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. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

88 Comments

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    Joey S.

    The links for the DE Razor are switched, FYI.

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    Sean Henry

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

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    Ricardo Presas

    These are the best bunch so far! Great stuff.

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    ColbyJH

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

  • Reply November 11, 2013

    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?

    • Reply November 11, 2013

      ColbyJH

      Exactly! I also adjusted the levels for better contrast.

      • Reply November 11, 2013

        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.

        • Reply December 23, 2013

          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.

          • December 23, 2013

            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.

  • Reply November 15, 2013

    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.

  • Reply November 16, 2013

    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

  • Reply November 16, 2013

    Jonny

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

    • Reply November 16, 2013

      Andrew

      Don’t think that was necessary…

      • Reply November 16, 2013

        Jonny

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

        • Reply November 16, 2013

          ColbyJH

          Feel free to make your own.

  • Reply November 26, 2013

    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!

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    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!

  • Reply November 27, 2013

    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

  • Reply December 11, 2013

    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!

    • Reply December 11, 2013

      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

      • Reply December 12, 2013

        SalPic

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

    • Reply December 11, 2013

      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.

      • Reply December 11, 2013

        Andrew

        Thanks for sharing all of these!

        • Reply December 12, 2013

          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.

        • Reply December 23, 2013

          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!

    • Reply December 12, 2013

      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

      • Reply December 12, 2013

        SalPic

      • Reply September 19, 2014

        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

        • Reply September 22, 2014

          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).

    • Reply December 23, 2013

      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!)

      • Reply January 5, 2014

        Brent

        Awesome frames… link?

      • Reply September 4, 2014

        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.

        • Reply September 5, 2014

          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.

          • September 6, 2014

            TyLo

            It does for sure, thanks for the tips!

    • Reply September 5, 2014

      SalPic

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

  • Reply December 17, 2013

    Lauro Diazzesati

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

  • Reply January 13, 2014

    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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  • Reply February 7, 2014

    Natalia

    Thank you so much and thanks to Buzzfeed too 😀

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  • Reply March 21, 2014

    Patty Williams

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

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Laura

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

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  • Reply May 16, 2015

    snoopy28

    pintrest got me here really cool prints have yet to figure out where to put em but want them all cheers

  • Reply July 7, 2015

    Dan Ashton

    I just put mine up yesterday. I stained it with black tea and then used the vinegar/steel wool method.

    • Reply January 7, 2016

      Andrew

      Looks awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  • Reply January 7, 2016

    Joe Giel

    Finally got around to mounting shelves for these prints. While I could not find “cheap” frames at walmart, these were ~$17 (with matting) a piece and was extremely happy with how they turned out.

    I had costco enlarge the black portion of the image to 11×14 and the frame is 14×18. Found the old floor beam in true salvage fashion, cut and bought piping fixtures at lowes. Plaster was difficult to deal with, but plastic anchors and liquid nails (When the drill bit would yaw or crumble the wall) saved the day.

    1 think at a time, before I expose that brick was and do some remodeling.

    • Reply January 7, 2016

      Andrew

      Damnnnnnnn! Love the shelves and the way you hung the prints! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply January 7, 2016

      Andrew

      Oh and, did you attach the wood to the pipe somehow or does it just sit on top?

      • Reply January 7, 2016

        Joe Giel

        Just sitting on top. I was nervous I wouldn’t have enough vertical space when planning to mount the shelves (had the prints and the idea, but should have mocked up FIRST, before commiting to 14×18 total print size) vut it worked out.
        Going back and forth about hanging the pictures and leaving the shelves open for trinkets, but the plaster doesn’t have enough strength to hold books or the like…

        Living room will eventually get painted and HD floors and such, but for now the color isn’t terrible.

        Thanks for the kind words.

        • Reply January 7, 2016

          Andrew

          Awesome, love the way it turned out!

  • Reply September 12, 2016

    Elizabeth Topham

    A great project! Love, love, love it! Now I want to do more, but my wall space…

  • Reply October 13, 2016

    Kristin

    Hi! I love this idea and have now been searching Google patents for almost two hours! I have found some that I love and want to get them to the 36 x 48 size you provided. Do you have suggestions on how to do that? I only have aperture. Thank you!

  • Reply February 10, 2018

    Mohoor Punya

    Very awesome designs. Thanks for it.
    Regards-
    Mohur

  • Reply February 17, 2018

    Ahmed Khan

  • Reply March 18, 2018

    Mohoor Punya

    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. As said on firstrow, firstrowsports,

  • Reply April 4, 2018

    Vishal Maihdwan

    cool stuff thanks a lot bro

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    Stella Ramsey

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  • Reply April 17, 2018

    Dave

    WOW This is Nice

  • Reply May 12, 2018

    Thomas O'Hearn

    This is amazing. May I ask what size/dimensions you’d suggest for 24×36?

  • Reply March 9, 2019

    Chris Bamber

    Hi, Are these designs able to be used for business. For example tshirt or canvas printing? What is the copyright situation on patent drawings?

    Tks

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