BAYKO Printers

This section is fairly short, but I thought it would be useful to list the available information on the printing companies, used over BAYKO's lifetime, on a separate page to make it easier to reference from different parts of the site.
Firstly, let's put things into context. Although not obviously so at first sight, BAYKO was a reasonably significant player in the Merseyside printing game - as a consumer. There were 3,000 plus different outlets for BAYKO in the U.K. alone, so runs of 200,000 of single sheet fliers, used by retailers to introduce potential customers to BAYKO, were not unusual - that's actually only 67 per shop.
With peak BAYKO production of over 150,000 sets a year, print runs of the standard 1950s manual for set #0 to set #3 - which weighed in at no less than forty pages - could similarly top the 100,000 mark.
I rather suspect that the BAYKO printing buyer would have been quite well treated by eager local printers!
As far as printing is concerned, Plimpton were definitely somewhat promiscuous!
Many of the post-war BAYKO fliers, and also the manuals which were included with the BAYKO sets, were printed on the Wirral [often only carrying the initials JHL] by : -
J. H. Leeman Limited,
Leighton Printing Works,
Before and during the war, some, at least, of the BAYKO manuals, and other literature, were printed by : -
Robert Johnson & Co. Ltd.,
The manuals for BAYKO sets #1 to #6 from 1935 to 1938 were printed by : -
The Northern Publishing Company Ltd.,
Liverpool and London.
The manuals for BAYKO sets #20 to #23, from 1938 to 1940, were [though, based on the quality of many that I've seen, I wouldn't be too eager to claim the fact!!!] printed by : -
J R H & S
Thanks to Stephen Berry of Newport, South Wales for working through the 1938, KELLY'S DIRECTORY of LIVERPOOL, and providing us with the following information, filling out the gaps in the above, for which, many thanks : -
James R Hill & Sons
16, Great George Street
Sadly a large number of Plimpton era documents and, as far as I can establish, all the MECCANO era BAYKO documents, were published without the helpful use of any discernable printer's marks, though some do carry the legend, “Printed in England”
For the record, I understand that MECCANO did all their own printing, including, presumably, for the BAYKO range - well, almost…
…it's not difficult to guess that the most likely exception to this is the export business, and I have one version of the MECCANO General Products Price List, dated June, 1966, for the Australian market, which was printed by : -
“The Harbour” Press

Print Registration - or Lack of It!

Page 24 of the January, 1955 sets 0 to 3 manual showing very poor print registration
MECCANO era print quality was, almost universally, good.
Much of the Plimpton era printing was also quite good, with three clear exceptions : -
The manuals for BAYKO sets #20 to #23.
The manuals for BAYKO from the peak period [1950s].
The BAYKO spare parts price lists from the mid 1950s onwards.
The overwhelming issue was print registration - the alignment of the different coloured inks - which was, at times, atrocious, but, as in the example here, never-the-less released for sale, which doesn't say much for Plimpton's quality standards I'm afraid.
The sample here [above], shown courtesy of Robin Throp, was printed by J.H. Leeman Ltd. It is page 24 of the January, 1955 sets #0 to #3 manual. You may not be able to appreciate the scale of the problem in the image, if not, click anywhere on the image to see a larger version.
I should, perhaps, point out that the industrial relations record of the printing industry as a whole left a lot to be desired over BAYKO's lifetime. It is possible, but by no means certain, that this could have impacted on print quality - or at least explain Plimpton's quiescent reaction.
Neither do I think we can blame the equipment standards of the time, which were generally quite good, but, if pushed, I would guess that the value equation, in terms of the relationship of quality to cost, had slipped too far.

Learning from Printing Errors

"I love it when a plan falls apart!" as the A Team's Hannibal Smith never put it. Let me explain. Craftsmen and women in several Christian and Muslim groups used to make a 'deliberate mistake' in the item, believing only God achieves perfection. For completely different reasons, as I've said elsewhere on the site, I love coming across production errors, of all types, because the error brings into focus just what they were actually trying to do, but which isn't always immediately obvious when everything goes well!  The four images [below] - provided by Andrew Horner of the HORNBY Railways Collectors Association U.K. - are from a Portuguese MECCANO Flier - can you spot the error?
Portuguese MECCANO Flier - Exterior - fully printed
Portuguese MECCANO Flier - Exterior - printing error
As it should be…
Portuguese MECCANO Flier - Interior - fully printed
Portuguese MECCANO Flier - Interior - printing error
The images [left, above] show the document in all its glory, whereas those [right, above] are clearly missing something - the black, vernacular script!
The document itself attests that it was "Impresso em Inglaterra", which even my limited Portuguese can translate as 'Printed in England'.
What has clearly happened is that the coloured blank [right] simply hasn't received the black ink of its secondary print run. The reason for including this BAYKO-free document here is that MECCANO's corporate policy was to print its documentation in house, and there's no evidence, that I'm aware of, that this was altered when BAYKO joined the family. In other words, particularly in the case of multi-language and multi-regional export marketing, the colourful, high impact, corporate standard imagery was printed first, with the more mundane, but no less crucial, vernacular script being subsequently overprinted in black ink, as the market [and marketeers] required.
As an aside, to bring this model-related information up to date, it could be argued that LEGO have gone a step further with their truly excellent instruction manuals, in that they have done away with language based information and instructions entirely!
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Latest update - November 20, 2023
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.