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Discovering Unknown LEGO Sets...
One part of doing research on LEGO sets, parts and everything LEGO related is that other folks like to ask me questions (via Email)... and I don't mind that a bit... since there's some times where I'll be stumped (not too often! ;-).... or better yet... they'll show me something totally unknown to the LEGO world. That really makes playing LEGO Sherlock Holmes worthwhile.... ;-)
The most recent item was from a Norwegian acquaintance, who showed me a box he found 2 months ago... (see first image)... I about fell out of my chair... he found a 1309 ESSO GARAGE set... a set that I had always thought was a typo in a Norwegian catalog... but has shown to be an actually produced set in Norway (only) from 1956-57.
I checked with my Billund TLG Archives/Collections folks... they had never heard of this set!
This set was an "Esso Service Lite" type set of the 310 Esso Service Station... but because of the similarity to the 236 garage set, it was never put into production by TLG Denmark, and remained a set produced by the Oslo Norway A/S Norske LEGO subsidiary... for them alone. I created a Mock insert image (the box had none), using a real 236 Garage Set insert image, with modifications, to show how the contents would have been held in place, like many of the model sets of that era.
So far this 1309 set is the only known example of this set, and I would value it $2000+.
(More unknowns to come...)
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When this set is finally discovered, the box will likely look virtually identical to the 1235 Garage Set box as seen here.
The price in the 1957 Norwegian Retailer catalog (another indication that the 1236 set is as real as the 1309)... shows the 1236 at Norwegian Krone 8,80... same price as the 1235 Garage set (the 1309 Esso Garage in the inlay box was Kr. 9,90).
WHEN this set is found... I will have to remove it from the Prototypes Sets & Parts Chapter of my collectors guide.... something I will gladly do, in favor of a REAL photograph!! ;-)
Only 3 known... 1 in Belgium (white background image) and 2 in Billund at the Archives (blue archive image)... with inserts this set is worth many thousands... especially with very rare blue and dark blue tall classic windows...
As an example... in 1952 two new Automatic Binding Bricks sets were introduced. From 1949-52 there were 3 LEGO basic sets... the large 700/1, medium 700/2 and smaller 700/3. In 1952 Automatic Binding Bricks catalogs were updated to include 2 new sets... the smaller 700/4 and smaller yet 700/5 basic sets. Here's the updated catalog page...
So what happened?
TLG checked their Billund Collections... and they did find an example of the smaller 700/5 set....
But I think that I know... and this is the only logical explanation...
In 1953 (the year after the 700/4 and 700/5 sets were supposedly introduced)... TLG came out with entirely new packaged 700/x basic sets.... from 700/1 thru 700/5 (plus new 700/3A and 700/6 basic sets).
Here are the new 1953 box designs... with the Automatic Binding Bricks renamed LEGO Musten bricks...
But when it came to actually producing the 700/4 and 700/5 sets... TLG probably decided to use the new box designs (of 1953)... that were likely already designed in 1952.
So all the very first 700/4 and 700/5 sets that actually went into production in 1952... had the 1953 LEGO Mursten designs!! ;-)
Other weird things that I recently discovered... the 700/1, 700/2 and 700/3 sets... 3 different sets... and there are only 2 different known box sizes.... I talk about why that is (thanks to a Swedish owner of a 700/1 set that gave me the answers!).
And then there 's the mysterious PRIMA sets sold in Sweden... why do they have the same ABB box top artwork (and brochures), and why are they called PRIMA and not LEGO?? Another mystery solved! :-)
For all the images:
This brings up a whole new genre of LEGO sets... usually unnumberec, and not part of any LEGO system. These sets can be promotions for companies, or publications, or many other scenarios. These "non-LEGO" LEGO sets have been produced since 1955, Someone recently mentioned that sets such as these should be listed for sale as custom sets on Bricklink. I would tend to differ.... they are a unique genre, often not meant for sale to the public (or given away to the public)... and have their own unique category.
Here are some... of the MANY peculiar sets that were produced by LEGO... but just not as a regular released set. These are all discussed ad nauseum (starting with the 1955 Esso Tanker Trucks)... in my Unofficial Sets/Parts Collectors Guide.... Enjoy! :-)
Here are the 2 images... from the 1960s... since the LEGO tires were gray (meaning real rubber).... in 1968 black synthetic tires replaced real rubber gray ones.... so this image had to date between 1962 and 1967.
The flip side of the instructions....
Well I found by accident that this truck was one of the builds of the 1968-72 #055 Basic Set.... shown on the back side of the set...
This 055 set was one of a series of basic sets produced from 1968-72 that came without instructions.... just the box images....
So if these sets came without any instructions (which they didn't).... that still begs the question of where did the instrucions for that one 055 set build come from? We may never know!! :/
Is there an archive or a Brickset filter that can show these sets as a grouping? It is these sets, while rare and very hard to find, I see as my highest interest in finding.