Card of the Day - 2022-04-19

Barker Famous People
John G. Barker (Ireland) Ltd. [trade : bubble gum : UK] "Famous People" (1961) 19/24 - BAP-140 : BAO-2 : HX-53 : D.274

So here we have an unusual card of Shakespeare with his birthplace behind him.

Our card is a scarcer printing and is described in our original British Trade Index part II as "FAMOUS PEOPLE. Lg. 98 x 51. Nd. (24). See D-274". (This is identical in the updated version, except that the date appears before the size). However the heading tells us that John. G. Barker produced "Barker`s Bubblegum", and that all four of his sets were issued between 1955 and 1965. They also had special albums.

However the only one of the four which is original to him is called "Circus Scenes", a really interesting set which was produced in collaboration with Bertram Mills' Circus, though by that time it was being run by his children.

Their other three sets were all issued by others - "Footballers" being issued by Mitcham Foods - and - "The Wild West" actually being three series of twenty-five cards, issued rather oddly, for part one was issued by Sweetule, Amalgamated Tobacco and in an anonymous form, part two by Barratt and Sweetule, and then part three by Barkers and Express Weekly. However they got away with it because each set was numbered 1-25. 

Now you will also find the interior of the very room, of where Shakespeare was born in Westminster Tobacco Co. Ltd`s "A Second Series of British Royal and Ancient Buildings" (1926 - 39/48). The card tells us it is  "The room where Shakespeare was born", being “A first-floor room in a house in Henley St. Stratford-on-Avon” where “The walls are covered with … inscriptions of pilgrims of all ranks, including Byron, Scott, Dickens, Irving, Washington and the Duke of Wellington.” 

There is a very similar view, including the same bust, obviously a later addition, on the anonymous set of "Beauties of Great Britain", but the card is entitled "The Birth Room of Shakespeare" (13/50)

The birth room also appears on John Player “Shakespearean Series” (1914 - 1/25), which has a descriptive text saying that “According to well-verified family tradition, the great dramatist was born in this quaint chamber on April 23rd, 1564.” And it also explains the writing on the wall mentioned on our card as “Formerly visitors were allowed to write their names upon the walls, ceilings and window panes, and many notable autographs are here inscribed”. The first series of the Player cards were issued in 1925. RB21-200-159.1 tells us they were in two formats, unnumbered with no descriptive text, and numbered with a descriptive text. They were already pretty scarce by 1950, when the London Cigarette Card Company catalogue listed them as odds only, the unnumbered version being retailed at 1/6d. each and the numbered version at a shilling each.