The Baines Rosetta Stone : a codex for decoding the mystery of Baines' cards, their dates & their types.
This is not a sales page. The images and information imparted below serve for historical reference only. The cards seen below are in private collections.
On this page you will find foreword and introductions, followed by a brief timeline and then an in-depth timeline and much more on the wonderful cards by J.Baines Litho, J.Baines & J.Baines Ltd.; made in Manningham, Bradford, Barnsley & Gillingham in Kent,
The information I myself had gathered from endless research, which I carried out over 35 years of collecting Baines cards, was finally confirmed and corrected last year by a gentleman named Mr. Crick, the great, great grandson of John Baines Sr. It's thanks to him that we finally have been able to confirm exact dates for the cards on this page, for the Baines timeline. The images are my own and most of the information here is mine but a vital 10% came from Mr. Crick who used family records to set things straight. Thank you Mr. Crick. I am in your debt.
I have been working on this timeline for Baines cards since the mid-1990's, a decade when I created, published and edited 'Football Card Collector Magazine', a quarterly journal which was printed and distributed in Great Britain. I published 12 issues before passing on the rights in 2000. After that point, under a new editor and owner, it stopped researching Baines cards but I carried on collecting and studying them until I had amassed almost 5,000 different types. At a given point, due to moving abroad and changing lifestyle completely, I agreed to part with them and a vendor in Wales took them from me and donated the entire collection to the National Football Museum, in England. During the past 20+ years my former collection has been on display in Manchester, at the aforementioned national soccer-history museum, and in London, at the Design Museum.
Since then, I have regretted letting go of my cards and have spent the last 20+ years trying to collect more but, these days, collecting Baines and similar Victorian and Edwardian trading cards is much more difficult than it was in 1995 and, so far, after 20 years collecting I only have a few hundred Baines cards to show for my time. These days, Baines cards are widely collected by people all around the globe. It was not so in 1995.
Thanks again to the great-great grandson of John Baines Sr., Mr. Crick, for giving me information from his family's well-retained records. The dates and details he shared with me helped me to write this page and to complete the timeline below. Eternal thanks to him and kindest wishes to all collectors of these wonderful cards from me, Carl Wilkes.
Extant exemplars of most Baines cards are few and far between. Earlier usually means rarer, so 1880's Baines cards are typically rarer than 1910's Baines cards although some later-era Baines cards may well be just as hard to find as earlier sorts. For example, a later-era J.Baines Ltd card from 1909 of Billy Meredith, the celebrated Manchester United & Manchester City Welsh international soccer player is known by as few as 2 examples worldwide! Yes, only a pair of those cards are known to exist, and I have one of them.
The earliest cards made by Baines Litho in Manningham (Bradford, England) include two 1883-made cards of W G Grace, both of which enjoy worldwide populations of only 3! Yes, only three of each card are known and these, seen below, are the best quality exemplars of their respective trios.
Baines made more than just cricket cards. Baines made rugger, golf, hockey and soccer cards. Arthur Wharton was the very first soccer player featured on a sports card, which was made by Baines in 1886, There remains only a single-known exemplar of this card, which marks his earliest appearance on a card. It's a shield-shaped card which celebrates two Whartons: his world-record and also his footballing status as a goalkeeper for Darlington FC. He later played for the greatest team in the land, in 1887, Preston North End, the so-called 'Invincibles'. The multi-talented star was the first pan-sports superstar ever to be featured on a card! His 10-second 100 yards sprint, a national news story and a world record achieved in summer 1886, is a sporting feat that can be compared to Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile in post-war Britain almost a century later.
Above, my own W.G. Grace cards, which both date from 1883.
The Union Jack Grace card, above left, and the Gloucester County Cricket Club card, just as rarely seen, above right, are among the first sports cards ever made, anywhere in the world!
Dr. W.G. Grace was the legendary cricket captain of England, and a Gloucester County Cricket Club member. These cards are two of the rarest of all Baines cards! One is a first type, the other one a slightly later type. No more than three of each type are known. Two of each type have been recorded sold, elsewhere, in recent years but neither were as clean as these finer examples. Grace is to cricket what Babe Ruth is to baseball and Pelé to soccer.
The differences to the cards' backs, above, are that one has the sportsmen coat of arms (type 1 design - there was a slightly later re-designed variant) while the other is without such an heraldic crest altogether. The Union Jack card, I am told by a surviving member of Baines' family, a great-great grandson. was the first cricket card Baines made, the "Key Man" card, the key to unlocking Australia, hence the keyhole design. The Gloucester CCC card of Grace came slightly later in the same year. The initial run of cricket and word-making cards had sold out, more were required so new designs were quickly circulated and the sportsmen coat of arms was added.
So, cricket and rugger cards were made by Baines some 3 years before the first soccer card was made. That card, the above-mentioned card of Arthur Wharton, appeared in circulation in late 1886.
Baines football (rugger and soccer) cricket and word-making competition cards followed on from an earlier, more naive cards made with blank backs, published in 1882, issued in so-called Lucky Bags. The earlier cards did not show sportsmen. This 1883-issued series of cards was the first ever series of sports cards to show nationally known and internationally known famous sports personalities.
There's much more to tell about these cards and the full 40+ years of Baines history is outlined further below, including photographs of the album whence these rarities came, an album collated in the 1880's, and dated such by its first owner. Read on and enjoy the history and the images.
Introduction to Baines cards and to their dating
Seen below, from April 1884, is a clipping from a Leeds Times newspaper article on the then new fashion, of spring 1884, of wearing sports cards at matches. The writer reports on the widely seen football cards of Bonsor, the team captain of Bradford, which decorated the raiments of the crowd that day. Men wore them in their hatbands on so-called billycock hats, and it's widely known that cards were also pinned to clothing, or insrted into buttonholes. in fact some 1880's cards were designed for just that, being made with a stem.
Seen below, next to the 1884 newspaper article on Bonsor cards in the crowd, an article which can be found online at the British Newspaper Library, is an example of a Baines Litho card of Bonsor, dating from the very time and mentioned in this newspaper article. The card is a typical early design, a pre-patent Baines card which advertises Pears Soap and says "Play Up Bradford, Bonsor, Capt."
For the football-loving crowd at that very game, a rugby-football match to be precise, in springtime 1884, to be amply endowed with many suchlike Baines Bonsor cards, those cards would have had to have been printed and distributed, in massive numbers, some time beforehand. The fact that a firm of lithographers was so able in its production and distribution must take us back in time, by at least one whole year, into mid 1883. Further, it is quite reasonable to infer that Baines was printing and distributing pictorial sports cards well before 1883. In fact he was! Shown below are some very early cards which we can now date to 1882, thanks to John Baines' family descendant Mr. Crick.
Here's a quick, general guide to dates. For further information please see further down the page:
If the card shows a "Ltd" mark after Baines, i.e. J.Baines Ltd, then the card must be no earlier than 1909 ! The Ltd. suffix only appears on cards made between 1909 and 1925, the end date for production. It's often found on cards with Gold Medal backs. N.B. it ought to be noted that during these years cards were also made without the Ltd. suffix! Such cards, often Gold Medal cards, were produced by another branch of the Baines family. For more on this see further down this page. It's complex! Gold Medal-back cards were made as late as 1925 and as early as the first years of the 1900's, maybe even the last years of the 1890's. But cards with "Ltd" have to be 1909 or later., and their dates can be clarified by looking at the various addresses on those cards. For more, please read on...
Early cards can be easily identified by the address. So, if the address is 68 Carlisle Road the card is from before mid-1886; while 72 Carlisle Road appears on cards from mid-1886 until 1888. Cards from 1889 until 1891 bear the double-address: 65 & 72 Carlisle Road; while cards from 1891 until around 1894 show yet another double address: 65 Carlisle Road and 15 North Parade.
Also, during the 1880's, Baines' also issued advertising cards which did not bear an address, per se, which simply stated the maker as 'Baines Litho, Manningham'.
From circa 1895 until 1908, Baines cards bore no "Ltd" suffix and they were all addressed only at 15 North Parade.
After John Baines' death in December 1908, from 1909 onward a "Ltd" was added to cards made by one half of the Baines family based at 15 North Parade, in Bradford, until World War One when they moved to an address in Barnsley.
Similarly, the other half of the family made cards from 1909 onward without "Ltd" and they were based at Oak Lane, in Bradford, until a little after World War One when they transferred to 48 Nelson Road, Gillingham, Kent.
That's a quick guide to dates. For more in-depth detail, with illustrations, please see further down this page.
Image below : a dated scrapbook from the early- to mid-1880's whence many of my own Baines cards came
The Seven Keys.
7 key points to understanding Baines cards.
1. Baines was a lithographer, not a printer. Misunderstanding this has sent collectors on wild goose chases for years.
As a lithographer, Baines employed designers & at least one etcher. He'd prepare up to 4 plates per image then send them to a printer. Then he's distribute and sell the finished cards which came back from that printer.
Early cards were printed by Alf Cooke who was, once upon a time, the largest printer in the area. Baines also used Richardson a printer based in nearby Leeds. Later on, Baines employed Berry Brothers printers, in Bradford.
The first cards were sold in packets for half a penny but sometimes they were produced for merchants who'd dispose of them in their own manner. The packets would contain cricket cards, word-making cards and football cards - initially rugger but later on soccer too.
2. Simpler tools cost less money; simpler cards last longer, and cleaner cards may be reused. Issuing cards of different shapes was appealing to buyers, at least during the 1880's when Baines had to compete with Briggs and other rival sellers of football cards but the more complex a shape was the less cutting life the die-cut tool had. Thus, octagons, club-&-triangle shapes and fan-shaped cards are among the rarest of Baines cards. Fewer were made and fewer still lasted the test of time. Rounder, 'easier' shapes such as shields and balls did better. Redeemed cards were reused by Baines thus cards were called in for prizes, encouraging children to buy more cards to save up the biggest number, to have more than their friends had, in a bid to win the best gifts from musical boxes to football jerseys, silver cups to leather footballs. The cleanest of the many redeemed cards were reissued, saving Baines money on printing costs. Cards of complex designs often bore faults and could not easily be resold. Cards in simpler shapes stayed in better condition for longer.
The most successful shaped card made was the shield of which 4 basic types were made: small, medium, large and extra-large. See the image below for the 4 types. They were issued alongside hearts, fans and hand-held-rugger-ball shapes. The original, 1880's shields were eventually replaced with newer shield designs in the later-1890's, and newer still designs in the 1910's and 1920's.
3. Dates. The Cards Speak! Don't ignore the language of the cards themselves in favour of often incorrect trade directories of antiquity. The cards know better than books made for profit by commercial records collators, for whom cards meant nothing. Remember, the player-&-team combination is crucial for dating a card. The sportsman speaks louder than a dumb census. Equally as important are addresses on the cards and the designs of the cards. It ought to be well noted that commercial directories of the 1880's and 1890's, much like the Yellow Pages of the 1990s, include many errors and omissions. Even census reports are far from precise. There are all sorts of reasons why incorrect information was recorded as fact by such sources. Many people did not to comply with censuses, failing to submit information or supplying obsolete and erroneous details. Likewise, commercial directories of trades and other municipal records include myriad errors committed by hasty clerks. Data was recycled from previous years absent fresh data. So, last year's entries would have been reused where updated information was not received. For instance, in the 1950's, in England, similar trade and census records show my family was apparently not at the business addresses they had occupied for some years. Well, that's a good example of how trade directories are often wrong. My family lived there but the history books say otherwise. Similarly, in the 1990's, London's EC-zones Yellow Pages directory continued to show my former office as occupied by me even 5 years after I had vacated it! Today, my aunt's house is not shown on the land registry of GB as her own house yet she's lived there since 1981! If it happened in the 1950's and 1990's, and still happens in the 2020's you can bet it will have been no different in the 1880s, so please read the cards instead, in all senses of what reading cards implies. Let the cards speak. Listen to them before conversing with long-defunct trade listings the likes of which were created for profits rather than for the precise and accurate recording of a business community.
4. Newspapers. The newspaper report, seen atop this page, dating from spring 1884 mentions a football match where the crowd was wearing the latest "football cards" in their hat bands. Notably, the cards mentioned showed Bradford FC's team captain, Fred Bonsor. Such cards of Bonsor are those which were printed by Baines Litho in Manningham, Bradford, less than 10 miles from Leeds. Thus, though the article does not mention the lithographer's name we can infer that it was John Baines. He was based in Bradford. The match was in Bradford. The cards the crowd carried were for Bradford. Though W.N. Sharpe was also a Bradford-based lithographer, Sharpe did not start issuing sports cards until the late 1880's, long after the aforementioned newspaper report from April 1884. The football crowd mentioned was amply coloured by Baines Bonsor cards in early 1884. For that to have happened, the cards would have needed to have been made and distributed in massive numbers some time beforehand. It's now easy to see Baines making cards in 1883, if not earlier, because it is reasonable to infer that Baines was printing and distributing pictorial sports cards at least 1 year earlier than the April 1884 match. So, 1883 for Baines cards production in some form or other is a sure-bet; The cards seen in the match in April 1884 were high-quality , full colour designs of a player. We know that the earliest Baines cards, those with rubber stamps on plain backs,were simple affairs. It's reasonable to put a couple of years between one and the other, taking is back to 1882, if not earlier.
An earlier newspaper clipping from 1871, seen below, mentions a firm of printers called Edward Baines, in Leeds, just 8 miles from Bradford.. Mr Crick, a relative of John Baines Sr., has kindly informed me that Edward Baines was a relative to John Baines' family. So, there were printers in the family when Baines was a youth. So, John Baines senior grew up with a connection to the trade.
5. Patents and Gold Medals. Patents help date Baines cards, such as those fan-shape cards bearing two patent numbers, the latter of which was granted in late 1887. Though the well-known Gold Medal design was used on the backs of Baines cards until the mid-1920's the earliest Gold Medal cards cannot be from before the mid-1890's when the gold medal was won. In fact, most gold medal cards date to the time of the Ltd suffix, after 1909, though some date to the early 1900's. How many were issued before that, in the late 1890's, is a question to which the answer is not known. To date the backs of gold medal cards compare the style to other, later cards with the medals shown. Similar styles mean similar dates!
Cards without patent numbers, such as the two types of sportsmen-coat-of-arms cards, like those with W G Grace, and the octagonal cards of Australian cricketers, came out well before 1886. Baines acquired his initial design registration numbers and royal crest between late 1885 and early 1886. Earlier cards bear no such number or crest. John Baines was very proud of his Royal Patents numbers and his cards were printed with them alongside the Royal Beasts, a lion and a unicorn, as soon as he had the legal right to use them. N.B. Baines's advertising cards also mostly lacked patent or registration numbers, including those made in the late 1880's.
6. 1887-dated cards, such as the above-seen Bradford v Ossett cup card, were made for a big series of scheduled cup matches in early 1887. Others, such as the Baines 'Cup Tie Silver Cup' cards, which are competition end-dated dated on 9th April 1887, the likes of which may be seen above, and cards which mention the Queen's 50th Jubilee, also in 1887, all bear sophisticated designs and are obviously the products of a long-established trade confident in its own wares and very able in its distribution. Dating was dropped after 1887 because dating makes cards obsolete all too soon. Baines was known for reissuing redeemed cards. You can only be current if you are not selling out-of-date dated cards!
This point, about the 1887 dated cards is important because it shows that Baines was, of course, already in full production by this time. Some sources in the past claimed wrongly that this was not the case. Baines was running at full steam long before 1887. In fact, he had been in business for some years prior to the mid-1880's. To be making cards to such high standards by early 1887 required established business history. Further, 1887 was the 2nd year in which Baines had been granted patent numbers. His first registration dates to late-1885 / early 1886 - the best date range the British Library archives possess.
7. Baines' rivals, Baines' etching and lithography business and the printers he used.
In the early 1880's Baines was merely a lithographer and not yet his own printer. Baines found artists to design cards and etchers to prepare them for printing. Alf Cooke and Richardson then printed the designs as bespoke cards. During this time Baines was faced with local competition but he used their cards to advertise his own wares. From this very period, certain colourful rectangular-shaped cards and diamond-shaped cards which advertise Baines' "lucky bags" on the rear, and show colourful images of sportsmen to the front, are known. They were printed by the Alf Cooke's printing works in Leeds, the largest printer in the area, and by Richardson, also in Leeds. Cards printed for Baines by Cooke and by Richardson found their way to other sellers, and this is where rival football card sellers, such as Briggs of Leeds, sprang from. Some of Baines' own cards were used by Briggs but eventually found their way back to Manningham to be over-printed with a Baines rubber stamp. They had been bootlegged with J.Briggs backs! In time, local rivals such as Briggs, and others including Arthur Cromacks, were acquired by Baines but where one is removed another soon grows, and W.N. Sharpe, a very large rival set up its own football cards business to challenge Baines from 1888 on.
In taking over competitors and acquiring his rivals' stocks of cards Baines had added designs to his gallery of cards, notably the extra-large shield-shaped design beloved of Briggs, made by Richardson, which was added to the Baines family of escutcheons from 1887 onward. A heart-shaped card, originally made for Baines by Alf Cooke, as early as 1886 (and bootlegged by Baines' great rival Briggs) also became a staple design for the Manningham firm. Bootlegged Baines cards, issued by Briggs and others, can be found over-stamped by rubber seal to the rear, with the Baines marque which advertised Baines' cigar emporium at 68 Carlisle Road.
In-depth Baines Timeline, 1882-1925, addresses, designs, patents and illustrations of the various types of cards
The Oldest Cards.
Out of obscurity, the earlies sports cards had basic 1- or 2-colour designs and plain backs. Such cards were made before 1883 and usually consist of a team's name and a ball, most often a rugby ball, or another simple graphic image such as a cup. They do not show images of sportsmen, the likes of which would come by 1883. Some of these cards, came to bear one of Baines' variously shaped stamp for "Baines Cigar Emporium". A typical oval-shaped rubber stamp is the most common type but fancier designs are known. These cards were not printed by Baines, though he may have designed the lithography. They were probably printed by Richardson, in Leeds, then published by Baines in Manningham. Likewise, cards printed by Alf Cooke, also in Leeds, were utilised by Baines to advertise his earliest "Lucky Bags". Baines eventually acquired these generic cards and bespoke them. Baines also customized bona fide rivals' sports cards such as those issued by Briggs, a rival publisher of sports cards from Leeds. So, it's possible to find cards made by rival sports-card issuers which bear rubber stamps by Baines as well as the original issuer's name, and even the printer's name, too. The printer's mark would typically be to the front of the card, in small lettering around the frame; the publisher's, or merchant's name, would be to the back of the card. Likewise, advertisers' names were applied to the back.
The images below show very early Baines cards, printed with a plain back upon which a Baines rubber stamp was applied. These cards had very basic designs and they were issued in the first years of the 1880's.
1882 and earlier plain back cards with simple designs featuring rugby balls or cups and without images of sportsmen, often overprinted with rubber stamp marks to the rear, such as the cards seen above.
1883 club-&-triangle-shape cricketers, no coat of arms, no reg.#, 68 Carlisle, like the W.G. Grace Union Jack card seen below.
1883 octagonal-shaped cards of Australian cricketers, Buy Baines Cricket & Word Competition Packets, no reg.#, 68 Carlisle, made to commemorate the 1882 visit of Australia and the first Ashes Test match, played at the Oval, like those seen below.
1883 club-&-triangle-shape cricketers, with a coat of arms, no reg.#, 68 Carlisle, like the W.G. Grace Gloucester CCC card seen below.
1884 small shield with type I sportsmen coat of arms, no reg.#, 68 Carlisle1884 rugby-ball-in-hand shaped word-making cards with Pears Soap backs, such cards were used until the late 1880's with various backs, as seen below.
Images below : small-size Baines shields were issued for almost a decade, from the early 1880's until the start of the 1890's. Their history can be traced by designs on the back, let alone the player & team combinations on the fronts.
1884 club-&-triangle-shape (also called clover-and-triangle, and star-shape) cards advertising for Pears Soap, baby back, no reg.#, no address just Baines Litho Manningham. Such cards were used until the end of the 1880's, with various backs.
1885 ball-shape with a cricketer's name & no image cricket-ball-design reg. #71204, type II sportsmen coat of arms, 68 Carlisle.
Image below : showing an 1895 ball-shape card for Kent (with a type II sportsmen coat of arms, different to the earlier, similar sportsmen coat of arms) and comparing it to a ball-shape card from circa 1920, , for Dudley Hill, when the Baines family rediscovered the design and reprinted it en masse.
1885 heart-shape advertising for Pears Soap, baby back, no reg.#, no address just Baines Litho Manningham. Such cards were used until as late as 1891, with various backs including the "Mr Lewis, trainer of Wolves" back 1890-91 .
1885 small shield, advertising Good Morning Pears Soap back, no reg.#, no address just Baines Litho Manningham. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
1885 medium shield, advertising Good Morning Pears Soap back, no reg.#, no address just Baines Litho Manningham. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
1886 small shield, no reg.#, "Cup Ties" back, yearly competition ends April 1887, 68 Carlisle
1886 medium shield, no reg.#, "Cup Ties" back, yearly competition ends April 1887, 68 Carlisle
1886 heart, no reg.#, "Cup Ties" back, yearly competition ends April 1887, 68 Carlisle
1886 club-triangle, reg. #80607, 68 Carlisle
1886 club-triangle reg.#80607, and with both 68 & 72 Carlisle double-address card
1886 medium shield, reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
1886 heart, reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
1886 small shield, reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
NOTE the 68 Carlisle Road address remained a Baines property into 1887, and maybe later (Bradford newspapers of 1887 show it as a Baines correspondence address) even though it was replaced on cards with 72 and then with 65 & 72 together
1887 1st series fan-shaped card, small lion & unicorn, £100 a year prizes, 'cricket & football', reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle.
1887 1st series fan-shaped card, medium half-lion, half-unicorn, 'football cards' reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle.
1887 largest shield (Richardson-style), advertising Good Morning Pears Soap back, no address, Baines Litho Manningham. uch cards were used into the late 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
Images below : typical 1st, 2nd & 3rd type backs for the 1887-1888 fan-shaped cards. Baines' second patent number, 13173, was obtained in late 1887 and it dates later-type fan-shaped cards absolutely. See also advertisement variations, below
1887-88 2nd series fan-shaped card, large full lion & unicorn, protected patent no.#13173, 'football cards', reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle.
Images below: Pears Soap ("Good Morning" variation) and Halstead's Ointment (non-Lewis variety) from 1887-1888.
1887 medium shield, reg. #80607, 72 Carlisle. Such cards were used into the early 1890's with later addresses and various backs.
1887 Large-size shields, various backs, used into the 1890's.
1887 Extra-large-size shields, various backs, used into the 1890's.
In 1890, Baines issued rectangular cards with golden borders, each showing four international rugby players, some of which also featured the Queen. These cards bear the joint 65 & 72 Carlisle Road addresses. They date from the time of the Baines horse-drawn carriage of cards, which bore the very same address. These cards were once thought, by some people, to date from 1887, a year of great celebrations for the Queen's 50th Jubilee, for half a century on the throne of England, yet they are in fact from 1890. The cards were made to commemorate England's return to the Home Nations tournament, in 1890. They are dated to 1890 because they feature players playing their first caps in 1890, such as Piercy Henderson Morrison and Jim Valentine. In the same series, the Scotland card features Bill MacLagan, Don Wauchope, Charles Reid and T.W. Irvine. Some of them were not selected to play in 1890 but they had been regular choices for Scotland during the previous years. The fact that Valentine and Morrison appear on the England card absolutely dates it to 1890, at the earliest.
The use of 72 Carlisle Road has been seen on cards made since at least 1886. We can say for sure, seeing this card, that cards bearing 65 & 72 Carlisle Road together, date from as late as 1890, and may have been used in 1891. It was on these large, royal rugby rectangles that Baines decorated himself the 'Football Card King'.
Advertising cards issued with just "(J.) Baines Litho, Manningham" were issued throughout the 1880's, alongside fully addressed cards. Adverts for Pears Soap, Halstead's Ointment and other wares have been seen on extra-large-size shield cards, on large-size shield cards, on medium-sized shield cards and also on the smallest shields; as well as on the other shapes issued, from heart-shaped cards to fan-shaped cards.
Defunct by the end of the 1880's were these shapes:
-cricket ball cards with the 'cricket-ball-design reg. #71204' back
and defunct during the very early 1890's were the rectangular cards and heart-shaped cards
The extra-large shields became defunct by the end of the 1890s.
Oval-shaped cards (i.e. oval, not rugby ball shape) cards appeared, albeit briefly, in the 1890s but from the late 1890's onwards only the large-size shields were produced, becoming the generic Baines shape for two decades to come.
Image below : typical shield shapes from the turn of the 1880's-1890's and early-mid 1890's
Images below : a piar of typical early 1890's cards, note the pair of addresses on each card
The 4 cards' backs seen below : 3 are typical 1890s types and 1 is a trick, a regular trp for collectors! It's a much later card which often confuses collectors because it bears an 1897 patent number! The others, including the extra-large shield, are typical of the late 1890's. This is a very small sample of the backs used by Baines in this period. Cards bearing patent number 197161 are no earlier than 1897 - the year when Baines first applied that number to his cards. Note: the later incarnation of the firm known as Baines Ltd., from 1909 onwards, and its concurrent post-Edwardian 'rival', named simply 'Baines', also used this patent number - decades after its issue. Another trap is the gold medals cards. The Gold medals were won in the mid 1890's but there is a debate about when they were first used on the backs of Baines cards. Most gold medal cards seen are certainly from long after 1900, being used by Baines Ltd., as well as Baines, after 1909 through until the 1920's.
Image below : typical backs of Baines cards from the mid 1890's before obtaining the patent number 197161 in 1897.
Image below : typical backs of Baines cards from the later 1890's and 1900's with the patent number 197161 obtained in 1897.
Images below : a pair of 1890's types, an example of how to differentiate. Remember, various shield-shaped cards were used simultaneously until the late 1890's, it's the address, patents and player/team combinations that'll be most useful in dating cards
Images below : typical Baines cards designs & backs from the 1900's
Following the death of John Baines Sr., in December 1908, cards would continue to be made in the typical large shield of the late-Victorian and Edwardian years. Both wings of the family, two distinct businesses, made such cards from 1909 until around the middle of World War One when both firms switched to narrow-shaped shields and ball-shaped cards: cricket, golf and rugger as well as soccer balls.
Pictures below: Bradford City players used to help date the very similar cards. The one card is easier to date than the other, being "Ltd" it must be 1909 or later. It is. Harry Mart Maskrey, the goalie, joined Bradford City in 1909 and stayed at the club until 1911, so the card is dated to 1909-1911. The smaller card, which is only smaller because someone hand-cut Maskrey from a printer's proof sheet, of Johnny McMillan looks very similar in design. Yet, the is no "Ltd". As it's North Parade without "Ltd" it's before 1909. Looking at McMillan's career we see he was at the club from summer 1903 until 1906. The card is probably from 1904, when he was celebrated as top scorer. Note how 200 free jerseys per week in 1904 had been reduced to only 50 per week in 1909, suggesting less cards were in ciculation and harder times at Baines.
Images below : J. Baines backs, two samples of many known, from before and after the 1909 family schism, after which J.Baines Ltd was formed, a private company limited by shares, which remained at North Parade; from where the J.Baines family firm (not a private company limited by shares) changed address to Oak Lane.
Images below : J.Baines Ltd. (not J.Baines) cards, North Parade, Bradford address, from c.1909 to c.1916. A very small selection of types and backs. There were many more types of these Baines Ltd cards & different backs made!
Note: after 1908, the "J.Baines" part of the family made cards in the same style as those shown above, made by "J.Baines Ltd.".
During the years from the middle of World War One onward both wings of the family changed designs to more contemporary, narrower shields and ball shapes. Wider shields would eventually be reintroduced in the early 1920s.
Images below : J.Baines (not J.Baines Ltd) cards, Oak Lane, Bradford address, from c.1916 to 1923, most are dated by letters received and printed on the backs of the cards
Images below : J.Baines Ltd. (not J.Baines) cards, George Yard, Barnsley address, from c.1916 to c.1925. Note: the shields were issued between 1922-1925; the ball-shaped cards came earlier but were issued until c.1925, e.g. Frank Roberts of Manchester City, 1st Division golden boot in 1924-25. Ball-shape cards also came in thicker cardstock, like some of the shields but thin paper is the commoner material you'll most likely find them in.
Image below : the backs which bear the 48 Nelson Road, Gillingham, Kent address are the last known cards made by J.Baines (not J.Baines Ltd which was by this time based in Barnsley) and these are some of the rarest though least attractive Baines cards made.
By 1926 neither side of the Baines family was in cards production and 45-years of shaped, fancy sports cards came to an end. The very first sports cards in the world, the first packets of sports cards and the first collecting era of sports cards was over but, in 1926, Boys' Magazine celebrated the history of the firm by making its own shield-shaped cards in memoriam to Baines. Later in the 1920's other firms also joined the celebration of Baines and until the very early 1930's shield-shaped cards were made by producers across the British Isles in homage to the much-missed makers of the earliest sports cards.