BAYKO in J. G. Graves Mail Order

John George Graves, universally known as George, was born in Lincolnshire (in 1886), but moved to Sheffield in order to take up a watchmaking apprenticeship, which, by my simple calculation, must have been right at the turn of the nineteenth century.
George [right] later set up one of the U.K.'s earliest mail order businesses. It was, not too surprisingly, initially based on imported watches, but was soon extended to encompass a wide range of fancy goods and beyond. There's more on this in just a moment.
John George Graves, universally known as George
You will notice that the top page of the catalogue, shown [below], acclaims J. G. Graves as : -
"THE ORIGINAL MAIL ORDER HOUSE"
I'm afraid I can't personally endorse that claim, however, Wikipedia, and an official presentation by Sheffield Council, both go down the route of "one of Britain's first".
By the end of his life, George Graves had created a broad range of business and philanthropic interests in and around the Sheffield area, where he had also served as Lord Mayor in 1926, when my mum and dad were both six. His mail order business was clearly very successful, and he is known to have given away more than £1,000,000 to local good causes, which was a really substantial amount of money for the time.
J.G. Graves Building
Having grown to be so successful, J.G. moved his businesses into the former Waterworks Building [left] on Division Street, Sheffield.
Label showing the J.G. Graves business premises
I'm afraid I don't have a date for this evocative photo, but it must be at least a hundred year old, and was culled from a PowerPoint presentation produced by Sheffield Council.
The label [right] also shows the same building, but also lists, in headlines at least, the range of merchandise - "Watch Importer & Jeweller, Electro Plate & Cutlery Merchant" - it then goes on to list - "Clocks, Bronzes, Writing Desks, Gladstone bags, Overmantels, Sewing Machines, Brass, and Iron Bedsteads".
A little while after his death, 1946 the mail order company was taken over by Great Universal Stores, a substantial U.K. mail order company.

The document below is a newspaper-sized flier, dating from the run up to Christmas, 1953 or 1954 - based on the BAYKO prices shown. Unfortunately the original has been heavily folded, which has affected the image quality slightly, but I still think it is interesting to get a snapshot of the mail order business of the period.
If you slide your mouse over the upper page image and you will see the BAYKO entry highlighted [middle, righthand column].
In addition, if, this time, you click on the image immediately below, you will see a larger version of the BAYKO inclusion.
J G Graves advertising flier from Christmas 1953 or 1954
The BAYKO entry script reads as follows : -
BAYKO Building Sets are the finest home entertainment ever offered to youngsters.
The parts fit easily together, in a most ingenious manner, allowing all kinds of models to be constructed.
THE MOST UP-TO-DATE BUILDING SET IN THE WORLD.
Made from richly-coloured, high-grade plastic material, BAYKO is
beautifully finished, easily cleaned, and will survive years of hard treatment.
Clearly J.G. was a fan!!!
J G Graves advertising flier from Christmas 1953 or 1954
This is the reverse side of the document, and doesn't show any mention of BAYKO
…but I still find it fascinating!
567 mm x 443 mm = 22.35 x 17.4 inches
 
Below here are links to related info : -
 
Click on any of the links below for related information.
 
   
   
 
 
The 'Flaming BAYKOMAN' site logo