Sell Vintage Book Illustrations on Etsy

selling book illustrations


How to Sell Vintage Book Illustrations on Etsy


Do you have some old books that have fallen apart, lost pages, the cover looks terrible, or just plain will not sell on Amazon or eBay?  You can make excellent money selling only the illustrations on Etsy!  In many cases, you can earn 10 times the sale value of the book by selling vintage illustrations or photos from the books as craft supplies, scrap-booking stock or wall art on Etsy, which  specializes in crafts and vintage collectibles. can be a great outlet for unloading books that you can’t sell on other sites.  I have also sold the illustrations from books that I have found in free boxes at garage sales and made very good money.  The books do not even have to be very old.  They can even be newer re-prints of  old books.  As long as the illustrations would look good on crafts or as scrap-booking accents, you can sell them.



How to Sell Vintage Book Illustrations on Etsy: A Case Study


Here is how I made over $50 selling illustrations from a book that I found for free at a yard sale:

1)  I found the book in a free box, brought it home with the intent of selling it on Amazon.  The book was worth a penny, but I notices it had really cool animals ink drawing illustrations (see above), including some extinct and endangered animals.  The book was a later edition of a 1880s hardcover book, reprinted in the 1950s.

2)  I carefully pulled the binding apart and saved all the pages with illustrations.  I did not clip the individual drawings out, I kept the pages whole.

3)  I took photos with a digital camera.  You could also scan the illustrations with a scanner, but that takes longer.

4)  I listed the illustrations as groups of similar drawings on Etsy for $3-10 each – endangered animals, bats, big cats, etc.  I listed some cool images of skulls and other anatomy photos separately.  I listed 10 listings on Etsy for $2 in various categories – art supplies, scrapbooking, mostly.  All of the listings sold within 2 months for an ending profit of $58.  Not bad for a couple of minutes of work!

What Types of Illustrations to Look For:


In order to sell vintage illustrations on Etsy, there are a wide variety of book photos and illustrations to look for.  Look for pictures that you would think would look presentable on things like: Greetings cards, scrapbook pages, collages, wall hangings, home decor, etc.

Some examples of types of images that sell well:  Black/White Photogravures of people and places, vintage ink drawings, vibrant art print pages, famous images such as Currier and Ives, etc., vintage comics, vintage print ads.

Some subject matter that buyers are looking for on Etsy:  Vintage animals, rare print ads, vintage transportation images, line drawings of people (especially models, weddings, etc), vintage sports images, classic movie or TV images, vintage pet images.


Advice on How to Sell Vintage Illustrations on


Some final pointers on making the most profit when selling vintage book photos and illustrations:

  • Make sure that your listing images are excellent clarity and close enough to see details
  • Accurately describe the images – tell buyers that they are images from a book and when the book was printed.
  • In the description, note that the images are vintage pieces and that they receive the actual book page, so that they know that they are not receiving a photocopy – the vintage pages look much cooler on art projects with the aged look and heavier stock paper.
  • Group collections of similar pieces together from one book so buyers can use several images for projects, collages.
  • Start a category on Etsy in your store for all of your vintage images, so that buyers can easily find all related images, in case they want to buy more.
  • Keep the title page from the books that you use, so that if they sell well on Etsy, you can look for additional copies on Amazon, eBay.
  • Make SURE that you check Amazon for the book values BEFORE you remove any pages!  Some books may be very valuable and rare books that should NEVER be destroyed for profit.  Sell the whole book on Amazon, so that a collector can enjoy the book and protect it for future generations.


Article Name
Sell Vintage Book Illustrations on Etsy: How I sold a Penny Book for $53
Author of Almost Free Money explains how to sell vintage book illustrations on Etsy for large profits. Includes 2014 case study on selling vintage book photos on Etsy.
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