Images


A vast quantity of digital images have been made available for research purposes online and within the British Library, St Pancras. The collections are truly diverse, encompassing prints, drawings, maps, art works and photographs, as well as illuminated manuscripts, digitised bookbindings and philatelic collections. Below are a selection which are available for research purposes.

1 Million Images from scanned books

Please visit our Flickr page (API access is available through the Flickr API) for over 1,000,000 images taken from scanned books and a wiki set up for potential projects working them.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain in most countries.

IDP

The International Dunhuang Project (IDP) is a ground-breaking international collaboration to make information and images of all manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang and archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road freely available on the Internet and to encourage their use through educational and research programmes. For more information, please feel free to browse the site.

If you are interested in getting collection level metadata for a specific collection for research purposes, please contact us.

Access Conditions

To follow.

EAP

The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) is concerned with the preservation of archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect or physical deterioration world-wide. The archival material relates to a ‘pre-modern' period of a society's history, typically any period before industrialisation, digital collections include newspapers, periodicals, audio and audio-visual material, photographs and rare printed books. For a visual representation of where the collections come from, click on the map below:
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The metadata for some of the collections is very descriptive and useful as a dataset (in CSV format) in it's own right for research purposes, it is available on request

Access Conditions

This material is available for research purposes only.

Asia, Pacific & Africa

The Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections contains 15,000 of the collection’s finest images focussing on artists and photographers whose work provides a comprehensive account of the landscapes and architectural heritage of South Asia. The Asia Pacific & Africa (formerly referred to as the Oriental & India Office) Collections of paintings, drawings, prints, illustrated plate books and photographs were originally brought together by the East India Company. The Company’s library was established in 1801. One of its first purchases was Richard Johnson’s collection of Indian miniatures and manuscripts. This was soon supplemented by official or quasi-official collections of British drawings, made by both professional and amateur artists, please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Caribbean

Caribbean Views is a small collection that brings together over 100 of these items to conjure up a vivid picture of life in the English-speaking Caribbean during the 18th and early 19th centuries, please feel free to browse the collection
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Deptford

The Deptford plan and drawings contain many striking and evocative surveys, drawings and engravings of the historic dockyard neighbourhood of Deptford in its heyday, enriched by a large body of plans and `grass-roots’ records from the adjacent estate of Sayes Court, home of the famous 17th-century diarist, John Evelyn, please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Early Photographically Illustrated Books

The development of photographically illustrated books parallels the explosion in communications technology during the 19th century containing 1,500 original prints covering advances in science, exploration, travel, tourism and industry. Photography provided an exciting, innovative and accurate alternative to conventional methods of book illustration, such as woodcuts, etchings and engravings, please feel free browse the collection.

Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Evanion

The Evanion Collection of Ephemera contain 5,000 items from the 'Evanion' collection, originally purchased by the British Museum in 1895. They include many colourful posters and handbills produced as publicity for the various entertainments staged in music halls and theatres, as well as for exhibitions, circuses and other popular events. Trade catalogues, price lists and advertising materials that were once in general circulation reflect both the necessities and the aspirations of contemporary life, please feel free to browse the collection.

Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Illuminated Manuscripts

Before the introduction of printing to Western Europe during the mid-15th century, all books were written by hand. The Latin for hand, ’manus’, and for writing, ’scriptum’, give us the word manuscript. Making a manuscript was slow and demanding: sometimes routinely laborious, sometimes creatively glorious, and always expensive. The most luxurious manuscripts were illuminated: lit up by decorations and pictures in brightly-coloured pigments and burnished gold leaf. They are among the most dazzling and intriguing objects ever created, and the British Library’s collection is one of the finest in the world. More than 3,000 images have been selected here from manuscripts associated with particular places or regions across the British Isles. They reflect almost 1,000 years of history, from around 600 to 1600. This collection is very popular at the British Library, please feel free to browse the collection.

Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Kensington Turnpike

Kensington Turnpike trust drawings are a collection of 30 drawings. Charging a fee for traveling into central London by road is by no means a modern phenomenon. By the mid-eighteenth century, anyone entering the city had to pay their way through the numerous gates and tolls erected by Turnpike Trusts. The term ‘turnpike’ derives from the spiked barricade used for defence in medieval times, please feel free to browse this collection.

Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

King's Topographical

King George Ill’s Topographical Collection contains some 50,000 items, dating back from 1500 to 1824. As well as manuscript and printed maps, many of which are treasures of cartography, the collection includes topographical drawings, watercolours and prints, a few letters and reports, and some very rare local printed ephemera. Around 40% of the collection relates to the British Isles and 10% to the former Colonies. About a third is taken up by the countries of Europe associated with the Grand Tour. France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy are all strongly represented. Please feel free to browse the collection.

Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Literary Landscapes

The rise of the English novel during the 18th century coincided with a growing pride in the landscape of Britain. As novels portrayed society, so maps and topographical views delineated the grandeur of Nature and the man–made elegance of new urban streets and squares. Town and country often provide the traveling backdrop to novels and poems, sometimes exerting such a strong presence they seem to become players in the plot. Please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Philatic Rarerities

The British Library's Philatelic Collections are the world's largest, most diverse and most complete of their kind. They include a wide variety of items: not only postage stamps, but also revenue stamps (both adhesive and non-adhesive), postal stationery, postal history materials, meter stamps, postal orders, paper money, and more besides. About half are from Great Britain. The rest come from the British Empire, British Commonwealth and foreign countries. Please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

The Unveiling of Britain

When the ancient Greeks looked beyond their Mediterranean world, Britain was virtually invisible, lost in the mists of legend. Their view, or lack of it, survived as late as the ninth century in maps that do little more than offer a few place names. The Orkneys, for example – the fabled Orcades – are shown unconvincingly situated in the Atlantic just beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. Britain’s shape and contours were gradually uncovered by the world outside, and to some extent by its own inhabitants, during the centuries between 800 and 1600. Through the British Library’s remarkable collection, we can follow the lifting of that veil. Please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Topographical Drawings

Our extensive collections of British topographical drawings have been assembled over the last 250 years. They owe their existence largely to the collecting instincts of generations of antiquarians and their passion for documenting, in word and image, the urban and rural landscapes around them. Please feel free to browse the collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Victorian Popular Music

Under successive acts of Parliament since the late 18th century, all music published in Britain has been deposited formerly at the British Museum and now, at the British Library. The Library’s Music Collections are enormous: some one-and-a-half million items of printed music, ranging from a beautifully printed songbook of 1530 to the latest pop chart hit. Victorian popular music is a particular strength of the collections. Much of the sheet music has illustrated covers, often of artistic merit or historical interest. From this rich resource, we've chosen songs and piano pieces that evoke a sense of location by virtue of their subject matter, lyrics, cover design, or all three. Please feel free to browse the entire collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Grimms Northumberland Sketchbooks

Samuel Hieronymus Grimm made his living accompanying well-to-do patrons on their travels around England in the late 18th century, capturing their journeys in detailed pen-and-ink drawings. When Richard Kaye, his chief patron, became a Prebend at Durham Cathedral, Grimm set out to record the buildings and landscapes of Northumberland. Please feel free to browse the entire collection.
Collection level metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format

Access Conditions

To follow.

Picturing Canada

Canadian copyright law from 1895 to 1924 required a copy of items registered for copyright to be sent to the British Museum. Later this material passed to the British Library. This collection of 3865 images covers a wide range of topics and was digitised in 2012-2013. Please feel free to browse the entire collection.
If you are interested in a complete copy of the collection along with metadata please contact us.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Sino-Japanese War Prints (JACAR)

The Sino-Japanese War was fought from 1 August 1894 to 17 April 1895 between Qing China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of the Korean peninsula. The collection consists of 233 Japanese and Chinese propaganda prints created during the war depicting the Sino-Japanese War.

The collection is available here.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain.

British Library's Digitised Bookbindings

The British Library holds one of the world's leading collections of fine and historic bindings.
The bindings are included in discrete specialist collections and dispersed individually throughout the Library's holdings.

The collection is available in the online Database of Bookbindings.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain.

The War of 1812

A digitisation project commemorating 200 years since the Anglo-American war of 1812.

The collection consists of newspapers, political manuscripts, maps etc. all including information about the war.

Some of the most important features of the collection are: Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren’s correspondence on the Naval Campaign, Montreal and Nova Scotia newspapers, relevant British political and diplomatic manuscripts, memoirs of British participants of the war, official publications and contemporary maps.

The collection will be made available to browse through the Digitised Manuscripts Database and
will be linked to the Britain and the American Civil War Online Gallery.

Access Conditions

To follow.

Asian Prints & Photographs

The British Library has digitised 30,000 historical photographs, prints and drawings of Asian material, with dates ranging from the 17th to the late 19th century. The collection has been made available on the online collaborative environment of Wikimedia Commons.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain.

Mechanical Curator Tumblr Account

A collection of randomly selected small illustrations and ornamentations posted on the hour.

Feel free to access the website.

Access Conditions

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The images posted are in the public domain.

Off the Map 2014 GameCity Competition

An annual competition based on the idea of promoting use of the British Library's collection in videogames' creation.

You can access the gothic-themed collection for the competition here.

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a CC-PD license.

Off the Map 2015 GameCity Competition

An annual competition based on the idea of promoting use of the British Library's collection in videogames' creation. The theme for 2015 was more complex than the previous year. Off the Map Alice was the general name with subcategories such as Oxford, Gardens, Underground and Wonderland.

You can access the collection through these links: Off the Map Alice - Oxford, Off the Map Alice - Underground, Off the Map Alice - Wonderland, Off the Map Alice - Gardens.

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a CC-PD license.

Kolkata Collection

The collection consists of 50 photographs of Kolkata architecture and topography.

Photographs of the collection can be browsed here.

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a CC-PD license.

Haiti (John Carter Brown University)

3 maps and 12 photographs have been digitised by the British Library in collaboration with the John Carter Brown University.

The collection of maps and images from the British Library can be found here among others.

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a CC-PD license.

Yongle Encyclopaedia digitisation project

21 Chinese manuscripts on paper

The collection of Chinese manuscripts can be found here:
https://wiki.bl.uk:8443/display/DSSP/DAR00592+-+Yongle+Encyclopaedia

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a PD license for hi-res images.

Oracle Bones

Selection of 54 Chinese oracle bones dating 1600-1050 BCE.

The collection of Chinese oracle bones can be found here:
https://sketchfab.com/adiks/models

Access Conditions

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The published material of the collection is available under a CC0 license for lo-res images.

French Manuscripts Project

6 medieval manuscripts in French

The collection of manuscripts can be found here:
https://wiki.bl.uk:8443/display/DSSP/DAR00618+-+Illuminated+Harley+French+Manuscript+Digitisation+Project

Accss Conditions

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This material is under a PD license.