A wolf at the door…

Poor old wolves, I’ve only just noticed what a terribly bad press they get. Vilified in literature, always the bad guy (especially in 17th Century children’s books), it seems all they’re good for is blowing down adorable pigs’ houses or dressing up as old women in order to trick innocent young girls into being eaten.

Huntsman kills wolf
This picture is called “The Huntsman kills the Wolf”

What’s brought about this sudden realisation, you ask. (Or, I think you asked, I couldn’t quite hear over the sound of a howling wolf outside the window of my cottage…)

Well, I’ve been trying to update my blog banner and, given my well-documented love of vintage images*, I thought it’d be easy enough to find a cool retro picture of a wolf (for my blog name, y’see) and stick it up there, maybe with a cool retro image of London too.

Ha! How wrong I was. I spent a good few hours trawling all my favourite free vintage picture sites and, sure enough as I’d hoped, I came up with hundreds of images of wolves.  But the wolves weren’t being very nice. They were growling fiercely at woodmen, galloping maniacally across moonlight-illuminated fields while foaming at the mouth, or, worst of all, grabbing tiny babies in their jaws and carting them off to their lair, as the baby’s mother looks on in terror and fear…

Nope, the past few centuries haven’t recorded wolves in a fair and unbiased fashion pictorially.

Wolf as piper
Those dratted wolves, constantly luring innocent little lambs to their deaths by dressing up as pipers… Side note: I wonder why Gallaher’s cigarettes thought this picture would help them sell cigs?

Then to top it all, as if the poor wolf’s name wasn’t blackened enough, they became the symbol for new age hippies everywhere who suddenly wanted to run with them, dance with them, sing with them, howl with them, god knows what else with them.

What has the poor wolf done to deserve this? It’s just a shaggy dog, really and everyone loves dogs. Heck, we even love foxes. You couldn’t throw a stick in a design shop at the moment without it hitting into some fox-emblazoned piece of homeware or clothing.

So, come on people, let’s bring the wolf back in the from the cold. And so I give you, the cute lovable wolf. (Well, maybe not quite, but at least a few cool old pictures of some non-completely terrifying wolves, anyway):

Wolf
Yet another wolf advertising cigarettes, but this one looks (sort of) friendly
Marionette Peter and wolf
Okay, we know this wolf is up to no good, but he looks appealing in his marionette form
Scared wolf
This is my favourite of all the wolf images. Rather than scaring anyone else, this one looks rather scared himself. Poor little thing…
Wolf and horse, children's book illustration
I suppose the best you can say for this wolf is he hasn’t eaten the horse *yet* – but it’s a lovely line drawing, I thought, and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and decide he’s just passing through this field on his way to deliver chocolates to old people

All photos found on the New York Public Library Digital Archive: click on the photos to go directly to the right page. For more cool copyright free images, check out my Pinterest board Free graphics.

*For some craft projects using vintage images, see my tutorial for transferring printed images to fabric and the prints section of my top 20 tutorials for homemade presents…

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