Dating these frail, paper-thin cards is a notoriously difficult task so I have elected to give them an entire ‘section’ of their own and thus avoid having to be specific. I believe that they were issued from the late 1890s to c1922 and in differing sizes and as different sets so they are grouped here using that method although the actual chronological order is not yet known to this collector.
The original cards carried John Baines Ltd and Manningham as the address; this was then followed by 63 (Typo ?), 65, 68 and also 72 Carlisle Road often with the Ltd dropped; then 15 North Parade both with/without Ltd, then 32 and 34 Oak Lane (Carl Wilkes is certain that the move to Oak Lane came about in 1917); then 48 Nelson Road, Gillingham and then finally, in 1921, we find George Yard, Barnsley. This last address is where the quality of print and content dropped dramatically, probably down to old used plates and dies. Cards have been found on extra thick card stock (really thick!) and also paper thin stock; the former was probably the cause for the blunted dies clearly evident in 1921/2. The Ltd address was also used again on most of the Barnsley issued cards.
Catalogue prices vary from dealer to dealer but you can expect to pay around £60 for the brighter, more colourful cards and, of course, condition is everything when determining value.
‘Cricket & Football Cards – shield shaped’ (15, North Parade, Bradford)
It’s quite possible that this shield with generic footballer design was produced around 1910 because Town used to wear this kit in their very first season as a football club in the Midland League, 1908-09. However I cannot confirm any date other than to say that it MUST be post-1908 simply because the name ‘Huddersfield Town’ is used.
‘Gold Medal Football Cards – shield shaped’ (15, North Parade, Bradford)
These are beautiful cards and they feature specific Town players. The portrait at right is that of Town outside-left Joe Jee (Town player 1909-1919 and the same image as used in the 1910 Cope’s ‘Clips’ cigarette cards) whilst below we see the Town goalkeeper Alex ‘Sandy’ Mutch (1910-1922). Both players seem to be wearing kit similar to the one used by Town between 1910 and 1913 – before the stripes – which possibly dates these cards to that era.
No specific series name – shield shaped (15, North Parade, Bradford)
This card used to worry me quite a lot. It’s another generic design which I have seen for other clubs e.g. Plymouth Argyle and it does look as though it was printed with ‘Huddersfield’ in the centre, but the ‘T’ is so far off-centre as to make me think that someone has added it later, perhaps with a pen and it’s also a little smaller than the other letters. However, now that I have one of these and have seen a couple of others exactly the same I’m convinced that it is genuine.
As a footnote, there is an unscrupulous eBay trader who is marketing this very same image, even down to having the blue background from my original website!
And here is a Town card that I know is out there but I cannot find it – can you help?
This card is definitely from this era of the cards – note the address. It features Jack Cock who first appeared for Town in December 1914 but then, because of his war service, not again until late 1919; he was transferred to Chelsea in October 1919 amidst Town’s financial crisis. In keeping with some other bizarre decisions in this series, a picture of a goalkeeper accompanies Cock’s portrait, but in truth he was a goal scorer of no little repute!
No specific series name – shield shaped (32, Oak Lane, Bradford)
This design features a ‘generic’ footballer, one that has no connection whatsoever to Town other than the fact that he is wearing stripes. I have seen this exact same design used to represent several other teams including Norwich City. In each case they are pretty much just two-tone cards with the same colours and simply a different team name written across the ‘sash’.
‘Gold Medal Football Cards – ball shaped’ (32, Oak Lane, Bradford)
These ball-shaped cards are a bit of a leap of faith for me. In their first season, Town competed in the North-Eastern League wearing red shirts and were known as The Scarlet Runners and, as far as I know, no other football club went by that nickname. These cards are from a time well after that period (probably as late as 1918-1920 going by the Oak Lane address) but in a time of slow news and no internet it is not inconceivable that they are Huddersfield Town cards and until anyone can convince me that they are NOT, then I am going to include them.
These cards do come at a premium, however; the green one came from eBay in 2018 for £25.00 which was a very good price for a card in such excellent condition, whilst the red one came from Carl Wilkes in 2019 for £50.00.
‘Cricket and Football Cards with message – ball shaped’ (32, Oak Lane, Bradford)
And then there was this card which – thanks to Reginald Carruthers! – can safely be dated as 1921. As you can see, the print quality is a lot lower than the previous two cards and it is an altogether ‘duller’ effort. This one also came in 2019 via Carl Wilkes for £40.00.
PROTOTYPE ball-shaped card
The next card almost certainly would have been in the same series, and it also features on my ‘1922’ section as I can definitely pin it down to that year by the text on it. Clearly designed to celebrate Town’s 1922 FA Cup win – the card shows the old Cup and date – this item never actually went into production, making it exceedingly RARE!! In fact Baines ceased trading soon after this date, which probably explains why it never made the print run. The ‘Well Played’ motif is a regular feature of their cards, helping to further identify it.
And here is a really rare packet!!
“So what is the story behind these beautiful cards?”
These are quite rare and much sought-after cards which feature not only football clubs but also rugby clubs and just about any kind of sporting affiliations in just about every city, town and village in the land! They usually turn up tattered, torn and bent – more about that later – but there are plenty of good ones around and they are worth hunting down if you have the time and the cash!
And HERE is another website which was pointed out to me by Mark Hughesdon. More history and lots of pictures of not just the cards, but also Baines’ shop in Bradford and a remarkable photograph of a magnificent Baines horse-drawn carriage!
“Why are they usually so tatty?”
These cards were used in a game called ‘skaging’ where boys (not girls?) would throw them at a wall, and any child whose card landed on top of another would claim all of the cards that had been thrown (or, at least, I believe that is how it was played!) Or it could have been that children threw the cards at a wall and the card that landed nearest to the wall won all of the others; evidence of this can be found on the cards shown at right and below with the subtitle “Who’s nearest?” (from the LDC website and one other). Hence the corners of cards would usually be well-rounded and bent, but there are many which seem to have fared rather better from probably never having been used at all!
More Baines cards
There are literally thousands of images of Baines cards available on the internet if you are prepared to search for them. I would now like to take the opportunity of showing you a few more of my Baines cards. They are NOT specifically of Huddersfield Town, neither are they in particularly good order, but I bought them simply because I like them and they are lovely images of a bygone age. In addition they illustrate some of the variations in ‘backs’ available.
This Bristol City shield bears the date 24th March 1919 on the back and is absolutely the thinnest Baines that I have!
Another football team card which is not in particularly good shape, this Lincoln City card at least reflects that club’s colours although that is possibly just a fluke. Cards with a great deal of damage such as this can be had for as little as a couple of pounds and if, like me, you’re not choosy they can be picked up quite easily as collectors look for the significantly better examples.
As an ex-schoolteacher myself the above card really appealed to me, although I was never allowed to use a cane on anybody! “Don’t play in school” says the master as he confiscates the card with one hand and prepares to beat the boy’s open palm with the cane in his other. I can only imagine that the poor lad was merely admiring his card rather than actually playing with it. Also of interest is the back of the card; an opportunity to exchange a mere FIVE THOUSAND clean and tidy packets for a fountain pen! 🙂
And finally another non-football example shows two boys in conversation. “What’s ta doin’, Jack?” asks the first, receiving the reply “Writing a letter to BAINES”. This card clearly represents one of the thousands of children who would have responded to the several different offers on the backs of the cards in the hope of winning footballs, pens and such-like. Note also what appears to be a selection of framed cards on the wall in the boy’s home.