John Baines was one of the first printers of soccer cards, and he may have been the very first, starting his business in the early 1880s. The earliest known Baines cards date to around 1882-83, showing a cricketer-&-rugby-player  on the back, as part of an alternative Bradford coat-of-arms, with boar's head design. 

Later, around 1885-86, Baines cards had replaced the above design with the Lion & the Unicorn crest.

There also came into being various 'special offer' backs, and other special edition cards, E.G. the "Cup Ties" backs cards which are dated with an end date for a competition, Easter 1887. 

Baines also originated the blind packet, or surprise packet, for his sports cards, patenting it by the early 1890s.

Gold medal (Bradford exhibition 1893-4) backs appeared on cards during the last decade of Victoria's reign but this very same design was used by Baines' heirs well into the mid-1920s!

Cards with LTD (Ltd. or Limited) appeared after 1909 when two strands of Baines's family inherited the business from John Baines estate. One heir had to create a Limited Company, with shares, to use the name J.Baines - with "Ltd." The other heirs had been granted the privilege by birth, and carried on using the trading name J.Baines - without the need of "Ltd."

Baines cards were made until the mid-1920s, the latter types often being being printed on quality, thick cardstock..

For far more on Baines please see my books. Click on the images below to see large pictures and related information.

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