Vintage Patent Art Work for FREE

Finding Vintage Patent Artwork, diy pallet project

Last week I shared with you the calendar I bought that was filled with Patent Posters, most from the 1800’s.  With a few pieces of pallet wood and some modpodge the calendar patent posters were transformed into  inexpensive artwork.

Vintage Patent Blueprints Calendar Pallet Wall Art

I know that you can still buy this 2016 calendar online but I didn’t provide a link and that was on purpose.  I didn’t want you to go out and buy the calendar and then today I tell you how to get the patent images for free.  Oh, by the way, if you do want to buy the calendar, you can find it at Amazon here. Just remember, that if you buy the calendar you are limited to the 12 pictures on the calendar.

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Vintage patent artwork is also available online from a whole bunch of dealers but it doesn’t matter who is selling the images, they all get their artwork from one place… United States Patent and Trademark Office and the easiest place to find a patent is at Google Patents. Yes Google has a site devoted exclusively to patents. All the information at Google Patents comes from the  United States Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization. 

The U.S. patents date back to 1790. By doing a search in Google Patents, you’ll get every imaginable patent that has to do with your search term.  It’s a bit of overload.

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I have a thing for mechanical banks, like the one above.  When I searched for money box (as mechanical banks were once known), I got over 35,000 results.  Every patent that had money or box in it’s write up was listed. 

What I like about Google patents is that you can narrow your search by year, such as before 1900 when the results narrowed down to a more manageable 88 results.

If you have a specific patent in mind, you can also look up a patent with just the patent number. Every patent has a number in the top left corner.

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If you have any collection or theme in your house you can find a patent that would coordinate, whether it’s cycling, photography, golf, baseball, shoes, cars, toys, boating.  You name it, it’s out there.

From what I’ve read, the text and the drawing of a patent are not subject to copyright restrictions and the images are free for your own personal use. If you want to use an image for something other than your own personal use you may have to check with a lawyer, the company that owns the patent or read the documentation on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see if you can interpret their legalese.

Free Artwork using downloadable patent images

Once you have found the patent art image of your dreams, it is time to make your artwork.

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With your favorite photo editing software, it is so easy to manipulate the patent image to coordinate with your room or decorating style, whether you like a sepia image, a chalkboard finish, an architectural blueprint image…the choice is yours.

These were all edited in Picasa, a free photo editing software. I also have Photoshop but I prefer Picasa because it’s a bit more intuitive even after my son bought me Photoshop for Dummies, obviously it didn’t work for me.

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The images in my calendar were 13 x 16.25, slightly larger than a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. To be able to print out my artwork on a regular printer, the image was imported into Microsoft Office Publisher where I can create any sized custom page..even 13 x 16.25

If you don’t have Publisher, Marie, at Interior Frugalista, gave me another site to use for enlarging a photo, Block Posters. If you know of any other programs where you can make custom sized prints I would love for you to leave a comment.

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This is a print preview. My patent camera will print out on 4 sheets of paper.

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All printed out and starting to be trimmed.  I’ve also gathered my pallet wood.

You can find the full tutorial , Pallets and Calendar Wall Art here.

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The pallet wood has been whitewashed and is ready for modpodge. Once the modpodge is painted on make sure to squeeze out those air bubbles.

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Finding Vintage Patent Artwork, diy pallet project

If you print out on a regular home inkjet printer, beware, modpodge can turn the paper a bit greenish.  If you don’t like that look there are a few tips you can use…Piddix created a great article on How to Prevent Smudges and Bleeding when using an Inkjet Printer. Experiment a bit and see what works for you.  The picture above used straight modpodge over top of the printed page.

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Not sure where to start? Check out my patent art board on pinterest to begin your inspiration. So far I’ve saved over 100 patents from corkscrews to slinkies.


Shared at Metamorphosis Monday, Inspire me Tuesday,

Trash 2 Treasure, Be Inspired, Wow us Wednesdays,

Talk of the Town, The DIY Collective, Link Party Palooza,

Dishing it and Digging it,


  • Linda says:

    Thank you very kindly, Joan. This is a terrific way to put up art we like when we are on a shoestring budget minus the shoestring!!! I especially appreciate the advice on software programs to assist us with photo editing particularly for those of us who do not get along so very intuitively with certain software, lol. Great article.

  • ashley says:

    Thank you so much for this, it’s incredible! Do you have any search tips for Google patents? I’m having a hard time locating the original item, such as motorcycle or bicycle and am instead getting many related items like saddle bags, headlights, etc. Also, how do you search for results prior to 1900?

    • Joan says:

      If you are not finding what you want I would suggest just googling, motorcycle patent, or bicycle patent and clicking on images. If you find one you like you can then get the patent number off of that image then google it directly to get the original. Did that even make sense? Good luck.

  • Claire says:

    Thank you very much for the information. I will definately be visiting the google patent site.

  • Vickie says:

    Thank you so so much for the link to the patient site. I have several framed original blueprints that are from a machine that my grandfather patiented in the early 1900’s After searching his name on this site I found that he held a patient on another machine. It just so happens that i have that machine in my garage and have often thought that i should make it into a table lamp. You’ve given me new inspiration. Many thanks.

    • Joan says:

      Once you mentioned that you could look up the inventor, you reminded me that my Dad once held a patent. I looked his patent up, unfortunately it wasn’t anything I would frame but it was kind of interesting, a blast from the past. I’m so glad you could find value in the site.

  • Brooke says:

    Love these. What a great idea. So Unique.

  • Michelle says:

    Totally in love with this. AbSooooLutely awesome!!

  • Cookie says:

    I was finally able to open. I so enjoy viewing your projects. Great job.

  • Janet says:

    Great, and generous, post! Thought I’d follow you on Pinterest, so went to your boards and now it’s an hour later … I like what your pins! Sincerely,

  • Larain says:

    Thank you for your hints etc. I will be using your transfers for a coffee table.

  • Lori Leeper says:

    Very cool! You are so creative!! Thanks for sharing at dishing It & Digging It!

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