Free Vintage Illustrations of Wild Animals, Insects, and Marine Life from Antique Children’s Science Book

I’ve been wanting to do a wild animals post for a while, but hadn’t found the right content I was looking for until now. Published in 1895, A Popular History of Animals for Young People was like an early version of Scientific Britannica for Kids. Rather than cartoonish animal figures, this book features animals drawn in that classic scientific illustration style. I love reading through old informational resources and encyclopedias and spotting outdated information and the changes in views, psychology, zoology, and more subjects. But those antique book illustrations never go out of style!

These images are no longer under copyright, so they’re free to use in all your animal-themed projects. Furthermore, these free images are great for book covers, placemats, postcards, t-shirt designs, posters, Etsy crafts, and more creative projects. Plus don’t forget to check out some quick zoological history facts at the end of this post!

Fun Facts about the History of Zoology

  • Zoology is also known as animal biology, which is the branch of biological study that deals with just the animal kingdom and how animals interact with their environment. Examples of different subjects in animal biology/zoology include: embryology, classification, ecology, evolution, molecular biology, and extinction.
  • Zoological study was first introduced in ancient Greco-Roman times
  • Pioneering naturalists like Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and Carl Linnaeus were among the first people to start documenting animal biodiversity and animal classification.
  • Charles Darwin’s famous work about natural selection, The Origin of the Species, shook the zoological world in 1859.
  • Aristotle wrote extensively about living things, encouraging the emerging study of zoology
  • Ancient Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder, wrote a 37-volume zoological book called Historia naturalis (Natural History) – this is often credited as the first written scientific encyclopedia. While this book did not discern between scientific facts and assumptions from the scientific community of the time, this book nonetheless served as the predominant text on natural history (in the western world) for centuries.

If you’re up for more antique illustrations of animals from the public domain, we have stacks more of them. We have our famous African animals such as the Lion, hundreds of bird illustrations, marine life, primates, dogs, reptiles, rodents and much more. Make use of the search to find exactly what you’re after.

3 thoughts on “Free Vintage Illustrations of Wild Animals, Insects, and Marine Life from Antique Children’s Science Book”

  1. I’ve been looking for precisely this kind of style/aesthetic for a long time – clicked on this and there it was. I think these kinds of illustrations are really overlooked, incredibly beautiful and nostalgic… great site, thank you. (do check out my wordpress if you have the time)

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