Coral has inhabited our oceans for around 535 million years, that’s hard to get one’s head around, no? It’s also hard to think about the 6000 species of coral found around the world, some thriving close to the shore in temperate zones and others preferring the cool of the deep, dark ocean floor.

As you can well imagine, the study of coral has some obstacles, simply due to its habitat in the ocean. Pre-deep sea exploration, scientists would have been limited to studying coral in shallower waters or perhaps been treated to the occasional specimen from deeper ocean floors with the help of dredging. Nonetheless, scientists of the day had exceptional artistic skills and they produced beautiful lithographs and chromographs of coral to record their findings and share them with the world. We’ve collated a whole heap of them into our vintage coral illustration gallery!

As you can see, we’ve got coral illustrations in every color of the rainbow, and we’ve also tidied them up and isolated them for ease of use! Most of these have been sourced from old books and encyclopedias in the public domain. They’re copyright free so you can download them and use them however you like.

100+ beautiful vintage coral illustrations in the public domain

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