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Beautiful LEGO Model Sets of the Town Plan Era

IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
Many of today's LEGO collectors look at the sets of today as the "Golden Age" for LEGO... others look at the sets of the 1980s to mid 1990's. But long before most of you were alive... LEGO designed some really nice sets back in the late 1950s to mid 1960s that were very labor intensive to hand pack, and had specialty parts that followed the HO Scale accessories used by many of the high quality model railroad systems of that era.

Recently I've been able to get some really nice box images from many of my European (and American) old time collector friends, who have been very busy buying.... while many of you folks are spending your cash on the mass produced CMF sets, Modulars, licensed sets, and other newer items.... some folks have quietly been buying up some of the really rare stuff from 1/2 century ago... that just doesn't exist any more in the large quantities of so much of the recent stuff that has the word "Collectible" in it. Well I'm not here to chastise... just to show off some of the beauty of these older lesser known, and lesser appreciated sets, that as of late have been commanding as much as 4 digits on the secondary market.

Before the 810 and 725 huge 700 piece Town Plan sets came out in 1961-62, TLG produced some really nice Town model sets in some really nice artwork boxes, with all the parts held very attractively in the box with inserts, and with some really pricey (today) specialty parts.

I've been upgrading my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide with hundreds of replacement images, as well as hundreds more new ones of rare old (and new) sets. So here's going to be a sample of some of these very attractive LEGO boxes.

To start, here is a 1958 image from the first year Italian LEGO catalog of that year, showing 3 of the LEGO Town Plan model sets... a white church with red roof (309/1309), an Esso Service Station (310/1310), and a VW Showroom with blue bricks (307/1307).


  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    Here are the different model LEGO sets that could be bought at your LEGO retailer from 1957-59.... the hand drawn artwork on these boxes is beautiful. The sets are (upper row left to right).... 306/1306 VW Service, 307/1307 VW Showroom, 308/1308 Fire Station, 309/1309 Church Set, 310/1310 Esso Service Station, and 236/1236 Garage Set... (more about the contents later)...

    The Esso Station came out a year before the other sets (1956), and is known in other box deisgns, but that'll come later....

    These are some very beautiful boxes with very nice arwork... and on the secondary market can command over $1000 if in superb condition.

    Also is shown a 1957 Danish Retailer information sheet announcing these new sets... and shows how they are nicely hand packed into cardboard inserts. It's the addition of these inserts that makes or breaks a high resale price on these beauties....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    In 1959 for some unknown reason, TLG decided to redesign just 2 of these boxes... the 310 Esso Station box, and the 236 Garage box. The contents and packing style were left unchanged. So these 1 year type sets were produced from 1959-60.....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Then in 1960 a redesign of all the sets in this range was undertaken, as it was with all basic and parts pack sets of that era as well.

    So here are the 1960-65 box versions of these sets....

    The first of these sets to be retired was the 309 Church Set in 1962 (when LEGO came to Australia in that year... this set was not included).

    Then between 1963-64 the 306 VW Service, 307 VW Showroom and 308 Fire Station sets were all discontinued... at different times in different countries.

    The last set to be discontinued was the longest running set, the 310 Esso Service... which was retired in favor of the 325 Shell Station Set (in a loose parts box).

    These sets were aesthetically very pleasing to the eye, and I'm sure a lot of kids wanted the when they saw the boxes at the toy store.

    Ironically this sets were sold in all countries except USA and Canada... which adds to the high prices they command when they come up for auction.

    OK.... that'was just the first part.... there's a lot more about these sets that greatly affects their value coming up!! ;-)

  • koozkooz Connecticut, USAMember Posts: 158
    I love this, thanks for sharing. I haven't ever seen any of these in person (I'm in the US), but would jump on the chance to get some. What kind of plastic did they use? Is it Bakelite?
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    No, TLG never used Bakelite.... from 1949-62 TLG used Cellulose Acetate, and from 1963-present they used ABS plastic. So later versions of these sets were ABS plastic. But the material used (either CA or ABS) doesn't affect the value of the set.

    The only LEGO type product that used Bakelite was Geas Konstharts, a Swedish plastics maker that was licensed to produced early LEGO Automatic Binding Bricks sets from 1950-53.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    OK, so far these early very nice Town Plan era LEGO model sets have been easy to follow. Now things get complex... I'm not going to go into a lot of details about each set, that would take pages and pages to do (it's already discussed in my Collectors Guide... ;-) ). But I'll talk a little bit about each of these sets.

    First the earliest one... the 310 Esso Service Station Set, which was numbered 1310 from 1956-58 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and 310 elsewhere.

    When it was first introduced in 1956, in the only 4 countries selling LEGO at the time... Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany... it seems that each location put the finishing touches on their box design....

    Here are the 4 box designs of 1956...

    From TLG Billund Denmark the 1310 Danish with "ESSO SERVICE".

    From LEGO Gmbh in Hohenwestedt Germany... the 310 German with "ESSO WAGENPFLEGE" (in German).

    From A/S Noske LEGIO Oslo Norway... the yellow box 1310 Norwegian with "ESSO SERVICE".

    From A/B Lundby in Lerum Sweden... (where the new box designs weren't yet available) a Swedish basic set box with a diagonal Swedish band saying it's a 1310 Service Station.

    LEGO Mayhem at its' finest!! ;-)
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    Now I'll continue a bit farther with the 310/1310 Esso Service Station.... there were several packing variations, mainly the printed brick color, the Tanker Truck decals, and the window/door types....

    And then there's the printing on the 250/1250 Bedford Tanker Truck... 5 variations... some worth many hundreds $$ more than others...'

    And then there's the Esso sign.... either Finland (ESSO HUOLTO), Germany/Austria (ESSO WAGENPFLEGE) or International (ESSO SERVICE).

    And then there's the impossibly complex assortment of gas pumps.... ;-)

    And then there's the other miscellaneous Esso accessories... :-O

    .... and then there's the fact of whether the white plates are waffle bottom plates (1956-62), circle bottom plates (1962-65), and whether or not there is a red painted edge to the top front of the service station roof (only until 1953)....

    LEGO Mayhem at its' finest! And this is just 1 set so far.... there's lots more mayhem!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    The smallest of these sets... the 306/1306 VW Service set is a small but attractive set, with 2 very pricey LEGO 1:87 VW Beetles. This image of a German version of this set is very rare. It shows that originally all of these sets were simply packed with tissue paper, and no plastic seal whatsoever. So the outcome of this was that most examples of these sets have the dreaded tape tear marks on the sides of the boxes... since retailers would end up with some of the contents missing if they did not tape them shut.

    So all of these sets seem to suffer from the dreaded tape mark on the side of the boxes! The good news is if the tape is still attached. The bad news is that it has been removed... along with a layer of the box design.... :-(

  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    Some very interesting info here:)
  • jnorlundjnorlund USAMember Posts: 32
    Neat blast from the past!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    Here is an example of a 307 VW Showroom Set, of the 1960-64 type. (I'll talk about the earlier 1957-60 type in a bit.) This set was sold in all of Europe and Australia. The only way to tell where it was from (generally) was the printed brick, and (if included) the small catalog leaflet that was included for the local country.

    This particular 307 set has a very special pedigree. It contains a "VW VW VW" brick, which could one of several countries of origin.

    This set however did come from Belgium... the current Belgian owner purchased it from the original Belgian owner who "received" it circa 1962.

    This particular set was a VW Sales Showroom promotional set. In Belgium at the time VW auto showrooms had a promotion where if parents bought a VW Beetle (or other product?)... then their child would receive a free LEGO VW Showroom set. This was a brilliant idea, because the mere mention of this to parents looking to buy an auto that had a child in tow... well let's just say that the child would really put up a fuss about getting the set (and making sure his parents bought the large size VW vehicle). There were similar types of promotions for VW LEGO products (and other products) in the 1950s and 1960s... but this is the only confirmed case of the 307 set having been a participant in such a promotion. The set itself shows no special markings denoting it as a promotional item, but in my LEGO collectors guide chapter on promotional sets, there are many promotions where the promotional products tie-in to LEGO is mentioned.

    So unfortunately no special value is added to this particular set, beyond its' provenance, but other attributes such as the pristine condition of the set, the rarity of some colors of the 1:87 scale VW Beetles, and the rarity of particular VW Showroom signage, all add to the value of this set. I would easily see this set sell for $1000-$1500.

    The 2nd image shows some of the printed bricks that could be found in these sets... the "VW VW VW" brick seen in the set image, were found in sets for Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, France and Italy. The "VW SALG" brick was for Denmark/Norway, the :"VW FORSALGNING" was for Sweden, the "VW VERKAUF" was for Germany/Austria/Luxemburg, and "VW MYYNTI" was for Finland.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    And just how many colors were available in a 306/1306 or 307/1307 set? Well here's 24 colors alone.... the final count probably approaches 35. The color of the VWs mattered very much to the value of these sets.... rare colors could add hundreds of dollars to the value of these sets... some colors of the 1:87 VW Beetles run to over $1000. Among the more valuable colors are the metallic colors... such as metallic blue, metallic silver, metallic light gold, metallic gold, and metallic bronze.

    My LEGO collectors guide has an entire 70 page chapter on the very valuable and highly collectible 1:87 LEGO cars and trucks, including these images.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited September 2014
    And then getting back to the older 1950s version of the box.... the contents were pretty much the same... but the box top was different, and the set number varied between 307 and 1307.

    Ordinarily the 4 digit set numbers (starting with a "1") were used primarily in Denmark, Norway, Sweden in the 1950s... and the other countries had the 3 digit number... in this case it would be 1307 and 307. But as TLG often did... they decided to add a little mayhem... and for a short time Germany also had the 4 digit 1307 set number, before reverting to the 3 digit 307 number.

    Here are images to the 307/1307 sets of continental Europe from 1957-60. From 1957-58 those sets of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and even Germany (and possibly Austria) were 1307... when set production started in 1957. Then in 1958 these sets switched over to just 307... and other countries in continental Europe started selling them under this number.

    So this gives us 4 different box types for the same design 307/1307 set basic box design... from upper left going clockwise.....
    1) Swedish 1307 VW FORSALJNING
    2) Germany 1307 VW VERKAUF
    3) Denmark/Norway 1307 VW SALG VW
    4) All of continental Europe 307 VW LEGO

    Of course the 307 "VW LEGO" box never contained a "VW LEGO" brick... that was just the generic name on the box top... the contents were whichever brick was sold in that country!

    Also... here's the side of the box to all of the 307/1307 boxes....

    If this hasn't been complex enough yet.... it gets more complex!

    (Maybe now you get the idea why I pawn my LEGO collectors guide... and that just having online LEGO databases just really isn't enough.... it gets way to complicated for pigeon holing sets into specific set numbers... ;-)

    Stay tuned....
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    OK.... a little more about these nice Town Plan model sets....

    The 307/1307 VW Dealer set came with a unique part... the LEGO showroom window element... which is 3x8x3 in size, and was only used for this one set...


    These unusual showroom window trans-clear parts are very unusual, and since they are made of Cellulose Acetate, they often warp quite a bit, and most examples have warped so badly that they can not be used to build with.

    So what TLG did was sell a spare parts pack that allowed Town Plan builders to build this building without the 307/1307 set.....


    This was the 261 parts pack set, and came with a 4x8 white plate, a 1x8 VW printed brick in the local language, and a 260 1:87 VW Beetle auto. The example above is a German/Austrian example, and here are a Dutch and 2 Danish examples....


    These have a paper banderole holding all the parts together. Unusually... the 261 number is nowhere to be found on this pack. This small pack with the paper banderold intact is very valuable to early LEGO collectors... and some rarer countries, such as Finland, would command many hundreds of dollars for this pack with printing in the local language, and also local printing on the 1x8 brick.

    A small brochure also came with this 261 pack.... here is one in Dutch and Danish....


  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited October 2014
    Getting back to the 307/1307 VW Showroom Set... here are 2 examples of the showroom set instructions, which were on the inside box top.

    This is the Danish/Norwegian "VW SALG" showroom instructions...


    And here is the Swedish "VW FORSALSJNING" showroom instructions...


    Most old 1955-65 LEGO sets didn't come with paper instructions, but with instructions on the box. In my collectors guide, I dont' show later sets with paper instructions, but for these earlier sets with instructions on the box, I do show them. ;-)
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited October 2014
    One last thing about these old LEGO showroom sets (they were only produced from 1957-64)... is that there was a glued LEGO display model that continental European retailers could purchase... that had a pair of these display showroom windows on the first floor (it would seem odd to have a showroom in a highrise).

    But anyway... there was an 0711 retailer model (none have been located yet... but some have to have survived in Europe somewhere!)... shown in this retailer display catalog. A few years later a USA illustrator wanted to produce a USA Samsonite LEGO ad.... and used this display model as the inspiration for his magazine ad. Well the irony was that his artwork for the ad shows 2 of these showrooms... which were never sold or found in the USA... but the illustrator never knew that. Anyway his ad artwork was rejected for this other adwork using a photograph... as displayed in a 1963 USA magazine.

    The whole story about this ad and the famous illustrator... who worked for DC comics and designed one of their Superheroes (later turned into a LEGO minfig and set).... is a topic talked about at length in my collectors guide.... ;-)

  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Cork, IrelandMember Posts: 959
    Fascinating stuff Gary. I'm curious, is it possible to collect any pieces from that era on a modest budget? Or do all '50s/60s sets (in any reasonable condition) start at really high prices? I'd love to own a vintage piece or two, just to feel like I had a piece of LEGO heritage in my collection.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Steve.... any of the Town Plan sets that involve the 1:87 vehicles usually are expensive... especially if the condition of the set/parts is mint or near mint.

    However, for some reason the spare parts packs of that era, which are very colorful works of art in themselves are really quite reasonably priced.... except for the USA/Canada Samsonite ones, which are rarer than those of continental Europe.

    For example.... LEGO parts packs in the 214-283 range are not that expensive for regular bricks packs...and sometimes you can find a good deal on some of the more specialized parts packs as well.

    But a couple of words of wisdom...
    1) don't buy any packs without an image included.
    2) even "used" for sale can still mean relatively new... items that have been on a shelf for 50 years start to look used due to "shelf wear".
    3) even with pictures, ask if the contents are new.
    4) the small parts pack boxes may have some bend in the box, but avoid buying with pen/ink writing on the box.
    5) there are 10 different outer box designs to the outer sleeves... it's always the inner sliding drawer boxes that show the contents.
    6) from 1963-65 continental Europe switched to a single piece box with a flap on one end (called Kliklok), but UK/Australia continued with the inner/outer box type.

    Happy collecting!

    P.S. My collectors guide shows the possible inner/outer box combinations that total to over 1000!! ;-)
  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Cork, IrelandMember Posts: 959
    Thanks for all the tips Gary, great stuff there!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited December 2014
    Haven't touched this thread in quite some time....

    The greatest of the early sets were indeed the Town Plan sets. These very large sets (over 700 pieces) cost the equivalent of over $200 today.

    The Town Plan sold in continental Europe, and Japan was the 810 set (left image). It was sold in 9 countries... Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, France, Portugal and Japan, but not in Germany, Netherlands, Austria or Sweden.

    The set on the right was also a Town Plan set, but sold in Britain, Ireland and Australia.


    Even though the boxes have different tops, they contained basically the same contents, and same instructions sheet. But what is really strange is that the UK version sold in only 3 countries... is about 20 times as common as that sold in continental Europe and Japan. The reason for this is not entirely clear. One would assume that they were produced in much greater numbers by British LEGO Ltd. for the Britain, Ireland and Australia markets, than they were for continental Europe and Japan. Among my LEGO collector friends, I know of the existence of about 40 of the UK versions and only 2 of the continental versions...

    Even in the Billund Vault... they only have an example of the more common British version of the 810 Town Plan set....

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    The 810 sets came with Town Plan boards that matched to box top image. The continental board came in 2 versions... left driving for Sweden and Japan (Sweden didn't switch to driving on the right until 1967)... and the right driving board for all other continental European countries.

    Here is a 1966 French catalog page showing the continental 810 Town Plan set, and also the 200 Town Plan board... available separately or in the 810 set....


    Here is a continental European right driving board (the heavy white lines at intersections are on the right side)....


    And here is a Swedish left driving board.....


    The Britain/Ireland/Australia had a completely different left driving layout than that of continental Europe... although it had the same 7 blocks... just in a different arrangement.... and also using the 200 board number...


    While we're on the Town Plan board discussions... here's the USA/Canada board and layout... which is identical to the continental European right driving board... but with the 246 board number...


    And here is the USA/Canada 725 Town Plan set, which isn't quite as elaborate as those of Europe, but still with over 600 pieces.


    Chapter 3 of my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide is over 50 pages related to the many packing variations on the Town Plan sets, the dozen different boards, and hundreds of variations between the earlier (1955-60) and later (1961-68) Town Plan sets and accessories.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited December 2014
    Besides the actual Town Plan sets.... there were about 50 different sets that I like to call 3/4 Town Plan sets. They had about 3/4 of the parts needed to build a Town Plan scene.

    Here's one of them... the 700/K set sold in Britain/Ireland and Australia... it was sold in a wooden box from 1960-65, and a cardboard box from 1965-67.


    Wooden box sets are probably the least understood of all LEGO sets. They almost never had a set number or name on the box. They contained a "Contents List" that listed the parts counts, and also the set number. Of course this sheet of paper was always the first thing that got lost, and it explains why most LEGO wooden box sets are unidentified.

    Here is a rare surviving 700/K Contents List....


    LEGO wooden box sets rarely came with instructions on what to build. Instead they almost always came with a building idea book (usually 238 or 240), which required the purchase of additional sets or parts packs to build anything shown in the idea books.

    In my LEGO collectors guide I have been able to identify over 80 different wooden box LEGO sets, all with box images.
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    You forgot to mention that the 3|4 town plan does not include a town plan board, that's why they are them lesser set.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Well that is not always the case... the German 700 wooden box set has a 2 piece sliding top. The backside of both halves of the Masonite board top is a 1950s style Town Plan board.... Here is the earliest one (1957)....


    And here is the board layout....


    This German 700 box comes in 4 box designs.... 1957, 1958, 1959-60 and 1960-62.


    Here's how the 2 piece lid set (with contents) compares with the 700 (empty box) 1 piece lid set.


    Even the folks at the Billund Archives agree that only the German version of this 700 set comes with a 2 piece lid....

    Which unfortunately doesn't explain the existence of this unknown Danish 700 set....

  • legogallegogal USMember Posts: 755
    Wowwwww! Gary, this really is cool info! Glad that some folks are able to collect and protect these very old sets....crap they are about our age. Change that to "mature" sets, okay?

    I looked for these in the Vault in Billund last May and noticed that their collection is quite thin as to old boxed sets. They did have a wonderful display of the earlier wooden toys, most of them beaten up from play. We have to remember that these were the real toys of real children, and most of the toys lived very rough lives. It reminds me of trying to find new looking Duplo from the 70's and 80's. Forget it because kids chewed up most of them.

    Again thanks for documenting this history before it is too late. And Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year to you and your family!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    The 700 wooden box sets of Austria (starting in 1958) are similar to those of Germany (starting in 1957)... but they don't have a 2 piece Town Plan lid, and have a wood grain finish....

    Austria 1958 700 set....


    Austria 1959-60 700 set...


    Austria 1960-64 700 set....

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Here's the Swedish 700 set of 1957...


    And here are 17 of the nearly 90 sets in my LEGO collectors guide....


    I like being able to identify every wooden box set that is on Ebay.... none are ever labeled with the set number.... ;-)
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    Well Gary, you proved me wrong, we did I even post that is beyond me:) Anyways, could you elaborate on what you said?

    Even though the boxes have different tops, they contained basically the same contents, and same instructions sheet. But what is really strange is that the UK version sold in only 3 countries... is about 20 times as common as that sold in continental Europe and Japan.

    And then this:

    The reason for this is not entirely clear. One would assume that they were produced in much greater numbers by British LEGO Ltd. for the Britain, Ireland and Australia markets, than they were for continental Europe and Japan.

    You act as if the UK version wasn't as popular as the other version, but you said it was right before that...

    I reread this many times, and I am still puzzled...
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    TLG, you ask a very simple question.... and I'll give you a very simple answer....

    How do you sell and item well? You market it well.

    How do you sell it poorly? Don't market it at all.

    There you go... the answer.... ;-)

    Actually... during the time the British version of the 810 Town Plan Set was sold, for most of those years the box and some description were included in catalog images. Here is a page from the 1965 UK LEGO catalog. It mentions the "810 Complete Town Plan" set box, describes it, and even points to an image of the built item above it.....


    So it should be to no ones surprise that these actually sold!

    Now let's look at the continental European 810 version, which was sold in 8 countries in continental Europe (and Japan). From 1962-64 the set is usually only mentioned as a set number.... just "810". It was only from 1965-66 that the actual box was shown in those country catalogs. But what did TLG do with that box? Usually hid it underneath another box... and then just label it as "large box" in the local language... without ever mentioning that it was a Town Plan set, or what a built model of the set looked like. Here are 1965 Belgian and Portuguese catalog page images that show the continental European 810.... barely!!



    With such extremely poor marketing... it should be to no one's surprise that the reason so few 810 sets were ever found in continental Europe and Japan... was because they were just not marketed to anyone....
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    Interesting, thank you for the reply Istokg:) That marketing is very strange, I thought they would market the 810 set well because it was their flagship product, well I guess not in this case... Also, I am sure it wouldn't be that popular with better marketing anyways, as Japan sales were very underperforming at the time.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    One of the strangest of LEGO sets is one that was discovered fairly recently. One day I was looking at a 1965 French LEGO catalog page, and I came across this set... Set 800, hiding under an 810 Town Plan set...


    I had never seen this set before, and had no clue as to its' origins, or what it was. I inquired with my friend Kirsten at the LEGO Archives, and she did some snooping around, and sent me these images...

    The box top and inside box top of the 800 set.... (Billund Archive images)...


    And the contents of the set.... it came in a molded plastic tray....


    Well what was this set? I didn't understand the parts, and the relationship to the boxtop scene of a continental European 810 Town Plan set, but with just basically regular LEGO bricks of that era???

    Also I was informed that this 800 set was only sold in 1965 in France, Norway and Denmark for a short period.

    I did some research and found a Spanish LEGO enthusiast named Gabriel who lived in Barcelona Spain who had one of these sets since childhood. Barcelona is in NE Spain, very close to the French border, and he said that it could have come to him as a child from France. Only thing is that his box top inside didn't have the image as shown above.... just blank white paper. And here is the outside corner of Gabriel's very obscure 800 set... it looks almost handmade with duct tape, paper images, and cardboard....


  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Well I finally found the answer to why this strange rare 800 Set (only sold in France, Norway and Denmark) exists. It's like a "Frankenstein Set".... TLG, which as we all know, never threw anything away, used leftover parts from here and there to put this set together. Here's how....

    1) the box top and inside box top image of this set were produced from surplus Town Plan board paper stock.... from these continental European 200 Town Plan boards (which were being discontinued in 1965-66)...


    The front of the 800 box used the Town Plan board front, while the inside box top, used the backside image of the Town Plan board. Once these board backside images ran out, the inside box top just stayed blank (such as with Spanish collector Gabriel's 800 set).

    Then there was the plastic molded bottom part of the 800 box. Where did that come from? Well it looks like the 1962-65 750 Architectural Set (a very poor seller), must have had some plastic lower boxes left over. So these were perfect for the 800 Set. Here is the 750 (large) architectural set with the same partition configuration as the 800 set. (Alongside it are the smaller 751 and even smaller still 752 Architectural sets).


    So it looks like TLG had all these leftover items from the Town Plan board and Architectural set boxes, and didn't want to discard them. So the stitched them all together (Frankenstein style) and created a very limited edition set with just random LEGO parts!!

    More LEGO Mayhem!!
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    .... and yes, they even have one of these oddball 800 Sets in the Billund Vault, seen here stacked underneath an 810 Town Plan set, just like in the 1965 French LEGO catalog (except in the vault it's stacked under the UK version of the 810 Town Plan set).


    This 800 set, like a dozen other old LEGO sets that don't quite belong in any other category... are found in my collectors guide in Chapter 4... where all the weird sets (such as the MOSAIK sets) are grouped together in an odd assortment.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Recently I was talking about a old and very rare and obscure 800 set.  It looks just like a continental Europe 810 Town Plan set from the box top... but is... as I like to call it, more of a "Frankenstein Set".... made of different parts stitched together.... the box top and inside cover are the paper used for the continental European Town Plan board, the lower box is from a 750 Architectural Set plastic molded gray single piece multi-compartments.

    So far there were only 2 known.... one in the Billund Vault, and a 2nd known copy from Barcelona (purchased decades ago from across the border in France).   The recently discovered 3rd known copy also originates from France (although Denmark and Norway were also listed as having sold this very rare set).

    The inside cover of the Barcelona example is blank (TLG must have run out of the paper with the backside of the Town Plan board image when that example were produced).  However this newly discovered example matches the Billund Archive example, and has the back image from the Town Plan board....

    But the parts and box top (damaged) match that of the Billund Archives example....\

    Very rare and interesting set.   I am looking to one day find the instructions to this set.

  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524
    Istokg said:
    Even the folks at the Billund Archives agree that only the German version of this 700 set comes with a 2 piece lid.... Which unfortunately doesn't explain the existence of this unknown Danish 700 set.... 
    So let me add a little fuel to the fire around this mystery Danish 700 wooden box. I recently purchased a wooden box with a two-part Masonite lid with a town plan design on it. It's bigger then the German version, approximately 51 x 80 cm. The box itself is plain white with no writing on it, although the paint is worn so there could have been writing at one point. There are felt feet on the bottom. And there is a small section that lifts out on the right-hand side. The lid may have had paper on the backside, but that is long gone. I purchased this from a gentleman in Denmark. I'll try and post some pictures tomorrow when I can take better photos in the daylight.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524
    Ok so here are the promised photos.

    First is the German two-part Masonite Town Plan board with the other larger two-part one.
    Next are the two boards on top of one another for a size comparison.
    And finally just the larger board by itself.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524
    Also here are some photos of the boxes.

    Sides.  Note the paint wear on the larger one.

    Tops with lids on.

    Interiors with trays in place.
    Interiors with tray set aside.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    Thanks @LusiferSam  !!!

    Another box to add to my "to sleuth" list.... ;-)

    The bigger of the 2 boxes (from Denmark.... it sounds like a regular (slightly larger) single piece 200M Masonite 1950s Town Plan board was sliced in half for this set.  The larger board has size of about 53cm x 80cm, which is close to your large boxes 2 board halves as seen here....

    The 1958 introduction of the 700 wooden box set in a Danish Retailer introduction catalog shows this box with the top having a wooden slat along one side (which means it wasn't a 2 piece board)....

    Yours isn't the first box I've been unable to find the origins of.... a Danish collector Lasse owns this massive box, which dates to the early 1950s (if it wasn't homemade)....

    And then there's this strange box from Germany.... don't know what to make of it, although it looks like a box for a Kindergarten (700K)....

    And also this box from the Netherlands.... this one too is very very strange....

    Some of these are so odd... that I question if they are genuine LEGO (although I do think yours is)....

    And then there's this one... a Dutch 700 Wooden box set of circa 1958-60..... but it comes with the oval logo on the box, as well as a cardboard (mounted) separate Town Plan scene usually found on these.... very odd variation....

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    OK @LusiferSam, I've had some time to mull your set over a bit.... and I think you might have the Danish version of the 700K set.  The 700K is not mentioned in Danish catalogs, but this could be the version of the wooden box Danish set that a (now retired) LEGO Billund Collections employee, named Kirsten, told me about.   These were the wooden box sets of the 700 type that were sold to other commercial ventures... such as Beauty Parlors and Barber Shops.  These were marketed to keep the children busy when mom and dad were getting their hair done... so that the parents could bring the kids along without them being annoyingly bored waiting for their parents.

    I wonder if what you have is a Danish 700K set, that is larger than the normal 700 set box.  And there is another reason why your sets could be these.  TLG started producing the new cardboard 200 Town Plan board in September 1959.

    These replaced both the soft plastic 200A, and hard Masonite 200M 1950s style boards.  If TLG had a lot of the hard 50s style board left over.... then they weren't going to throw them away.   Perhaps these larger 700K sets were the product of using up the remainder of these boards, by cutting them in half and using them in a larger 700 type set.  After all, the smaller size boards (1/2 boards) were sold in Germany in 700 sets until 1962 (they also sold the 200 cardboard standalone 1960s Town Plan boards).   Also... the Netherlands is the only country I've found so far that was selling the slightly larger 1950s Masonite boards standalone until 1962, listed in their catalogs alongside the 1960s cardboard Town Plan boards.

    I had written up a sub-chapter to my next LEGO collectors guide version that talks about these commercial use sets... maybe I need to discuss these larger Danish boxes in this discussion.

    I also have the feeling that the first mystery 700 box with the Danish writing on the sides may be a duplicate to the one that you own (in dimentions).   Too bad I can't remember where I got the image from.

    Also, I remember an old time Danish collector friend by the name of Henrik Thrane, who got his 700 wooden box set with a Masonite board, from Germany... because he couldn't find them in Denmark.  If these larger sets were indeed sold as Danish commercial sets, then maybe they were both shortlived, and produced in very limited quantities... in case they had little success in selling them to commercial enterprises.

    So much to ponder...... :)

    P.S.  Here's part of the Contents List of your German 700K wooden box set.   A collector sent me a treasure trove of many wooden box set building instructions and contents lists for my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide!

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    That last image with the German 700K Contents List is hard to read, so here it is blown up.....  

    I also have a copy of a Belgian 700K Contents List, and interestingly enough, they have different contents, although both sets share a group of 50 1x1 white Alphabet bricks (a 234 parts pack).  The Belgian set was meant for School use, the German for Kindergarten use.  The British 700K was sold to the public, as well as Schools, I also have the British Contents List.   The one I am missing is the Contents List to the Swiss 700K School Set.  Will get it one of these days.

    The problem with virtually all wooden box sets is that unless they have either a sticker or ink stamp of the set number on the side (as your German 700K does with a green sticker).... the set identity becomes completely lost when the Contents List gets lost.

    This is why my Unofficial Sets/Parts Collectors Guide chapter on wooden box sets is my favorite chapter.... it's the only documented reference of the over 80 wooden box sets that were made by TLG for the various countries.   I sometimes wonder if most of these weren't made locally (in each country)... since they vary so greatly, and have no rhyme or reason to their set numbers.

  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524
    As always great information @Istokg, super interesting stuff.   If you want a better photo of the box and Town Plan board let me know.  I'll take it over to me folks house and photograph it there.  They have wonderful natural soft light in a couple of rooms that is great for taking these types of photos in. 

    I'll need to double check, but I've got a few other items you might want photos of or better photos of as well.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    Thanks @LusiferSam !!

    I was just studying the 50s Masonite Town Plan board surface of your larger set, and the one earlier in the thread that has "LEGO System i leg" on the side of the wooden box... and they have the same patterns on the grass as the single piece 200M 50s Masonite Town Plan board.  On German 700/700K boxes the smaller board layout has a different grass design, with lighter and especially darker grassy areas.

    Here is an image I got from the Billund LEGO Archives.....

    This is the 700 wooden box set with contents (sold for Danish Kr. 75), and also was available as an empty box for Danish Kr. 25 without contents.  Here the 1958 Danish LEGO catalog shows both....

    I do think that your larger set is the Danish 700K or 700K/24 set (the 24 stands for the number of partitions).

    According to a barely viewable photocopy of a Billund Archival record I have, the 700/K 24 set was made from 1958-61... and I think that is your larger set that was made for commercial establishments, such as hair salons.  That date would also correspond with the end of the Masonite single piece 200M board.

    This image is of a 1963 Danish catalog, and it still shows the regular 700 set (with contents)... and also a K/24 set.... which is just an empty box for sale with 24 partitions.  So the 700K/24 set is not shown here... meaning that they discontinued the big set by 1963 (thus confirming the end date of 1961 from the Billund records photocopy).   The only mystery here is this.... is the "K/24" empty box the large one that you have... or just an empty regular 700 box.  Hard to say!!

    I do think that the 700K/24 larger set... because it was intended for commercial use, was therefore not found in these customer catalogs.... and would explain its' surprise appearance when you first showed it.

    Sam.... I think that by now we've probably lost most other folks interested in this discussion, since it's gotten so complex!!   :/

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    @LusiferSam  does your German 700K set have a paper image on the reverse side of one of the 2 piece Masonite Town Plan lid pieces?  Or is that gone as well?

    Here is a very rare image of a 1960 Retailer page from a German retailer binder.  This image shows the full range (minus spare parts packs) of LEGO sets sold in Germany in 1960.  And among them is the image of the wooden box sets.  The 700K and 700 (m. inh.=with contents) both are of the 2 piece sliding Masonite board type with street layout, and the 700 (leer = empty) is of the 1 piece without a street layout.  All 3 boxes have the same top, although the oval on the sides of the box changed to a rectangle in 1961.

    Almost all of the sets shown here are of the new (to 1960) box designs.  Only the Retailer Windows/Doors Box (214 1-10) in the lower right, still shows the old late 1950s design.

    This high resolution image is a new addition to my collectors guide!

  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524
    Istokg said:
    Sam.... I think that by now we've probably lost most other folks interested in this discussion, since it's gotten so complex!!   :/
    Oh well.  It's their loss.  I'm finding it interesting because I thought I had bought a rather run of the mill wooden box.

    Istokg said:
    @LusiferSam  does your German 700K set have a paper image on the reverse side of one of the 2 piece Masonite Town Plan lid pieces?  Or is that gone as well?
    It's mostly gone.  It looks to have been a multi-language lid.  There's bit of English left in the lower left corner and the  Danish "System i Leg" in the upper right.  The gnome fully intake in the lower right.  The rest is gone.  Interesting there is the single intake sticker that says 700K.  The "K" is a sticker on a sticker.  On the other side the sticker is long gone, but was covering a printed "mit inhalt."
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    @LusiferSam   This would be your box top..... ;-)

    And it sounds like they took a 700 (with contents) box and turned it into a 700K box.  Just added the extra label and some additional contents.

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    Interesting difference between a 700 wooden box set contents, and a 700K (Kindergarten) wooden box set contents.

    The 700 set has specialty parts (Esso sign/pumps, road signs, trees) that would be easily broken.  The 700K set has more baseplates and bricks (and 50 alphabet bricks).

    But there's really nothing special that would justify the big price difference (DM 49.50 for a 700, DM 70.00 for a 700K)   (DM = Deutschmark).

  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    @LusiferSam as I've mentioned so many times before... my collectors guide would only be 500 pages long instead of going north of 3000 pages, if it wasn't for the fact that TLG did things in so many different ways over the years.

    And here's some more reasons why....  that 700K set that you have... it's only due to either a label (which apparently the 700 and 700K sets did have) or due to a Content List, which all sets had, and practically all sets lost!!   :'(

    This is why wooden box sets are so horrible, when it comes to figuring out what you have if it is a wooden box set.

    Here are some more interesting variations....  These are both German 700 sets.... but they were sold as empty boxes.  These empty boxes were sold only with a single piece top (no board layout).  The German word for empty is "leer".  The first set is missing that green "700" label, but the "leer" part is there to be seen below it.  The 2nd box is the green label with both "700" and "leer".  For all we know it could just be a 700 sticker with an extra sticker with "leer" put over it (like your 700 set with an extra "K" sticker)... or maybe not.  Hard to tell, but anything is possible.

    And then we have this interesting box... it is a regular German 700 set (with 2 piece top with town layout)... and we see printed "mit inhalt", which is German for "with contents".  So in this instance we know that there likely should be a green "700" sticker above it, but that got lost somewhere over the last 50 years...

    Now I'm wondering if your German 700K set doesn't have that sticker put on crooked for a very good reason....  because maybe there's the word "mit Inhalt" underneath it!!  A 700 set would show "mit Inhalt".... but a 700K set would not!

    But if the 2 boxes could be used interchangeably... then the crooked sticker would be an easy way to turn one set into the other one.

    But now we have another problem..... (LOL here....)  I thought that the 700 (empty) and 700K sets didn't have a 2 piece board... just a 1 piece board.  Now I have to check with some German LEGO friends to confirm this or not.   OR.... maybe they (LEGO Gmbh Hohenwestedt Germany) decided that they ran out of 1 piece board boxes(used for 700 empty and 700K set), and decided to use a 2 piece board 700 box and convert it to 700K use.  (Shooting ones self in the head emoticon.)

    OK, I'm done with the 700/700K sets for now.  Since I'm on a German wooden box set tangent.... I want to quickly mention what sets replaced the 700 (with contents), 700 (empty) and 700K in 1963.  But I'm going to do this quickly.... because I could spend hours discussing this.. and it's already in my collectors guide.....

    The 3 boxes we have here are the LEGO boxes used from 1963-72 (and beyond).  These are the boxes used for German sets 710, 711, 712, 713, 820, 821, 822, 823, 824 and also as retailer spare parts boxes.

    I'll be brief.... the lower right box was used as the 1963-65 710 (with contents), 1963-65 711 (empty), 1966-67 820 (with contents) 1966-67 821 (empty) and 1966-67 824 (empty w/o partitions).  The lower left box was a different box shape, but same set number.... 1968-72 820 (with contents), 1968-72 821 (empty).  The upper smaller box was used as the 1963-65 712 (with contents), 1963-65 713 (empty), 1966-67 822 (with contents) and 1966-67 823 (empty).

    And the later lower left box was also used by LEGO retailers from 1972-80 for spare parts assortment available individually by the German retailers.

    Here's just a fraction of a corner of a very large contents lists for the 1963 era 710-711-712-713 contents lists....

    These are 3 overlapping sheets that are about 4 times this size (front and back).

    And here's a small 712 boxed set (1963-65)... with the contents list (folded into 1/4 size)... as well as a 238 Idea Book that came with these wooden box sets....

    And finally (before my head explodes).... here's what they did with all the wooden box sets leftover in Germany (the little ones like the one above was retired in 1967)... in the early 1970s... they used them for retailer boxes for individual spare parts sales at the German retailers....

    But these are from an entire different chapter of my Unofficial Set/Parts Collectors Guide.... LEGO Retailer individual parts sales...`

    But individual parts is a whole other can 'o worms of the LEGO story.... I'll save that for another day!!  :)
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 524

    You can see just a just a bit of the "L" of leer sticking out.  There's a bit of an "E" to the right of the K that can be seen in person, it don't photograph well. 
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,239
    edited June 2015
    @LusiferSam   Thanks for the zoom image.... imagine the irony of if under the the stickers it had printed... "mit Inhalt".... that would mean a 700... overstamped with 700 "leer" over stamped with 700 "K" ! 

    That would really be "LEGO Mayhem"!!  :)
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