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

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 🙂

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!

Whimsical Vintage Illustration of a Fairy Grotto

Free vintage illustration of a fairy grotto

Hey!

I wanted to pop in quickly to share this awesome 19th-century illustration of a fairy grotto I found through the New York State Library.

I love this image. It sort of reminds me of The Last Unicorn, you know, that 80’s animation where the band America did the entire soundtrack with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Anyhoo.

This image was originally published in 1867 by Currier & Ives, a 19th-century American printmaking company. There isn’t too much information available about this artwork, but you can read more about it here.

Vintage Illustrations of Elegant Table Settings

A vintage illustration of an elegant buffet setting from Mrs. Beeton's 1907 publication.

I’m back!

It’s been a while since my last FVI post, but I’m stoked to be back with more vintage images for your projects.

We’re in the middle of the holiday season, so I thought I’d revisit one of my favorite public domain resources, Mrs. Beeton’s Household management.

In it, you’ll find everything from old-fashioned food platters to fancy desserts.

However, one of my favorite sections is devoted purely to elegant table settings.

These versatile vintage illustrations are ideal for the following:

  • Tea party invitations
  • Birthday party invitations
  • Valentine’s Day collages
  • Holiday collages
  • Style websites
  • Printed fabric
  • Pinterest pages
  • Finger puppet theater sets and more!

These ideas are just the start.

How do these illustrations inspire you?

Vintage Images for Mothers Day: Antique Rose Illustrations in the Public Domain

This is a free antique image of blue lace and roses for Mothers DayRoses are a Mothers Day classic! For this post, I sifted through the Library of Congress online and stumbled upon some really great vintage images from the 19th century, and I used Pixlr to clean them up a bit. For a quick and easy Mothers Day card, just print one out and you’re good to go! I personally love the light teal lace image because it brings a textured look to a greeting card.

Try using these free antique images to create napkins, invitations, greeting cards, decor, and other printed products for Mothers Day, weddings, engagement parties, bridal showers, or vintage themed birthdays. For more creative inspiration, I scoured the internet to find some truly clever and creative tutorials for rose-themed Mothers Day crafting too.

Rose Inspired Mothers Day Crafts

Vintage Pretty Chic Floral Rose Garden Collage Throw Pillow

Vintage Rose Pillow

Easy DIY Paper Roses

Paper Bouquet for Mothers Day

Origami Mothers Day Rose

Tye-Dye Roses for Mothers Day

DIY Chocolate Roses for Mom

Rose Petal and Salt Dough Crafts

Mothers Day Rose Corsage