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The First LEGO Basic and Model Sets of Britain, Ireland and Australia

IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
edited July 2014 in Collecting
When British LEGO Ltd. started LEGO sales in 1960 in Britain and Ireland (and starting in 1962 in Australia)... these were the very first LEGO sets sold there....

The (largest to smallest) 700/0, 700/1, 700/3, 700/3A and 700/5 Basic Sets...

The 306 VW Service, 307 VW Showroom, 308 Fire Station, 309 Church, 310 Esso Service, and 236 Garage model sets... (images as found in my collectors guide, are from Dutch collector Jeroen Van Dorst).

I've been collecting hundreds of additional images, many in vivid high resolution... and many not seen elsewhere!! ;-) Enjoy!


  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    British LEGO Ltd. was a subsidiary of Courtaulds Corp., a British textile and chemical company. From 1960 until 1962, when Courtaulds Wrexham Wales plant was finally set up to make LEGO sets, most of the sets and parts were imported from Denmark.

    Even after the 1962 date, specialty parts, such as LEGO trees/bushes, 1:87 scale cars and trucks, and other accessories, were still produced in Denmark.

    Back in the 1960s TLG was very much involved in producing spare parts packs, as supplements to the LEGO basic and model sets. There were an enormous number of these (over 100 different) produced back then. These small packs had a sliding inner drawer and an outer sleeve.

    Here is an image of the 11 outer sleeve images, along with the reverse side (brick image). These 11 images were used in all of Europe from 1960-63, except for the 2nd right (bottom row) image. That image was apparently only used in parts packs in the Netherlands. These outer sleeves were used randomly with different parts pack boxes... so theoretically the 11 image could be found on the over 100 different boxes... for a total possibility of over 1000 different combinations.

    Here also is a pic of all of the 2x4 brick spare parts boxes, one per color. These particular boxes are all from the UK... in that they say "Made in Great Britain" in small letters on the side of the outer box. (This would date them to after 1962.)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Here's an image (courtesy of my Belgian friend Rohnny) of the mind boggling array of spare parts packs that were sold in continental Europe, Britain, Ireland and Australia. All of these images are in my collectors guide chapter on early spare parts packs.

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    For some odd reason, in 1964 Britain (and by default Ireland and Australia) stopped using the word "System" (in yellow script... as "LEGO System") on their LEGO boxes... and just had "LEGO". This image from my good friend Maxx, shows this in the far fewer box designs that carried this new well as the visibility of the "Made in Great Britain" on the boxes.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    So.... it's 1960... and you're a small independent toy store.... so how do you take all this new "fangled" LEGO toy... and display it?

    Not to worry!! ;-)

    British LEGO Ltd. (and their continental European TLG counterpart)... has this all figured out for you!!

    You order one of their display stands (the one shown here is a different older one from a German Retailer LEGO Catalog, but the shelves are the same, just different older box designs).

    ... and British LEGO Ltd. sends you a 3 page installation instructions to put all of your basic sets, model sets, and spare parts packs into the display stand...

    The LEGO Retailer, retailer displays, retailer display stands and everything related to LEGO... is in a new chapter of my LEGO collectors guide - LEGO Retailers (1949-2014).

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    There is so much of old LEGO (and new) that I have been puzzling together... with an almost mind numbing series of clues, images and documents from collectors around the world... I get to play LEGO Sherlock Holmes... my calling in life! ;-)

    ... and while I'm at it... some LEGO displays from the early days... The Palace of Westminster... otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament... and York Minster... the largest surviving medieval church in the United Kingdom! Enjoy!! (Images courtesy, Phil Traviss and Eric Strand.)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    edited July 2014
    And another thing... the first page of the 3 page retailer instructions guide tell you that everything will fit into that display stand except the 10 cardboard boxes of small vehicles... that would be these very collectible 1:87 LEGO cars and Bedford trucks... all of them are supposed to be stored behind the counter or elsewhere (a rather awkward arrangement).

  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    And back in the early 1960s at the Wrexham Wales British LEGO Ltd. plant... the chemical engineers were experimenting with new plastics for 2x4 LEGO bricks.... Wrexham test strikes.... a true rarity (and in my LEGO Collectors Guide - Chapter 49 - LEGO Bricks)... ;-) (from my good LEGO friend Maxx3001)
  • caperberrycaperberry Member Posts: 2,226
    Many fascinating pics, Gary, but the Palace of Westminster shot is my favourite! Would be amazing if it still existed and we could display it at STEAM :D
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    And look in the background, there is the Arc de Triomphe and the Palazzo Vecchio from Florence. Just on display in a department store.
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    That beautiful Palace of Westminster model was from a USA Department Store... sadly it probably no longer survives (all those white 1x1x2 thin windows discarded!! :-( )

    I had seen a copy of this model a few years back in the UK "Building Ideas Book No.2" (otherwise known as a variation on the 238 Building Idea Book)... and didn't realize that it was a real model that was heavily "artworked" over...

  • chuckpchuckp Member Posts: 684
    Those store displays are amazing. How cool would that be to walk into a store and see something like that?!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Chuckp.... as a child (remember my nickname on Eurobricks is "older than ABS"... sigh!) ... but yes as a child back in the early 1960s I remember going to the downtown Detroit J. L. Hudson's Department Store (2nd largest dept. store at the time after NYC Macy's flagship store).... and I remember going to the 12th floor where they had "Toyland"... and granted, we had Samsonite LEGO, but they didn't skimp on LEGO displays... I remember many beautiful LEGO buildings.

    In my LEGO collectors guide chapter on LEGO Sales History by Country, I show this very interesting 1962 image from a USA Toy industry magazine. I didn't know until a few years ago (when I first got this image)... that the USA Samsonite LEGO model shop was right here in Detroit!! :-) And these were some of the models I saw as a kid....
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Brickset seems to be having upload issues... ;-)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Try it again... with an image of Detroit's J. L. Hudson's Christmas toy window of 1962...

  • GoldchainsGoldchains Member Posts: 795
    edited August 2014
    I remember in the 80s going to a local toy store(Johnny's Toys), and they would always have giant Lego sculptures(Dragons, a lifesize built minifig, a knight, and such). They even had a drawing to win one of them(one of the dragons). I always wondered if someone made them or if they were lent out for display.
  • AdelecAdelec Member Posts: 171
    My Aunt has just given me her old lego. she says she started buying in 59/60s and added to it over the years. There are some interesting pieces included in it including some very creamy coloured bases, lots of different sized windows, a large (broken) base of some sort!
  • TheBrokenPlateTheBrokenPlate Member Posts: 28
    edited August 2014
    Nice little haul man, I'd be happy with that! I can never have enough vintage windows. That broken base is an old garage piece. It goes with the red door down in the bottom left corner.
  • AdelecAdelec Member Posts: 171
    Thanks for that. It makes sense of the base and door pieces. I will get hubby to try and glue the base back together.
  • TheBrokenPlateTheBrokenPlate Member Posts: 28
    ^No problem. Apologies to referring to you as 'man' by the way. :)
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Adelec, thanks for posting that image!! There's several telltale signs that you live in either Britain or Ireland.... 1) LEGO sales started in 1960 (although I've heard Christmas 1959 also bandied about)... 2) the named beams show the tell-tale British LEGO influence... they have pencil thin lettering for the most part... continental European lettering is much thicker (such as seen on the DEALER named beam)... 3) the flags all have the UK style flat top to the flag poles... only British LEGO Ltd. made their LEGO flag poles with a flat top... continental EU and USA/Canada flags all have a rounded top... 4) the Aussie flag... only British LEGO Ltd. (UK/IRE/AUS) sold the Australian flag, from 1966-72. That flag is very scarce and highly collectible, and a few years ago I sold a near mint example for $22.

    Here are a couple of "cheat sheets" from my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide that cover some of the topics in your image.... flag types, and early (1966-68) train couplings. Too bad that you don't have a highly desireable 1:87 cast metal wheel car to go along with your small garage! :-)
  • AdelecAdelec Member Posts: 171
    That's very interesting info, thank you. The flags are incredibly fragile. One was broken, but husband sort of stuck it back together! I am from the UK. There were no cars,I will ask her if there were any ever!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    For some odd reason Brickset wouldn't let me upload this 2 images separately... but it will when they're pasted together....

    Adelec, I was going to post these yesterday.... enjoy!
  • AdelecAdelec Member Posts: 171
    I didn't realise that "box" was for a car. I will have to ask my aunt if she has any cars!
  • IstokgIstokg Member Posts: 2,363
    Adelec, those "cars" are very high quality metal wheeled 1:87 scale (HO scale) cast plastic cars with metal wheels. These are VERY highly sought after by model car as well as LEGO collectors.

    Here's 5 of the 10 models that were found in this plastic garage (261-268 and 670 & 671). They were sealed with a paper banderole and contained a small brochure inside. (Image from my new collectors guide update)
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