BAYKO - Manual Labour - Part 4
The Peak Period

This article is the second part of a three part article which should complete the review of the full range of BAYKO instruction manuals from the entire Plimpton era…
When considering this section a while ago, I couldn't decide whether it would be the easiest, or the most difficult. Now it's upon me, I still can't decide!
This is the era we're all most familiar with – or think we are. It was certainly the most prolific. When working to put a copy of every manual on my website, this was the period that had the most to keep track of.
Of the full set of 56 issues of set-related publications produced throughout BAYKO's life, 30 date from this period. There were just three manuals, all the same size and basic format, as summarised below : -
1949 Sets 0 to 3
1951 Set 3X
1954 Sets 0 to 4
Between them, almost 1½ million copies were printed.
The first four issues of the 1949 Sets 0 to 3 Manual have four features in common: they pre-date the launch of Sets 3X and 4, so make no mention of them; the familiar painting of a detached house and garage in a landscape on the front cover has a red border; they show the “Mansion” model on the back cover rather than the “Seaside Pier”; and they don't mention Sets 0 to 3 on the front cover. Except for part of the 1st issue, they bear the price 1/6 [7½p] on the front cover. (Looking ahead slightly, can anybody explain why, uniquely, the 6th issue went up to 2/- [10p]?) There were small changes between each issue, the most infamous being on page 34 of the 4th and 5th issues: when the “new part” drawings were shuffled to accommodate the Small Chimney, Gate & Matching Balustrade and Opening Window, the labels for the Long and Square Turrets got mixed up!
Front cover of the first peak period manual, March, 1949
Front cover of the first peak period Set 3X manual,April, 1951
Preparations for Sets 3X and 4 began in the 5th issue of February, 1951, when the set range was added to and the red border dropped from the front cover. The “Seaside Pier” was also firmly installed on the back cover.
The 1st issue of the 1951 Set 3X Manual (with the “Luxury Flats” on the front cover) was produced a couple of months later, but without a date code to help me to be more specific! They 'flew solo' in Set 3X and, from early 1952, accompanied the Sets 0 to 3 Manual in Set 4.
The earliest 3X sets didn't include the Dome or the Pinnacle Roof and Platform, and this is reflected in the early Set 3X Manuals; indeed, it wasn't changed until the 4th issue in May, 1952. (By contrast, page 33 of the Sets 0 to 3 Manual continued to deny their inclusion until August, 1959!) There then followed two years of stability – with virtually no changes in either manual – until 1954, a period heralded by the anomalous dating of both the 13th and 14th issues of the Sets 0 to 3 Manual as April, 1954.
Inside front cover of the first peak period Set 3X manual,April, 1951
Front cover of the first peak period Sets 0 to 4 manual,August, 1954
We then have another bout of confusion in the Plimpton ranks around the time they moved premises from Liverpool 3 to Liverpool 1. Manuals dated April and September, 1954 carry the Liverpool 3 address on the front cover, being split by the August, 1954 issue which referred to Liverpool 1.
Dating and address anomalies aside, the latter half of 1954 was a period of change for BAYKO manuals. The 1st issue of the 1954 Sets 0 to 4 Manual (with the green front cover) arrived in August, though it was incorrectly labelled as the 6th issue. Confusingly, this was actually the number of the last issue of the Set 3X Manual, which was printed the following month.
The initial intent was to restrict the Set 3X Manual to its namesake set, and the Sets 0 to 4 Manual to Set 4. However, this delineation broke down at some point. While there were three more issues of the Sets 0 to 4 Manual, there were no more Set 3X manuals. It is therefore inescapable that, at some point, the Set 3X Manual was replaced – rather wastefully – by the Sets 0 to 4 Manual in the conversion set. This is supported by the fact that both manuals share the same reference number – “Ref 11”.
There now followed five years of stability with few changes. The print runs for the Sets 0 to 3 Manual reached the dizzying heights of 100,000 per issue from the 15th issue (January, 1955) onwards!
Page 16 of the peak period Sets 0 to 3 manual,  January, 1957
Page 21 of the peak period Sets 0 to 3 manual,  January, 1957
An odd chain of events is recorded on page 16 of the Sets 0 to 3 Manual. In the 18th issue, the title of the “Double-Storey House” model was, for some reason, printed in green; this was corrected in the 19th issue, but the “Double-Storey” part of the title slipped by about 10° in the final 20th issue.
In January, 1957, the “Modern Detached House” model on page 21 of the 18th issue of the Sets 0 to 3 Manual and page 24 of the 3rd issue of the Sets 0 to 4 Manual received additional advice concerning the use a rubber band on the otherwise-unsupported 2-brick rod above the open porch – a detail which had passed without comment for the previous nine years!
The final issue of both manuals – the 20th and 4th respectively – were printed in August and September, 1959. Despite the perilous state of the business so close to the MECCANO takeover, these were the first manuals to include the then-new Garage Doors, and also the Ramp and TV Aerial introduced the previous year. Is it entirely coincidental that the parts dropped from the artwork to make way for them – the Dome (both manuals) and the Pinnacles (Sets 0 to 4 Manual only) – were all immediately retired by MECCANO?
Page 5 of the peak period Sets 0 to 4 manual,  September, 1959
I can't let this section pass without a reference to the print quality during this period – it was ****! If you’ve got a manual where the print registration of all three colours is perfect on every page, contact Sotheby’s now! J.H. Leeman and Plimpton should be ashamed.
Well that’s it for BAYKO's peak. I'll write up the MECCANO-era manuals for the next issue.
To follow on to the next article in the series : -
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