Free Download: Vintage Eiffel Tower – Printable!

I lived in Paris for 5 years in the 1980s and I always looked forward to walking the flea markets, looking for old postcards and costume jewelry. Of course, having grown up in the woods of rural Connecticut, I was also drawn to the romance of the iconic Eiffel Tower. Over the years, I ended up with a small collection of vintage renderings of la Tour Eiffel, a few of which are on display in my home today as a little reminder of my days living in La Ville-Lumière, The City of Light.


I love this printable one – it’s easy to assemble and the colors are just right. I printed it hastily on regular ol’ printer paper to take a quick photo for the blog, but if you used an off-white card stock, I think it would look even better. Using standard-size printer paper, the tower will be about 5.5 by 8 inches.

Download, print and post a picture of the finished product in the comments. I’d love to see where these end up!

Download Page 1

Download Page 2




Posted in free downloads, visit our etsy shops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

E. A. Séguy: man of mystery, ahead of his time



E. A. Séguy produced 11 albums of nature-themed illustrations and patterns, drawing inspiration from butterflies, beetles, dragonflies, flowers, foliage, crystals and animals. I’ve always loved his work, but information on the man himself is difficult to find. This is his entire Wikipedia entry:

Eugène Séguy (1890 – 1 June 1985) was a French entomologist who specialised in Diptera. He held a chair of entomology at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris from 1956 -1960. He was a French man known for his textiles work

Mysterious, right? That last sentence doesn’t even have a period! His biography just trails off, waiting to be finished. Ah well, perhaps he would have wanted it that way. Luckily, we have his eye-popping art deco patterns to keep us satisfied in lieu of his personal history. For an interesting article about his printing process (known as pochoir), check out this blog post by a preservation librarian at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

segu7 seguy10 seguy2 seguy4 seguy3I’ve made some digital collage sheets using his Art Deco patterns for scrapbooking and crafts.

Posted in botanicals, visit our etsy shops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

9 views of Mount Fuji from 1950s Japanese postcards

I’ve always loved Japan. I visited once, with my mom, in 1986. My dad was a Pan Am pilot and one of the amazing benefits back then was free tickets for family members. I remember seeing Mount Fuji during my visit – it was pretty hard to miss!

In 2006 my daughter (who was in high school then) spent six weeks in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Her father worked for Nissan at the time and they sent employees’ children to Japan every summer as part of the company’s cultural exchange program. She’s a collector of paper ephemera like me and she brought back an amazing collection of vintage Japanese pencil boxes that she’d bought at a dusty old shop across the street from the local post office. Little did she know my mom has a collection of the same thing! Like mother, like daughter, like grandmother…

I bought these postcards at Portland’s Largest Garage Sale last month. I showed up late in the day and didn’t expect to find much, so I was delighted when I spotted these postcards from the 1950s. They were souvenirs brought back by an American serviceman; I bought them from his son.

Don’t you love all these different shots of Mount Fuji?

Untitled-4 Untitled-5 Untitled-6 Untitled-7 Untitled-8 Untitled-9 Untitled-10 Untitled-2 Untitled-3

Posted in old postcards | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hendrik Willem Van Loon, author of “The Story of Mankind” & winner of the very first Newbery Medal

Hendrik Willem Van Loon was a Dutch-American historian, journalist, and award-winning children’s book author. From the 1910s to his death in 1944, he wrote dozens of books, illustrating them himself. The Story of Mankind is his best-known work; it won the first-ever Newbery Medal in 1922 for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature!

The Story of Mankind was updated by Van Loon in subsequent editions and has continued to be updated, first by his son and later by other historians. In the book, Van Loon explains how he selected what to include (and what not to include) by subjecting all materials to the question: Did the person or event in question perform an act without which the entire history of civilization would have been different? Pretty strict rules!

These gorgeous prints are from a 1932 edition, illustrated by the author. I love how spare the illustrations are – just a few colors, and sometimes only a few dramatic lines. I was also a little surprised to see he had included the story of Buddha (that’s one of my favorite images below) – this guy was really ahead of his time! I wonder what the most recently updated edition looks like…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Posted in old illustrations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie illustrated by Roy Best


Roy Best was an American illustrator with a long career as a painter of pin-up girls. He attended the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Art Institute of Chicago, while working on railroad construction crew to support himself. In New York City he became represented by American Artists and received commissions to paint several covers of The Saturday Evening Post. By 1931, Best was painting pin-ups for the Joseph C. Hoover & Sons calendar company. That same year, he was commissioned by the Whitman Publishing Company to illustrate The Peter Pan Picture Book, based on J. M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan. Some of the beautiful illustrations from that book follow.

View original post

Posted in old illustrations, vintage childrens illustrations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pictorial Maps by Jacques Liozu

Pictorial maps have been around for centuries – they are nearly as old as mapmaking itself! Throughout the ages, pictorial maps have been used to show the cuisine of a country, the attractions of a tourist town, the architecture of a big city, or the history of a region. They are also a wonderful opportunity for an artist to show off his signature style, as in this collection from Les Etats-Unis d’Amerique by Dore Ogrizek, published in Paris in 1946, and illustrated by the artist Jacques Liozu.

It’s so interesting to see what Liozu, a French illustrator drawing for a presumably French audience, chooses to highlight – and what he leaves out. There are really only a handful of images that work together in each map to make up the history, geography, popular culture, exports and climate of each state. For example, in his map of Delaware, Liozu includes a beautifully rendered (if grisly) image of a muscular Native American shooting a settler with his bow and arrow at close range with a banner that reads, simply, “1631.” Lewes, Delaware was (apparently!) the site of the first European settlement in the state, founded by the Dutch as a whaling and trading post in 1631. The colony didn’t last long though; a local tribe of Lenape Native Americans wiped out all 32 settlers the following year. Most American students probably won’t know this piece of history, but here it is, captured in a single image and date, in Liozu’s map. It could be a dig at the Dutch – or at the Americans. Or it could just be a piece of Delaware history that seemed important to Liozu at the time.

That’s why these maps are so fun – they’re not just kitschy 1940s Americana; they tell more than one story. Each map is a carefully curated collection, hand-drawn and hand-colored. Try and see if you can decipher the hidden history in each one.

Jacques Liozu jacques liozu jacques liozu jacques liozu jacques liozu jacques liozu jacques liozu


Posted in old maps | 4 Comments

Trendy Beetles

I’ve been on Tumblr a lot lately, mostly posting images to draw people to my Etsy shop where I’ve been selling digital images for a few years. It hasn’t really increased sales yet, but I don’t mind because I am learning a lot about what is trending. The first image to go ‘viral’ was a dictionary illustration of gemstones, which I posted on a blog here awhile ago. I asked my daughter why precious stones would be so popular, and she said the young, hip crowd on Tumblr likes crystals and gems. Hmm…I continued posting the vintage images that I like, without much activity, until I put up the following illustrations recently.  Their popularity surpassed the gemstones! So my readers can have their finger on the pulse of what is trending, here you go, beetles are trending…841_beetles_7x10 1105_cleoptera1 1106_coleoptera2 1107_coleotera3

Posted in old illustrations | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Victorian Seed Catalogs at the Smithsonian Digital Library

Did you know that seeds are intellectual property?  That you are breaking the law if you harvest them to use again? Don’t even bother, because seed companies today are making sure you won’t get the same plant.  It is time to start thinking seriously about open source seeds and only getting seeds from places like the Seed Savers Exchange. Long before we had to worry about genetically modified food and going to the Supreme Court for reusing seeds, it looks like a tough decision was choosing which seed catalog to buy seeds from. The competition was big, so the angles are varied; cherubs, children, beautiful women, orientalism, patriotism, and of course, early-blooming.  These catalogs are all archived at the Smithsonian Digital Library.

Vintage Seed PacketsVictorian Seed Packages Smithsonian Seed Illustrations Antique Seed Packages Victorian Seed Packets Smithsonian Seed Catalogues Antique Seeds Vintage Flower Seeds Iowa Seed Company Antique Seed Packaging vintage seeds digital download raspberries




Seed Catalogs from Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Posted in botanicals | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur.

While searching for scientific illustrations on Tumblr I noticed many were credited to the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  I went there and discovered it is a website where research libraries from all over the world scan in books so that others may see and learn from them. Most of these books are very rare and many have wonderful illustrations.

The illustrations that follow are from Kunstformen der Natur (German for Art Forms of Nature). This book was published in 1904 and was illustrated by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist who had a long, interesting, and prolific career as an artist and scientist. Here are just a few of the over 100 scientific illustrations in the book, that I chose especially for their particular visual and artistic appeal.  The last one is my favorite (for now).

Ernst Haeckel Ernst Haeckel 1684 Ernst Haeckel Ernst Haeckel 1674 Ernst Haeckel

Posted in Scientific Illustrations | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pierre-Joseph Redoute

Called “the Raphael of Flowers” and the “Rembrandt of Roses” by contemporary writers, Pierre-Joseph Redoute enjoyed a long line of Royal patronage, including Empress Josephine (1763-1814) and Queen Marie Antoinette (1755-1793).  He was awarded the Order of Leopold from the country of his birth, Belgium, and was decorated with the Legion of Honor in Paris where he lived and worked. He collaborated with and was sought after by the foremost natural scientists and botanists of his time.

He was able to adapt to the turbulent political crises of his time with ease, but unable to handle his back taxes, rent, and other bills.  He died suddenly at the age of 80, in 1840, while working on a very large painting of a white lily that he hoped to sell to expunge his debts.

Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print  Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print  Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print  Pierre-Joseph Redoute Botanical Print

Posted in botanicals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment