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 ūüôā

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!

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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.

Beautiful Vintage Children’s Book Illustrations of Country Flowers

Happy Monday, Everyone! I hope the Easter Bunny was good to you this year. I miss Easter already, but the next awesome craft holiday on the horizon is Mothers Day, so I really wanted to curate a special collection of free illustrations, fun facts, craft tips, and gift ideas this year.

This is a free vintage illustration of country flowers and lilies from an antique public domain childrens book from 1857

Nothing says Mothers Day more than flowers, so I searched the public domain to find some hidden gems buried away in antique books and was stoked to find the illustrated children’s book, A little Girl’s Visit to a Country Garden.

Published in 1857, this mid-19th-century children’s story follows a young city girl as she travels through the countryside and visits a beautiful flower garden with her Mother. Along with its charming story, this public domain book is packed with vibrant multicolored flowers. I used Pixlr to brighten up the images more and really bring out those lush colors.

I used Pixlr to brighten up the images more and really bring out those lush colors. These vintage flower graphics would make ideal craft and digital material for Mothers Day DIY gifts, Pinterest marketing campaigns, e-greetings, newsletters, postcards, and more!

 

Vintage Floral Teacup Card for Mothers Day

Mothers Day Teacup of Flowers Greeting Card

There are so many lovely vintage style Mothers Day gifts online. This is a great way to avoid the madness of the mall and still send a beautiful and personalized gift to your Mother. I went on a search to find some really great flower-inspired Mothers Day gifts and found this charming vintage teacup greeting card!

 

Free Vintage Illustrations for Easter: Beatrix Potter’s Benjamin Bunny

This is one of my favorite posts! Beatrix Potter was one of my favorite childhood authors and illustrators growing up, and I was absolutely thrilled to learn a while back that her original works entered the public domain in 2014. Her whimsical critters and rabbits have always been perfect for Easter.  One Easter Sunday, I remember receiving a miniature book collection of all her stories, from Peter Rabbit to Mr. Fisher. For this post, I brought back one of her classics, Benjamin Bunny. This book and its iconic illustrations were originally published in 1904. I selected and edited some of my favorites from a very early version of the book found in the public domain. Easter is the perfect time to bring out this classic story and create Beatrix Potter themed decor, blog images, parties, coloring books, and many more creative Easter projects. To help inspire some ideas, I included links to unique Beatrix Potter themed crafts at the end of the post!

 

Craft Projects & Gifts Inspired By Beatrix Potter!

Make this Easter a Beatrix Potter themed day! I gathered a list a really cool craft projects and gifts online inspired by the one and only Beatrix Potter. Her classic stories and illustrations are ideal for DIY Easter projects, plastic easter egg fillers, decor, and themed gift baskets. I hope you find the creative inspiration you need in this post to whip up some real Beatrix Potter magic this Easter!

Inspired Craft Projects

Beatrix Potter Preschool Activities         Beatrix Potter Inspired Baskets

Tiggy-Winkle Napkins                               Peter Rabbit Garden & Baby Shower Ideas

Beatrix Potter Nursery Theme                 Beatrix Potter Easter Egg Roll Party

Beatrix Potter Spring Garden Party         Beatrix Potter Glitter Ornaments

Beatrix Potter Gift Tags

Buy Beatrix Potter Gifts for Easter

Receiving Beatrix Potter gifts on Easter was one of my favorite childhood traditions. From her lovely illustrations to her whimsical woodland stories, it’s safe to say that Beatrix Potter is simply timeless! Yes, I’m an incurable Beatrix Potter nerd. I still have¬†many of my past Beatrix Potter stuffed animals, book collections, and stationery from childhood. My mom would also stuff my plastic Easter eggs with Beatrix Potter stickers and other trinkets. Looking back, that’s was great alternative to candy!

If you’re looking for a creative alternative to wicker Easter baskets, you can always use foldable Beatrix Potter themed gift boxes. These have that extra element of surprise so you can create fun Easter mystery boxes. Stuff your Beatrix Potter mystery box with Peter Rabbit stuffies, stickers, decorated eggs, craft supplies, sweets, and more trinkets.

Beatrix Potter has proven that Easter isn’t just for bunnies. Hedgehogs, frogs, and guinea pigs are also perfect critters for the season. Speaking of, I found these charming Beatrix Potter gift tags featuring guinea pigs working in the garden. These would make cute add-ons to easter baskets and¬†presents wrapped in Beatrix Potter Gift wrap. You could really make a Beatrix extravaganza if you wanted to! My inner child sure wants to that’s for sure.

*While Beatrix Potter is in the public domain, due to licensing conflicts with a previous publisher, I strongly recommend just using these images for personal use. Learn more here: http://www.hbook.com/2013/05/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/peter-rabbit-and-the-tale-of-a-fierce-bad-publisher/

Free Vintage Children’s Book Illustrations of Fairies and Elves from 1918

There are neverending ideas for fairy and elf inspired projects. I love shining a light on awesome fairylore that’s available to the public, and fortunately, the public domain is packed with classic fairy stories and illustrations to use and modify for your children’s libraries, after school programs, paintings, Etsy products, reimagined fairy stories, and more creative projects. These vintage children’s book illustrations come from the Frances Jenkins Olcott classic, The Book of Elves and Fairies, and were illustrated by Milo Winter. Milo’s work here is considered a representation of The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration which spanned the late 19th century to the early 1940s. The book has around 50 different kinds of fairy stories and features titles like “The Boy who Found the Pot of Gold”, which tells the tale of a young boy who meets a Leprechaun for example. You’ll also find stories about winter fairies and more mythical seasonal creatures.

 

These images were curated from a digital copy of an original publication found in the public domain and edited by this site. These images are entirely free to use in your personal, commercial, and educational work without permission. Please give credit to FreeVintageIllustrations.com when posting these images on your blogs, websites, and social media pages.

Free Vintage Illustrations of Wild Animals, Insects, and Marine Life from Antique Children’s Science Book

I’ve been wanting to do a wild animals post for a while, but hadn’t found the right content I was looking for until now. Published in 1895, A Popular History of Animals for Young People¬†was like an early version of Scientific Britannica for Kids. Rather than cartoonish animal figures, this book features animals drawn in that classic scientific illustration style. I love reading through old informational resources and encyclopedias and spotting outdated information and the changes in views, psychology, zoology, and more subjects. But those antique book illustrations never go out of style! These images are no longer under copyright, so they’re free to use in all your animal-themed projects. Furthermore, these free images are great for book covers, placemats, postcards, t-shirt designs, posters, Etsy crafts, and more creative projects. Plus don’t forget to check out some quick zoological history facts at the end of this post!

Fun Facts about the History of Zoology

  • Zoology is also known as animal biology, which is the branch of biological study that deals with just the animal kingdom and how animals interact with their environment. Examples of different subjects in animal biology/zoology¬†include: embryology, classification, ecology, evolution, molecular biology, and extinction.
  • Zoological study was first introduced in ancient Greco-Roman times
  • Pioneering naturalists like¬†Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and¬†Carl Linnaeus were among the first people to start documenting animal biodiversity and animal classification.
  • Charles Darwin’s famous work about natural selection, The Origin of the Species, shook the zoological world in 1859.
  • Aristotle wrote extensively about living things, encouraging the emerging study of zoology
  • Ancient Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder, wrote a 37-volume zoological book called¬†Historia naturalis¬†(Natural History) – this is often credited as the first written scientific encyclopedia. While this book did not discern between scientific facts and assumptions from the scientific community of the time, this book nonetheless served as the predominant text on natural history (in the western world) for centuries.

If you’re posting these images on your website or social media pages, please link back to this site, FreeVintageIllustrations.com.

Free Vintage Color Illustrations of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Did you know that the original title of ‘Snow White’ was ‘Snow Drop?’ I learned some fun facts about one of my favorite fairytales while searching for antique examples of the book. This particular gallery features color illustrations from a 1913 version of the story. These copyright-free images are in the public domain and can be used for making greeting cards, homemade books, posters, mug designs, and many more creative projects. The seven dwarves illustration are particularly versatile and would make great crafting material for general holiday and fantasy-themed art projects as well.

 

Fun Facts about Snow White!

  • A German fairy tale written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, otherwise known as the Brothers Grimm
  • The original title of Snow White was Sneewittchen or¬†“Snowdrop”
  • The first edition of Snow White was published in 1812 and the final revision for the book was released in 1854
  • Snow White was turned into a Broadway play in 1912. The Broadway version of the story was the first to give the seven dwarves their own names.
  • The Disney version changed the names of the seven dwarves and eventually coined the names we know and love today
  • There are a few theories about the inspiration for Snow White. A German historian in 1994 theorized that Snow White may have been inspired by real-life German Countess, Margarete von Waldeck. Some accounts claim that Margarete’s stepmother forced her to move away to Brussels where she fell for man who would go on to become Spain’s Phillip II. However, both Margarete’s stepmother and father disapproved of the match, and Margarete supposedly died from being poisoned shortly thereafter.
  • Snow White could possibly be based on a girl named Maria Sophia von Erthal. Maria’s father was a wealthy landowner and widow who eventually married a new woman, Claudia Elisabeth von Venningen. According to 18th-century accounts, Claudia notoriously disliked her own stepchildren and had a special mirror that spoke. That legendary mirror now lives in a museum and was actually a special acoustical-mechanical toy.