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Is there an offical history of lego book?

RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
edited April 2012 in Everything else LEGO
Having a look around for books on the history of Lego are there any offical books about the history of the company and lego itself? Or is there a fantastic unoffical version (aside from @Istokg dvd series which goes without saying). Has any one ever considered getting lego to write one?


  • davee123davee123 Member Posts: 852
    The best 2 books for LEGO history that I'm aware of are:

    1982: 50 Years of Play (self-published by LEGO)
    1987: The World Of LEGO Toys

    LEGO has published a few others with 1 or 2 pages of history, but not much. The books above have a more detailed history, but they're still mostly pictorial works, and don't go into a *lot* of detail. Plus, some of the more personal things get left out, like some of the details on why the wooden toy division was halted in 1960 after the fire-- where Godtfred's brother got into a dispute with him and ended up forming his own company to keep making wooden toys.

    In that regard, there really hasn't (to my knowledge) been a book that's as comprehensive as perhaps fans would like-- one that covers all the not-so-savory details of KiddieCraft bricks and so forth. I'm not sure LEGO would be eager to jump into such an endeavor, but it'd be neat to see!

  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
    Thanks @davee123 I shall have a look at those I m guessing they are still on amazon? Maybe someone should approach lego with the idea.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2012
    @Rebullgivesuwind.... The last chapter of my LEGO DVD (Chapter 73) is all about LEGO history, by country. It mentions the start dates by country. TLG unfortunately does a poor job of this in their official Timeline pages. They mention LEGO start dates and establishment of LEGO sales offices for specific countries interchangeably. Those are 2 different things... one often (but not always) happens several years before the other. And unfortunately, every book written about LEGO has this confusing (and interpreted incorrectly) timeline... such as "The Ultimate LEGO Book" of 1999. But I developed my own company and LEGO sets/parts timeline (Chapter 1).

    Chapter 73 also links to Jim Hughes private website. Jim is the master on the specific history of the LEGO company and the Christiansen family that created and expanded it.

    Also my Chapter 72 - LEGO Logos 1936-Present shows the 35 LEGO logos used by the LEGO company, and also by the LEGO licensees... Samsonite (for USA/Canada) via Loveland Colorado and Stratford Ontario, and Courtauld's (UK Chemical/Textile maker) for UK/Ireland/Australia's British LEGO Ltd. of Wrexham Wales. You won't find any licensee logos in any other LEGO publication.

    My DVD also has a special chapter (Chapter 2) on the earliest very confusing early history of LEGO sets... the Automatic Binding Bricks sets of 1949-53 of Denmark, the Automatic Binding Bricks sets of Geas Konstharts (company) of Sweden from 1950-51, the Automatic Binding Bricks sets of A/S Norske LEGO (company) of Norway from 1953-54, and the unique (and very confusing) PRIMA Sets of 1953-55 sold in Sweden/Norway (again from A/S Norske LEGO Co. of Norway).

    And my Chapter 5 (LEGO Basic Sets 1953-65) goes into the confusing history of early LEGO sets in local languages (Danish, Norwegian/Swedish, German, Dutch, and Swiss (German/French)). By 1958 this mayhem was replaced with universal "LEGO System" sets. But it took an additional 2 years for Denmark to get rid of their local Danish language sets, to become current with the rest of LEGO Europe.

    There is also a LEGO DVD chapter on the evolution of LEGO Boxes & Images/Designs & Artwork... that goes thru the early years when box tops had Christiansen family members pictured on the boxes and brochures, especially before the 1959 establishment of the LEGO Photography Department.

    And there's a chapter on the early evolution of LEGO catalogs (1949-66), and another on the history of LEGO instructions (1950-93).

    Also a chapter on unique LEGO parts (by country)... for those items that were not produced all over the world.... a chapter on USA/Canada Department Store Catalog unique LEGO sets... a chapter on LEGO plastics (ABS & CA)... a chapter on LEGO Clones and other Building Sets... a chapter on Modulex... a chapter on LEGO retailer items (catalogs, glued display models, retailer order forms, etc)... a chapter on Model Shops, Toy Fairs and store displays... and 60 other chapters... it's in there.... ;-)

    Gary Istok
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
    Wow that is fantastic. I shall put my order in and have a look at it thanks for the help Gary :-D
  • LegoboyLegoboy Member Posts: 8,825
    edited April 2012
    I like reference books and particular LEGO ones covering its history. Had a root around today and stumbled across this:-

    I'm surprised I haven't seen it before. Looks pretty good by all accounts although I'm not qualified to comment on its accuracy.

    Looking forward to receiving yours Gary.

    Edit:- Just spotted Gary, you're previous edition of your publication is referred to in the Bibliography -
    Istok, Gerhard. The Unofficial Lego Sets/Parts Collectors Guide, v3. St. Clare Shores, MI, 2009.

  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
    Thanks @Flumps6523 that is a nice timeline. And its nice they list there sources to always helpful.

    Yeah @Istokg gets everywhere been to York once to :-)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2012
    LOL... yes the Jim Hughes I mentioned in my previous post (LEGO DVD Chapter 73)... is the guy who put together the Brickfetish site that flump6523 mentioned. We helped each other out to get as accurate as possible. In fact Chapter 73 has a direct link to the Brickfetish site.

    There are 4 other areas where I link to other sites (while still staying in the DVD, you open a window to the other sites)... one is the Chapter 73 just mentioned, another is Chapter 71 (LEGO TV Commercials) where you can view old online LEGO commercials. Another is a link to Samsonite Catalogs and Instructions. A 4th is to Pat. Pend. bricks, and a 5th is to Bayer Test Bricks (both Chapter 49 - LEGO Bricks).

    And yes... I took 3 summer classes at Oxford (towards my USA undergrad and grad degrees in 1989, 1990 and 1994)... and saw York, Winchester, Canterbury, Hatfield, Dover, Stratford, Warwick, Blenheim, Windsor, Milton Keynes, Westminster and the City (London). ;-)
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
    ^and thought what a dump never coming here again :-).

    Ah that is a good luck and link. Ill have a proper look through it now. Being a historian I like knowing the history of stuff.

    Thanks guys youve all been a big help.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    No... I love the UK... so much history and culture... I was born in Germany only 1 km from Rosenau Castle near Coburg... where Queen Victoria's "royal Albert" was born... making Coburg the "most English of German cities".

    And thanks to our American PBS stations, I get to watch a lot of British TV shows. My favorite was from the 1990s... Keeping Up Appearances... with "the Bucket woman"...

    We're finally getting some roundabouts in the USA (here in Michigan we just got a few in the last few years).... about time to get rid of those stop signs and traffic signals.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Member Posts: 2,108
    ^What that will mean you have to build american cars to go around corners!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Well I thought I would open this old thread.... my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide was originally just about sets and parts when it first came out in 2007 as a 1000 page CD.   Then in 2012 I expanded it to include some historical info, as well as some parts of the Brickfetish data, that I added to my last chapter (73 - LEGO Sales by Country).

    Unfortunately in the past few years some of the other historians out there, such as Jim Hughes (author of Brickfetish) and Joao Mimoso (an author of old LEGO mold variations) have both sort of fallen off the LEGO map, unfortunately, to pursue other interests... and their pages have largely gone untouched in the past few years.

    That, and the fact that many folks from around the world have given me stories and anecdotes about historic information about LEGO.

    For example...  right now my Norwegian friend Arild (retired) has been visiting the National Library there to dig up historic old LEGO information about Norway.

    I also belong to an Icelandic Facebook group who have been sharing with me the story about old toys produced by Reykjalundur, the Tuberculosis Clinic in Iceland that put together LEGO sets in the 1950s and 1960s and beyond.

    In Canada I have 3 gentleman that are filling in the gaps to so many LEGO sets, that I'm still numb from the information.

    Also getting a lot of info from collectors in Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden Britain and USA.

    We've found out that the bricks used by British LEGO had their plastic produced by a chemical company in Scotland (Grangemouth), and USA/Canada Samsonite LEGO history is giving up a lot of its' secrets.  A whole new chapter is devoted to just Japan and the unique OLO building toy (the Minitalia of Japan).

    And speaking of Minitalia.... its' whole purpose for existence appears to have little to nothing to do with import bans in Italy... as much as it has to do with poor LEGO sales, so they sold a cheaper version of LEGO (Minitalia) there to boost LEGO sales by eventually discontinuing Minitalia (1970-76).

    So my 2800 page Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide DVD & desktop download is creeping up to 3700 pages, with many new chapters, such as on the history of all the Licensee countries (Norway, Iceland, Finland, Britain/Ireland/Australia, USA/Canada and Japan.

    And it's becoming less of a collectors guide, and more of an Encyclopedic all encompassing guide about all things LEGO.

    Fortunately for those that already own the DVD or desktop download guide... future updates will be free!  :)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Some new items for the next upgrade....  a Christmas 1953 document from a Norwegian Retailers Publication apologizing for the slow deliver of the new (Nov. 1953) LEGO products to Norway....

    December 1953, one month after launching Lego Mursten Nov. 1953

    To our Lego Mursten retailers

    All retailers of our Lego Mursten are more or less dissatisfied these days. There has been a considerable delay in handling orders and when it comes to handling extra orders, the situation is even worse. Of course we are happy for the immense success which is far beyond our expectations. The interest shown by the press and kindergarten teachers is overwhelming! We have achieved what we hoped for - we have given the Norwegian market a new, valuable, standard article. However it has all happened so fast! As soon as we saw that the demand would explode, we increased production as much as possible and started action to duplicate the production of tools. We had hoped to finish this production in the middle of November - doubling production would have helped the situation - but all failed when technical problems delayed the process for one month.

    Therefore the situation is desperate. All orders will be fulfilled, but we will not be able to produce more than a percent of the total demand before Christmas. When you read this the production will have been doubled, but still we are far behind schedule. We are, however, happy to inform you that just after the New Year we will be up to date and from that time on we will be able to deliver loose Mursten as planned.

    We are sorry for your disappointment. The situation would probably been better if we had limited the sales to certain places in the country or to fewer retailers. However we felt that that would have been unfair, as the plan was to introduce an article that we hope will have a central place in the toy world of the future.

    After New Year we will meet again to enjoy Lego Mursten without irritation or disappointment because the capacity of production is too low!

    We wish you all a Happy Christmas!

    A/S Norske LEGO

    The factory of Svein Strømberg & Co. of Oslo Norway... that due to a to import ban from 1953 until 1961 prevented TLG Denmark from exporting there, and thus having to license LEGO (via TLG produced molds).... to their toy subsidiary A/S Norske LEGO...

    The first Norwegian LEGO advertisement in 1953....

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2015
    So I will have a new chapter on the LEGO history by country, above and beyond the existing chapter on the name/location of the sales offices in each country.

    TLG does a rather confusing job of LEGO history on their official website timeline.  Mixing information about when LEGO sales started in a particular country, and when their sales offices were established were two entirely different things that rarely happened the same year.  So the official website gives out years that make no sense... such as saying "LEGO Austria established in 1961", just tells us what year the sales office was opened... and not that the first LEGO sales were handled by an independent agent since late 1957.

    In Finland, where all toys had to have amt least 70% local content in the 1950s and 1960s, a fellow by the name of Boris Strömsholm started LEGO sales there in a barn where he produced the LEGO bricks and TLG Denmark exported the specialty parts... to the town of Bemböle, which translates to "Idiotville"!!  :open_mouth: 

    In Iceland Tuberculosis patients produced the first LEGO sets (sorry no sneeze guards!!)... at a Tuberculosis Clinic called REYKJALUNDUR until the 1970s....

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    Old LEGO plants that were closed and what they're up to today....

    USA Samsonite LEGO... new 1965... LEGO model, Loveland Colorado...

    What it's like today.....

    Hohenwestedt Germany LEGO offices.... 1956....

    Almost abandoned today....

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2015
    This image is from my chapter on early LEGO Artwork...

    That earlier image of the 3 kids in the Norway document.... that was Godtfred Kirk Chrstiansen's 3 kids.... 7 year old Gunhild, 6 year old Kjeld, and 2 year old Hanne.

    Here's the original image from a photograph....

    In 1953 this image was used in a 4 page LEGO Ideas Leaflet... and then colorized for use as LEGO box designs.  Poor young 2 year old Hanne, she was cropped right out of the earliest set designs... although she joined her older siblings in 1955, when they were older, and new box designs were introduced.

    All the LEGO basic sets (largest to smallest) in sizes 700/1, 700/2, 700/3, 700/3A, 700/4, 700/5.... of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

    In my collectors guide there's a whole other chapter on LEGO Photography artwork starting in 1959, when the LEGO Photography Department was established.

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2015
    Some images from my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide chapter on the Christiansen/Kristiansen family....   Godtfred Kirk Christiansen (1920-95) is in every one of these images....

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,362
    edited April 2015
    I didn't want to open a new thread for just this, so I thought I would add it here....  I've been doing some research into old LEGO retailer binders, and finding out exactly when LEGO items were first introduced.  Found a lot of info I'm adding to my collectors guide.  Just yesterday I found the dates when LEGO slopes were introduced.  Good thing I know German, since the retailer guides and brochures are from Germany and Austria.

    The first LEGO sloped bricks (45 degree slopes) were introduced in 1958, not long after the introduction of the LEGO tube bottom patent.The first slopes were released in December 1958 in sizes 2x2 and 2x4, as well as the 2x2 and 2x4 peak bricks....

    Then in June 1959 the other 9 sizes/shapes of the 13 piece LEGO slopes "system" were introduced....

    So the Sept. 1959 retailer list shows all 13 of the different 45 degree sloped parts....

    This last image also shows one of the 4 spare parts packs for sloped bricks (280-281-282-283).  

    Of the 13 sloped bricks introduced in 1958-59, 12 are still in production today.  Only the 2x2 double concave/double convex peak was discontinued, in 1972.

    In early 1960 the 4 spare parts packs were also introduced in blue.  But it would be a long time (at least a decade) before sloped bricks were introduced in other colors.

    This is just one of MANY items that I have uncovered for my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide.

    Also, one other point... about TLG doing their own history.... over the last 7 years of dealing with the folks at TLG... I have found that about 1/4 of all the information about LEGO I received from them.... I had to discard.  I kept finding proof to the contrary.  Most of the folks that were around in the early days of LEGO are long since passed away, and the problem with the employees today is that they are not always able to interpret the archival information correctly... when it is available.  Prior to 1970, archival information is sparse, at best.
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