Free Food Art & Photographs: Some Favorites from The New York Public Library Digital Collection

Free Food Art & Photographs: Some Favorites from The New York Public Library Digital Collection

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Kaitlin Flannery
Jan 28, 2016
Cheese laboratory, South Building, Department of Agriculture. Beltsville, Maryland | Carl Maydans
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

Did you know that The New York Public Library recently added nearly 200,000 high-res public-domain images to the NYPL Digital Collection? Just search the database with whatever keyword strikes your fancy, then use the treasures you uncover in any way you please. I'm tempted to turn the one above into a cheesy Valentine's Day card that reads, "You make me feel some type of whey," but the possibilities are absolutely endless!

A few more of my favorites from the archives follow, but I really encourage you to dive in to The New York Public Library Digital Collection and find a few gems of your own. How might you use these? Dinner party invites? Wall art? Scrapbooking? Memes? There's really so much you could do.

Hot Dog Stand, West St. and North Moore, Manhattan | Berenice Abbott
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

What's not to love about this photo from the Changing New York collection? It looks like it could be the cover of a magazine, or even a feature on Humans of New York.

Firemen - Fire Department of New York - Having doughnuts and coffee
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

Coffee and doughnuts? This is my kind of snack break. I see some of them practicing their "pinkies out" skills, too! But now I'm left wondering: Was this a regular occurrence for this hardworking team, or a staged photo opportunity?

An advertisement for Fleischmann's Zwieback | L. Prang & Co.
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

I'm a sucker for vintage ads, and this one is no exception! The name Fleischmann brings to mind yeast more than anything else — and for good reason — but judging by the ad, their Zwieback seems like it was a pretty stellar product too. The little pictures in each corner make it appear to have been the perfect thing to eat no matter what your condition.

Cheese Store, 276 Bleecker Street, Manhattan | Berenice Abbott
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

A pretty photo like this belongs in a frame. I sure wish I had a cool-looking cheese shop within walking distance of where I live.

Why is a plum cake like the ocean? (Front & back)
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

The Conundrums collection is almost 100 percent dad jokes. Meaning, of course, that I'm trying to memorize as many as possible to share with my friends. The few I tried out tonight went unappreciated by my audience, but I definitely laughed. Sometimes, that's enough.

Automat Sandwich Promotional Photo
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

Food photography has come a long way, hasn't it? I know times were simpler back then, but it's difficult to imagine ever considering this appetizing. There are quite a few more photos like it to be found in the Robert F. Byrnes Collection of Automat Memorabilia.

Orange soufflé
(Image credit: The New York Public Library Digital Collection)

It appears that including recipe cards in packs of cigarettes was quite common for this tobacco company. The recipe on the reverse of this card instructed the home cook to "set [the souffle] in the oven to harden for a few minutes." Sounds a little vague to me, but I suppose confidence is a key ingredient in a lot of recipes. Want to try this yourself? Look no further — everything you need is in the Cooking Recipes collection.

Read more: Public Domain Collections: Free to Share & Reuse from The New York Public Library

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