Wooden Box Sets for Beauty Parlors & Barber Shops

 

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LEGO wooden box sets from the late 1950s and early 1960s were sold to Beauty Parlors and Barber Shops in Europe so children could accompany their parents.

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lego sets sold to beauty parlors barber shops the first lego wooden box sets with contents were sold to the public in 1957 in germany and sweden by 1958-59 all the other continental european lego countries had wooden box sets for sale as well the likely reason that germany and sweden were first rather than denmark may lie in the fact that the lego germany and lego sweden sales were run by axel thomsen a dane who moved to sweden in 1945 and later opened a doll house factory in lerum near göteborg later in 1955 he started managing lego sales in sweden axel thomsen moved to hohenwestedt in northern germany to start the managing of lego sales there which began in 1956 it may have been axel s expertise in wooden doll houses that promoted the earliest 1957 production of wooden box sets for lego sales in sweden and germany examples of german lego wooden boxes have been found with made in sweden printed on box this historic image of ole kirk christiansen left godtfred kirk christiansen middle and axel thomsen right was taken on january 12 1956 at a dinner party to celebrate the christening of lego germany axel was behind many innovations for lego such as the introduction of wooden boxes in 1957 and the complaints about lack of clutch power of lego bricks that lead to the introduction of tube bottom bricks in 1958 the first lego wooden boxes were the 700 with contents wooden box sets of sweden left and germany right these were introduced in 1957 and are the only lego wooden boxes of any country with the box top writing in the local language all later wooden boxes had either lego or the international lego system on the box top 1

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in 1958 the first wooden lego boxes were sold in denmark and by 1959 in all continental european countries lego wooden boxes were always found in lego catalogs although they were not pictured in catalogs until 1964 these boxes were a higher priced basic set for building lego town and other structures in germany belgium and switzerland 700k wooden box sets were geared to school and kindergarten use these had alphabet bricks along with an assortment of other lego elements the attached paperwork also mentions school use in 1958 this danish retailer information product sheet came out telling danish retailers about the new lego wooden box set to be sold either with contents or as an empty box it mentions that the box has 24 partitions although it is listed here as 700 k 24 it was always listed in catalogs as 700 with contents or empty within a year all lego countries in continental europe besides germany and sweden which already had the set sold wooden box sets with this 24 partition configuration recently a lego archives employee mentioned that lego sets were also marketed to other commercial enterprises such as beauty parlors and barber shops these sets were 700 and 700k wooden box sets with contents that were promoted as a way for parents to have their hair done and be able to bring their children along by having a large wooden box lego set available it was hoped that the children could be playing quietly with lego building while their mother or father could quietly have their hair done this would save in either baby-sitting costs or the aggravation of having a bored child sitting idle while mother or father were busy with their hair maintenance it was a rather clever idea and may have produced some lego shop sales 2

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just how successful wooden box lego sales to european beauty parlors or barber shops were is unknown but it certainly made for an interesting idea to keep the children busy while the parents were busy here is an example of a 700 type wooden box with contents this particular one is from britain and has 2 flags the continental versions come without flags but do have the esso accessories trees/bushes road signs and the printed name bricks british versions have much thinner printing than continental versions these all come with a garage kit base plate door frame and counterweights so that you can build an esso service station later after 1964 versions of these wooden box sets come without all the town plan accessories but contain 1960s style wheel and tire accessories there are no known surviving sets that originated from these establishments possibly because they were not uniquely labeled or identified as commercial sets there is no way to identify a set that originated from such a location 3

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here are several others of the 700 type wooden box sets with 24 partitions that were marketed as not only exclusive child sets but also as commercial sets for beauty parlors and barber shops and perhaps other businesses these boxes are from denmark upper left france upper right britain middle left later britain middle right italy lower left and switzerland lower right the contents would contain more town plan parts in the late 1950s and early 1960s and more wheel accessories by the early-to-mid 1960s one concern about this type of set is that children may have been tempted to take lego parts home with them another concern was that many of the town plan parts such as trees/bushes road signs and flags were especially fragile and did not survive well under heavy playwear more than likely the commercial establishments that had these wooden box sets were also marketed with lego catalogs that listed spare parts to refill wooden box sets where parts were either broken or missing 4

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here is a contents list to an early 1960s 700k wooden box set of britain this shows more town plan items here is a contents list to a mid 1960s 700k wooden box set of britain this shows fewer town plan items and several wheel accessories 5

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