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 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 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 Antique Christmas Graphics and Typography from 1943

I came across an awesome vintage find while searching for Christmas-themed illustrations. I was hoping to stumble upon some antique commercial Christmas graphics at some point and found these great vintage graphics and fonts from a Ludlow catalog. This catalog was originally distributed to publishers and printers and featured stylized garland, trees, retail templates, typography, and more designs. These retro Christmas graphics are in the public domain and can be used in your own personal and commercial projects! Thes vintage Christmas graphics and typography are ideal for Etsy sellers and gifts, small businesses, holiday craft material, and even digital marketing materials like Christmas emails, Pinterest pins, and digital event flyers.

King Winter: Free Public Domain Christmas Book and Illustrations from 1859!

It’s the holiday season! And Free Vintage wishes you a warm and creative winter. Thanksgiving morning, while watching the Macy’s Day Parade, I got super excited about antique Christmas books. My archive nerd levels went off the charts. So to get the ball rolling on this season’s winter and Christmas-themed posts, I stumbled upon this great vintage find from 1859! I was searching around for more winter/snow themed books and illustrations and found this gem from the Library of Congress. It was originally published by Gustav W. Seitz in Hamberg. This very old version of Santa Claus tells the story of King Winter and his trusted assistant, Jack Frost. King Winter, the queen, and Jack Frost work together to first bring fresh and fluffy snow to the countryside before King Winter delivers presents to well-behaved children. I love these frosty vintage illustrations and this classic Christmas story. Since these illustrations are copyright-free and in the public domain, you can print them out and incorporate them into your holiday crafts, classroom, Children’s books, and Esty products!

Creative Crafting Ideas for Antique Book Illustrations

This classic story about Santa Claus and Jack frost can be easily reprinted and turned into festive homemade books at home. Simply print out this book on high-quality paper and put your excellent crafting skills to work! These illustrations make wonderful graphics on their own as well. You can dress up your homemade book by cutting and pasting even more book illustrations to create a dazzling collage for your book cover. The shape of these pages are also ideal for making Christmas themed bookmarks and decor for the classroom!

Need even more ideas? The creative possibilities are endless with antique Christmas books in the public domain. Copy and share the following list to inspire your next holiday craft project.

  • Make a Christmas paper cut-out banner or garland for the tree
  • Laminate antique book pages to make bookmarks and classic placemats
  • Create a large storyboard project with poster board
  • Decoupage on a plain wooden chest to create festive furniture and accents
  • Print and frame for easy Christmas themed wall art

 

 

Vintage Illustrations from Twas’ the Night Before Christmas

And so it begins! It’s annual Christmas crafting time, and I can’t wait to start my series of antique holiday posts. This is FreeVintageillustration.com’s FIRST holiday season, so stay tuned for 1800’s German Christmas postcards, real Victorian holiday greetings, and more Christmas book illustrations like the ones below. And speaking of, there are so many wonderful vintage Christmas illustrations from antique children’s books. As one of the industry’s premiere illustrators, Jessie Willcox Smith illustrated an impressive number of Children’s books in the early 1900’s, like ‘Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes’, ‘A Child’s Garden of Versus’, ‘A Way to Wonderland’, and her popular ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!’ I went through her version of Twas’ and selected my favorites which you can also use in your own Christmas projects.

Fun Facts about Jessie Willcox Smith!

Jessie Willcox smith was one of the most in-demand book illustrators of her time. Learn more about this amazing talent in the facts below.

  • Smith was born in 1863 and is considered an important figure from the “Golden Age” of American book and commercial illustration.
  • She Illustrated for Good Housekeeping and Ladies’ Home Journal for years
  • Illustrated the popular Mother Goose series from Good Housekeeping
  • Created all of Good Housekeeping Magazine’s covers from 1915 to 1933!
  • Smith illustrated more than 60 books
  • Enrolled in the Philidelphia School of Design for Women and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 1885
  • Made one of the first advertisments for Ivory Soap

Free Vintage Christmas Illustrations in Color: From Vintage Children’s Books!

The holiday season is just around the corner.  It’s a non-stop seasonal creating fest from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, so I’ve been sifting through digital public domain archives, bidding on vintage postcard lots on eBay, and going through my own vintage print collection to curate image galleries for the 2015 season.  The holidays are full of inspiration for new DIY Christmas tree ornaments, gift wrap and textile design, ebooks, recipe books, decor and Etsy products.  The following vintage color images are from antique children’s and fiction genre books and feature illustrations from E. Florence Mason, A.A Milne and Jessie Wilcox Smith.  Share online or use in your educational and creative projects!

 

 

 
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