Everything you need to know about Vintage Animal Prints

Everything you need to know about Vintage Animal Prints


Vintage animal prints are not just a trend; they're a timeless reflection of our enduring fascination with the wild. From ancient civilisations to modern homes and galleries, these prints have a history as rich and varied as the animals they represent. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know: their history, types, and how to care for them. Let's unleash your inner art collector!

History of Vintage Animal Art Prints

Ancient Civilisations and Animal Prints

ancient Egyptian cat sculpture of Bastet

In ancient times, animals held symbolic significance in various cultures.

In Ancient Egypt animal art was common. Some animals like falcons and cats were revered and often depicted in wall murals and even tombs. These were not just artistic choices; they had deep religious or cultural meanings. Other animals such as Hippos and Crocodiles were also feared.


vintage animal prints of horses

 Animals in Egyptian art often had attractive qualities that the ancient Egyptians perhaps admired and wanted to emulate.

Likewise, in ancient China, dragons and other mythical beasts featured prominently in Chinese animal artworks alongside more common birds and animals.

These ancient pieces could be considered the earliest forms of animal art prints, showcasing a longstanding human fascination with the animal kingdom.

Vintage Animal Art Prints in the 20th Century

As we moved into the era of printmaking and mass production, artists like Charles Tunnicliffe and Sir Peter Scott brought animal art into the mainstream.

art deco vintage animal printsTheir works were often featured in natural history museums, renowned art galleries, and even as illustrations in books.

The 20th century saw a surge in the availability and popularity of such prints. Limited editions, often signed by the artists, became collectible items.

Art Deco pieces featuring stylised animals also became popular during this period, adding a new dimension to the genre.

Pop Culture's Role

Vintage animal art prints have also made their way into pop culture, adorning the sets of various movies and TV shows.

Take, for instance, the classic BBC series "Sherlock," where the set design incorporated vintage art prints to give the apartments a bohemian, intellectual atmosphere.

They're also popular in hip cafes and bookstores, adding to the venue's creative vibe.

The integration of these prints in popular settings not only showcases their versatility but also makes vintage animal art prints a recognisable and cherished part of modern culture.

Types of Vintage Animal Art Prints

Vintage Bird Prints

When it comes to vintage bird prints, the work of John James Audubon stands out. His "Birds of America" series, for instance, offers intricate illustrations of birds in their natural habitat. These prints can range from sparrows to majestic eagles and are often highly valued by collectors.

Chicken print

Vintage Mammal Prints

framed leopard print, vintage animal prints

Think about the classic works of Sir Peter Scott or Raymond Harris-Ching. These vintage mammal prints often focus on animals like elephants, tigers, and deer, capturing their essence in stunning detail. Whether it's the stoic grace of a lion or the whimsical playfulness of fox cubs, these prints offer something for every animal lover.

But the crowd favourite is always the Leopard and Tiger Print


Vintage Aquatic Animal Prints

Artists like Geoffroy saint Hilaire have created a stunning array of fish prints, from trout to marlins. These pieces are often detailed and colourful, evoking the beauty of life underwater. They're a hit especially among marine enthusiasts and coastal homes.




Vintage Exotic Animal Prints

Exotic animal prints feature less common but equally fascinating animals. Think prints of toucans, sloths, or even chameleons.

These are often sought after by collectors interested in specific species or habitats.

They're perfect for someone who wants to make a unique statement.

Styling with Vintage Animal Art Prints

Home Décor: Incorporating Vintage Animal Art Prints

When it comes to home décor, vintage animal art prints offer endless possibilities. Imagine a vintage Audubon bird print above your fireplace or a Sir Peter Scott tiger portrait as the focal point in your study.

They add not just visual appeal but also depth and conversation points to any room. Pair them with rustic or vintage furniture for a cohesive look. Or go eclectic by mixing them in a modern setting; they’re versatile like that.

Art and Collectibles: Vintage Animal Art Prints as Investment

Many art aficionados consider vintage animal art prints as a savvy investment that appreciates over time.

How to Identify Authentic Vintage Animal Art Prints

Date Stamps and Signatures

The quickest way to verify authenticity is by looking for date stamps or artist signatures. These can often be found on the back of the print or at the bottom.

Paper and Material Quality

Handmade paper showing thick quality

Authentic vintage prints usually come on high-quality paper. If it feels cheap or too new, it might not be vintage. Some artworks can also be found on silk or vellum.

Research and References

Use books or online databases to cross-reference the prints you're considering. Knowledge is power, especially in the art world.

Where to Buy Vintage Animal Prints

Whether you're an antique lover or an online shopper, vintage animal prints are just a click or a stroll away.

Antique Shops and Markets

Check out local antique shops. Sometimes the best treasures are found when you least expect them. Charity shops and vintage stores can also turn up something unexpected.

Online Stores

Websites like eBay and Etsy often feature a wide range of vintage animal prints. For digitally restored prints, we have an extensive range here.

Auctions and Estate Sales

Keep an eye out for estate sales or auctions; they're goldmines for rare vintage prints. There are a lot of gems available for not too much money, especially for the less well known artists.

Care and Maintenance of Vintage Animal Prints

Proper Storage Conditions

One key to preserving your vintage prints is proper storage. Keep them away from direct sunlight, which can cause the colours to fade. It's also important to store them in a dry, cool place; humidity is the enemy!

Cleaning Techniques

Handle your vintage prints carefully, preferably while they're framed or covered in a protective sleeve. To clean them, a soft cloth is generally enough.

If you find stains or marks, consult a professional. Using regular cleaning products could cause irreversible damage.

Restoration Tips

If your print has suffered wear and tear, consider professional restoration. This often involves specialized techniques to remove stains, repair tears, and sometimes even restore faded colours. However, keep in mind that restoring a vintage print can affect its value, so consult an expert before taking any drastic steps.

Have your art professionally photographed and digitally restored so you can have a print that last forever. 

TL:DR or FAQ Section

  • What are the most popular types of vintage animal prints? Leopard and tiger prints are the crowd favourites.

  • How do I verify the authenticity of a vintage animal print? Look for date stamps, signatures, and consult trusted references.

  • Can vintage animal prints be a good investment? Absolutely, especially if they are limited editions or from renowned artists.

So there you have it. Whether you're a seasoned collector or new to the world of vintage animal prints, this guide should help you navigate your way through this intriguing and stylish realm. Happy collecting!

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