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!


Vintage Owl Illustrations in the Public Domain

People are crazy for owls (well, I am).  For a second there, I thought hedgehogs were going to take over indefinitely in the gift shop world.  But alas, vintage owls are still the kings of antique inspired stationery, gifts, and vintage inspired art.  The turn of the century brought a fantastic collection of scientific owl illustrations, postcards, and more unique Victorian era greetings.  Many of these vintage images have been immortalized in postcards, canvas prints, stationery, notebooks, and even jewelry.

Did You Know?

That the owl symbolizes intuition, and the “ability to see what others cannot see.”. ¬†The owl also symbolizes wisdom, change, and a messenger or ‘announcer’ of death. ¬†If you want to read more about this stuff, check out this article on spirit animals.

Owls can turn their head 270 degrees due mostly in part to having 14 vertebrae.

Owls are actually more closely related to hummingbirds

Cannibalism has been seen in owls

Owls don’t have eye balls, but rather fixed tubes that prevent owls from moving and rolling their eyes.