BAYKO Retail Cabinets

With BAYKO, just like MECCANO, model railways, MY LITTLE PONY or BARBIE, regular, repeat purchases of small extra items created a major profit stream for Plimpton.
MECCANO era back card wrapped in a protective cellophane sheet
I lived the truth of this in my regular Saturday morning pilgrimages to 'The Pram Shop' in my native Blackburn in the late 1950s and early '60s!
Both the manufacturers and retailers needed a combination of functionality and marketing impact for their spare parts storage system to both facilitate and encourage this market…
…hence the BAYKO Retail Cabinet was born.
Just for completeness, the only references to Retail Cabinets that I've unearthed, so far, from the MECCANO BAYKO era, are consistent in referring to them as “Storage Cabinets”.
The Cabinets had a bright display of BAYKO parts on the back, clearly visible to the public in it's intended spot, on the shop counter.
I'm certain that Retail Cabinets existed, in one form or another, before the war, but I'm afraid I don't know any details, however, I do know about the contents…
Rear of an early Plimpton era cardboard Cabinet - click here for a larger image
BAYKO's Retail Cabinets probably existed as early as 1935 when most parts, except Roofs and Floors, were pre-boxed for sale [or convenience?] in specific quantities.
However, perhaps these Cabinets were just storage units for these pre-packed cartons, I'm afraid I don't know.

If you are looking for specific information, the links below will take you to them : -

Trade Announcement of Cardboard Retail Cabinets

After the second word war, Retail Cabinets were introduced [reintroduced?], in 1948, and the event was heralded by the circulation of the leaflet [below, left and right] to all their BAYKO retailers.
The Rear and Front Covers of the Spare Parts Cabinet announcement leaflet
The Front page [left, right hand side] says : -
- which is probably around £10 to the retailer.
The Rear page [left, left hand side] says : -
Replacements for the cabinets are available in standard quantities as those already contained in the cabinet, and can be ordered by simply asking for Spare Parts Cabinet Refill Pack - Red Bricks, Doors etc.
All goods value over £2 net are carriage paid.
The Centre page spread [right] says : -
The interior of the Spare Parts Cabinet announcement leaflet - click here for a larger image
This is to introduce you to our Bayko Spare Part Service.
The Cabinet, which is supplied on loan, is strongly constructed, and designed to give ease of handling.
It is a perfect Sales Aid to the Dealer.
The various parts are clearly illustrated, and all the prices are shown.
The contents of the Cabinet cover the complete range of Bayko Spare Parts, including all the new parts which are in production, but not included in the standard sets.
We are confident that Dealers who take advantage of this service, will find a steady all-the-year-round demand for Bayko.
The above document is shown courtesy of Peter Crook.

Cardboard Retail Cabinets

There are 3 basic types of cardboard - more correctly straw board - Retail Cabinets : -
Front view of a closed Plimpton era Type 2 cardboard Cabinet
Type 1 : -
A 4-tray unit, similar in appearance to the one shown in the above leaflet with 4 trays and no interior construction, i.e. an empty shell, with a deep hinged lid and front panel.
Type 2 : -
A 4-drawer unit, just like a mini 4-drawer cabinet, but with an open top section with a shallow hinged lid and a front panel [hinged at the bottom]. [Left]
Type 3 : -
A mini 4-drawer cabinet, which to all intents and purposes is exactly like a small filing cabinet or bedside cabinet, with no hinged sections.
One clear lesson that we can learn from the 1948 leaflet [above] is that the earliest post-war Plimpton era BAYKO Retail Cabinets were Type 1.
Type 1 : - The original type, which had a 4-tray and shell format.
Early hinged lid Retail Cabinet - rescued in 1953 from Cairo
What I mean by '4-tray and shell' is that there is no internal structure of any kind within the Cabinet itself, the trays were simply stacked inside an empty shell.
Lack of internal cardboard obviously minimises expenditure and is, therefore, cheaper and means that the Cabinet takes up slightly less space, but at a cost…
…the individual trays had to be de-stacked and re-stacked almost every time a customer came along, not very convenient for the shopkeeper, though relatively stress free for the trays.
The purpose of this Type 1 style of Retail Cabinet is worthy of a little more consideration.
The earlier version [left] is similar to a Cabinet that I own which came to me via Cairo.
The other Retail Cabinet shown [below, right] actually came to me directly from a shop in the city of Antwerp, Belgium, much to my friend Leo Janssen's frustration!
Is it just a coincidence that 2 versions of 'tray and shell' format Retail Cabinets that I own were both returns from export markets?
If you consider the fact that this style is smaller and lighter than the other 2 types, the potential savings on export freight charges may well convince you that Type 1 continued in use for the export markets after the domestic market changed to Types 2 and 3.
Alternatively, larger retailers were offered full Cabinets as a stock replenishment option…
Four tray Cabinet with deep hinged lid - this Cabinet came from Antwerp
…did Type 1 continue to be used for that purpose?…
…either way, the Type 1 Cabinets could be, and indeed were, used as fully operational Retail Display Cabinets in their own right.
There are two further points of differentiation in styles of Type 1 Cabinets which can be gleaned by comparing the two images of Cabinets shown in this section : -
The early style [above, left] has labels on the drawers printed in blue on white paper…
…the later style [right] is printed in black ink on cream paper.
The early style has a price list for Rods inset in the bottom centre of both the pop-up lid and the display sheet on the back of the Cabinet…
…the later style does not, and also displays a larger range of parts.
Four drawer cardboard Cabinet with shallow hinged lid.
Type 2 : - The next type also had the 4-drawer idea, but replaced the hollow shell format with a structure more reminiscent of a small filing cabinet, but with the top surface still produced as a hinged lid, this time much more shallow than Type 1.
Access to the top tray was clearly still easy, but the other drawers/trays had to slide in and out - more convenient for shopkeepers with space restrictions - but they would have been vulnerable to damage under the strain of continually sliding in and out.
The individual drawers also had little cloth tabs, actually loops, like the one you can see in the picture [left], to help slide the drawer out.
The shallow lid seems to have been a particular weakness and every one of this type of cabinet that I have seen has a damaged lid.
The hinged flap, which falls forward to the front of the Cabinet, should have a printed sheet with helpful information for the retailer similar to the Type 1 arrangement above.
Type 3 : - These are the easiest BAYKO cardboard Retail Cabinets to understand - simple, 4-drawer units, like a small bedside cabinet.
Cabinet style retail Cabinet - one of the two which started my collection - with printed contents information on each drawer
Inevitably cardboard's poor slip characteristics, the weight of the parts and the weakness of glued paper joints took their toll as drawers were moved in and out. Many Type 2 and Type 3 drawers/trays have substantial damage.
I can certainly remember this type of cabinet from the days of my youth in the 1950s
…what a memory(!)…
…indeed, the first pair of Retail Cabinets I acquired were of this type.
Cabinet style retail Cabinet - one of the two which started my collection with A, B, C, D labels on the drawers and the contents maps in front
Perhaps not too surprisingly, I have rather a soft spot for these as effectively they kicked off my adult(?) BAYKO addiction!
The cabinets pictured here are the reason for my reconversion to the one true religion - BAYKO!!!
Notice that one Cabinet [above, right] has the contents printed on the front of each drawer just as the earlier style Cabinets did.
The contrast with the second cabinet [left] here, is interesting…
…here the contents descriptions are absent from the trays which are simply labelled A, B, C & D.
Also of interest is the card which acts as a plan of where different parts are stored - two cards are shown in the photo to show both sides.
At first site printing these cards may seem an unnecessary expense, however, they would have been necessary for the wooden Cabinets [below], and would have saved on the expense of printing and fixing the tray labels, so…
I'm still not absolutely certain as to which of these designs is the earlier, though I suspect it's the fully printed version - please let me know if you can shed light on this…
Contents of a full Retail Cabinet varied quite significantly over time - I assume they were modified to better reflect actual sales ratios, as well as accommodating BAYKO parts range increases.
The Cairo Retail Display Cabinet in all its glory

The Cairo Cabinet

Before we leave the subject, I can't resist adding a little more about one particular Type 1 Retail Cabinet that I acquired a few years ago.
The Cairo cabinet was rescued from Cairo back in 1953 - not by me I hasten to add, I was only BAYKOTOT in those days - and is worthy of note for that reason alone.
As you can see from the photo [left] it has had a hard life - click anywhere on the image to show a larger version. In an attempt to stop it falling to pieces it has been 'customised', by the Egyptian shopkeeper, by the addition of a supporting wooden framework…
…if nothing else, this is surely a clear indication that there was a thriving trade in BAYKO spare parts in Egypt in the post-war years.
Just like the Cabinet [Type 1, above, right], the Cairo Cabinet has the drawer contents printed on the trays in blue ink on white paper…
…whereas the later ones [all types] have black ink on cream paper.


The leaflet near the top of the page shows a retail price of £15 [probably £10 wholesale], plus purchase tax, for a full Cabinet, in 1948. From April 8th, 1959, shortly before the MECCANO takeover, a retailer would have to pay £8/6/11 [£8.345] for a full one, or exactly half that for a half Cabinet - whatever that was!! I do not know if an actual cabinet was included for the money, though I strongly suspect it was. Peter Crook's leaflet states that the Cabinets were only “loaned” to the retailer, at least in 1948.

Plimpton Wooden Cabinets

At some stage during the Plimpton era, wooden BAYKO Cabinets [left, below] were made available.
Front of my Plimpton era wooden Retail Display Cabinet
Clearly these would have been appreciably more expensive to make than their cardboard counterparts, so it's likely that their distribution around the trade was comparatively restricted, probably limited to the busiest BAYKO outlets. It is quite likely that wooden cabinets remained in the gift of the travelling salesmen, and I suspect that they officially remained Plimpton's property, like the “on free loan” cardboard equivalents.
Several years ago, Stan Curran was talking to an elderly lady who owned a wooden cabinet and - oh sacrilege - used it to store her sewing things!
She used to work for Plimpton, and told him that the cabinets were made by a 'local joiner', who charged Plimpton a fiver [£5] for each one - the best part of a week's wages in the 1950s.
Rear of my Plimpton era wooden Cabinet
In appearance, Plimpton era wooden Retail Cabinets really do bear a striking resemblance to their MECCANO equivalent, indeed, as both companies were Liverpool based, it's perfectly feasible, that they were actually made by the same local supplier!
The Plimpton era wooden Retail Cabinets had four drawers, as you can see [upper left], and the removable display card, to the rear [lower left], was held in place by a removable piece of framing, which was itself secured by three screws.
The drawer layout is, unsurprisingly, similar to those of the cardboard Retail Cabinets [above].
I'm pleased to say that, after many years of trying, I now own one of these Cabinets.

Display Sheets

The wooden Cabinets [above] obviously had no contents directory printed on the front of each drawer like their cardboard equivalents [above], so the retailers had to be provided with printed cards showing the Cabinet contents layout, as well as other useful information.

'Map' provided to retailers to help them find their BAYKO spares, and also to price them

'Map' provided to retailers to help them manage their stock of BAYKO Rods and Floors

The cards included actual size drawings of Rods, and a gauge for measuring Floor dimensions. Most, if not all, also included prices for the spare parts.
These are basically the same as those shown above with some of the Type 3 Cabinets.
BAYKO retailers could replenish their spare part stocks by ordering either full or, at least late in the 1950s, half replacement Cabinets. I suspect all references to BAYKO Cabinets in this context would mean a cardboard one.
The alternative, and I suspect by far the more frequently used method, was to order the various required parts individually, these being available, boxed, in the same quantities that were included with the original Cabinet.
You've already seen these above, in various guises, but I thought I'd add a bit more information.
BAYKO Display Sheet dating from 1949 or 1950
The example shown here [left] dates from around 1949 or 1950 and shows all the common 1950s parts except the Gate and Matching Balustrade and the Small Chimney.
The range of Rod sizes quoted [bottom, centre] is limited to a maximum size of 8-Brick Rods, though contemporary contents sheets actually make provision for up to 12-Brick Rods. This small table was dropped in later versions.
The sheet includes space for the retailer to write in the BAYKO spare parts prices below each image, and the sheets were designed to be glued to the back of the Retail Cabinets, thus allowing for price updating as and when necessary.
The wooden BAYKO Retail Cabinets used cards rather than sheets, but the artwork concerned is essentially the same.


Following their 1959 take-over, though more likely from 1960, MECCANO seem to have dropped cardboard and settled on supplying their range of BAYKO spare parts to the eager public in wooden Retail Cabinets, perhaps building on retailers' experiences with their own spare parts range.
Taking advantage of the storage efficiencies of their new range of roofing, BAYKO cabinets from the MECCANO era have a broader, 3-drawer format, labelled A - C, with all three drawers being the same depth.
A three-drawer wooden BAYKO cabinet from the MECCANO era
Product display is via a printed cardboard sheet which slots into the reverse of the cabinet…
…there is a photo of the card top left.
The 'headboard' on top of the Cabinet, at the back, proudly proclaims BAYKO but, I'm afraid, the camera flash has blanked it out…
…David Bailey I am not!
My own MECCANO era cabinet has seen better days, but it shows you how the cabinet looked.
MECCANO era Retail Display Cabinet card Map
Just like their Plimpton predecessors, MECCANO era Retail Cabinets were also provided with a printed card on which details of the layout of the drawers were set out to as an aid to the retailer.
The MECCANO era card [left] is shown courtesy of Robin Throp - click anywhere on the image if you would like to see a larger version of it.
If you've more information on BAYKO Retail Cabinets, I'd love to hear from you…
Below here are links to related info : -
Click on any of the links below for related information.

The 'Flaming BAYKOMAN' site logo

Latest update - August 10, 2022
The BAYKO name and Logo are the Registered Trade Mark of Transport of Delight.