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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Vintage Illustrations of Deer, Fawns, Does, and Bucks

vintage illustration of two deer by lake taking a drink of water  vintage illustration of a baby deer fawn

This website needs some deer.

So I sifted through the New York State Library’s public domain archives and found six really cool vintage illustrations of bucks, fawns, does, and multiple deer.

I cropped and tweaked the colors and contrast a bit to make them pop. You can find some originals here and get a little more info about these 19th-century illustrations.

antique sketchbook sketches of multiple deer

Speaking of deer, they’re everywhere, right?

I thought I’d do a little research on deer and dig up some fun facts on this¬†popular and populous animal.

Check this out:

  • If you’re into all that spirit animal stuff, people who claim deer as their spirit animal are apparently highly sensitive with a good intuition. Other aspects include gentleness, tackling problems with maturity, and quick adaption skills. Cool!
  • Now, for some science: deer are part of the Cervidae family which is broken up into two primary groups, Cervinae and Capreolinae. Arguably, the most popular Capreolinae species are Reindeer and Moose.
  • All male deer (or bucks) have antlers. Actually, all but one. Chinese water deer males are the only deer species that do not grow antlers. Instead, this unique deer species grows long canine tusks.
  • Deer are herbivores and primarily consume a diet of young leaves, fruit, fungi (mushrooms), berries, fresh grass, and lichen.
  • The Oligocene period ushered in a proliferation of new early cervid (deer) species.

antique illustration of deer jumping in meadow

8 Deer Inspired Craft Projects You Have to Try

Need some inspiration for that next craft or classroom project? Check out these clever and creative deer projects you can do with minimal supplies. Free vintage illustration of a lone deer in the woods

 

vintage illustration of a male buck deer and female doe deer

Antique Illustrations of Houseplants From 1807

A free antique botanical illustration of a round-headed buddlea plant Enjoy this free vintage botanical illustration of a calla lily Vintage botanical illustration of a magnolia houseplant from 1807

Personally, I love having lots of houseplants around.

My dream home would basically be an inside porch with an indoor garden.

Aside from aesthetics, houseplants apparently have the following benefits according to iGrow.org too:

  • NASA studies show that houseplants “scrub indoor air pollutants” and may even decrease the amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
  • Houseplants actually recycle carbon monoxide through photosynthesis which helps us breathe better indoors.
  • Plants increase humidity in your home, 97% of their own moisture to be exact, which is especially helpful during those dry summer and winter seasons.
  • Studies show that surrounding yourself with houseplants improves your memory and can increase your knowledge retention by 20%!

Well, that’s awesome.

But what do I love more than houseplants?

Vintage botanical illustrations of houseplants!

And lucky for me, I found lots of colorful houseplant illustrations from this colored plate book from 1807. I picked out my favorites, cleaned them up with Pixlr, and posted them below for you to use.

 

 

Vintage Illustrations of Breads, Cakes, and More Baked Goods

A rare 1917 Flour Company CookBook With IllustrationsI always feel like I’ve hit the motherload when I discover a vintage illustrated cookbook.

And it happened again this weekend when I found this awesome antique cookbook published back in 1917.

Now in the public domain, this cookbook is packed with vintage baking recipes you can whip at home and a few colored illustrations of rolls, bread loaves, cakes, biscuits, and more yummy baked goods pictured below.

Project Ideas For Vintage Baked Goods Illustrations

Need some creative inspiration? I was brainstorming different projects you could do with these illustrations and came up with the following ideas:

  • DIY ABC Flashcards: These make great images for the letters “B” (Bread or biscuits), “C” (cake), and “R” (rolls).
  • DIY Coloring Book: Create coloring books for homeschooling, summer learning, classrooms, and after school programs.
  • Printed Kitchen Fabric: Use these images to create printed towels, placemats, calendars, and more kitchen decor.
  • Books & Activities: Use these antique illustrations to create hidden picture books, matching games, and phonics exercises.
  • Mixed-Media Painting: Incorporate vintage images of bread¬†and cakes into your culinary¬†inspired paintings.

Fun Facts About The History of Bread

Cultures the world over have contributed their own unique recipes and methods for making bread. Here are some fascinating facts about the history of bread that you can use in your trivia games, lessons, flashcards, and more:

  • According to historians, people may have started baking bread more than 3,000 years ago!
  • Before bread, people would make “gruel”, which was simply water mixed with grains.
  • Eventually, people began cooking gruel and grain paste on hot rocks.
  • Yeast is what makes bread light and fluffy. Archaeologists have found that yeast has been used in breadmaking as far back as 300 B.C. when the Ancient Egyptians used it in their commercial bread market.
  • The first mechanical bread slicer was invented in 1917. Two years later, more than 90% of bread sold in markets and grocery stores were mechanically sliced in factories.

Antique Art Supplies and Vintage Color Charts

It’s almost summer! Time for pools, shorts, soft serve ice cream, and of course, creativity! Summer is the perfect time to finally start that novel, children’s book, animation, or video game.

One of my favorite things to do during summer is to paint outside with a simple canvas and easel.¬†Feeling nostalgic, I went on what I thought would be an impossible hunt for free vintage illustrations of art supplies. But I lucked out and found this awesome antique art supply catalog from 1906 that’s packed with drawings of antique art pencils, inks, chalks, art sets, and vibrant color charts. I went through the catalog and picked out my favorites, then I brightened them up a bit with Pixlr.

Incorporate them into your next collage or find inspiration for hidden object video games, greeting cards for artists, Etsy products, and more!

Did You Know?

  • Pencil “lead” is actually graphite. The term originated from the Greek word, graphein, which means “to write!”
  • The actual origin of pencils themselves can be traced back to mid-1500s England. There, a large graphite deposit was discovered which lead to the creation of the pencil we commonly use today. Drawing pencils started to grow in popularity during the 17th century.
  • Many scholars believe that the first easels were actually used by ancient Egyptians!
  • One of the earliest known art supplies is the classic paintbrush. Anthropologists discovered proof of paint brush use in paleolithic caves in Europe.
  • Archaeologists revealed that oil paints were used in Afghanistan as far back as the 7th century!

 

Free Vintage Illustrations of Early 20th Century Ireland

In honor of St. Patricks Day, I went on a hunt for some really cool vintage illustrations of Ireland. I was hoping to find something from the 19th or early 20th century, and low and behold, I struck gold! At the turn of the century, writer Katherine Tynan traveled to Ireland where she visited such Iconic Irish locations as Dublin, Cork, Galway and Donegal. She published her travels in the 1911 book, Ireland, now in the public domain, and featured brilliant illustrations by Francis S. Walker. I created the gallery below by collecting and editing some of my favorite illustrations from the book.

The original images had more of a sepia tone, so I used Pixlr to enhance those lush greens and blues instead.

While writing this post, I become more and more curious about Prehistoric Ireland too and included some fun facts about historical Ireland below.

Fun Facts about Ancient Ireland!

  • In the Neolithic Period, gigantic burial structures and monuments were erected in Ireland and were thought to be the tombs of royal court members.
  • An important figure in Irish Folklore, Iron Age Queen, Maeve, is believed to be buried on Knocknarea Mountain. According to Irish Folklore legend, Queen Maeve¬†invaded the area of Ulster to steal an infamous bull from her enemies.
  • Ancient Ireland is often known for its famous “peat bogs”. Made from dead plant material, especially moss plants, peat bogs are a type of wetland with the ability to preserve organic material extremely well. Over time, archeologists have discovered several preserved bodies in these wetlands.
  • In the 12th century, the Norman Invasion of Ireland created more than 700 years of English rule over the Island. Before the invasion, Ireland consisted of several different kingdoms.
  • The Shamrock Connection: According to Irish Folklore, the shamrock plant was actually sacred to the legendary Druids of ancient Ireland. During Ireland’s Iron age, the Druids consisted of artistic and academic individuals such as poets, doctors, scholars, and the spiritual leaders of communities.

These images were collected, cropped, and edited from a published book in the public domain. Feel free to use these images in your personal, commercial, and educational work, and please credit FreeVintageIllustrations.com when sharing them online. These images would make great postcards, images for blogs, material for digital art, images for school projects, and more!

 

Free Vintage Illustrations for St. Patrick’s Day: Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Potatoes

There’s another crafty holiday on the horizon! With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I’m reminded of when my grandma would make corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes for dinner. I went on an epic search and found some great clippings from vintage catalogs, seed advertisements, antique trading cards, and magazines and cleaned them up a bit with Pixlr. Feel free to include them in your St. Patrick’s day blog posts, school projects, art projects, and Etsy gifts, or pair these illustrations with some of my previous posts about food to create a detailed collage. This post also got me thinking about the history of this traditional Irish meal, and I learned some things that I did not expect. Find out below!

Fun Facts about Corned Beef and Cabbage!

  • Pork was actually the meat of choice for Irish immigrants first immigrating to America, specifically smoked pork loin. It was cheap to get in Ireland, but not so much in the United States. Therefore, people got creative and started cooking beef. Irish immigrants¬†were inspired to make corned beef after visiting the markets of Jewish Immigrants in New York City. Their corned beef had a similar taste and cured preparation to the popular Irish cut smoked pork back home.
  • The addition of cabbage was new.¬†Irish families discovered that adding cabbage to a salty corned beef stew made a hearty and delicious meal that was also cost effective.
  • This meal eventually became a popular meal in American households across the country. In fact, it was even served at President Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration!

 

These images were curated and edited from archived vintage publications and advertisements in the public domain. You are free to use these images in your personal, commercial, and educational work without permission. A link back to FreeVintageIllustrations.com is required if you share these images anywhere online.