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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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!

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.

FREE Vintage William Heath Robinson Graphics In Color

William Heath Robinson is one of my favorite artists of the public domain. While searching for new material to curate, I stumbled upon of series of WWI illustrations he created through 1914 and 1918 called¬†“Some Frightful War Pictures.” ¬†These unique antique illustrations feature imaginative cannons, contraptions, battlefields, and more imaginative war imagery. I decided to create a small digital art project with them, and I used free tools such as Pixlr and LunaPic to create colorful “pop” versions of these illustrations for you to use.

Use these free William Heath Robinson graphics as blog images, material for collages, stickers, postcards, prints, and more!

 

Attribution to FreeVintageIllustrations.com is required for online use. See terms for more details. 

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 Antique Illustrations of Valentines Day Cupids and Cherubs

I’m snowed in today! ¬†So it’s a perfect time to get some blogging done. I still have Valentines Day on the brain and couldn’t wait to share these lovely antique illustrations of cherubs and cupids. These are great for vintage-style Valentines, Etsy gifts, greeting cards, collages, and more. ¬†I used Pixlr to bring out more color in the illustrations. ¬†Created by Autodesk, Pixlr is a wonderful and FREE open source editing tool that’s simple to use. ¬†I would also suggest checking out more of their free design tools like Sketchbook Pro and Homebuilder. If you’re student with an .edu¬†email address, you can also access a lot of their paid software for free as well. Love those student perks!

Anyhoo, without further ado, here are 8 lovely free vintage illustrations of cherubs, cupids, and angels that are perfect for your creative Valentine’s Day projects! P.S, if you’re looking for interesting facts and history about cherubs, don’t forget the fun facts at the end of this post.

Fun Facts for Valentines Day: The History of Cupid and Cherubs

  • Cupid, also known as Eros, was a popular figure in Greek and Roman Mythology. ¬†His mother was Venus (Aphrodite), and he shot people with love-poisoned bows and arrows to make them fall in love, ensuring his mother’s power.¬†
  • In a 2nd century book by the¬†ancient Roman philosopher, Lucius Apuleius, Cupid was accidently scratched by his own bow and arrows. ¬†This made him fall in love with a mortal human named Psyche. ¬†
  • While cupid didn’t start out with a “cherub” baby-like look in mythology, he gradually took on that form as Renaissance-era artists began depicting the famous mythological hero as such. Cherubs began to exclusively symbolize love AND innocence, making them an appealing subject for Antique Valentines.
  • The word Cherub comes from the Hebrew term, cherubim. ¬†They first appeared in the bible in The Garden of Eden.¬†
  • These “winged angelic beings” appear in a variety of artwork across cultures. Specifically, they served or assisted that culture’s God or Gods. For example, in Assyrian-Babylonian¬†culture, cherubs, or karabus,¬†served Babylonian¬†gods known as the¬†shedu, who took the form of winged bulls with human heads.

 

These vintage illustrations are no longer under copyright and are free to use in your personal, commercial, and educational projects without permission. These images were scanned and edited from my own personal collection of antique illustrations. Please credit FreeVintageIllustrations.com when posting these images on your own websites, blogs, and social media pages.

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.