Lego's egalitarian instructions from the 1970s


A quick dig through eBay’s listings of period Lego advertisements suggests it’s at least plausible, witness this 1974 ad:

I’m not super great with typography, but it looks like it’s the same headline typeface at the least.

– Edited to add: the typography they used then seemed to be entirely market dependent. The French and Italian ads used very different styles.

There are other things that suggests this might be fake.

The paper is too new if it was from the 1970s.
The Logo for Lego has gone through changes over the intervening years, so double checking the logo there with the logo as it was in the 1970s is a must.
Many of the pieces in the photograph are post 1970s additions to the pieces available, but that does not prove anything either way TBH.

Even if all of the above facts are taken into consideration, it could well be that Lego did put such instructions / parental PSAs into their sets in the 1970s, and this could just be a facsimile copy of what was found in these older sets. The only way to settle this matter is to ask the Lego company themselves.


on the back:
The day the ___ger
got burnt in the town

[edit - based on the german found way down below, it probably reads:
The day the burger
got burnt in the new

I had

The day the copier
got burrit[os] __ th[is n]ew

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The logo (with the open oval in the middle of the ‘O’) is correct for the era; contrast with the closed oval in the more modern logo. (See here and here.)

The lower case r in that 1974 ad matches the one in the item in question, whereas Times New Roman has a different shape. So that’s a sign that it’s real, not a Microsoft Word construct. Also, the kerning is very tight in both Lego things. Too tight for modern typographers to use.


And another period ad using a typeface that’s extremely close to Times New Roman (at least for the headline). That one is from 1962. The capitals have key differences, but the minuscules are real close.

nobody is calling out the typo? shouldn’t it be “doll’s house”? (apostrophe-s)


Well, you see, back in the 1970s we had something called “typesetting.” Sometimes it was done with a machine that shot hot lead into a mold. As for the display type, that would likely have been done with a machine called a Typositor, which projected letter forms onto photographic paper. That’s why you have such close and even overlapping kerning. I have a bit of a case of Typositor Thumb to this day.


Sense of mystery should always trump pedantry.


Duplo and Legoland are mentioned in the legal copy. Both came along later than the 70’s.

I can’t say for sure about Duplo, but there were sets called Legoland back to 1971… Er, the 1960’s?

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err, 30 seconds of googling tells me different.

Initially launched in 1969

Legoland Billund, the original Legoland park, opened on June 7, 1968


Also the brick set now called Lego City was launched as LEGOLAND in '78.

EDIT: Actually I think I misread wikipedia and instead this is a never-ending mind melt experience sponsored by lego.

In the 1970s there were also typesetting machines that were basically an IBM Selectric ball typewriter, souped up so they could do proportional spacing. Here’s a link about them: IBM Composer

The one I used mid-1970s could save a whole page in memory, but there was no permanent storage. It would print and then stop at bold or italic, so you could change the ball.


The fact that the note is made mostly of sentence fragments also makes me skeptical.

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Yeah, it was a wacky photomechanical world but proportional type existed in abundance before the digital age. Hell, you could even use proportional font typewriters like the IBM Selectric in the 70s. The lack of possessive punctuation seems questionable. The folks who set type (typesetters, Rob B.) were usually pretty good proofreaders and most would have fixed the poor punctuation. I suggest Rob learn the origin of terms like “leading”. Digital type terms are adopted from hoary old mechanical (proportional) type technology.

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I know its more fun to speculate but has anyone actually asked the Lego company about this?


No one would use ragged right in packaging material? Also isn’t this a bit too clever by half? Hand holding a paper in front of a bricks strewn across the floor? Is the paper in the box? or the photo in the box?

This is fake. Does anyone anywhere even remember seeing this? I doubt it.

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