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The very odd case of LEGO in Iceland...


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#1 LEGO Historian

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 05:40 PM

LEGO sales in different countries around the world started in many different ways... in the USA and Canada it was thru a licensee (today unknown) company called "Shwayder Brothers"... which in 1965 was renamed for their most famous product "Samsonite" (that's why you will see "Shwayder Bros." in USA 1961-64 LEGO sets and ads).In Britain, Ireland and Australia Lego was sold thru a company little known (outside the UK) chemical/textile licensee company called Courtauld's.... which immediately established a subsidiary called British LEGO Ltd. and produced LEGO for those countries from a Courtauld's plant in Wrexham Wales (hence the "British LEGO Ltd., Wrexham Wales" printing on LEGO ads in those countries).But no country had a more unusual beginning than LEGO sales in Iceland.  WIth only a population of about 320,000 people, Iceland was a very small market for LEGO.  So TLG really didn't want to invest a lot of money on such a small market.So a Copenhagen Denmark company called ELMODAN (owned by Dane Elmo Nielsen) signed an agreement to sell LEGO in Iceland, and was signed the 22th of November, 1954.  The first LEGO molds were sent to Iceland on January 29th 1955.  But this was no ordinary agreement.... because the producers and packers of LEGO sets in Iceland was a Tuberculosis sanitarium in Iceland called "Reykjalundur.  And from 1955 until the end of September 1960 these sets with LEGO parts were not called "LEGO"..... but were called "SIBS Kubbar".  If anyone in Europe ever finds one of these so far unknown named sets, all I can say is...$$$$$.Starting in late September 1960, the name on the boxes was changed to "LEGO System".  However, these sets still had the "REYKJALUNDUR" label on the sides of the boxes... and again if found would command a lot of Euros!!Below are 3 images... the first is Reykjalundur Tuberculosis patients packing LEGO sets in 1960 (maybe "sneeze guards" weren't invented until "Salad Bars" came into style many decades later? :cry_sad:The 2nd and 3rd image show a small LEGO spare parts pack (of 1960-63) with the "REYKJALUNDUR" (complements of German Thomas Rosner) logo on the side.  Up until last week I had never seen these boxes before.  I sent the Billund Archives the box images (I already had the clinic image)... and they were astonished, since they had never seen these before, and had no examples of these boxes in their collections.  They thanked me, and gave me all the information that they had on record in their inventory (which is one way how I compiled much of my information in my LEGO Collectors Guide DVD/download).... enjoy a newly discovered piece of LEGO history..... :classic:Cheers,Gary IstokPosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Edited by LEGO Historian, 21 October 2012 - 08:31 AM.

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#2 danim

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 06:17 PM

that does not seem very safe and I bet you the toy regulators would go nuts nowadays
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#3 LEGO Historian

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 10:42 PM

Danim, I always thought the same thing... but it seems that Tuberculosis is spread by breathing in the air (as I suddenly sneeze)... when someone nearby with TB cough's sneeze's, talks or sings.

Since these (below) are NOT ways to catch it, I suppose that touching a TB patient packed LEGO boxes would not be harmful....
Shaking a TB person's hand.
Sharing a TB person's food or drink.
Sharing a TB person's tooth brush.
Kissing a TB person.

But it comes across as something that would likely dampen LEGO sales if we knew it was packed that way! :sceptic:

Oh... and although the first image of the clinic patient is in my LEGO DVD download... the 2 images of the Icelandic LEGO parts packs will be in the next available release of the LEGO download (in about 6 months)... free to all owners of the LEGO collectors guide download.  :classic:
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#4 LEGO Historian

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 03:06 AM

If you were taking a ferry boat from Denmark to Iceland thru the North Sea, you would pass by an archipelago of very rugged islands called the Faroe Islands.  These are semi-independent from Denmark, although currency and defense are still supplied by Denmark.  The group of Faroe Islands (north of all the rugged Shetlands and Orkney Islands of Scotland) have a population of 50,000.

http://en.wikipedia....i/Faroe_Islands

I just recently learned about these islands for a LEGO related reason... the rarest of all LEGO flags is a 1966-68 wavy flag of the Faroe Islands.  I only learned of this fact because a German LEGO collector who specializes in Scandinavian LEGO came across not just 1, but 2 Faroe Island wavy flags of the 1960s.  Here's one shown below... (Note the flags are (first column going down.... Faroe Islands, Denmark, Iceland, (2nd column) Norway, Finland, Sweden.

These Faroe Island flags were likely sold in either the 1966-68 492 or 493 LEGO flags pack (each had 8 wavy flags).  However due to the extreme rarity of these until now unknown flags, it is likely that only 492 or 493 flag packs sold in the Faroe Islands had these flags in them.  And with a total population of 50,000 in the entire island chain... it is likely that the number of flags produced was very small indeed.  In mint... I would value one of these flags at several hundred Dollars or Euros.  Making them one of the rarest and most highly priced LEGO parts of all....   (as found in my LEGO DVD download... Chapter 47 - Old LEGO Town Accessories - subchapter 47.1.1 - LEGO Wavy Flags 1957-73, still available on Ebay or on my website listed in the Eurobricks Bazaar.

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Edited by LEGO Historian, 22 October 2012 - 03:09 AM.

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#5 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 07:50 PM

I know I had quite a few of those flags as a kid, they would have been bought by my parents in 1969/70. Not sure which countries they are though. If I ever get the box out of the attic at their house I'll check them. Some look familiar but I am not sure which.

#6 Fugazi

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:02 AM

View PostLEGO Historian, on 20 October 2012 - 05:40 PM, said:

And from 1955 until the end of September 1960 these sets with LEGO parts were not called "LEGO"..... but were called "SIBS Kubbar".  If anyone in Europe ever finds one of these so far unknown named sets, all I can say is...$$$$$.
So I take it that there are no known images of SIBS sets? I was wondering if their designs matched those of contemporary European LEGO sets, or whether they were more independent akin to Samsonite in North America.
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#7 LEGO Historian

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 03:40 PM

View PostFugazi, on 23 October 2012 - 10:02 AM, said:

So I take it that there are no known images of SIBS sets? I was wondering if their designs matched those of contemporary European LEGO sets, or whether they were more independent akin to Samsonite in North America.

That's a very good question!  The LEGO Archives/Collections have no known copies or images of the 1955-60 SIBS sets in their archives.  They only have records of what was used, but not examples.  They were very happy to see these 1960s parts pack images, of which I gave them a copy for their archives.  But there are some examples out there somewhere... probably in Iceland!

The TLG Archive folks and I stay in touch, and share information.  Much of what I get is from collectors around the world who ask me if I've seen this or that before... if not, I ask the LEGO Archives folks... and more often than not if I've not seen it before, neither have they.  Green tall classic windows from Norway was another example they had never seen before.  That's what makes my LEGO DVD download such a rich source of rare and never before seen items... the combination of very rare TLG items and those in private hands.

Come to think of it... I've not sent them an image of the Faroe Islands flag.  Time for another EMAIL!  :wink:

Also I get some very interesting anecdotes from the old employees at the TLG Archives.  One told me that those old 1950s slotted "marbled" bricks were sold to employees and retailers as factory seconds.  The late Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (died 1995) mentioned to one of the senior archive employees that back in the 1950s the marbled bricks were sold to retailers for 8 øre each, and perfect slotted bricks were sold to retailers (for PAB type sales to the public) for 11 øre each.  Today it's those factory second marbled bricks (likely from factory floor sweepings of mixed colored pellets that were washed and then reused in molding machines) command steep prices, especially for multi-colored swirled examples (that resemble the surface of Jupiter).

There is still much to be learned from the early history of LEGO... a never ending source of fun (I get to play LEGO Sherlock Holmes) for me! :sweet:
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