Click here to go to a special LEGO museum page, with pictures of the old LEGO museum of Billund, Denmark!

A stamp with writng "O. Kirk Kristiansen A/S Billund" on it.

Mirrored stamp




Wooden LEGO Toys.


The Lego Group had humble beginnings in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter from Billund, Denmark. The word lego is an abbreviation for two Danish words leg and godt meaning play well. In 1916, Christiansen purchased a woodworking shop in Billund which had been in business since 1895. He earned his living by constructing houses and furniture for farmers in the region, with the help of a small staff of apprentices. His workshop burned down in 1924 when a fire, lit by two of his young sons, ignited some wood shavings. Undaunted, Ole Kirk took the disaster as an opportunity to construct a larger workshop, and worked towards expanding his business even further; however, the Great Depression would soon have an impact on his livelihood. In finding ways to minimize production costs, Ole Kirk began producing miniature versions of his products as design aids. It was these miniature stepladders and ironing boards that inspired him to begin producing toys


In 1924 Karl Georg and Godtfred set the worksop in fire during a play. They were playing and had made a fire in the workshop, but the wooden toys and other wooden stuff was set on fire. The workshop and the house of the family Christiansen went down. Ole rebuild the house and the workshop. In 1925 the larger factroy was stroke by lightning and was agian set on fire. This time the factory was rebuild also. 

In 1932, Ole Kirk's shop started making wooden pull toys, piggy banks, cars and trucks. He enjoyed a modest amount of success, but families were poor and often unable to afford such toys. Farmers in the area sometimes traded food in exchange for his toys; Ole Kirk found he had to continue producing practical furniture in addition to toys in order to stay in business. In the mid-1930s, the yo-yo toy fad gave him a brief period of activity, until it suddenly collapsed. Once again, Ole Kirk turned disadvantage to his favor, turning the disused yo-yo parts into wheels for a toy truck. His son Godfred began working for him, taking an active role in the company.

It was in 1934 that the company name Lego was coined. Ole Kirk held a contest amongst his staff to see who could come up with the best name for the company, offering a bottle of homemade wine as a prize. Christiansen was considering two names himself, "Legio" (with the implication of a "Legion of toys") and "Lego", a self-made contraction from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning "play well." Later the Lego Group discovered that "Lego" can be loosely interpreted as "I put together" or "I assemble" in Latin.

When plastic came into widespread use, Ole Kirk kept with the times and began producing plastic toys. One of the first modular toys to be produced was a truck that could be taken apart and re-assembled.

After some simple toys, Ole started with the production of Pull-animals around 1935. 


In 1947, Ole Kirk and Godtfred obtained samples of interlocking plastic bricks produced by the company Kiddicraft. These "Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks" were designed and patented by Mr. Hilary Harry Fisher Page, a British citizen. In 1949 the Lego Group began producing similar bricks, calling them "Automatic Binding Bricks." Lego bricks, manufactured from cellulose acetate, were developed in the spirit of traditional wooden blocks that could be stacked upon one another; however, these plastic bricks could be "locked" together. They had several round "studs" on top, and a hollow rectangular bottom. They would stick together, but not so tightly that they could not be pulled apart. In 1953, the bricks were given a new name: Lego Mursten, or "Lego Bricks."

The use of plastic for toy manufacture was not highly regarded by retailers and consumers of the time. Many of the Lego Group's shipments were returned, following poor sales; it was thought that plastic toys could never replace wooden ones. Despite such criticism, however, the Kirk Christiansens persevered. 

By 1954, Godtfred had become the junior managing director of the Lego Group. It was his conversation with an overseas buyer that struck the idea of a toy "system." Godtfred saw the immense potential in Lego bricks to become a system for creative play, but the bricks still had some problems from a technical standpoint: their "locking" ability was limited, and they were not very versatile. It was not until 1958 that the modern-day brick design was developed. The bricks were improved with hollow tubes in the underside of the brick. This added support in the base, enabling much better locking ability and improved versatility. That same year, Ole Kirk Christiansen died, and Godtfred inherited leadership of the company.Het woord LEGO wordt officieel geregistreerd in Denemarken op 1 Mei.
Godfred Kirk Christiansen reist naar Engeland en ontmoet een verkoop-agent op de boot. Ze praten over speelgoed. De agent denkt dat speelgoed een bepaald systeem mist. Na dit gesprek kom GKC op het idee van LEGO System.

1957 Assembly of the plastic Ferugson Tractors.


The Lego Group matured a great deal over the next up and coming years. In 1959, the Futura division was founded within the company. Its tiny staff was responsible for generating ideas for new sets. Another warehouse fire struck the Lego Group in 1960, consuming most of the company's inventory of wooden toys; fortunately, the Lego brick line was strong enough by then that the company decided to abandon production of wooden toys. By the end of the year, the staff of the Lego Group had come to be over 450 total people  


Gerhardt Kirk Christiansen established BILOfix company in Kolding, Denmark, in february 1962. A new factory was build and 90% of the production was sold in Scandinavia, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.




Ole Kirk Christiansen, master carpenter and joiner, establishes his business in the village of Billund, Denmark. His firm manufactures stepladders, ironing boards, stools and wooden toys.
His son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, starts working in the business at the age of 12.

The company and its products now adopt the name LEGO, formed from the Danish words "LEg GOdt" ("play well"). Later, it is realised that in Latin the word means "I put together".
The firm has 6-7 employees.
Ole Kirk places the following motto on the workshop wall: "Only the best is good enough".


Selected Product:
The LEGO Duck
Clothes hangers (Dagny Holm design)

Selected Product News 1936
Numskull Jack on the goat
Godfred Kirk Christiansen starts creating models. He is 17 years old.
The shop now has 10 employees.
Denmark occupied by the Germans. Godfred Kirk Christiansen does not travel to Germany to study as planned. Instead, he becomes manager at LEGO.


The LEGO factory burns to the ground, however, the production of wooden toys is quickly resumed.

The firm has approx. 40 employees.


LEGO changes name in 'Legetøjfabriken LEGO Billund A/S.'

Selected Product News 1946
Wooden bricks with decorations (letters and figures)

Selected Product News 1947
Plastic ball for infants
The educational traffic board game "Monypoli"

LEGO has 50 employees.

Selected Product News 1948
A game of Tiddlywinks


The company produces around 200 different plastic and wooden toys, including Automatic Binding Bricks, a forerunner of the LEGO bricks we know today. They are sold in Denmark exclusively.
The first packaging with four colours is introduced.

Selected Product News 1949
The LEGO Automatic Binding Brick with four and eight studs
A plastic fish
A plastic sailor

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, son of the founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen, is appointed Junior Vice President the day he turns 30.

The first ever film about LEGO is shot. The photographer is Chistian Lund, and the film is black and white with no sound.
Plastic toys account for half of the company's output.

Selected Product News 1951
The building base with 10 x 20 studs
The plastic tractor (Ferguson)

Ole Kirk's plans to expand and a plant is built. It cost 350.000 Danish Crowns.
The company now has its first canteen!

Selected Product News 1952
Big plastic and wooden cars

The Automatic Binding Bricks get a new name: "LEGO Mursten" ("LEGO Bricks").
The name LEGO is printed inside all bricks.
The first application for registration of the trademark. The Danish registration is accepted on the 1st of May 1954.



The word LEGO is officially registered in Denmark on 1st May.
Godfred Kirk Christiansen travels to England and meets a purchasing agent on the ferry. They talk about toys. The agent thinks that toys lack idea and system. This spawns the LEGO System idea in the mind of GKC.

Selected Product News 1954
The Beam brick
LEGO windows and doors
After further developing the LEGO Bricks, the company launches the revolutionary "LEGO System of Play".
The first real export of LEGO begins. First country is Sweden.
Godfred Kirk Christiansen demonstrates the new product at a toy fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Reaction are not positive.

Selected Product News 1955
LEGO System of Play: 28 sets and 8 vehicles plus supplementary elements
The first foreign sales company is established in Hohenwestedt, Germany.
The company buys its first own truck.

Selected Product News 1956
Bicyclists and motorcyclists (little plastic figures)
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen is appointed Managing Director.
LEGO Schweiz is established.

Selected Product News 1957
Plastic Tractor
A LEGO brick with light inside

Ole Kirk Christiansen passes away and Godtfred Kirk Christiansen becomes head of the company.
The first telex machine and photocopier in Billund.
140 employees in Billund.

Futura, the product-development department, now has five members of staff.
A market analysis department is established.
Photography department established.
LEGO France, British LEGO Ltd., LEGO Belgium and LEGO Sweden are established.
The machines in the production are now so automatic that one operator can handle two machines at a time!
LEGO gives the municipality of Billund approx. 20 acres of land and 50.000 Danish Crowns for a sports ground.

Selected Product News 1959
Bilo-fix (wood + plastic)

Indexpage with all the Wooden LEGO Toys.

Click on this hyperlink to go to the special LEGO Wooden Toys page!


Page with museum pictures.

Click here to go to a special LEGO museum page, with pictures of the old LEGO museum of Billund, Denmark!