Look no further than the New York Public Library’s digital collection, where more than 600,00 images, all in the public domain and free for downloading, are listed in an on-line, searchable catalog.
Collections span fashion, zoology, science, nature, medicine, posters, receipts and contracts, vintage magazine covers, advertising art, Works Progress Administration art, maps and atlases, gay and lesbian history, theatrical photographs, book art and illustrations, New York scenes, paintings, and more.
Images intended for personal use can be downloaded for free in 300 or 760 pixels. High-resolution scans for commercial use, as well as other printing and framing options (canvas, mural, etc.), are available for a fee.
What about quality?
To test image quality, I simply did a copy and paste into Microsoft Word. Without adjusting its approximately 5-by-7-inch size, I then printed it on the “normal” resolution setting of my color inkjet printer, and it came out good enough for framing.
I then enlarged the same image in its 760-pixel version to nearly fill the printable area of my 8.5-by-11-inch paper. Neither print showed any pixellation or loss of detail.
I especially like the fashion images because they remind me of sewing patterns from when I was a child and images from women's magazines in the 1950s and early 1960s.
All the flora and fauna images sent me in a tailspin!
Add a custom mat and a frame, and these prints will be ready to spiff up any entryway, boudoir, living room, bathroom, kitchen or den.
You can also take the digital file to a local printer for enlargement beyond the capacity of your home printer, or send it to an on-line source, such as Minted or Spoonflower.
Paintings, posters and illustrations galore...
I just love these planet drawings found under science. They look more like modern abstract art to me and would made an uber-cool grouping, particularly in a black-and-white space.
These magazine covers are from the turn-of-the-century (19th into 20th) poster collection. Doubtless you've seen some of them before.
Believe me, I've only scratched the surface with the images shown here.
Here’s that link again: New York Public Library digital collection
Make sure you budget plenty of time for browsing, and have fun getting lost in the search for the perfect pictures for your home sweet home.
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