I brought home a couple of souvenirs from my recent visit to the LEGO Click Brick store in Japan. One of them was a LEGO 1958 keyring, produced in 2008. It features a picture of the classic LEGO Town Plan and was obviously made for the past 50th anniversary of the theme. Perhaps the keyring was just leftover stock, or maybe it was on sale and display again because 2012 is the 50th anniversary of LEGO in Japan.
Nevertheless, on the front there is a picture of young Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen (now the LEGO chairman, grandson of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen) playing with 810 European Town Plan, which incidentally was released in 1960. Instead of 1958, the photograph is likely from late 1959 or early 1960, from the time when the LEGO Group photography was finally graduating from amateur hour to professional league. This of course is the same picture that inspired the 10184 Town Plan cover art.
Looking closely, you can see a familiar blue truck next to the building on the right, also note the included town board underneath. As for the girl, Kjeld was often accompanied by his younger sister Hanne and his older sister Gunhild (and their cousin Jorgen) in the early promotional pictures, but the girl here is neither of them – a collector’s guide refers to her just as a blonde girl in a blue dress. (Tragically, Hanne died in a 1969 car crash on the way to cinema. Kjeld was also a passenger in the car but survived.)
On the back, there is a modern LEGO logo. There is also a secondary piece on the ring with the old LEGO System logo. Product number 4547289 and the words “Vintage”, “Made in China” and copyright 2008 are written on the (plastic bag) package, as well Japanese translating roughly to “Town Plan 1958 Key Holder”. Online the keyring is known as the 4547289 1958 Photo Key Chain.
There is a larger scan of the Town Plan photograph available here. Curiously, a 1959 release of this photo also exists, with similar setup and same children, only slightly younger – you can see it here. The 1960 photo used in the keyring is markedly more professional than older LEGO promotional shots, many of which came from the Christiansen family album. In the 1950s they even edited Kjeld’s father Godtfred into a policeman in one rare family-photo-turned-into-box-art incident.
Fun fact: Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen’s last name starts with a K (instead of Ch) due to an error in his birth certificate. The rest of the family are Christiansen. Today, Kjeld and Gunhild are the principal owners of Kirkbi, which owns most of the LEGO Group.