Introduced in 1893. Discontinued in 1960. The original
1893 US8b issue of this deck lacked the thin white border (see the first two examples, above). Later US8b
decks and all issues thereafter feature the white border. Complete decks of the borderless variant
are quite rare. League was reissued at some point in the 1980's (I think) and available well into the
1990's. Also issued in 1990 in a box labeled No. 71 Rummy featuring two decks, one purple and one red,
with multiple indices on the faces (see the last image, below).
Most early Bicycle designs were updated to be
completely symmetrical. The League back is unusual in that its design featured the one-way
central winged wheel motif for its entire very long run.
It seems highly likely that "League"
refers to the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.), a membership organization established in 1880 as an
advocacy group for bicyclists, now known as
the League of American Bicyclists. Indeed, the central motif on this
back design, a bicycle wheel with three wings, is virtually identical to the L.A.W. logo. Many early Bicycle
back designs featured this design element (most including the star in the hub that was usually part of the
logo), among them Acorn,
Model No. 1,
Racer No. 1,
Tangent No. 1,
Tri-Tire No. 1,
and the joker of the rare Junior No. 21
decks. See two early examples of L.A.W. membership cards, below, as well as a tobacco tin that
promotes the League of American Wheelmen.
A blue borderless League single sold on eBay on July 1, 2016
for $50. A red borderless single sold on eBay on September 25, 2016 for $5, a relative bargain,
although the borderless cards seem to be more readily available in red. Another red borderless single sold for
$3.00 on February 11, 2017.