John Baines was one of the first producers of soccer cards, and he may have been the very first, starting his business in the early 1880s.

Click here to see the definitive John Baines Manningham Litho, J.Baines of Bradford and Baines Ltd timeline

The earliest known Baines cards date to around 1882-83, having been printed by Alf Cooke in Leeds, with Lucky Bags backs or rubber stamp marks to the rears advertising Baines' tobacco emporia.

During 1883, cards showing a cricketer-&-rugby-players coat-of-arms design on the back appeared for the first time. This design was redrawn for cards issued for 1885.

Later, during 1885-1886, Baines cards had replaced the sportsman design with the 'Royals Beasts' lion & unicorn arms..

Baines printed various 'special offer' backs to his sports cards. The 1886 "Cup Ties" backs cards offer an April 1887 end-by date for an annual competition (they ran until Easter, each year).

Baines originated the idea of selling cards in a 'blind' packet, i.e. a surprise packet, which he originally called Lucky Bags. He finally patented the packet in the 1890s but the cards had been registered at earlier dates, the earliest being logged as a protected design by 1886.

Gold medal (Bradford exhibition 1894) backs appeared on cards during the last few years of Victoria's reign, 1897 onwards, but this very same design was used by Baines' heirs well into the mid-1920s! Most Gold Medal backs date from after 1909.

Cards with LTD (Ltd. or Limited) appeared in and following 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 Ltd - it always appears with "Ltd." by law. The other heirs had been granted the privilege of family name by birth, and carried on using the trading name of the father, J.Baines - without the need of "Ltd." company status

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 and the timeline, linked above.

Click on the images below to see large pictures and related information.

Remember: prices = £0 means a card is sold. If the card is available it will show a price.