Vintage Original J Baines Football Card: "play The Game Dalston"
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Vintage Original J Baines Football Card: "play The Game Dalston":
Vintage Original J Baines Football Card: "Play the game Dalston" March 1918Known as the Football Card King, Baines began the trends that included swap systems and desperate hunts for elusive players
From When Saturday Comes: In 1887, John Baines, a toy retailer from Bradford, filed a patent describing ?a new means or method of illustrating the play and players of football?, later categorised as ?football cards?. Baseball cards had been popular in the US since the 1860s, and Baines thought football cards could be just as popular in Britain. His colourful cards were cut into the shape of a shield and featured depictions of teams and kits, with sketches of popular players. They were sold in packets of six for a halfpenny (worth around 20p today). Baines went on to produce rugby and cricket cards, and eventually covered scores of different sports, from golf and tennis to horse racing and bowls. But it was the football cards that made his fortune, and saw him adopt the title of ?The Football Card King?.
Baines produced hundreds of thousands of football cards each year, operating from his ?Dolls? Hospital? toy sales and repair shop on Bradford?s North Parade. Something of an eccentric, he distributed his cards from a distinctive carriage pulled by a horse with a monkey on its back. As well as covering professional clubs, Baines produced cards for hundreds of amateur and local clubs. A rummage through modern collections reveals cards for long-defunct sides such as Imperial Rovers, Rotherham Swifts and Heckmondwike Casuals, plus cards for the likes of Newton Heath and Newcastle East End, the clubs that respectively became Manchester United and Newcastle United.
The cards were promoted via various ingenious prize competitions, which could be won by finding certain ?medal cards?, by collecting piles of empty packets, or by submitting mini essays, with winning efforts printed on the back of subsequent cards. Most prominently, Baines offered football jerseys to whoever could collect a specific list of cards, set out on posters in shop windows. Some of the listed cards were particularly hard to find. ?Boys would tramp miles to districts where, according to rumour, the rare and fabulous ?listers? were in every packet,? recalled one collector, writing as ?Northerner? in the 1950s. ?They never were, of course.?