LEGO Historian

LEGO Wooden Box Sets... least known of all LEGO sets...

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Probably the most complex and least understood of all LEGO sets were the wooden box sets of 1949-1980.

TLG had this bad habit with those old sets.... they NEVER put a set number on the box... just in a few rare instances an occasional small sticker. In the late 1949 to 1980s era wooden box LEGO sets were mainly of 3 types.... 1) an institutional set (for schools or other businesses), 2) a luxury gift set, since these were relatively pricey, or 3) as retailer boxes for loose parts or service packs that the retailer kept under the counter, or under the LEGO rack/shelf.

Duiring the 30 years that TLG produced wooden box sets... they produced over 80 different ones, mostly sold in continental Europe. What makes these sets so obscure and relatively unknown was that each country pretty much had their own set numbers for use on the boxes... even though some boxes were similar or identical in multiple countries.

And the worst part about buying old wooden LEGO boxes at an online auction is that most sellers don't have a clue what set they have. The wooden box set identifiers were "Content Lists"... a single sheet of paper that listed an inventory of the parts found inside. These Content Lists had the set number on the top of the page, and they were often the first thing that got lost in the set over the years. No Content List often meant no set identification. A very frustrating situation.

I spent 6 years coming up with a compilation of the 80 or so wooden box sets (no online database has more than 5 or 10, since they're so hard to identify). The images included here pretty much cover about 90% of them, since sometimes the same box would be found with up to 10 different set numbers, depending on which country they were sold in. As I said... very confusing and frustrating.

Here are 2 images that show most of the box designs....

7779014310_815bce888e_b.jpg

8375057708_77aeddc25a_b.jpg

What gets mind boggling about many of these sets is that some are sold "with contents" and empty (same box), some are sold with up to 24 partitions (the most common number) or as few as 1 partition, with 2, 8, 1, 16 partition numbers in between). And often if you find an empty box... you're not always sure that it was originally sold that way or not!

Some of the wooden box sets come in up to 5 different box design types (the British 700K set holds that record). And then there's packing variations. Many wooden box sets were sold for a number of years, and they may have undergone a content change, since some parts were either discontinued, or new parts were introduced. The before and after variations of when LEGO wheels were introduced in 1962 being just one of the more common wooden box packing variations.

And then there's the box itself... many have Masonite tops and bottoms, others are totally of natural wood (of different types). And sometimes the same box design will have either a hinged top, or a sliding top... sometimes with 1 clasp or 2 clasps.

And then there are the institutional LEGO wooden boxes with red Masonite lids... known as "Terapi I", "Terapi II", and "Terapi III" in the early 1960s in Denmark, Norway and Finland, as "T/2", "7" or "90" when empty in the 60s/70s... and as "91", "92" and "93" in continental Europe in the 1970s.

LEGO Mayhem at its' most confusing!!

Chapter 14 - Wooden Boxes, of my LEGO DVD/download has 37 pages of 6 years research of auction data, collecting info, and LEGO Archive data on these very confusing sets.

Oh and one last thing... the LEGO Vault in Billund Denmark... they only have a few of the over 80 wooden boxes I have pictured in my Collectors Guide...

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Interesting, thanks. Were the boxes made in-house (the company was originally a carpenters shop after all) or are they one of the things that were farmed out?

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This is interesting. I recall as a child that I had a number of wooden boxes that I kept various toys in, ie. one for cars, one for plastic soldiers and so on. I never really thought about where they came from, but looking at these boxes some of the images do look an awful lot like some of those boxes. I had LEGO bought for me by my parents from the age of two years up so that would be from 1970 onwards. I am now wondering if some of it came in wooden boxes, that were afterwards put to other uses? (I do not recall having LEGO in wooden boxes, but at two years old I don't suppose I would have.) These boxes as far as I know are still in my mother's attic. It would be interesting to look and see, if only I could access it easily. Still one day I am sure I will.

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Until the recent discovery of a 1949 wooden box basic set, the earliest wooden box sets were the 700 "with contents" and "empty" sets.

The first year of introduction was 1957 in Germany and Sweden (Denmark came 2 years later). The reason for this odd combination of countries is that the first wooden boxes were produced in Sweden by the Swedish dollhouse making firm of "AB Lundby Leksaksfabrik"... run by Danish expatriot Axel Thomsen, a friend of LEGO chief Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. In 1955 Axel Thomsen started LEGO Sweden, and in 1956 he started (and moved to) LEGO Germany.

The first 1957 introducedGerman 700 set...

7785779540_5045355401_b.jpg

German 700 set "with contents" contains hollow bottom bricks... tube bottom bricks weren't invented until the next year... 1958....

7785783002_b4b91468ff_b.jpg

The 1957-62 sets contained a lot of Town Plan accessories. Starting in 1962 LEGO wheels were introduced, and wheel accessories slowly replaced the (more valuable) Town Plan items. By 1966 LEGO wooden box sets contained little more than loose bricks windows/doors and wheel accessories.

Here is a 1957-59 CONTENTS LIST for the German 700 set. Note the item numbers before the part names (in German) denoted the spare parts packs in which they coulld be sold in. Also, oddly at the bottom of the page is a subheading for "236"... which was the number for the LEGO Garage Set of 1956-70. The parts to build a garage were oddly listed separately. Also, if you lost this sheet of paper, then you were unlikely to be able to identify your wooden box set (although some of these did have an ink stamp or sticker on the side)...

8378011100_083ab859e0_b.jpg

And to make things even more complex... the German 700 set (700 sets were sold in about a 8 continental European countries)... was unique in another way. Instead of a 1 piece sliding top... it had a 2 piece sliding top (of Masonite), the back of which contained the 1950's Town Plan board layout (in 2 pieces). No other country had such a slliding board box top with this arrangement. This was unique to Germany, and makes the German 700 wooden box set the most collectible of all! But it gets even more complex... there were 4 box top versions... the 1957 version as shown above... the 1958 and 1959 versions (1959 version shown below, but they both have the same box top image... one just happens to be in German the later one in international "LEGO System". Here is a Brickshelf image, courtesy of USA collector Eric Strand, shows the 1959 International box top version (but still with German writing on the sides)...

700_continental_europe_1957-58.jpg

And here is the 1960-62 700 "with contents" version showing the 1960s Town Plan board top design... but ironically still having the 2 piece 1950s Town Plan board as the inside box top. (More LEGO Mayhem!)

8377140705_680f2866d9_b.jpg

Now to make matters even more complex... the German 700 wooden box set "WITH CONTENTS" box was different from the German 700 wooden box set "EMPTY". The separately sold empty set only had a single piece box top with no Town Plan scene on the back. The German 700 "with contents" sold for 49,50 Deutschmark. The 700 "empty" sold for 19,80 Deutschmarks. Here's how the boxes were different for sliding the top Masonite board(s) into them.... (2 piece board box on the left, 1 piece board top on the right).

8378067510_c2e4277a44_b.jpg

So between the 4 different box top images, and the 2 types of boxes ("with contents and a 2 piece board top, and "empty" with a 1 piece top).... the German 700 wooden box sets came in 8 different types!!! :wacko: Just 79 other wooden box sets to go.... lol....

The German and Swedish 700 LEGO wooden box sets of 1957 are the first regular wooden box sets sold... and for some odd reason... the Swedish 700 sets "with contents" did NOT have a 2 piece sliding Town Plan board top... only the German version did, even though both boxes were produced in Sweden by AB Lundby of Lerum Sweden.

Anyway, the Billund LEGO Archives are mum about these early wooden box sets, and the first wooden box set they mention are a 1959 "International" version (again 1 piece top)... as seen in a Danish retailer announcement of 1959 shown here...

7785969146_f773da27d6_b.jpg

There are thousands of little LEGO facts that I've been able to puzzle together over the last 6 years of research (with the help of LEGO collectors worldwide)... many of which are unknown to the LEGO Archives themselves... and most of which is still unknown to AFOLs.... as found in my 2800 page DVD download (still... as you guessed it, available in the Eurobricks bazaar!). Chapter 14 - LEGO Wooden Box Sets is my favorite for a reason... it drives people mad!! :sick:

Edited by LEGO Historian

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And here is the man.... Axel Thomsen... who introduced LEGO to Sweden in 1955, sold his Swedish dollhouse factory to his son, and moved to Germany to start LEGO Germany in 1956 (and produced the first regular wooden box LEGO sets). Thanks to Jim Hughes of Ohio for doing a lot of research on Axel Thomsen!

This TLG image dated Jan. 12, 1956 was a celebration for the introduction of LEGO to Germany in March of 1956. In this image Axel is on the far right... with his wife Grete across from him. Seated to Axel's right are LEGO Junior Managing Director Godtfred Kirk Christiansen and his father (LEGO founder) Senior Director Ole Kirk Christiansen, with LEGO representatives sitting across from them.

8378326222_ed4bd518fb_b.jpg

Axel Thomsen had a long relationship with TLG, and he on occasion would produce some LEGO products that were not known to the folks in Billund. This is one reason why the LEGO Archives have such a tough time with LEGO items in some European countries, and as recently as a month ago the LEGO Archives were still buying Swedish LEGO items on the secondary market, since they were unknown to them. One of the reasons I have such a good working relationship with the LEGO Archives folks is that we share with each other rare LEGO information that is not known to each other.

This rare b/w image of the founding of LEGO Germany is in my last LEGO DVD/download chapter... Chapter 73 - LEGO Sales/Offices by Country. The entire chapter has old historic LEGO images from the early days, including rare LEGO models and Christiansen family images.

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And here is the earliest (1957) version of the Swedish 700 "with contents" wooden box set. The writing is in Swedish, and this is made of a different kind of wood... stained and not painted. This set only has a 1 piece (non-Town Plan board) top. The term "System i lek" (System in Play) is the same for both the Swedish and Norwegian language... but the other writing is in Swedish.

On the left side of the image are all of the "Town Plan" LEGO accessories available back in 1957, including all the valuable 1:87 LEGO vehicles.

8380445639_3297c58dd2_b.jpg

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Another type of wooden box was the 1950s retailer wooden box.

From 1950 to circa 1958 in Denmark and (starting in 1953) Norway) LEGO sold Pick-A-Brick parts from these wooden retailer boxes. The gray box was used in Norway for a short time, and all the other boxes were used in Denmark, starting with the tall boxes (1950-53). The 1953 onward longer boxes were found in LEGO Retailer catalogs under the numbers 700 K/4 and 700 K/5 (with "K" being the Danish abbreviation for partition)... so these were either 4 partition smaller boxes, or 5 partition larger boxes.

8375959416_89ec3469a5_b.jpg

These retailer boxes contained only bricks, baseplates and windows/doors. From 1950-52 LEGO Denmark sold the parts by weight, and reordered 250 gr. bags of parts from TLG. Of course at that time there were only 2x2/2x4 bricks, and 3 window/1 door type. But by 1953 the 1x2, 2x3, 2x8 and 2x10 bricks were introduced, along with new (classic) window/door types... so Danish retailers switched from selling parts by weight... to by part. A 2x4 brick would cost Danish 0,11 øre. If the brick was marbled (a factory second)... it would only cost Danish 0,08 øre. There are a few marbled bricks in the boxes shown here. Ironically even though they were factory seconds back then... today marbled bricks are highly sought after and collected.

Whether LEGO loose parts were sold by weight or individual pieces in the 1950s... they were put into thin paper bags with the LEGO logo on it. Interestingly enough even though LEGO Denmark provided scales for the LEGO retailers to sell loose parts in the early 1950s, I have never seen a surviving one.

These images are from my LEGO DVD/download - Chapter 43 - Individual LEGO Parts Sales.

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Of all the different variations of LEGO sets produced in the last 64 years, few sets are as little known as the wooden box sets of 1950-80.

LEGO sets made in wooden boxes should come as no surprise... after all most LEGO items that TLG produced until the 1950s were made of wood. But for some odd reason TLG made an unbelievably unique series of sets made with wooden boxes. Although no online databases list more than 15 sets, there are nearly 90 different wooden box sets that TLG produced during the 30+ years of their production.

Here are 2 collage images of just some of the mind boggling number of different wooden box sets that were produced...

7779014310_815bce888e_b.jpg

8375057708_77aeddc25a_b.jpg

The production of wooden box sets was a very difficult collection to bring together in one chapter of my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide... Chapter 19 - Wooden Box Sets 1950-80. Because it was such a difficult taks, this was one of my favorite chapters to put together... as can be seen here on Youbisher. About 85% of these sets are totally unknown to most LEGO collectors. These sets were only identified (usually) by a Contents List that came in the set (no outside marking)... and once that sheet became lost, most of these sets no longer were identifiable.

Here for the first time ever, I'm posting a link to this favorite chapter of mine...

http://www.youblishe...O-Sets-1950-80/

I'll go thru the history of many of these rare and hard to document sets in the next few days...

Enjoy!

Gary Istok

http://www.eurobrick...showtopic=73780

Edited by LEGO Historian

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One of the most unusual LEGO sets is this one... of German origin. This box has what appears to be a hand painted box top, that matches the box image on the back side of 1958-60 LEGO spare parts pack. This box top is unknown to the folks at the LEGO Archives. And the contents, while reminiscent of an Educational Set contents... has way more 10x20 thick baseplates than it should have (never more than 2).

So this box may have been a prototype produced by the LEGO subsidiary, from the development center at the Hohenwestedt Germany LEGO HQ (see the LEGO in Germany thread for images of the German HQ complex). The very high quality box top artwork, as well as the metal plate with LEGO logo on the side... makes it unlikely that this was done outside TLG. If this was a German prototype... it was very nicely done! :wink:

8367383413_72bc297d85_b.jpg

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Thanks Spzero! Here is the original artwork on the back of 1958-60 LEGO spare parts packs. It for the most part matches the hand painted artwork on that prototype wooden box....

8678602176_6af3dc2d8d.jpg

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This box has what appears to be a hand painted box top4e.jpg

Yes it does! And some folks were questioning whether it was a real deal (prototype?) or just a privately produced item. I think that it is the real deal... since most of these boxes just have a LEGO logo. This box would have been overkill as a privately produced item. Also that metal plate on the side... looks like it would be difficult to be produced and mounted privately. One thing that makes me think that it is a real item is that it has the standard 24 partitions (12 deep ones, 4 long shallow ones underneath, and 8 shallow ones in the pull out drawer)... these same 24 partitions are found in about 70% of all wooden box sets... and the sliding top is found in about 50% of all these boxes.

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Hello

I recently acquired a lego box and I have not yet come across imagery of this on any forum. I am wondering if anyone has come across this one before and if you have any idea of its production date.

We do not have all the original pieces, unfortunately.

 

 

 

lego small.jpg

lego small.jpg

Edited by Shannon

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Just imagine how heavy wooden boxes were and I believe they need much spare place to be stored

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On 1/17/2013 at 1:50 AM, LEGO Historian said:

Another type of wooden box was the 1950s retailer wooden box.

From 1950 to circa 1958 in Denmark and (starting in 1953) Norway) LEGO sold Pick-A-Brick parts from these wooden retailer boxes. The gray box was used in Norway for a short time, and all the other boxes were used in Denmark, starting with the tall boxes (1950-53). The 1953 onward longer boxes were found in LEGO Retailer catalogs under the numbers 700 K/4 and 700 K/5 (with "K" being the Danish abbreviation for partition)... so these were either 4 partition smaller boxes, or 5 partition larger boxes.

8375959416_89ec3469a5_b.jpg

These retailer boxes contained only bricks, baseplates and windows/doors. From 1950-52 LEGO Denmark sold the parts by weight, and reordered 250 gr. bags of parts from TLG. Of course at that time there were only 2x2/2x4 bricks, and 3 window/1 door type. But by 1953 the 1x2, 2x3, 2x8 and 2x10 bricks were introduced, along with new (classic) window/door types... so Danish retailers switched from selling parts by weight... to by part. A 2x4 brick would cost Danish 0,11 øre. If the brick was marbled (a factory second)... it would only cost Danish 0,08 øre. There are a few marbled bricks in the boxes shown here. Ironically even though they were factory seconds back then... today marbled bricks are highly sought after and collected.

Whether LEGO loose parts were sold by weight or individual pieces in the 1950s... they were put into thin paper bags with the LEGO logo on it. Interestingly enough even though LEGO Denmark provided scales for the LEGO retailers to sell loose parts in the early 1950s, I have never seen a surviving one.

These images are from my LEGO DVD/download - Chapter 43 - Individual LEGO Parts Sales.

Hi! I have got hold of a grey retailer box, with 4 partions inside. Was just wondering if anyone have any idea how much one of those are worth these days..?

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7 hours ago, Collector245 said:

Curious if you are interested in selling?  Let me know a price if you have one.  Thanks!

Hi, I don’t know if you meant me, but yeah everything is for sale at the right price. I have the Norwegian retailer wooden box (grey one with red writing) with four partions. 

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Hi a question some of you might know.

I came upon a 700k wooden box set Belgium (Netherlands).

In Gary Istok's catalog I found a list of bricks that should be in the set. But unfortunately there is no information on the numbers in different colors. Just the total amount.

In the wooden box later in the 60's the owner added more bricks so it is not clear what should be the original content.

Does any of you know what should be the actual content? So colour and amount.

Thank you for all the help to get this set back to original inventory.

Edited by Bart_Brick

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