It was introduced under the (Scandinavian) number 1236 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 1955 with the introduction of the Town Plan series of sets and part. It was a loose rectangular box set that sometimes came with red garage plates (rare), but mostly with white garage plates.
From 1956-57 when Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Portugal came online to LEGO they too had a rectangular box set... but with different design on the box.
The rectangular box version came in 5 different box varieties from 1955-70.
The top box is of the 1955-57 variety of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (in the local language).
The 2nd box is of 1956-57 variety for Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria.
The 3rd box is of the 1958-59 (International) LEGO System version sold in several countries.
The 4th box is of the 1960-65 (International) LEGO System version sold in several countries.
The 5th box is of the 1966-70 (International) LEGO System version sold in all countries (except USA/Can).
Then in 1958 TLG came out with a new version (for only some countries) of the box... known as the flat box version of 236. This had all the parts held in place with part inlays, and also contained a 1:87 scale VW Bus. The rectangular boxed versions never contained the VW.
This flat box version came in 3 different box tops... 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-65.
****NOTE: The printed "LEGO" brick was NEVER found in any set... it just represents the brick that would be found in the local country... which would be "GARASJE" for Norway, and "GARAGE" for other countries (and possibly :"HUOLTO" for Finland).
As complex as all of these varieties of boxes are... it gets even more complex... the question of which box variety was sold in which country?
From 1955-57 the rectangular box varieties were sold in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Netherlands Belgium, Switzlerland and Portugal.
From 1958-65 the rectangular box varieties were sold in Sweden, Germany, Austrian, Netherlands, and Switzerland.
From 1958-65 the flat box variety was sold in Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy, France, Portugal, Finland, UK, Ireland and Australia. Neither variety was ever sold in USA/Canada.
From 1966-70 the last of the rectangular box versions was sold in all of Europe/Australia.
Now when it comes to value... the early Danish/Norwegian/Swedish rectangular box varieties command premium prices, due to the local languages on the box, and also due to using slotted bricks and (occasionally) red base plates).
But the really valuable sets are the flat box sets that came with a 1:87 VW Bus. A 1960 Belgian flat box version of 236 could be worth 10 times the value of a 1960 German rectangular box version of 236. This is due to the fact that most early model sets came in flat box versions with the parts held in place in the box via partitions... and all of these sets are very highly sought after.
Here is an early 236 flat box inside showing the parts (and 1:87 VW) held in place with inlays.... what makes this set so highly desirable and valued...
So the 236 garage sets is a very complex and varied set that betrays the fact that early LEGO catalogs appear to be very simple... since their catalogs are only the front and back of one sheet of paper.... "LEGO Mayhem" at its' most complex....
If it weren't for the complex nature of early LEGO sets and parts, my LEGO collectors guide on DVD/download... would only be 1/4 of its' 2,800 pages in size.... (still available in the Eurobricks LEGO Bazaar as an instant download).
Edited by LEGO Historian, 14 November 2012 - 09:11 PM.