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

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā

      

                   

      

19th Century Decorative Design Illustrations

antique-decorative-design-illustration-3 antique-decorative-design-illustration-4

I love antique art books, especially art supply catalogs and instructional materials.

The 19th-century book, The Art of Decorative Design, discusses symmetry in nature and botany when designing decorative collectibles, motifs, etc. I just skimmed around honestly, so there’s definitely more to it than that. I saw another chapter that talked about how to express emotion in decorative design which looked interesting too. You can check out the entire book here.

There were a few illustrations that caught my eye, so I cropped and brightened them up a bit for you to use. I thought these would make great stencil designs for screen printing. You could also use them for invitations, playing card designs, stamp designs, mixed media painting, and other fun stuff.

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 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.

Free Religious Vintage Illustrations for Easter: Elaborate Victorian Crosses

This is a free vintage Easter illustration of an antique pink floral cross from a vintage greeting card.

I was rummaging through my treasure trove of Victorian postcards at home and found some really elaborate embossed postcards from the turn of the century. These antique postcards feature lovely pastel floral designs, making them ideal crafting material for religious Easter gifts, Easter Sunday greeting cards, Bible study coloring books, and church programs. They also make charming antique graphics for blog posts, email newsletters, and social media posts!

 

I selected and edited these antique cross images from my own personal collection of vintage postcards. You may use these images for your own personal and commercial projects for free and without permission. A link back is only required if you use an image for online purposes.