Rare Baines Shield Print Error Sheets Discovered

A find of rare Baines Shield print error sheets have been found in the UK

Cards from pre-war sets with print errors are often very rare finds. Complete sheets of these sorts of cards are nearly impossible.

But complete sheets of print errors from already very rare sets? That’s unheard of, right?

Not in the case of some incredible sheets of Baines Shield trade cards from the UK.

LDC Cards, a popular eBay dealer from the UK, made the find. While I have not seen these cards in person, LDC is a long-time, well-known seller on eBay, moving more than 100,000 items. According to the dealer Gary, he obtained these sheets as part of a collection from the original printer archives dating back to more than 110 years ago.

Those familiar with Baines Shield cards will immediately notice the difference in these. While regular Baines Shield cards are printed in color, these issues have not yet had the color added. Additionally, a red pass of ink has been added to the backs with the sheets appearing to have been inserted incorrectly and printed upon. Instead of the standard advertising backs, backs of the sheets include the red ink images of several players with no other ink colors seemingly present.

Shown here is part of one of the sheets, front and back.

The cards have since been cut from the sheets and are now being offered up individually. A group has already sold with some others now up for bid.

While I have never seen any other print error cards like these from the Baines series, even the regular Baines Shield cards are fairly rare finds. A great comparison to them would be the Old Judge baseball cards. Finding any Baines Shield card in general is not too difficult. Several are typically being offered on eBay at any given time. However, finding any one specific card can be nearly impossible at times. Carl Wilkes, another UK dealer at www.footballsoccercard.com, estimated that fewer than ten cards exist for many of the later Baines series’ with fewer than five of the earliest cards. Some are known to have only a single copy or two.

According to Gary, the Baines Shield cards were initially sold in packages of six or one halfpenny and were issued from around 1883 through around 1921. The intent was to supposedly have collectors send the cards in exchange for gifts, which is likely a reason they are so hard to find. For example, some card stated that prizes would be given to the boys sending the largest assortment of Baines cards back to the company. It is not clear if the cards were ever returned.

While the primary subjects are from soccer, rugby, cricket, and golf, you might recall I wrote about a rare baseball issue I found back in 2021. There are some other types of subjects in the series, including some non-sports cards but the ones mostly seen are for soccer, rugby, and cricket.

The cards were the work of John Baines, who may have been the first issuer of soccer cards. Here’s some great info on Baines and his cards.

While I’m somewhat familiar with the Baines Shield cards, I’m no expert. I do collect soccer and even cricket cards, but not with the same severity that I do other more popular sports here in the U.S. And frankly, many of the names, even of star players in those sports, are foreign to me.

But I was intrigued enough by these cards to take a chance on one of them.

I picked up this card of a player named Bertram Clewly (B.C.) Freeman. Why Freeman? Well, after researching many of the players offered, he was one of the bigger stars, it seems.

Wikipedia, for what it’s worth, calls Freeman one of the top goal-scorers of his era. That is backed up by the fact that he won three Golden Boot awards, leading his league in scoring three different times. In 357 appearances, he scored 219 goals, starring for Woolrich Arsenal, Everton, Burnley, and Wigan Borough from 1905 through 1922.

Another reason I liked the card is that it is apparently his rookie issue. While I don’t know soccer well enough, that is the claim made by Wilkes.

Wilkes was kind of enough to share this regular version of the Freeman card from his site for use here. It really gives you a great idea of what the cards were intended to look like against the error cards.

I love stuff like this. And while most collectibles like this have been lost to history, finds like these are good reminders that some really unique stuff is still out there for the taking.

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