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I'm wondering how bricks are uniquely identified.

In the back of instruction booklets, the set parts are listed and the numbers match the numbers on the LEGO.com website. Each number seems to identify a part in a specific color. The design number listed on the website seems to identify the brick separate from color.

I guess my question is, are these numbers available for all bricks or did this only start later?

This same question goes for the identification of brick colors.

If there are any other ideas on how parts can or should be numbered/identified I would really like to know.

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Parts have a design ID, and an element ID.

The design ID applies to the part - eg 1x6 brick

Similar parts, with different colors have different ELEMENT ID’s. Before -1998 these were in the form of designID+colorID. Now the design ID is not easily related to element ID

Occasionally, after a period of absence, a piece may be re-released in a color. Eg sand green 1x6 was element 4155053 from 2000-2012 eg monster fighters haunted house and then reappeared as 6177081 in 2017 eg Minecraft ocean monument.

The design ID of the first version of an element tends be be used by bricklink, whereas LEGO will normally change the design ID if there is a significant change to the mold. Eg the thickness/shape of clips.

Brickset.com lists parts by both element and design ID when you look at inventories for a given set.

Colour IDs can also be found at Brickset, who also refer to Ryan Howerter’s website as a resource

I hope this helps answer your question.

  • Thanks for your response. Though not what I was hoping for, it is kind of what I expected. – rbevers May 25 '18 at 17:39
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Haven't been enjoying my lego hobby long enough to have experienced it first hand. However, from some researching (read googling), it appears that design ID's and element ID's were starting to be published around 2006.

I assume these ID's are either published through the lego replacement parts service (or similar services as PAB) or in the inventories at the back of instruction booklets.

It appears that for elements that haven't been available through the replacement parts service or in sets more recent or as recent than 2006, these ID's were not published but for most elements, the design ID or element ID is printed on the element. However, this is certainly not the case for all elements.

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    Brickset.com draw inventories for sets directly from LEGO’s data base. The LEGO group don’t always include every element in the online inventory, even though they might be listed in the instructions. Those which are published in brickset are typically available through bricks and pieces, while the elements that don’t make the published inventory don’t tend to be. – Rambling Brick May 15 '18 at 3:03

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