This illuminated I is one of the smallest fancy letter images from A practical treatise on the art of illuminating : with examples, chromographed in fac-simile and in outline, of the styles prevailing at different periods, from the sixth century to the present time but I don’t think that makes it any less useful.
It was used to introduce a chapter within the book and is probably not one of the other illuminated letters, vignettes and designs that date back to the 1600s. The book was published in 1873, so this vintage letter image dates back to at least then but may be even older.
The overall shape of this drop cap image is that of a shield. Within the shield is the letter I image surrounded by delicate lines and designs, including two floral elements. It wouldn’t take much to change the illuminated I to another color or enhance the design by adding spots of color here and there. As presented, I left it as it was scanned from the book but a half-way decent graphics program could change the colors and/or make the black lines a bit darker.
I think this letter image would be great used as an inchie. Could even see it on a Scrabble tile used as a piece of jewelry or a scrapbook embellishment.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.