Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eight Resources for Vintage Prints

Beautiful horse print I found in a vintage horse racing book and framed.
Hi everyone!  I'm super-excited.  I put in an order today from for some vintage books, one on parrots, one on owls, and one with horses.  I'm a print-aholic {if that's even a word} - I love looking at antique animal and plant plates.  They're also wonderful as art too!

I just can't see spending $40 at HomeGoods for a print from China, when you can buy a book of antique prints reprinted in the US or UK from 30+ years ago for a fraction of the cost.  And because these are old reprints and not the originals from the 1800's, a lot of my guilt over cutting them apart goes out the window.

Where do you find your old books and images, I'm often asked.  The truth is you have to train yourself to always be on the lookout.  My favorite haunts are: 

1.  Library Sales.  Private donations tend to be in better shape, but old library books that often look like heck on the outside have undamaged plates & images on the inside.  They're usually only a few dollars per book, or if you can wait, there are usually "fill a box" sales on the last day when they're trying to get rid of everything.  I've found some great 60+ year old French dictionaries at my last sale.

2.  eBay.  Not too original, but yes, scour eBay regularly.  I usually just look at the Buy it Now books or ones that are ending soon so I'm not tempted to "bid myself up" too high on a book.  Bookmark your favorite dealers.  If you find something you like that's well priced, check what else that dealer has - oftentimes they have the same style or type of item and tend to keep their prices consistent {i.e., if someone prices items to sell, most likely much of what they have will be a deal; if a person's prices are ridiculous, all of their prices will likely be that way}.  I've found a dealer who had a slew of bird and insect books on eBay just by hitting "view seller's other items." 

3.  Amazon. Not much else to say here except that the used books option is my best friend.  There are tons of books out there for a few dollars each plus media mail shipping.  I've only been burnt once {the item's pages were stuck together, ruining several prints}, but I emailed the seller and they refunded my money and told me to keep the book.

I scored this 1910 book on fruit growing {and all of its plates} online

4.  Online Libraries.  Because there was a huge movement to scan in and digitize old books, you'll often find complete copies of old books {including their plates} online.  The resolution is often good enough to make a print from, and you get the original imperfections of the paper which adds character.  {Note: I only look at books pre-1923 that have expired copyrights}

5.  Public Domain Resources.  I like to go to the National Archives site for old and rare books.  The site is well-organized and you can find good quality copies of the prints.

6.  CDs.  There are a lot of companies that now sell the digital copies of the books I mentioned above that were in the public domain and in online libraries.  The CDs {usually on eBay} are typically not the best quality scans {be sure to look at seller feedback and review details of the scan's dpi}, but you'll get tons of books on one CD.  For example, I purchased a ornithology CD, which came with PDFs of more than rare 25 books.

7.  Vintage & Antiques Stores.  I like to check out the "paper section."  With everything else, there are dealers with crazy prices that make reframing not worth it, and sometimes you'll hit the jackpot.  I have not had much luck with thrift stores up until now.  I find they usually don't have older items I'm looking for or the image style I prefer.

8.  Blogs.  There is one main blog that I go to for my vintage images - The Graphics Fairy.  She has thousands of images and has a category for full size printable art as well.


  1. I love Antique and Vintage Images as well and feature several that are printable each week for Antique Graphics Wednesday.

    Here's a link to some recent ones I posted.

    You can also type "antique graphics" in my search bar to find many more!

    Angie @ Knick of Time

    1. These are just lovely! Thanks so much for sharing. I just love the soap ads you featured in that post!

  2. Seriously in LOVE with that vintage horse print. Oh swoon! I have a thoroughbred... I think I NEEEED something like that. Officially on the hunt. Thanks for the idea!

    1. I'm a HUGE horse lover too. Thanks for stopping by Dana!


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