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.

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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

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

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

Late 19th-Century Illustrations of Gems and Precious Stones

Who loves rocks and minerals? Free scientific illustrations of rocks and minerals

I most certainly do 🙂

Recently, I went to the latest gems and minerals show held at the New York State Museum. It was awesome.

And a few years ago I was lucky enough to attend the rocks and minerals show in Tuscan, Arizona, the largest of its kind in the United States. That was an awesome show too, as I came away with some great mini trilobites at a fraction of the price.

Tip: vendors ALWAYS discount on the last day!

Anyways, I’m getting off track. I clearly had rocks and minerals on the brain, so I went searching through 19th-century mineralogy books and found some wonderful illustrations for you to use and share.

These are my favorite illustrations from the book, Gems and Precious Stones of North America. But you can view the entire book here where you’ll find more images too.

Antique rocks and minerals illustrations

 

Who Wrote This Book Anyway?

The vintage book, Gems and Precious Stones of North America, was written and illustrated by the 19th-century mineralogist, George Frederick Kunz.

Kunz was born in 1856 in New York City and harbored a love for rocks and minerals from an early age.

In fact, by the time he was a teenager, Kunz had collected thousands of specimens and sold them to the University of Minnesota.

Though a working mineralogist and collector, Kunz never went to college to pursue a degree in the field. Instead, he taught himself through his own field research and whatever mineralogy books he could find.

By 23, Kunz was already vice president of Tiffany & Co.

During his tenure with Tiffany & Co., Kunz discovered a new gem which was aptly named, Kunzite.

Kunz founded the Museums of the Peaceful Arts, was president of the American Metric Association, and was a lead research curator for the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

vintage illustrations of precious stones and gems

Shop For Rocks & Mineral Gifts

With your purchase of any Cost Plus World Market product below, FreeVintageillustrations.com will receive a commission. This is one way to support the site and score some really awesome gifts too 🙂

      

                   

      

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.

Vintage Book Illustrations of British Mammals

Free to use vintage book illustration of British Fox Free vintage book illustration of British Squirrel

I think it’s time to add more animals to this site, don’t you think?

Good because I found this awesome antique book packed with British mammal illustrations from the early 20th century!

Published in 1920, British Mammals features more than 50 color plates and pen ink illustrations of Britain’s most recognized mammals.

I picked out my personal favorites, a walrus, fox, hedgehog, squirrel, and wildcat, then made a few quick edits using Pixlr.

These illustrations are perfect for magnets, postcards, coffee mugs, school flashcards, posters, and images for your blog.

Keep reading to learn more about the book’s illustrator, Archibald Thorburn.

Free antique illustration of a British Hedgehog Antique book illustration of British wildcat - free to use

An antique book illustration of a British Walrus

About The Artist: Archibald Thorburn

  • Archibald Thorburn was born in 1860 in Hascombe, Surrey in the UK.
  • He was of Scottish descent and frequently visited Scotland to paint its floral and fauna.
  • His favorite place in Scotland to paint was the Forest of Gaick.
  • Archibald’s father, Robert Thorburn, was a miniature portrait artist and worked for Queen Victoria.
  • His work was frequently shown at the Royal Academy.
  • He regularly painted birds, and in 1899, he created the first official Christmas Card for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.