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

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.

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.

FREE Vintage William Heath Robinson Graphics In Color

William Heath Robinson is one of my favorite artists of the public domain. While searching for new material to curate, I stumbled upon of series of WWI illustrations he created through 1914 and 1918 called “Some Frightful War Pictures.”  These unique antique illustrations feature imaginative cannons, contraptions, battlefields, and more imaginative war imagery. I decided to create a small digital art project with them, and I used free tools such as Pixlr and LunaPic to create colorful “pop” versions of these illustrations for you to use.

Use these free William Heath Robinson graphics as blog images, material for collages, stickers, postcards, prints, and more!

 

Attribution to FreeVintageIllustrations.com is required for online use. See terms for more details. 

Free Vintage Illustrations from Antique Easter Postcards

Wow! Easter is early this year. It totally snuck up on me. Just as I was wrapping up my Irish themed/St. Patrick’s Day posts, I have a brand new holiday to tackle. I love it and I cannot wait to show you the Free Easter illustrations that I have in store for today’s post and for the weeks ahead! I created the following images from my own collection of antique Easter postcards in the public domain. Two of the originals had more shimmering silver backgrounds, but after running them through Pixlr, I stumbled upon some cool purple and blue shades that were both unique and perfect for the season. I think these images would be great for Easter-themed blog posts, digital collage projects, Etsy Easter gifts, Pinterest boards, and a host of other creative projects.

These images were scanned and edited from my personal collection of antique holiday postcards. You may use these images for FREE for your website, blog, online media, product, and online educational project provided that you include a link back to FreeVintageIllustrations.com.