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Rare LEGO Sets from Portugal....

IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,366
This weekend I saw something I had never seen before, Portuguese LEGO sets for sale on German Ebay, namely spare parts packs for sale, from 1957-59, the first years of LEGO sales there. These were being sold from Spain, but I knew that was not their origin, since LEGO was not introduced to Spain until 1965.

For LEGO basic and model sets, LEGO from Portugal is impossible to differentiate from that of the rest of Europe, even in the early days (LEGO sales started there in 1957... the only clue might be a Portuguese catalog included in the set. They would also be impossible to spot in spare parts packs, were it not for the anecdote of my friend from there Joao Mimoso. His mother saved all of his LEGO from when he was a child, and he saw it again for the first time after she had passed away. It is thru his story that we are at least able to recognize LEGO spare parts packs from Portugal. It would be next to impossible to do, were it not for a few telltale signs. Here is Joao's very poignant story about early LEGO in Portugal...

One sign that a set is Portugues is that the LEGO boxes from there have "LEGO SYSTEM" on the boxes, but with the same image as other continental European countries. The rest of continental LEGO Europe had writing in the local language on the earlier boxes. But Portugal only had an early box top (as seen here) with "LEGO SYSTEM", and never written in Portuguese.


These boxes are (Left to Right)... upper row.... Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany/Austria, lower row... Denmark, Portugal, Netherlands and Sweden/Norway.

Another telltale sign is if some of the parts packs in a multi-group lot of Portuguese spare parts packs have the Swiss "Bausteine-Briques" on the box top. For some odd reason Swiss boxes also found their way to Portugal. Why TLG shipped Swiss boxes to Portugal is a mystery. Maybe they had excess boxes destined for Switzerland??

Anyway, here is a 226 Named Beams (8 printed 1x6 and 1x8 bricks). None of these are actually Portuguese, but bricks used in other countries... although some such as GARAGE, ESSO SERVICE, CINEMA and HOTEL are pretty universal, and found in the 226 parts packs of many countries. Even though individually these printed bricks are not really that valuable, it is the fact that they came in a Portuguese parts pack box that really adds to their value.


The major difference between this Ebay auction and Joao's own 226 pack bricks is that here we have a Danish "Teater" brick, while in Joao's pack it is a German "Theater" brick.

More to come....


  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,366
    Unfortunately.... most LEGO SYSTEM spare parts pack boxes have these other images... and are not necessarily from Portugal.... but date to 1958-60 to all of continental Europe... after TLG decided to switch from local language to international "LEGO SYSTEM" boxes.

    These 7 box images are quite common (along with the blue backside image)... and date from 1958-60....

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,366
    From that same auction of Portuguese spare parts packs is this set, a 210 Small Shop set, with a later (1958-60) universal box design. In late 1958 all European countries (except Denmark) switched to a universal LEGO SYSTEM box designs (7 different sleeve designs as seen in the previous post), so this box as a stand alone item would not be identifiable as Portuguese. Even the KIOSK store sign was used in several European countries.


    It was only because it was part of the same auction of sets from Portugal that would make this Portuguese... but if this box was ever resold at auction by itself... the Portuguese connection isn't quite there... although the 17/5 hand written on the box side, is the correct price of this set in Portuguese Escudo... their currency at the time.

    Although a Portuguese provenance gets lost in a resale... these 210 sets are very highly collectible.


  • WoutRWoutR Member Posts: 44
    I notice on Joao's website that his set nr 308 used the Dutch "BRANDWEER" brick. It seems like named bricks from many countries ended up in Portugal.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,366
    edited January 2015
    Yes, you are correct... when it came to "getting no respect".... Portugal was at the bottom of the heap!! Their printed bricks parts packs used the Swiss version box, but maybe by 1958 (when Italy came online) a year after Portugal... the TEATRO brick (same in both Italian and Portuguese) "may have been" used in Portuguese 226 Printed Bricks parts packs. The other bricks... HOTEL, GARAGE, KIOSK, ESSO SERVICE, etc... were common to many European countries. But the 2 known confirmed Portuguese parts packs (dating to 1957) have a TEATER (Scandinavian) or THEATER (Germanic) spelling.

    In Belgium and Switzerland the 308 Fire Station set solved this problem quite nicely.... they used 2 sided bricks... the Belgian with "BRANDWEER" and POMPIERS", and the Swiss one with "FEUERWEHR" and "POMPIERS"....

    (Images belong to Jeroen and Diana of the Netherlands, as found in my collectors guide)....

    So far as I have discovered... these are the only times that 2 sided bricks were ever used for a LEGO set (there may be others)...

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