How to find antique public domain images and import them into Photoshop

How do I find images (e.g. for Digital Scrapbooking) in the Internet Archive Images?

Dear reader,,

Have you ever wondered where all those wonderful ancient and antique pictures (vintage pictures) actually come from, which are used for Digital Scrapbooking, among other things?

It was years ago when I asked myself this question and did my own research. Those who know me, know that I love vintage images that I either completely redesign with existing materials or release the contents to the general public to be used in other projects.

Ancient free-to-use images in the public domain abound, but my absolute favorite database of free-to-use ancient images is the Internet Archive on flickr “Internet Archive Book Imagess“.

(Addendum: A list of other databases with antique images and retro can be found here.)

Some interesting information as we launch

It took me a while to use the database properly to find what I was looking for. Now I want to share my knowledge and will explain you step by step the most important functions to successfully find material, download it and import it for further editing in Photoshop (or a similar editing program). We’ll just get started now and I’ll explain everything with screenshots so you can try it out right away.

Follow these link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/   

This will take you to the main page of the Internet Archive, which I will now call simply “bookyear”. Look at the top right‚Ķ.there it says that this site has already scanned and archived over 5.2 million images. WOOOW‚Ķ. so that’s 5.2 million ways to get really nice, antique illustrations for your projects. But of course, not everything is usable, but with the selection, it will hardly be noticeable. You’ll be amazed at what you can find there with the right search‚Ķ.

Note: The Internet Archive has been scanning old books , CDs, manuscripts, newspaper articles, etc. for years, most of whose copyrights have now expired. I call the archive “bookyear” because it’s always the first word I type in the search, so I’m sure I’m only shown images from the Internet Archive. And now, prepare yourself for a trip into the depths of wonderful, ancient illustrations. There really is an incredible amount to discover and, after all, more and more books are being added as time goes on. And just imagine, the people from the archive scan the books in such a way that images and text are separated, but you can also freely download the complete book as PDF or other formats. It’s really incredibly fun once you understand the system. So‚Ķ on it goes‚Ķ.

If you are looking for content “only” from the provider bookyear, always enter this name first and then (exclusively in english) what you are looking for. So as in the example above: bookyear fairy tale ‚Üí Confirm with Enter. You will now be shown all available content that the Internet Archives Books has scanned with this term.

This is what your result should look like if you scroll a little….

Many…many free fantastic ancient pictures

Now try the same again and search for “ornaments”.  

Tip: The search function at flickr is sometimes not easy. You usually can’t write a new term between the terms, but have to (for whatever reason)‚Ķ. first delete the last one to be able to enter a new one. I work with google‚Ķ.how that is with other browsers, I do not know. So don’t get irritated‚Ķflickr is a bit old-fashioned as far as the search is concerned. But on to our vintage pictures‚Ķ 

I’m sure you’ve understood the principle quite well by now and are already trying out other terms for topics that interest you personally. May it be “religion”, “transport” (or even “transportation”)‚Ķ.. “architecture” and‚Ķand‚Ķ You’ll see, it’s a huge selection of fantastic images that are just waiting to be re-staged.

 Are you looking for Victorian fashion pictures‚Ķfrom the old catalogs and books? There are plenty of them too. And with the help of this example I explain how to proceed now. This time, enter in the search function: bookyear fashion ‚Üí confirm with Enter. You will be shown this first page. Feel free to scroll a bit‚Ķ great stuff, isn’t it? ūüôā

Please scroll until you see this image and double click on it. (The lady with the red mark) 

Here we have the beautiful Victorian lady also already in close-up. Below you can see the small windows where you could view more content. But let’s stay with the beautiful lady in the green dress for now‚Ķ 

Important contents of the page‚Ķ.what we are interested in and what we can safely ignore‚Ķ ūüėČ 

Under each picture all the necessary information is displayed, which book it is‚Ķ.year of publication, author, etc. Interesting for us are the gray boxes on the right, each containing a link to further pages. Also very important for our further search path, however, is the left side‚Ķ.  “View bookpage” and further links below‚Ķ.

Further down is the part with text samples from the book, which are often rather cryptic and were not correctly transferred from the scanner to the reading program. It would be an insane effort, if every text excerpt would have to be typed in again‚Ķ ūüėČ  

From this page you can click any link and explore more books by the same author‚Ķthe year, or the sponsor. Each link will take you to more images‚Ķ. so just give everything a try. If you have an account with flickr (not mandatory),you can also add each image to a collection. 

You can also search bookyear simply by year, then enter bookyear 1900 or bookcentaur 1900. The former will only show images from 1900‚Ķthe latter from the entire 1900 century. You will see‚Ķthere are an incredible number of images either way‚Ķ.   

What is the next step? On the left side of the page, look a little further down: View all images and then click on the link “All Images From Book” so that all the individual images from this book are displayed to you at once and see there‚Ķ.. 

…..here is your dreamland at best to view, select and download beautiful antique images from ancient books and advertising magazines. And in various sizes up to scanned original size. But feel free to take a look around‚Ķ. Isn’t it wonderful? This is my land of milk and honey‚Ķ. I can spend hours here in the pictures and‚Ķoh‚Ķokay, you didn’t want to know that, but to be explained how to proceed now‚Ķ.  

Oops‚Ķone more step back. Also, always look at the red bordered area to see if it says “No known copyright restrictions”! That means the book is more than 70 years old and the copyrights have expired. So all content is under CC0 license. If you are not sure, just click the link and you will get exact information about the license. 

Now we would have also clarified the legal side and go further… You have now found the lady scrolling on the page with all the image content. If you like what you see and want to save it on your hard drive, just click on the picture of the pretty lady….

Grandiose‚Ķso we can not only save the individual images, but also download the book as a PDF. This is especially useful if we wanted to save many images of the page, which sometimes takes quite a long time, or if we still want to get the most out of the image‚Ķor want to know what it is‚Ķor simply need background paper, which the first blank pages usually provide‚Ķ. 

The advantage is also that you can still improve the images by quite a bit in Photoshop (or comparable programs). So‚ĶPDF makes sense and that’s why I’ll show you how to do it‚Ķ.

bild anschauen und herunterladen


A completely old and scanned book is now on the hard drive. Hooray…. Now we open Photosho and drag and drop the PDF directly into Photoshop.

When you see this window, you can load any page you want into Photoshop. By holding down the CTRL key, you can select multiple pages to be loaded. In this image section the information is still missing, but you can also then select the size and other setting. Then only confirm with OK and it can be designed creatively…

It is really incredibly fun to browse the database of “bookyear”. I hope the tutorial helped you to get good results with the search and also the download. 

Finally, a tip: When searching, it is best never to enter more than 3 words including bookyear, as it usually leads to no useful results in my experience. 

I would be interested to know what your experience is on the Internet Archive site. Feel free to write me. Was my tutorial understandable and helpful? I would be pleased about feedback. Gladly also a rating with stars. Thank you!!  

In any case, I wish a lot of fun and a great time on Flickr and I know‚Ķ.who once browsed there, will fill his stock‚Ķ;-) 

In this sense I send creative greetings and stay healthy. 

Dorothe from Darkmoon-Art

More Vintage

Another tip for you. In the meantime, I have also created a comprehensive list of links on the subject of “Where can I find royalty-free, old images for scrapbooking“. Sources for antique images.

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10 Monate zuvor

[…] Erg√§nzender Tipp zum Tutorial “Gemeinfreie Bilder finden und in Photoshop bearbeiten” […]

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[…] Erg√§nzender Tipp zum Tutorial “Gemeinfreie Bilder finden und in Photoshop bearbeiten” […]

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7 Monate zuvor

[…] In einem meiner Blogbeitr√§ge habe ich bereits ausf√ľhrlich gezeigt, wie du ganze B√ľcher von Internet Archive Book Images herunterladen und in Photoshop laden kannst. Den Beitrag findest du hier: Gemeinfreie antike Bilder finden, herunterladen und in Photoshop importieren […]

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