These magnificent coaster-sized cards were leant to me by Nick from Fishersgate. I trust no-one was wasteful as to actually used them as beer mats, although that would make existing ones even rarer, pushing up their value, which might be good news for those who own some.
From the text printed on the back of four of these, it appears that they were issued by J. Baines in Bradford, at 82 Oak Lane or 15 North Parade. So proud of his status as ‘Sole Inventor and Originator of the Famous Packet of Cricket and Football Cards’, that his invention was registered at the Patent Office, with ‘Trade mark No. 197161.’ Yes, because obviously football and cricket cards did not exist before his!
In fairness, although the idea of collector cards was not due to his ‘Eureka’ moment, J Baines’ ones were cut in such extravagant shapes of which I have never seen of football cards before. Take this natty blue and beige number:
This full colour one here, my favourite, is an absolute beauty, and suggests our Argentina-style kit of the 2000s was not a wholly new idea:
Its reverse has the rather peculiar words:
Once more I wish to remind Boys who go in for my Competitions that all Prizes are given at once. Prizes for Cricket and Football are given all year round. J BAINES’ decision to be final.
Quite what the nature of these competitions were is not clear.
The next two have the abridged name ‘Bright’n&Hove’, with a goalkeeper in a chequered shirt. I wonder if an Albion keeper has really ever worn such a design:
Again, there is a special notice on the back of each:
‘If shopkeepers find any difficulty in getting our Packets, kindly write direct to Bradford, when they will get prompt attention. ESTIMATES GIVEN FOR ANY QUANTITY.’
‘Jerseys and Shirts will be sent in all cases if the instructions on Show Bills are strictly followed, as there are several competitions. Please examine your Cards before sending to prevent any disappointment.’
Despite the urgent nature of the messages, I’m still none the wiser as to what J Baines was in the business of. Where they a sports collector card company? A sportswear company? We might not ever know.
Still, the series continued with these two, finally giving the ‘Albion’ part of our club’s name a mention in the gold, vase-shaped design:
I’m not sure what decade these came out. If anyone would like to make an educated guess, please do.