The display windows of LEGO Idea House in Billund, Denmark showcase the history of LEGO. Here is the first close-up installment, years 1891-1969. Make note of the early wooden toys LEGO made (LEGO was originally a wooden toy manufacturer for a couple of decades), as well as the earliest plastic LEGO bricks, tortured by the passage of time.

Those early bricks have suffered because they were (probably) made of cellulose acetate (CA), a type of plastic more prone to warping and discoloration – in those early years some other plastics were used as well, especially by LEGO licensees in other countries. Later LEGO discovered that the sturdier acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic would be perfect for their bricks and has used ABS since around 1963. The earliest LEGO bricks also had design differences in the locking mechanism, although they are still compatible with new LEGO bricks.

This early time period – distinctly marked by the dominance blue, red and white colors in its bricks and designs (and those quirky little windows, studless trees and miniature cars) – was topped off by the introduction of LEGO DUPLO in 1969. For a little more on the early LEGO history, check out Keyring 1958 and 1960s Town Plan.

Note: Click the first thumbnails and you can browse all the images in a gallery – or you can just click any particular thumbnail to enlarge it. In the gallery view, press View full size to see the largest available version.

Next in the series: During the 1970s, LEGO sets started looking like the LEGO we know today…

P.S. You may also wish to check out Billund’s museum page on LEGO (it shows e.g. a picture of the first LEGO brick design from 1949) as well as some further pictures and background on the LEGO Idea House history posters on Bēhance showcase site.