LEGO Historian

First LEGO Catalogs

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When the LEGO plastic bricks were first introduced in 1949 as Automatic Binding Bricks in Denmark, TLG started a tradition that continues today. I just (images thanks to Jim Hughes, Lothar Gasteiger, Jan Katanek, Rohnny Sweenen and Richard Bintanja)... compiled the complete group of these earliest Danish catalogs for the first 10 years.

To expect a monotonous collection of similar catalogs, that was not the TLG way of doing things. In fact TLG rarely made even similar catalogs in the early years. So for the first time ever seen (as a group) in public.... here they are.... :wink: Note: these were often just labeled as brochures...

The oldest known LEGO catalog, and oldest known image of LEGO buildings.... the 1949-50 Automatic Binding Bricks 4 page Danish catalog....

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The backside with the earliest known LEGO building images... showing the Autmatic Binding Bricks (slotted bricks and windows/doors that fit into the slots).... Shown here are the 3 basic sets and 2 spare parts packs of that era. Note... all items back then that were related to plastic bricks had the 700 number prefix...

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In 1950 TLG came out with an 8 sided (4 front, 4 back) brochure that showed the building models that could be built with the sets...

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From 1952-53 TLG produced basically the same catalog and sets... but the addition of 2 smaller sets 700/4 and 700/5 were included....

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Then in mid 1953 TLG eliminated the Automatic Binding Bricks names from the boxes and catalogs.... however there was no actual LEGO catalog produced from mid 1953 until November 1954. Instead TLG produced a 4 page ideas brochure that only showed models that could be built with many extra sets (no exact set models). So here is the 1953-54 (one page) Danish Retailer catalog that showed retailers what LEGO sets were available from 1953-54.

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In November 1954 TLG produced this Danish brochure (like earlier ones, it had 8 panels, 4 on each side)....

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In March 1955 TLG produced a Danish catalog that showed the first of the Town Plan accessories introduced that year....

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In early 1956 this colorful catalog was introduced, showing many scenes of the Town Plan, even showing HO Scale Märklin Trains....

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This was the first time that the grandchildren (Gunhild, Hanne and Kjeld) of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen were shown on LEGO catalogs.

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Then in late 1956 this large colorful 2 sided LEGO catalog was introduced. This shows the positioning of the basic and model sets on a Town Plan board....

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Backside shows the different sets, and scenarios for combining certain sets...

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The 1957 Danish catalog gives us a better itemized listing of all the sets and spare parts packs available that year....

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And finally the 1958 Danish LEGO catalog... in a design that would be used for a few years by all continental European countries. It appears that many of the prices were changed before the catalog was finally released....

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These and dozens of other catalogs are in my 2800 page LEGO collectors guide as DVD download.... :wink:

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Thanks, Historian, this article and catalogs reminded me on my first red lego bricks... :)

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Did that guy in the red jumper have a name? When did he disappear?

That little fellow is known to old time LEGO collectors as the "LEGO Gnome"... but I don't know what he was called in Danish back in the 1954-62 era that he was found in LEGO printed matter, and on LEGO boxes.

Here's an example of the 700/3A Basic Set boxes of Germany.... (top 1956-57, middle 1957-58, bottom 1958-60)... these all have the LEGO Gnome on the box tops.

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The LEGO Gnome was no longer on box tops starting in 1960, and disappeared completely from LEGO literature by 1962.

Edited by LEGO Historian

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Came across the most ancient of all LEGO documents....

A 1934 (first year they used the name "LEGO") wooden toy retailer pricelist....

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And a pricelist list for ladders and stools and other household goods....

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Not much to look at... but very historic LEGO documents! :wink:

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That little fellow is known to old time LEGO collectors as the "LEGO Gnome"... but I don't know what he was called in Danish back in the 1954-62 era that he was found in LEGO printed matter, and on LEGO boxes.

In both Danish 1956 catalogs he is called "LEGO-manden", which means "the LEGO man".

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Thanks Lasse.... I've seen plastic doll size versions of the LEGO Man selling for over $500 in mint condition. Early LEGO is very hot right now on the secondary market... especially the sets that have the parts inlaid in boxes (not loose parts), and also the marbled bricks. There is now a growing interest among these truly collectible items.

Also Lasse, I have now found examples of the 1306 VW Repair set box tops with the images with VW GARAGE (your image), VW SERVICE (Sweden) and VW GARASJE (Norway).

The 1307 VW Showroom set box has now been found with VW SALG (Denmark and Norway), VW FORSALJNING (Sweden) and VW VERKAUF (Germany).

The 1308 Fire Station set box has been found with FALK (Denmark) and FEUERWEHR (Germany). Still waiting to be discovered are BRANDSTATION (Sweden) and BRANNSTASJON (Norway).

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