Free Art Download: 8 Vintage Patent Designs

Looking for something simple, beautiful, and cheap to hang on your walls?

Some things become so common, it’s easy to forget there was a time before they existed. These 8 beautiful patent designs, graciously found and formatted by Primer reader ColbyJH, show the early lives of just a few of these kinds of things. The motorcycle. The Telecaster guitar. The bicycle. All had to be designed, built, and patented before they could be sold.

I love these prints: They’re minimalist in design and work in any room with almost any kind of frame. They’re beautiful line drawings – just imagine the skill needed to draw one of these before computers. They’re also incredibly versatile. You can hang them vertically or horizontally, based on whichever works best for you or what you think looks the coolest.

They’re offered here, free to download in two sizes. First, is 11×14, the common size of the Free Art Downloads. I love putting mine in $5 black frames from Wal-Mart. They look much more expensive than they are.  Simply have them printed at Staples or Costco on 11×17 paper, for a buck or two a piece.

The second size is a gigantic 36×48, sized to be printed as a $7 engineering print at Staples the same way we did on our map project. For more detailed instructions on printing, check that article for specifics and more art ideas.  Both sizes include a built in white border that mimics a matte.

Some of the patent prints aren’t the earliest design, but may be a common variation or had the coolest drawing. And if you want to find more patent drawings check out Google’s Patent Search.

The Motorcycle – Adam Ziska Jr., 1919

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

The Telecaster – CL Fender, 1951

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Camera with Coupled Exposure Meter – E. Sauer, 1962

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Double Edge Safety Razor Embodying Flexible Blade Pressure Control – Frederick L. Risher, 1972

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Bicycle – EJ O’Connor, 1894

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Precision Bass – CL Fender, 1952

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Electric Guitar Design – Ted McCarty, 1955

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Fender Guitar Amplifier – CL Fender, 1959

Download: 11×14 | 36×48

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.

  • Joey S.

    The links for the DE Razor are switched, FYI.

  • Sean Henry

    These are really cool. I already have locations in mind for the safety razor and the camera pictures.

  • Ricardo Presas

    These are the best bunch so far! Great stuff.

  • ColbyJH

    Thanks for sharing, Andrew! I’m going to have to make a 36×48 now!

  • SalPic

    Patent drawings are the best. Great for concert posters too! Were these just tossed into a photo editor and inverted to get the white-on-black look?

    • ColbyJH

      Exactly! I also adjusted the levels for better contrast.

      • SalPic

        From the man himself! Thanks for the tip. I love the bike one, but as a drummer and a golfer, I see myself spending a bit of time on Google Patents in the near future.

        • Michael

          Do you have a trick when finding your prints? I printed and made my own frame for the Motorcycle print but I am not able to find any more motorcycle patent pictures like that one, do you have a website you go to when searching (other than Google). Thanks in advance.

          • SalPic

            So far I only used Google. Using a regular google web search for the patents of some of your favorite brands or items (which is what I did for the Slingerland snare drum patent) helps. Also, under the search options you can sort by date, getting the older patents first.

  • rakroy

    I’ve been looking for some art for my office. I’m a patent attorney so needless to say, these are awesome! The white on black is genius.

  • DataHoarder

    Could you share these in a proper format? JPEG is a format that reduces file size at the expense of image quality and introduces compression artifacts. A better format would be TIF. Even PNG would be better. <3

  • Jonny

    FUCKING JPEGS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME FUCKERS, GRRR DAMN IT PRIMER MAG, LETS GET SOME TIFS UP IN THIS BITCH!

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Don’t think that was necessary…

      • Jonny

        It certainly wasn’t Andy, I apologise profusely, I’ll make it up to you, drinks Wednesday?

        • ColbyJH

          Feel free to make your own.

  • James

    Where can you find a frame like the one in the post picture? I really like it but I am having trouble finding it. The woods one I am finding cost a lot!

  • Kyle Oliver

    I “aged” the paper by rubbing a little steel wool over the paper (mine was printed on 60 lb using a laser printer)then putting a small amount of soy sauce on a paper towel and wiping the paper down. As I have the patience of a 5-year-old on Christmas Eve, a quick flip-of-the-swtich from my wife’s hair dryer had the paper ready to go in the frame in no time. Oh and the Dollar store by my house had 11X14 frames so I did the whole project for a cool $1.43 each! Thanks for the great art guys!

  • Jarrad

    So I framed up the two cycle patents and framed them for the office – thought it was pretty cool. Then a stiff co-worker came in and hit me with, “What’s the purpose behind those?” My response? “To remind me that even when things seem perfect they can still be improved upon.” He left with a whimper…haha

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      BOOOM! Nice.

  • SalPic

    Just made one from a ZIldjian cymbal patent for my brother (a Jazz drummer in NYC…stevepicjazz.com…end shameless plug): https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BybfAfedsRVia0VNVlNKdmdjSVU/edit?usp=sharing.

    Went the 11×14 route, PNG file (though I hear TIF may be better?). Please use and enjoy!

    • Guest

      Just did a Sligerland SNare Drum patent from the 30s as well. Tif format. also 11×14 with the faux matting: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BybfAfedsRViaU5QLXR2dHFBTUk/edit?usp=sharing

      • SalPic

        Whoops, this was me also. Same link as above.

    • SalPic

      And a sligerland snare drum from the 30s, also 11×14 with the faux matting: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BybfAfedsRViaU5QLXR2dHFBTUk/edit?usp=sharing.

      • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

        Thanks for sharing all of these!

        • SalPic

          My pleasure! I can also confirm they print out nicely on 11×17 ( that’s all my work copier had) and they look fantastic. They’ll be on the wall soon.

        • Michael

          Andrew, how do I upload a picture to this thread. I’d like to share the one I made using the motorcycle and my own custom frame. Thanks! Keep these coming please!

    • SalPic

      I’m on a roll. Here is one of the earliest golf ball patents. This one is a PNG and set up for 11×17 paper: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BybfAfedsRViRTdTQ0NsYkhIYlU/edit?usp=sharing

      • SalPic
        • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

          Awesome!!!

      • M2Cutie

        any chance you removed from your google drive? Was trying to make some for my Fiancé to decorate his new office and the link doesn’t seem to work any more Thanks, Meg

        • SalPic

          That’s very possible. I’ll take a look.

          Really though this is VERY easy to do with a google patent search (sorted by date so oldest is first), and nearly any basic photo editor (I like GIMP).

    • SalPic

      They look great framed! Here are a golf ball and golf club patents in frames I found on Amazon for less than 10 bucks each (and made in the US!)

      • Brent

        Awesome frames… link?

      • http://tyler-summer11.blogspot.com/ TyLo

        @SalPic:disqus If I wanted to edit these, like snapshot parts of the patent and combine with others, is there some way to designate the size to 11X14? I use PaintShopProX6, or can I do it in Microsoft Publisher somehow, just looking for tips to keep the same size if I want to edit them, many of the patents need straightening, etc. Any advice is appreciated, thanks.

        • SalPic

          I use GIMP, the free, open source Photoshop alternative that is a favorite of many (www.gimp.org). From Google Patents, I save the image to my computer, open it in GIMP, invert the colors, crop it to 11×17 (you can lock the aspect ratio to whatever you want, but that’s what I did), then adjust the canvas size and the image size so that the image is about 75% of the canvas. Then print! Hope that helps.

          • http://tyler-summer11.blogspot.com/ TyLo

            It does for sure, thanks for the tips!

    • SalPic

      In honor of football season, I did a football and helmet. Both 11x17s.

  • Lauro Diazzesati

    What program/settings can I use to recolor other images to the same effect used here?

  • Ivan Vujosevic

    where do i find patents pictures like these? how did you make the motorcycle patent so big? are the prints copywrited in some form or fashion

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  • Natalia

    Thank you so much and thanks to Buzzfeed too :D

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  • Patty Williams

    I love the Motorcycle and guitars!!! Great fathers day gift to my biker/guitar playing hubby! Thank you!

  • Laura

    These are so great. Can’t wait to use them in my new place!

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