A while back (December 2013 to be exact) the British Library released a million free images onto their Flickr page… a million! For free!
These images are taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books, were digitised by Microsoft who gifted the scanned images to the British Library, who in turn released the images into the Public Domain with the rights to use, remix and repurpose however users wanted. Which was pretty nice of them.
Some illustrations are beautiful, some downright bizarre but there’s also a whole selection of old maps too. I’ve had a hunt through and picked out some of my favourite images, particularly from their album of Children’s Book Illustrations.
If you take a liking to any of these pics just click on each to access it in its biggest format or explore the other million illustrations to discover your own hidden gems!
Image taken from page 118 of ‘When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls’ by Mary Elizabeth Dodge, 1894
Images taken from pages 62 (left) and 18 (right) of ‘Red Apple and Silver Bells. A book of verse for children … Illustrated by A. B. Woodward’ 1897. It’s striking how much that left hand image of white horses charging in atop wild waves reminds me of the infamous Guinness advert.
Image taken from page 187 of ‘When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls’ by Mary Elizabeth Dodge, 1894
Image taken from page 63 of ‘Verses for Grannie. Suggested by the children … Illustrated by D. A. H. Drew’ 1899
Image taken from page 206 of ‘The Bab Ballads, with which are included Songs of a Savoyard … With 350 illustrations by the author’ by W. S. Gilbert, 1898
I couldn’t resist this fantastic caricature of some Scots from the Bab Ballads. 118 years since this was published and yet on most days you’ll still find a Scotsman wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes somewhere along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile or Princes Street. Or, as was the case on my walk home this Friday, jamming on the bagpipes while accompanied by a percussionist on a full drum kit.
All in a kilt, naturally.