***June 2014*** Pardon the chaos, our site crashed and this is temporary while we fix it up. Images are still searchable via Google image search.

Visit our beta site, that we keep around just in case the worst happens, which it did: Vintage Printable beta site

Our old site is still available via the Wayback Machine: from May 27, 2014


Hi, this is Swivelchair. I work in the biopharma area. Not a scientist, not a journalist, mostly in the business aspects. I have a science and business background, and have been involved in a variety of biotechnology-related ventures.

My other blog is “Neurological Correlates – A Neuroscience Tabloid of Dysfunctional Behavior ” There is a nascent companion video site,, too.

One of my hobbies is curating out-of-copyright scientific illustration, now that there are so many digital image databases on the web.


Q: How do you download or print the images?

A: Right click to “open image in new tab” (in Google Chrome, but there should be equivalents in other browsers).  From there you can save or print the images.

Q: What is the best way to search the site with a word and get results as images?

A: Aye yi yi, we have a custom site-specific image searcher, but it’s funky (we’re working on it, the search results are presented in a weird format, must have lost some code somewhere because it used to work. . .): Search the Site page Actually, we gave up on the Google Image Search API mod, so. . . As you can see, searching the site has been a conundrum. We currently have a search box in the sidebar where you can put in a word (like, “cat”) and get the site results, most of which have images associated with it. It is not perfect, but it works for now.

Here are better other ways at the moment:

Use a site restricted Google Image search ( This pulls up all the images, and may have some that have been moved or removed from the site, but still show up on the search. (So sorry for any “404’s”).

Are you looking for a black and white botanical? Here.

Are you looking for images that are predominantly pink? Here.

Looking for some lemons? Here.

Looking for a medieval dog performing urinanalysis on a sick kitten? Here.

Or, go to Google Image search and paste

Here are more guided searches.

And, if you want to find other images visually similar to the ones here at Vintage Printable, you can paste the URL of an image into Google Image search and get visually similar images: Here’s an example

Q: I need a high res image — do you have that?

A:  Usually no.  Most of our images are sized to print from your home printer on letter size paper — some are a little smaller, some are a little bigger. Most of the images are between about 500MB to about 2MB or so. Usually our sources (academic digital libraries or other public sources) haven’t scanned large sized files. Remember, most of our images are from books — so the images should print about the same as they first appeared in the books.

We’re no expert, but some of our users report using image editing software to “res-up” the images. Alternatively, there are paid services where you can license hi-res images, as many ad agencies and others already do.

Q: Any financial disclosures or other disclosures that may influence your content?

A: We are a free-with-ads model, and accept ads from networks. So far no one has given us any free stuff whatsoever, and frankly, we feel a little neglected, but, we choose to be anonymous and it’s hard to accept bribery when you don’t want the other person to know who you are.  Our professional/social background does influence us in our selection, organization, descriptors and tags for the images. For instance, we don’t say “monkeys” but rather “non-human primates.” We also put religious images under the “Mythology” section. (See our “Images of Hell” collection.) In our other blog about neuroscience, we rail on and on about the financial services industry all the time, and some of that probably spills over to here.

Q: Do you track users?

A: We use analytics to track usage, but not necessarily our individual users. We use Google Analytics, Sitemeter, our server stats, and the WordPress Jetpack stats. We can see in general the number of visitors, the number of pages per visit*, referring sites and search terms, and the IP address or the domain (like, “,” that kind of thing). Typical blog analytics stuff. We are not a shopping site, and, while we are interested as a general matter who our users are, we really don’t want the responsibility of handling the particulars.   If you strongly object to having your IP address visible, we suggest you find ways to surf anonymously.

For a glimpse into our wonderful, talented, good-looking, popular user base, see our Press page.  We feel very fortunate to be able to be a small part of this creative community, in our own way. It really does give us happiness to have taken such a left-turn from our ordinary line of work to see all the creativity that is out there.

* As to the number of pages per visit, we try to be reasonable.  Our main focus is balancing convenience of having a whole bunch of images on one page versus overly-long page load time from having too many images.  You can left click on the thumbnail to see the image directly in the jetpack image carousel (a slideshow type format). Or, right click on the thumbnail to go to the image attachment page directly without the slide show.  We also have lots of navigational links. Enjoy, explore!

Q: Do you have a button that I can put on my site?

A.: Here you go

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=” Printable Button 126×64.jpg” alt=”VintagePrintable” width=”126″ height=”64″ /></a>

Q: Does Vintage Printable claim any rights in the images here?

A: No.

We don’t claim any rights in the individual works  —  public domain works can be copied freely. (Please see our disclaimer (below), as we believe the works here are public domain, but we rely on others for that determination — so you may want to check it out yourself.)

Also, we try to avoid brand names, celebrities and other images that could give rise to additional third party rights. From time to time we put up vintage photos and the like of long-ago newsworthy events that may include identifiable individuals, and these images are posted for historical and journalistic purposes, plus we think they are terrific.

Please understand that you do not have permission to wholesale copy major portions of this site, including organized collections of works. (We’re mostly talking about site scrapers and the like.)  For example, works that were part of a single book now out of copyright are free to be copied, but from time to time we have selected those images and added to additional images for aesthetic and organizational purposes. If you are going to copy some of the works in bulk this way, please know that that copying is licensed under a non-commercial attribution license — thanks much. But, there is no permission to copy large portions of the site — sorry site scrapers.

We want to remain recognizable in our organization, our overall selection of images, and the way we use that little Tapir in our logo.


Creative Commons License

Portions of Vintage Printable by Vintage Printable/ Swivelchair Media are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at

*  *  *
Disclaimer and waiver *sigh*: Vintage Printable can’t guarantee anything in life. If anyone wants an image removed, please send e mail.  Plus, we may change this page at any time.


Also *sigh* no representations or warranties about anything to anyone, including that the images actually are public domain or otherwise have no restrictions on use, or warranties of merchantability or any other kind of warranty.


Each user is fully responsible for their own use of these images and recognizes Vintage Printable is not responsible in any way for anything. Users understand that we believe the images are free to use, and are not carriers of some awful computer bug or some other terror that will crash the internets *Sigh*.


Of course we can’t guarantee anything, or give any kind of legal, copyright or advice about your life in general, so if you are at all concerned, find your trusted adviser and ask them. Images we collect from public sources are tagged with meta information or other information for description, indexing and being picked up by the search engines. We may clean them up a little, and we certainly don’t claim any kind of rights in that at all.

If any one wants any image removed please send me an e mail with your reasons, and more than likely the image will be removed. Nothing here is to be considered a legal opinion, etc. You all know the drill. If you are going to sink big time money, or make life-altering decisions based on the images in this site,  one word: don’t.


Our position statement:

Public domain images by definition have no copyright restriction on use in the U.S.

Nevertheless, as with any new technology that eliminates the middle man, there are vested interests in the old way of making money. There are some entities that would like to take really old, out of copyright two- dimensional works, take a photo (albeit, a professional photo), and then claim: “Gotcha. New copyright, pay me. ”

Our own view is that this is wrong: the whole point of copyright law is that it only lasts for a period of time, not forever.  If copyright lasted forever, then there would be no dissemination of new ideas, because everyone would be frozen afraid to be sued — among a zillion other reasons. Plus copyright rewards creativity — not work. Mere duplication shouldn’t count as creativity. If copyright rewarded the amount of work, then a high-throughput scanner could be an author. Copyright rewards the tangible embodiment of creativity — even if you only wake up and do that creative thing in a fog for one second and then fall asleep or watch cute kitten videos all day long, as some at château Swivelchair are wont to do. You can be brilliantly creative and hardly work at all. This is what many people strive for and copyright protects that.

Think: would DaVinci be thrilled with the British libraries and other places that claim: “Gotcha! All the world has enjoyed your work for millenia, but now that we paid to hire a really good photographer who knows how to light it to take a really good photo and so we get to own the rights again! ”

This is wrong on so many levels.

Institutions do have an argument: “We spent good money digitizing these — like a zillion dollars! Now we should control who gets to print these out or copy these digitally!”

Our answer: If taxpayer money paid for (a) the original acquisition of the object; (b) the scanning/photography, as well as museum overhead, then shouldn’t the otherwise public domain scan belong to the public?

Here’s another argument: It’s private funds, from rich people.

Our Answer: Then give back any tax deductions you take. If you claim that private money gives you the right to make profit on the things you buy with it then to me that indicates you are not an non-profit institution. Just pay the back taxes and we’ll call it square.  More than that, it’s usually private commingled with taxpayer money.

Sorry readers and viewers, scrapbookers and rock and rollers,  Southerners and New Yorkers and Australians and Canadians —  now that there seems to be some scrapes with Wikimedia, I wanted to post this manifesto.  I feel the same way about scientific research done with public money that is then published behind a paywall. If I (representing taxpayers generally) paid for the research, I shouldn’t have to pay to see the results.

Please see (for example):

Wikimedia Commons:Reuse of PD-Art photographs

Open Content Alliance

Archives or Assets? by Peter B. Hirtle, Cornell University, 58th president of the Society of American Archivists, (N.B.:President Peter B. Hirtle presented an abbreviated version of this address at the opening plenary session of the 67th annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Los Angeles on Aug. 21, 2003.)

User:Dcoetzee/NPG Legal Threat



More to come, thanks for stopping by — we hope this is useful and entertaining –


My e mail:
swivelchairmedia[at ]

Click to find us on Twitter

Swivelchair Media

50 thoughts on “About, FAQs, Disclaimer, and a Public Domain Manifesto”

  1. Just want to say thank you for all that you do. If you need help, I’m here to volunteer.

    Also, I was looking at some of your stuff on and they were requiring at least a one day subscription of $5 to download.

    Now, I also have documents on Scribd and they’re supposed to be free to anybody who wants them so when I saw that your downloads were requiring a payment I checked the settings on mine and fixed it so that they’re back to free.

    Don’t know if it’s intentional, but thought I’d give you the heads up.

    Again, if you need any help I’m happy to assist. Any back end stuff, tagging, sorting. Whatever. Just ask.

  2. ABOUT YOUR GALLERIES: I can’t get the pictures to hold still long enough to see anything! I try to click on an interesting picture and the whole thing leaps away from the mouse.

    While it may be graphically “exciting” and a programming tour de force … as a user interface is sucks. Really sucks.

  3. Thank you for setting up such a useful, fun, and addictive site. I visit often, and I’m almost always greeted by an apology on your main website regarding functionality, servers, etc.

    I’m sure it’s difficult to balance functionality/ quality/ quantity. Nevertheless, you do an excellent job. I understand the sentiment, but as you’re site is free AND awesome, why apologize? It’s clear that you do your best to update often and rectify glitches.

    Thanks again.

    Best wishes,

  4. Thank you for providing this to us designers and crafters, I think this is super! Nevermind all the incredibly lazy people who are criticizing the functionality.

  5. I love your site for inspiration and ideas. I want to design a t-shirt and I love a flower image on your site. I’d love to put it with some other art images – some my own. My question is, If the copyright no longer exists for the flower image from your site, am I allowed to use part of the flower image along with other images to create a t-shirt that could be sold?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback,

  6. The images are superb for reference purposes for my job as a freelance designer but the images won’t load, such a shame, i can’t see them!. As someone mentioned earlier on here…. your website isn’t powerful enough for most people’s basic home pc’s. But please don’t reduce the quality (size) of the images!

  7. I want to thank you for the service you provide and applaud you for being as open as you are about the copyright status of the images you provide. I get frustrated when I see websites trying to claim copyrights that they simply don’t own just because they scanned an image. We need ethical people like yourselves more than ever. Thank you again.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful resource. I absolutely agree with your stand on copyright and public domain…If our governing bodies were only collage artists (in any medium), then the laws would make more sense! * sigh *

  9. i love the idea of your site HOWEVER- i CAN NOT open any of the items, when i click on them-i get LOADING and then nothing????…does anyone else have this problem…..i keep coming back to this site, but, nothing!

  10. Thank you for an awe-inspiring site. I love everything. Where is the “Download All” button? hehe

    But seriously, what an amazing resource for creativity and beauty. Many thanks, swivelchair.

  11. I use vintage images all the time for craft projects. I buy a lot of old books and scan a lot of images in for projects. So I know how much time it takes to find, scan, fix, tag, and upload them – I really appreciate all that you’re doing and that you’re sharing it with all of us. This has been one of the most complete sites I’ve seen with great quality images.
    Thank you and keep up the good work!

    1. E – We usually use already-scanned images from digital image libraries on the web — that we categorize, meta-tag and upload onto our pesky servers. Many thanks for your comments.

  12. First off, let me thank you for this excellent resource. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time.

    I have a question that I’m still not clear on after reading this page. As public domain, are these images assumed to be okay for not only personal use, but public use as well? We would be interested in incorporating some illustrations as parts of new images in a campaign, not using them as-is or presenting them as our own. Please contact me directly if you need more details, and thanks again!

  13. What a wonderful site, thankyou for allowing everyone to have access to such beautiful images.

    Is it possible for you to package all the images, and allow us to download the package in one download. There are so many I could download, but unfortunately, this will take days or weeks to save all the images.

    Thankyou very much

    Kind regards


    1. L – Thank you for the kind comments.The images from the era when people actually drew what they saw are terrific, and we’re happy to put them up on the site for all to appreciate.

      We have collected some images as E-Books on Scribed. These are in PDF form and should be easily downloadable. See our E-Book page.

      As far as packaging all the images (between 20-30K images, large amount of bandwidth needed for downloads) — we are not set up as an e commerce site. We really don’t think it’s likely we’ll have all the images, or even large portions, downloadable at once and maintain the free-with-ads model, but thank you for the suggestion, we’ll consider other options.

      We encourage you and other users to explore the academic and other digital libraries hosting public domain/copyright-free works — there are plenty of treasures out there to appreciate.

  14. I need some hand-holding here…I want to get some of these images printed for display on my walls…they need to be HUGE…like 30 X 40 inches. I have no clue how to do this without loosing the resolution. I am not photoshop educated. Tell me what to do. The images I want to use are some of the botanicals with the black backgrounds.

  15. Thank you for a wonderful, highly useful site. I love the images and your philosophy. You provide a great service. The images are both educational and beautiful. I’m very happy they are public domain and available to everyone! Thanks again!

    1. D.I.T.L.D., thank you! We’re glad that the copyright lobby hasn’t influenced lawmakers to kidnap these public domain images back into the private domain like they have with other public domain works.

  16. Just wanted to commend you on your intriguing blogs, both this one and Neurological Correlates. I referenced both of them in a recent post on my blog. The post is titled Here There be Archetypes. I will be exploring both sites further and have recommended them to those who read my blog post. I tried to leave a comment on the Vampire Squid post, but it didn’t work. Thanks again.

  17. So glad I stumbled upon your website. My husband is super concerned about copy-right law, so I’m glad to find someone who is taking a stand. Plus I love the collection – I have so many great ideas for my clients right now!

  18. hi,
    I posted a question concerning the commercial use of these images, it was there for 2 days and now its gone.
    I was asking whether I could use these images on clothes, please let me know if you would rather not reply at all.


    1. We cannot give legal opinions, LH, but we believe the images we collect are in the public domain mostly as as non-copyrightable or copyright expired. We base our belief on sources from which we acquire the images (such as dates of publication of original books) and then the notion that duplicating a 2-d image does not give rise to a new copyright.

  19. Hi,
    I am wondering if I can use the botanical education plates as product images on my website freely and clearly. I am confused about the copyright issues.

    Thank you,

  20. This is such a great resource. I agree wholeheartedly with your aims, and applaud the effort you have put into this site.

    Absolutely great.

    Thank you

    Anne Corr

  21. Just surfed in looking for a public domain picture of a whale…
    I wish I had the server space to post my collection in high rez!
    I’ll definitely link to this and tell others about it- best wishes.

  22. This is my first visit, found you by accident really. I was looking for a few cool insect pictures to print for my son’s bedroom wall. Oh my! I am amazed by your site.
    Thank you SO much, I found exactly what I wanted.
    I’ll spread the word!

  23. HI I can see above a couple of queries relating to this but I was wanting to use some images within my tshirt designs. Is there anyway of investigating copyrights or knowing if I can use these images and sell a product on a very small scale?
    Thanks! Sar

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