The official LEGO timeline for the 1950s (when Norway, Sweden and Finland started selling LEGO)... is well not very detailed (that's putting it kindly)....
It doesn't mention Norway at all, it mentions Swedish LEGO sales starting in 1955, and in 1959 LEGO Sweden was established (??) and also in 1959 LEGO Finland was established.
Well here's the real story about LEGO sales in the rest of Scandinavia....
The first LEGO sets started selling in Denmark in 1949 as Automatic Binding Bricks. Then in 1950 Automatic Binding Bricks were also selling in southern Sweden... but not produced from Denmark... but produced by a company called Geas Konstharts of Gisvaled Sweden.
These first non-Danish LEGO bricks were rather odd... they were not made of Cellulose Acetate (the plastic that was used by TLG from 1949-63)... but of Polystyrene... a shiny plastic. These first Swedish sets had the same Automatic Binding Bricks boxes as those of Denmark. The only way to tell the difference was the brochure, or the bricks themselves... but not the box.
Here's part of the first brochure from Sweden....
This is the oldest known building ideas image of LEGO parts, and dates to about 1950.
The Geas Konsthart's brochure does NOT mention the word LEGO or Billund at all, which is unusual. An acquaintance contacted the still in production Swedish plastics firm a few years back... and they have no records of making LEGO at all.
The production of these strange sets (mentioned in Chapter 2 of my LEGO DVD/E-Book Download) is still a mystery today, since the Billund LEGO Archives also have no info on these early Swedish sets. These sets were not popular in Sweden, and were discontinued within a year.
Then in 1953 Ole Kirk Christiansen, who did some of his early carpentry apprenticeship in Norway (and married a Norwegian) thru one of his Oslo Norway contacts, got LEGO sales started in Norway. However due to toy import restrictions in Norway in the 1950s, he had to have a Norwegian company produced the parts and sell the LEGO sets there. This company was called Svein Strømberg & Co., which under the name A/S LEGO (later changed to A/S LEGIO) produced the first LEGO sets in Norway starting in 1953.
Here is a late 1953 Norwegian ideas brochure page that shows the first set and parts pack numbers sold in Norway at the end of that year...
There were 3 basic sets, 2 parts packs sold from Norway that year. There was also a wooden retailer box where loose bricks, windows/doors and baseplates could be purchased (an early PAB).
Then in 1955 sales in Sweden were re-introduced (permanently this time)... and this time the parts were from Denmark (and also some from Norway) in the basic and parts pack sets. Since 1955 was also the intro of the LEGO System of Play... there were a lot of parts packs introduced, as can be seen in this image of 1955 Swedish packs...
And finally we get to Finland.... the first LEGO sold in Finland was in 1959. Since there was a partial ban on toy imports in Finland as well as Norway... about 70% of all parts (mainly the non-specialty parts such as bricks) were produced in Finland, with the more complex parts imported from Denmark.
The funny thing about Finland is that the first LEGO there was produced by a businessman by the name of Boris Strömsholm in 1959 in a barn-like building!!
By the early 1960s the toy import restrictions were eliminated in all Scandinavian countries, and production was moved to Billund Denmark.
I have a lot of images of unique LEGO items produced in these countries in my 2,800 page LEGO download (E-Book), and that includes sets, parts in unusual colors (windows/doors in green in Norway, in yellow in Sweden), as well as unique boxes in the local languages. And one of my favorite topics is the switch in 1967 of Sweden's going from driving on the left to driving on the right (they had a few unique Town Plan boards with left driving roadways).
Enjoy.... (added 9/13)
Edited by LEGO Historian, 09 September 2013 - 04:08 AM.