Antique Scientific Illustrations of Shells

Free antique scientific illustration of shell variety from 18th century science catalogI used to live by the beach and almost always came back home with pockets full of colorful shells. I miss those days, so I decided to dig around the public domain for some really great shell illustrations to clean up and share.

There are beautiful scientific illustrations of shells hiding out in dusty science publications from the 18th and 19th century. With so many to choose from, I selected a few of my most favorite illustrations for this post. These shells were selected from a variety of publications and catalogs focused on natural history and conchology, which is the study of mollusk shells.

Scientific illustrations are some of the most versatile works in the public domain. They make great material for school projects, crafts, classroom visual aids, posters, educational websites, blogs, and books, but they’re also handy for crafting DIY greeting cards, decoupage, wall art, and many more creative projects.


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!


Kate Greenaway’s “Apple Pie” – The Complete Book!

I’ve been on a vintage children’s book kick lately.  Some of the most imaginative illustrations and color palettes can be seen in the illustrations of yesterday.  “Apple Pie” is probably the most popular work by Kate Greenaway. This colorful alphabet picture book can be re-imagined into new graphics for teachers, back to school decoupage projects, coloring book pages, flashcards, or lace it up the pages with colorful yarn to make a complete book once again.

These images are in the public domain and are free to use without permission.  Add this vintage children’s book classic today to your digital library.  These free vintage illustrations are also great for crafting, Etsy products, antique style decor and gifts, and more creative projects.  There are tons of free artistic and educational resources online for teachers, students, illustrators, daycare providers, photographers, and virtually everyone.  Stay tuned for more classic and rare vintage children’s books in the public domain!

It’s Back to School! FREE Vintage Public Domain Illustrations of School Related Subjects

I almost forgot it was back to school season!  A lot has been going on oddly enough.  I just got finished moving across country to my new home in North Carolina, started working on Free Digital Pics, a new site featuring my own photography that’s FREE to use for both personal and commercial work (whoo-hoo! More free stuff), and I’m filling out job applications like the dickens.

A few months back I had done a school related post, so this time around I went on the look out for even more unique, and even bizarre, vintage illustrations in the public domain.  These images would make awesome DIY cards for college students, Anatomy and Science students, science and history instructors, science and history buffs, and teens who also love history, science, and vintage art.

Need Back to School Crafting Inspiration?

Back to school season is the time for making stuff people can USE!  Your decoupage supplies with come very in handy for making old supplies new again, like pencil boxes, pencil cups, desk mats, coasters, binders, and dorm room decor.  Here are few easy to do craft ideas you can do today!

  • Laminate old vintage maps to create cool place mats, desk mats and school decor for the classroom and even a college dorm.
  • Cut out and laminate circles of your favorite school house images to make sweet coasters for school morning beverages, like hot chocolate and orange juice.
  • Go vintage with your school decor this year!  Simply print out your favorite free vintage illustrations on photo quality paper and insert into the clear cover flap of last year’s binder to make it cool again.  You could also splatter your image with cool iridescent nail polish, glitter, or watered-down acrylic paint to make it a little more cool and funky.
  • Paint over and decoupage those old pencil boxes and supply cups with unique vintage images to give them a little more style.

Free Vintage Children’s Books and Illustrations

There’s some really charming late 19th – 20th century children’s book prints out there.  I curated this latest gallery from a variety of public domain media databases, and I can only imagine all the other out-of-copyright children’s illustrations stashed in people’s basements, vintage stores, and garage sales.  Side note: I’m taking a trip to one of my favorite stops tomorrow, SCRAP Warehouse, to see if I can score some good vintage prints to upload!

This collection features a variety of unique and whimsical prints in the public domain, ranging from nursery rhyme illustrations to classic vintage “Wizard of Oz” prints.  Enjoy, and as usual, you can find some fresh arts n’ crafts ideas attached at the end of this post.


20 Art Projects You Can Make With Public Domain Children’s Books!

Typically, this is the part where I whip up a specific themed craft idea for you to try.  I get a ton of ideas, but I usually end up focusing on just one or two.  Not this time!  For this post, I was flooded with craft ideas.  Public domain children’s books are some of the best free artwork out there, so I wanted to create a big list of projects that you can bookmark and use all year round.  Free vintage children’s book art is ideal for birthdays and back to school, as well as holiday crafting, dioramas, and even high school and college projects.

  1. Create a chic decoupaged lunch box
  2. Make plant decorations for indoor window sill gardens
  3. Print out these illustrations and turn them into brand NEW pop-up books for kids
  4. Create black and white print-outs to make a DIY coloring book
  5. Make your own textbook covers
  6. Create DIY kid’s bedroom posters
  7. Print out and laminate these illustrations to make placemats
  8. Create paper birthday banners
  9. Make your own Christmas tree ornaments and garland
  10. Collage your favorite images on cardboard to make a picture frame
  11. Cut-out illustrations to make cool dioramas
  12. Create your own sets for puppet theater shows!
  13. Make your own vintage image jewelry
  14. Create a chic vintage style potted plant
  15. Collage and create your own jewelry box
  16. Use them for your school poster board project
  17. Make a beautiful handcrafted birthday card
  18. Make cool vintage style origami ornaments
  19. Use an x-acto knife to make precise cut-outs for name cards or to/from notes
  20. Create an iron-on or fabric print to make your own pillows!

Free Vintage Illustrations of Apples, Orchards, Pies, & More Apple Related Items

Vintage illustrations of apples, orchards and apple desserts can inspire a wave of warm and fuzzy inspired craft projects.  I carefully curated the following selection of vintage images from a variety of my favorite image databases and vintage blogs online.  Apple motifs are perfect for spring and summer party invitations, coasters, decoupaging coffee tables and dressers, postcards, and many more charming projects.  The following vintage images are free for personal use and even some for commercial use too!

Create apple inspired ornaments for Christmas, rustic tabletop designs, summer cabin decor, and even screen prints for napkins.

Quick & Easy Apple Cards For Teachers!

Apple themed gives are perfect for teachers on the first day of school, National Teachers Day, and new teaching credential graduates.  The above images are free for personal craft projects and can inspire a variety of different greeting card styles, from super funky to classy and sophisticated.

  • Simply choose and print out your favorite vintage apple illustrations on thicker, high-quality paper.
  • On the back of your printed image, use the following apple shaped stencil to draw the shape for your greeting card.

  • To make a folding card, trace an additional apple shape directly next to the other and make sure the sides are touching.  Or you can just adjust the sizing of the stencil below.


  • Position your stencil on the back of your printed card-stock and begin to trace.  I personally like the look of cut-off illustrations or illustrations that continue on both sides.
  • Once you’ve cut out your greeting card, add a few splashes of decorations, like simple and fine iridescent glitter and colorful outlines.  If you’re using an apple tree or orchard illustrations, paint the apples in bright red to make them stand out.
  • If you want to give your apple greeting card a little shine, add a thin layer of Modge Podge glossy varnish with just a hint of super fine iridescent glitter.

* The Copyright information for the vintage labels in this post are unknown.  Please investigate copyright information further before using in your commercial works. 

Free Science Themed Illustrations For Your Projects

Thank goodness there are so many free old scientific illustrations available online.  I especially love the 19th illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, featuring that signature symmetry, bold colors, and inventive compositions and skeletal structures.  Many of these illustrations reflect a very fascinating time in scientific research, as animal anatomy was still very much compared to the symmetrical nature of plants.

These free science illustrations not only have an interesting back story, but they also make fantastic resources for science themed craft projects and even gifts for new teachers, college graduates, school projects, birthdays, and science themed parties.

Out of This World Craft Ideas For The Quick Crafter

These free scientific illustrations are just a sampling of the amazing collection of science-themed images available online.  These can come in handy for a lot of school related projects, like history projects, science journal covers, and creative writing exercises.  As well, they can be easily cut, pasted, adorned with glitter, mounted, screen printed, and much more, making them ideal resources for science-themed craft projects.

I like these quick and simple ideas for making cool party invitations, birthday Cards, & placemats.

  • Microscope greeting cards are so cool and unique.  Simply print out the vintage microscope image above onto thicker, greeting card-quality paper.  Use an X-Acto knife to accurately cut out the image.  To make a traditional flap card, position the image so that it’s aligned in the center of the paper horizontally.  This way, you can fold the paper and half and make two conjoined pieces.
  • Science Themed Placemats would be a cool new twist at dinner time.  Just print out your favorite images above on regular printer paper or even thinner, restaurant-quality placemat paper.  Once printed, use special serrated crafts scissors to jazz up the sides.  I recommend laminating them so you can use them longer, plus kids can draw on them with dry-erase markers too.
  • Science-themed birthday cards and invites are perfect for older kids, tweens, teens, college students, and grandparents too!  Just print out any of the unique images above onto thick, postcard quality paper to make quick yet impressive little invites for birthdays, class reunions, academic gatherings, and book club party invites.  I also like to decorate my science-themed cards with ink droplets, sand, and dashes of fine glitter to add a little more creativity.

The two Sci-fi genre illustrations included in the above collection are attributed to chesley bonestell (copyright for use may apply, intended for creative inspiration only)

All the vintage scientific illustrations included in the collection above are in the public domain and are free for personal and commercial use.