The British Library free images

Over 1 million free images from The British Library

Browse images from the British Library Mechanical Curator to find copyright-free photos and illustrations from books scanned from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.

Vintage images can be fun for those of us who love art history, as well as inspiring for graphic designers and an artistic addition to any blog post. If you’re having a hard time finding the right look, the British Library might be able to help you out. Over on Flickr, the august institution has a collection of over one million copyright-free images that you can use for virtually any purpose.

The images a scanned by the British Library’s Mechanical Curator, a taste-making robot that selects images from all the books digitized by the library since 2013 and posts them to the Flickr account. The images are sorted into several Flickr albums, helping you find a starting point for which image collection you might want to browse. Example collections include cycling, space and science fiction, musical instruments, animals, and ships. The Highlights collection is a great place to start if you just want get a taste for whats included in the archive.

The collection is made up of photography and illustrations from 65,000 books from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The one gap I see in this collection is that it doesn’t provide credit for the photographer or the illustrator who created the works, you merely get a reference to the book the image came from. Regardless, it’s a valuable asset to have available online and it will be interesting to see the creative ways people end up using the works.

The image in this post was taken from book scan 284 of The Angel of the Revolution: a tale of the coming Terror. with illustrations by F. T. Janes.

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