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Nothing beats the thrill of finding a beautiful vintage image that captures the elegance of the past or makes you smile with its quirky taglines!
So, if you want free printable vintage images to add to your retro collection, you’re certainly in the right place! There are several amazing websites with high-resolution images to choose from.
- While there are numerous great websites with quality vintage images to choose from, narrow your search by only browsing through sites specializing in your genre, e.g., botanical prints or vintage maps.
- Most people feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of free printable vintage images, so rely on keywords to find what you are looking for.
- A great rule of thumb is to always select high-resolution images and reputable printing companies for large format prints, but shop around for good printing deals, especially if you want to print several images, as they may be willing to negotiate a better price.
- If you plan on using your vintage images to decorate your home, consider using old frames from thrift stores or repurposing frames with images that no longer elicit joy.
- Once you are ready to display your gorgeous vintage finds, map out a little gallery layout so that you will know beforehand how to best showcase your pride and joy.
While it is easy as pie to find stunning vintage images in stores and online, paying for them is the pits, especially if you can do so for free with a simple click of a mouse!
So, let’s get you going with the 17 best websites for free printable vintage images ranging from retro fauna and flora, special occasions, birds, seasonal celebrations, vibrant botanical illustrations, enchanting fairies and gnomes, and 16th-century maps to quirky vintage Americana that will put “a smile on your dial.”
You only need a little bit of time and patience to scroll through all the fabulous vintage images until you find “the one”!
1. Heritage Type
If you want a true one-of-a-kind site with a ton of stunning free vintage images, especially illustrations you can download free of charge as vectors and use to create your own bespoke artwork – look no further!
Heritage Type has numerous exquisite vintage illustrations that are available in themed collections with PNGs that are easy to download.
The collection themes include fauna, flora, baseball, skulls, quirky bicycles, retro fashions, and vintage hobbies, and when you find images you like, you will receive a Heritage Library PDF license included with the high-quality PNG images.
What truly sets this site apart from other leading websites is the fact that all the vintage images have transparent backgrounds, so they are easy to use if you want to play around with and create your own unique vintage-era images.
Rawpixel is a hidden little gem as the user-friendly site scans millions of other public domain sites to find the best 100% copyright-free quality vintage images from leading international museums and private art collections, plates, and ancient books.
This incredible site offers numerous stunning vintage images like delicate Japanese Flower illustrations, Art Nouveau prints, and Animal Kingdom illustrations, including classic paintings by the likes of Gaugin, Van Gogh, and Cézanne.
3. Free Vintage Illustrations
Free Vintage Illustrations is a one-of-a-kind site with several charming illustrations ranging from enchanting fairies and gnomes to retro Beatrix Potter rabbit illustrations for nurseries.
Other great collections include 19th and 20th-century scientific botanical, animal, and landscape illustrations to seasonal Easter and Christmas images, including adorable birthday cards and special occasion themes.
Furthermore, they are easy to download in JPEG file formats so that you can create your own vintage cards or special wall art for free.
4. The Flickr British Library Collection
Flickr is a virtual treasure chest for anyone looking for vintage images that reflect the beauty of nature, as this Biodiversity Heritage Library features a wide array of vibrantly hued birds, butterflies, and iconic African animal prints from across the globe.
The British Library collections need a special mention as it features millions of incredible vintage book covers with interesting categories like “Ghosts and Ghoulish Scenes,” “Women of The World,” and “Ships and Boats,” including maps and technical and scientific drawings to explore.
5. Library Of Congress
The Library of Congress is yet another great resource for a wide array of free printable and reusable vintage images with whimsical wartime motivational posters, beautiful maps, captivating newspapers, and even musical scores and old movies.
Old Book Illustrations features a wide variety of great color and monochrome vintage images ranging from classic Grimms Fairy Tales and Oliver Twist illustrations to people and iconic book covers in various image resolutions so you can download and print quality images.
The Art Institute of Chicago has an incredible digital library with a wide variety of quality vintage images depicting outstanding 19th-century works of art and iconic photos ranging from classic the quirky images.
It is one of those sites where you can pick between Andy Warhol’s artwork depicting Mao to Picasso’s great masterpieces, including numerous other hidden gems!
The Audubon is a bird lover’s dream come true with 435 life-sized watercolor images of spectacular, vividly hued birds that were reproduced based on John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” hand etched plate illustrations printed between 1827 and 1838.
Audubon was a pioneer in his field and considered one of the foremost wildlife illustrators, which is evident by his beautiful tributes to our feathered friends.
The site is incredibly user-friendly with free downloadable quality images, which you can find by either searching for a specific bird species or by filtering them based on the North American state they reside in.
9. Free Classic Images
Free Classic Images is a hidden gem for incredible vintage posters with a fantastic variety of themes and genres, so if you are looking for something specific like a rare French retro poster, you will most likely find it there.
Other exciting poster categories include motivational war-era posters with the likes “loose lips sink ships” and “can all you can” taglines, colorful old movie posters, and retro product advertisements.
This user-friendly site allows you to simply click on the image thumbnail and download quality images – it’s as easy as that!
10. The Public Domain Review
The Public Domain Review offers a wide variety of carefully selected vintage illustrations, photos, texts, and artwork.
It is a fantastic site to find unusual vintage images as the site is constantly updated by its thriving community of amateur historians that often find interesting retro images.
To find the specific image that you are looking for, either browse their vast collections or their Curator’s Choice monthly submissions that include rare vintage images about lesser-known chapters in history.
11. The Getty
The world-renowned Getty is one of those rare sites where you can spend hours scouring more than 100,000 carefully curated vintage images.
12. Smithsonian Open Access
With a mind-boggling 3,000,000 images, Smithsonian Open Access is home to the world’s biggest digital collection with numerous carefully curated vintage images and unique finds.
This incredible site is easy to navigate even on a mobile, and you can search for specific vintage images or browse through their categories until you find the perfect high-quality print.
13. USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection
The US Department of Agriculture’s pomological watercolor collection features a vast array of brightly colored vintage botanical images of fruits, nuts, and other plant species that 21 artists painted from 1894 until 1916.
The free vintage images range from (mostly high resolution) stunning watercolor paintings and captivating wax models to beautiful line drawings that include the scientific names of the plants, the artist’s name, and other little details, which makes them even more special.
With more than 2 million free images sourced from leading European museums, libraries, and archives, Europeana is a fantastic resource for outstanding quality vintage images.
It is also easy to navigate the site as you can either search for vintage items by browsing specific genres, topics, or themes, and even narrow your search based on a specific color, size, and country of origin and choose between categories ranging from vintage photography, natural history, art, or fashion.
15. The National Gallery of Art
If you are looking for more spectacular vintage images that are truly unique, head to the incredible National Gallery of Art for some great finds.
The site is user-friendly and continuously updated, so chances are great that you might find more interesting prints from time to time.
Calisphere should be your go-to site if you are looking for quintessentially American and international vintage images that the University of California has carefully curated from a vast array of museums, libraries, and archives.
It features eclectic collections of random vintage objects, retro posters and photos, interesting costume designs, and incredible paintings, which makes visiting this site feel like you are scouring your grandma’s attic as you never know what you will find!
17. David Rumsey Map Collection
With more than 90,000 free images, the David Rumsey Map Collection is a dream come true for vintage map collectors who are looking for outstanding vintage prints, including quirky hand-drawn maps of San Francisco.
Rumsey created the incredible site intending to share his incredible collection of vintage maps with the world back in 2000, and he has included rare and ancient images of maps dating back to the 16th century of North and South America, including vintage maps of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the world.
While you now know where to find incredible free printable vintage images, let’s address any lingering questions you might have in this regard.
What Is The Definition Of A Vintage Image?
The term “vintage” is an incredibly broad category, especially in terms of photographic images, as it includes all photos taken with analog cameras, museum images taken by hundred-year-old cameras, and Kodachrome-based cameras, including images taken in the 2000s with film cameras.
Vintage prints of classic photographs are classed as authentic pieces of art that are often signed by the relevant photographer and used to create prints even when the negative is no longer available and long after the photograph was taken.
While in the art world, the term vintage is used as a classification of any 19th and 20th-century old prints of etchings, steel engravings, or lithographs, and any images that pre-date 1800 are classified as old master vintage images.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Print Oversized Vintage Images?
Although your home printer is normally the least expensive printing option for small or black and white images and documents, it does have significant limitations in terms of the printing size and quality.
So, your best and most affordable printing option is via a reputable online printer like Office Depot, Overnight Prints, Staples, Shutterfly, Mpix, Vista Print, or Giclee Today; it will still be far cheaper than any store-bought vintage image.
If you are rightfully wondering why all the mentioned sites offer vintage images for free, it is because they are all classified as public domain images that are not tied to copyright rules and regulations, unlike their modern equivalents.
According to US law, any piece of art is no longer protected by copyright laws once the artist has been deceased for over 70 years, and any image designed by the US government may be freely circulated for personal and commercial use as it is in the public domain.