If you need some vintage visual inspiration – or a real antique elements for an illustration, design or motion project – check out the British Library's collection of over a million copyright-free images that essentially you can do whatever you like with.

The British Library's collection of images on Flickr are taken from books it has its collection from the 17th, 18th and 19th Century – so well out of copyright – and are vaguely arranged by theme: such as book covers, cycling, illustrated lettering, comic art, ships or children's book illustration. There's also a collection of 'Highlights' that's a good place to start if you just want a general browse.

That there's any sense of order to the collection is a testament to the volunteers who have catalogued images posted to Flickr by the library's Mechanical Curator – a bot that randomly picks and posts images from the all of the books the library has digitised since 2013.

Both photos and illustrations are included, though unfortunately many of their creators aren't credited – merely the authors of the books they appear in.

Image: Illustration by Stanley Llewellyn Wood from Doctor Nikola, etc by Guy Newell Boothby. Found in the Highlights collection.

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