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

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

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 St. Patrick’s Day Postcards

Antique St. Patrick's Day Postcard Vintage St. Patty's Day Postcard

I realized I didn’t have too much stuff for Saint Patrick’s Day.

I wanted to expand my pool of resources anyway and found myself sifting through the public domain collection from the New York State Public Library.

Glad I did because I found these super festive St. Patrick’s Day Postcards.

I made a few brightness and contrast adjustments with Pixlr, but you can also find the originals right here

These vintage St. Patty’s Day postcards were produced sometime between the 1930s and 40s. The NYPL thoroughly reviewed their copyright status and found that you are “free to use [them] in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that [apply] to your use.”

Enjoy!

 

Fun Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

Curious about the history of St. Patrick’s Day?

Me too! So I did a little research and compiled these fun facts for your flashcards, blogs, etc.

  • St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
  • St. Patrick is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland.
  • Scholars believe St. Patrick died in the year 461 on March 17th.
  • Shamrock connection: Legend says that St. Patrick would use shamrocks to describe the father, son, and the holy spirit.
  • Roughly 100 different St. Patrick’s Day parades on held in the U.S on March 17th.
  • The largest St. Patrick’s Day parades are in Boston and New York City.
  • The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States, not Ireland, in 1962.
  • In 1962, Chicago dumped green dye into the Chicago River to trace and remove sewage. This started a tradition of Chicago dying their river green every St. Patrick’s Day.