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The British Library Adds One Million Public Domain Images to Flickr


ScreenHunter_267 Dec. 17 11.29

Rejoice, all ye illustrators and designers, at least if your work involves antiquarian subjects. The British Library has just posted more than a million copyright-free images to its Flickr photostream, and the pickings are choice if you need to illustrate anything from phrenology to 17th century geological theories.

The images come from the Mechanical Curator, a British Library project to scan more than 65,000 books from the 16th to 19th centuries. (Rather a drop in the bucket of the library’s collection of 13 million volumes, but one must start somewhere.)


Letters from the Land of the Rising Sun. Being a selection from


Under the Rays of the Aurora Borealis: in the land of the Lapps

According to a British Library statement: “The release of these collections into the public domain represent the Library‚Äôs desire to improve knowledge of and about them, to enable novel and unexpected ways of using them, and to begin working with researchers to explore and interpret large-scale digital collections.”

The library particularly hopes that viewers will help fill out the scanty metadata attached to each image by adding learned comments and tags.

The collection ranges from decorative borders and advertising ephemera to a manual on how to identify cattle from the rear. Given the period represented, most are drawings, but the set also includes a fair number of early photographs, many expressing the curious world view that comes from maintaining an empire.

(via Flickr Blog)