and a glacier.
  • Icebergs vary in size, ranging from “ice cubes” to over 4,000 square miles!
  • Smaller icebergs, known as “growlers”, are actually more dangerous since they’re difficult to spot at night.
  • Scientists study breaks in icebergs to learn more about climates and ocean currents.
  • The most “significant ice shelf” in Antarctica is Larson C, as a 2,000 square mile iceberg is expected to break off in the near future.

19th century iceberg illustrations in the public domain

 

Iceberg Illustrations Source: 19th Century Arctic Expeditions

The vintage illustrations in this post depict arctic travels, voyages, and fictionalized scenes from the 19th century. Featured in such titles as “The Frozen Crew of the Ice-Bound  Ship” and “A Voyage of Discovery, made under the orders of the Admiralty, in his Majesty’s ships Isabella and Alexander….”

More Free Resources for Icebergs and Glaciers!

Want even more free arctic stuff? Who doesn’t? Check out the following tips, printables, illustrations, stock photos, media, and graphics below.

Iceberg science activity for kids

Free stock photos of icebergs

Free iceberg vector art

Crayola glacier coloring page

Arctic animals coloring book

Preschool printables – arctic animals

Arctic flashcards

Free eBooks about the arctic

Free documentaries about the arctic

Fall Illustrations: 19th Century Autumn Leaves and Scenery

Vintage pumpkin illustration from a 19th century postcard in the public domain

Happy Sunday!

I just got back from Thacher park, and yep, the fall colors were definitely awesome.

The New York State Library also has some neat autumn images of their own. These fall illustrations come from the library’s public domain collection and span the 19th century.

I cleaned these images up in Pixlr but you can find the originals under the ‘autumn’ and ‘fall leaves’ tags in the NYPL database.

A 19th century fall illustration of a house on a lake in autumn - public domain

Why Do the Leaves Change in Fall?

Good question!

Here’s what National Geographic has to say about it:

Evergreen trees, for example, are coniferous, so they have a protective waxy coating on their leaves which protects them during winter. Deciduous trees like birch and maple don’t have that protective coating, so they shed their leaves in fall.

Fall illustrations of autumn leaves in the public domain

But What Makes Them Change Color?

Before deciduous trees shed their leaves, they have to pull whatever nutrients they can, like nitrogen.

During this time, leaves also slow down photosynthesis and chlorophyll production (which is responsible for that leafy green color.) This gives carotenoids their time to shine, as these are the natural warm-colored pigments hiding beneath chlorophyll.

The process of recouping more nitrogen and phosphorus, coupled with the slowing down of photosynthesis, is what creates the beautiful fall colors we know and love.

More Free Resources for Fall

Need ideas for fall? Check out the links below!

19th Century Illustrations of African Wildlife

19th century color illustration of a rhinoceros in Africa

It’s Saturday! And I’m ready to spend some much-need quality time in the public domain.

So I was reading up on Africa’s animals and ecology and fell down another rabbit hole.

I whipped up this post from my pile of vintage scraps at home, an African scenery book from 1804, and a vintage zoological journal. These images span early to mid-late 19th century, putting them in the public domain.

Of my scraps, several are originally from old cigarette boxes and advertisements for everyday objects.

5 Awesome Projects You Can Do with Free Safari Illustrations

The holidays are right around the corner, so now’s a good time to start brainstorming DIY gifts, make-your-own school 19th century zebra from vintage advertisement - public domainsupplies, greeting cards, gifts for crafters, and a whole host of fun stuff.

Animal Alphabet Flashcards

Print-Your-Own Animal Wrapping Paper

DIY Safari Greeting Cards for Birthday Parties 

Hidden Picture Games and Artwork

DIY Shrinky Dinks!

 

19th century vintage print of a zebra study - public domain

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Zebras

  • There are three species of zebra: Burchell’s zebra (also know as a plains zebra), Grevy’s zebra, and the Equus zebra.
  • So why do zebras have stripes? There have been several theories, but recent studies reveal that stripes may have evolved to keep zebras cool.
  • Zebras will often socialize with antelope herds for protection.
  • Like your fingerprints, no two zebras will have the same stripes.
  • Each zebra species has their own stripe patterns, varying in width. Zebras that live on the southern plains have stripes that are further apart.

Get 15 more fascinating facts on zebras from the Mother Nature Network!

19th century color illustration of African scenery with elephants - public domain

More Free Resources About African Animals and Ecology

19th century vintage illustration of leopard - public domain

The web is packed with free resources on African animals, ecology, environment, safari, and more. Bookmark the following for your next project.

Fairies & Elves: Richard Doyle’s 19th-Century Fairyland Illustrations

Elves, fairies, and insects in Richard Doyle In Fairyland (1870)

I’m back from a long hiatus!

Thank you to everyone who visits and shares this website. I hope everyone likes this latest batch of free vintage illustrations.

So let’s get to it 🙂

There are so many more things I want to add to this site, one of them being more elves and fairies.

I’ve been aware of Richard Doyle’s In Fairyland illustrations for a while now, so I got my hands on some from public domain collections at various libraries.

This guy is definitely a public domain stand-out.

You can learn more about Doyle’s In Fairyland series at the Met’s public domain page.

Three elves battling a giant grasshopper in Richard Doyle's In Fairyland.

Fairies and elves clash with nature in this fun, vibrant series. Originally published in 1870.

A vintage color illustration of an elf with owls and birds.

Richard “Dickie” Doyle was born in Cambridge Terrace, London, in 1824 to notable Irish political caricaturist, John Doyle. Richard had no formal art training outside of his father’s own studio and guidance. At an early age, he showed a particular fondness for the fantasy genre.

Two fairies flying through the sky with a butterfly leaf chariot.

5 Fun Facts About Elves and Fairies

According to Encyclopedia.com,

  • The word “fairy” comes from the Latin word, Fata or fate.
  •  In folklore, they’re depicted as both helpful and potentially harmful to humans. But always mischevious in manner!
  • “Fairy tradition” or “fairy culture” is strongest in the British Isles. However, fairies appear in stories from Africa to Asia as well.
  • Many fairy stories present fairyland as a place where time stops or slows down considerably. This is evidenced by humans (mortals) who’re kicked out of fairyland after a year, only to return to the human world where several years have passed.
  • In 1927, an actual Fairy Investigation Society was established to document and study possible fairy sightings.

A vintage elf and fairy kissing near a mushroom in Fairyland.

This last image shows two of Doyles infamous fairies kissing in Fairyland. Perfect for Valentines Day!

Vintage Illustrations of Deer, Fawns, Does, and Bucks

vintage illustration of two deer by lake taking a drink of water  vintage illustration of a baby deer fawn

This website needs some deer.

So I sifted through the New York State Library’s public domain archives and found six really cool vintage illustrations of bucks, fawns, does, and multiple deer.

I cropped and tweaked the colors and contrast a bit to make them pop. You can find some originals here and get a little more info about these 19th-century illustrations.

antique sketchbook sketches of multiple deer

Speaking of deer, they’re everywhere, right?

I thought I’d do a little research on deer and dig up some fun facts on this popular and populous animal.

Check this out:

  • If you’re into all that spirit animal stuff, people who claim deer as their spirit animal are apparently highly sensitive with a good intuition. Other aspects include gentleness, tackling problems with maturity, and quick adaption skills. Cool!
  • Now, for some science: deer are part of the Cervidae family which is broken up into two primary groups, Cervinae and Capreolinae. Arguably, the most popular Capreolinae species are Reindeer and Moose.
  • All male deer (or bucks) have antlers. Actually, all but one. Chinese water deer males are the only deer species that do not grow antlers. Instead, this unique deer species grows long canine tusks.
  • Deer are herbivores and primarily consume a diet of young leaves, fruit, fungi (mushrooms), berries, fresh grass, and lichen.
  • The Oligocene period ushered in a proliferation of new early cervid (deer) species.

antique illustration of deer jumping in meadow

8 Deer Inspired Craft Projects You Have to Try

Need some inspiration for that next craft or classroom project? Check out these clever and creative deer projects you can do with minimal supplies. Free vintage illustration of a lone deer in the woods

 

vintage illustration of a male buck deer and female doe deer

Whimsical Vintage Illustration of a Fairy Grotto

Free vintage illustration of a fairy grotto

Hey!

I wanted to pop in quickly to share this awesome 19th-century illustration of a fairy grotto I found through the New York State Library.

I love this image. It sort of reminds me of The Last Unicorn, you know, that 80’s animation where the band America did the entire soundtrack with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Anyhoo.

This image was originally published in 1867 by Currier & Ives, a 19th-century American printmaking company. There isn’t too much information available about this artwork, but you can read more about it here.