Winter Illustrations from the 19th-20th Century

Winter illustrations from vintage christmas cards

More snow, please!

I’m so ready to cozy up with hot chocolate and new books. I also went a little crazy on eBay and can’t wait to rummage through my latest batch of illustrations en route.

And speaking of winter, here are five more vintage Christmas cards and winter illustrations for the season. These guys are from my collection of antique postcards and trading cards, and most were produced in Germany between the 19th and 20th century. A couple of illustrations featured here are from trade cards for tea and medicine, originally published in the 1880’s!

How to Use Winter Illustrations for Holiday Crafts

If you’re gonna be stuck inside all winter, you better get your glue gun out! The holiday season is all about crafting, DIY, and putting ideas on paper. Here are several project ideas and links to get keep you busy with your winter illustrations:

You can also use these vintage Christmas graphics to make your own gift wrap and scientific illustrations to create DIY gifts for geeks.

Free Things to Do This Winter

I’m a big fan of finding free things to do (shocked?)

Here are a few of my favorite free things to do in winter to help you save money:

  • Free museums days!!
  • Free concerts and movies in the park
  • Dig into your winter reading list
  • Make your own Christmas tree ornaments
  • Nature walks in state parks
  • Go ice skating for free
  • Have a documentary marathon for free
  • Make a snow lantern (I haven’t tried this but I want to!)

More Vintage Winter Illustrations

Need more illustrations for your winter projects? Check out the archives for a complete list of every post!

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Free Vintage Birthday Cards from the Public Domain

Do we have any fall birthdays?

I noticed the birthday section is pretty light, so I scanned in six vintage Birthday cards I got a year ago and cleaned them up in Pixlr. These guys were produced in Germany at the turn 20th century and feature birthday flowers and cats. Woo-hoo cats!

And in website housekeeping news, I added a Frequently Asked Questions page. This should answer a lot of questions about public domain, usage, attribution, supporting the site, etc. So, yeah, check it out!

Okay, so back to birthdays.

How to Download Vintage Birthday Cards for Free

Downloading antique birthday cards is super easy. Just follow these quick steps to save and print your cards. You can also edit your image for free with Pixlr or with any of the free image editors mentioned here.

  1. Right click on the image you want to download and click “save as.” Save your .jpg to any folder you wish and print whenever you like.
  2. Use a free image editor to crop, resize, add text, and adjust the color and contrast of your card. Some free editors allow you to add stickers and other effects like glitter, fireworks, or clipart.

Making Sparkly Vintage Birthday Cards Online!

Who misses glitter graphics?

*raises hand*

Well, excuse my nostalgia because I LOVE glitter graphics. My Myspace was a work of art (my old account is long gone, but you can click here to get an idea lol.)

If you’re like me and want to relive your glittery graphics days, take a look at the following free glitter graphics editors online. I used GlitterBoo to quickly animate the antique birthday card above.

  • Glitterboo
  • Glitterfy
  • Glitter Delight
  • Blingee
  • GlitterPhoto.net

Why We Celebrate Birthdays

Ever wondered how birthday celebrations got their start?

Here’s what you may not know about common birthday traditions:

So why do we celebrate birthdays every year?

You can thank ancient Egyptians and Greeks. A Pharaoh’s birthday from 3,000 BC is the earliest known record of a ‘birthday.’ A pharaoh’s coronation day was considered far more important than his actual date of birth, so Pharaoh coronations were celebrated as birthdays.

So how does Ancient Greece factor in? They added to the celebration!

Birthday candles to be specific.

Many scholars believe Ancient Geeks were inspired by Ancient Egyptian birthday traditions when creating their own celebrations for gods and goddesses. But they took it further. For example, Ancient Greeks would make moon cakes honoring lunar goddesses and added candles specifically to illuminate the cakes at night.

Ancient Romans were the first to celebrate their own birthdays, not just their Gods and Goddesses.  The Government also began observing the birthdays of powerful, influential figures in Ancient Roman society.

Want more vintage birthday cards or illustrations for your favorite holidays? Browse through the archives or go straight to the galleries.

You can also get a head start on your projects for Winter and Spring.

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

Free Vintage Illustrations from Antique Easter Postcards

Wow! Easter is early this year. It totally snuck up on me. Just as I was wrapping up my Irish themed/St. Patrick’s Day posts, I have a brand new holiday to tackle. I love it and I cannot wait to show you the Free Easter illustrations that I have in store for today’s post and for the weeks ahead! I created the following images from my own collection of antique Easter postcards in the public domain. Two of the originals had more shimmering silver backgrounds, but after running them through Pixlr, I stumbled upon some cool purple and blue shades that were both unique and perfect for the season. I think these images would be great for Easter-themed blog posts, digital collage projects, Etsy Easter gifts, Pinterest boards, and a host of other creative projects.

These images were scanned and edited from my personal collection of antique holiday postcards. You may use these images for FREE for your website, blog, online media, product, and online educational project provided that you include a link back to FreeVintageIllustrations.com.

 

Free Vintage Valentines Day Illustrations For Your Lovely Crafts and Projects

It’s 2016, whoo hoo! I know I’m a little late to the party but have tons vintage images to share for the new year. I recently went back to school for marketing, and I’m pretty excited about it, but getting back into the homework grind has been a serious time-sucking challenge. But without further ado, it’s time for us to celebrate the next great crafting holiday on the horizon, VALENTINE’S DAY.

Okay, I love Valentine’s Day. Not for the whole couple aspect because I get embarrassed easily by that stuff (TMI?), but for all the fun crafting projects honestly. Every year, I see a lot of unique and creative vintage-themed Valentines on Pinterest. This year, I kinda like the idea of blending more lush green tones with traditional pinks and reds. What do you think? The following collection of free vintage valentines day illustrations have been scanned and slightly edited from my own personal collection at home, so you can incorporate them into your own magnificent valentines this year for friends and family. You may also want to consider turning these images into your own coloring book, digitally printed napkins and placemats, postcards, invitations, blog post images, and more creative projects. Need some fascinating Valentine’s Day facts for your school lesson, projects, or book? Don’t forget to check out the fun facts below!

Fun Facts About Valentine’s Day

  • Roughly 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged a year, making Valentine’s Day the biggest greeting card holiday after Christmas
  • The Catholic Church has recognized three different saints over the years with the “Valentine” name – all of them were martyred
  • Some believe that “Valentine” (the main valentine that Valentine’s Day was inspired by) may have been a priest during Rome’s 3rd century. Then Emperor Claudius II made marriage illegal for single young men because it was believed that they would make much better soldiers than men who’re married with children. Valentine, in protest, still performed marriage ceremonies for young men who wished to marry. Once Valentine was caught, Claudius sentenced him to death, making Valentine an important martyr.
  • There are other stories that suggest Valentine wasn’t put to death for performing marriage ceremonies, but for helping Christians escape brutal Roman prisons. According to this version of Saint Valentine’s story, Valentine, who was imprisoned himself, was the first person to send a “valentine” after falling for the prison ward’s daughter. Legend tells that this first valentine contained the words, “From your Valentine.”
  • The legends surround Valentine made him an extremely popular saint, as he stood for such powerful and resonating themes as love and heroism. In fact, by the middle ages, he had already become the most popular saint in France and England. 

These images were scanned and edited from my own personal collection of vintage Valentine’s Day illustrations from home. You may use these images in your personal and commercial craft projects without permission. Please link back to this site is if you’re posting these images on your website or blog, social media, or any other web page.

This post is the first of a series of upcoming vintage valentine’s day images for you to use. I’m working on uploading and curating more, so stay tuned for more awesome antique finds!

Free Vintage Illustrations of Classic Victorian Santa Claus

The Victorian era sure knew how to celebrate Christmas. Many of the antique Christmas illustrations I curate and collect come from this particular time period. The late 1880s also popularized the activity of sending festive Christmas cards to loved ones and soon there were more unique Christmas illustrations and designs popping up from Europe to the U.S.  This gallery is curated from my own physical collection of copyright-free antique illustrations and postcards. You may use these illustrations in your personal and commercial work without permission or attribution. However a link back to this site is required if you share these images on social media, blogs, or websites in their original form that you see below.

To make easy-breezy Christmas decor, you can use these free vintage Santa Claus illustrations to make paper doll style garland for the tree, use as decoupage material for vintage Christmas crafts, or create classic Christmas ornaments. Learn more interest tidbits about vintage Santa Claus below!

Fun Facts about Vintage Santa Claus!

  • The American image and story of Santa Claus is most closely related to the Dutch version of Santa, Sinterklaas or Sint Nikolass.
  • An 1892 Christmas poem titled “A Visit from St. Nicolas” helped cement the image and story of today’s modern-day Santa Claus
  • The idea of Santa Claus comes from Pagan, old Christian and Catholic, Scandinavian, Dutch, German, and old English stories
  • The first reference to Santa Claus, or Saint Nicolas can be traced to 280 Turkey
  • Revered for his generosity and kindness, legends formed about a man who gave away all his wealth and roamed the countryside helping impoverished communities.
  • In legend, he became known as a “protector of children”. One legend even tells of a time when St. Nicolas saved two sisters from being sold into slavery
  • By the Renaissance era, Saint Nicolas was the most popular and celebrated saint in Europe, with a huge feast day dedicated in his honor on December 6th
  • Santa Claus, or Saint Nicolas, finally entered American popular culture in the late 1700s when Dutch immigrants’ celebrations for Saint Nicolas began to be documented
  • Around the early 1800s, Santa Claus woodcuts were being made and distributed by the New York Historical Society
  • By the 1840s, Newspapers devoted full sections to Christmas shopping with Santa Claus marketing

 

 

Free Vintage Thanksgiving Illustrations for all Your Festive Projects!

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, so here I am continuing the next wave of Thanksgiving themed posts! This time, I come armed with more antique free vintage Thanksgiving greetings, postcards, and book illustrations. These make great materials for Thanksgiving decoupage projects, napkin fabric prints, coasters, greeting cards, Zazzle projects, and placemats. Find more DIY Thanksgiving craft ideas below the gallery!

Thanksgiving Craft Ideas

With Thanksgiving on the brain, more and more ideas keep popping into my head. These are ideas that I’ve either tried before or would really like to but just can’t find the time (a.k.a I’m lazy.) These are all creative ways to incorporate free vintage illustrations into your crafts. Simply print out your favorite Thanksgiving images above to start working on these projects. Please try these at home!

1. Autumn floral bouquet inserts

2. Laminated Thanksgiving Placemats for the kids

3. Laminated Thanksgiving Placemats WITH dry-erase marker activities

4. Framed fabric prints for the kitchen

5. Decoupage a wooden box for a floral centerpiece

6. Create a Thanksgiving coloring book for the kids

7. Print out images on skrinky-dinks vellum to create unique Thanksgiving jewelry

8. Create your own Thanksgiving themed gift wrap

9. Create a classic framed print for house decoration

10. Print out and decorate Thanksgiving greeting cards

11. Invites for your Thanksgiving party