Saturday, January 12, 2013

In the News: Monopoly

In a world of change, nothing stands still – not even a metallic Monopoly piece. But in a shock to fans of the traditional family board game, one of them – either the Scottie dog, racecar, top hat, iron, shoe, thimble, battleship or wheelbarrow – is to be axed. Maker Hasbro has decreed that the time has come to introduce a new piece. Contenders include a diamond ring, helicopter, cat, robot and a guitar. If it is any consolation to traditionalists, the issue is to be decided democratically. 

Fans are being asked to cast their votes at by February 5. Last night bookmaker Paddy Power made the wheelbarrow the 4/5 favourite to be axed, followed by the shoe at 2/1. A cat was the favourite to be the new token, at 13/8. When the vote ends, Hasbro will replace the piece with a new token players would like added to the game which reflects the interests of Monopoly players today. 

- News Report, Daily Mail 9 January 2013 


Some Monopoly history and trivia: 

Although the creator of the game is often cited to be Charles Darrow, even in the game’s instructions, its origins lie in circumstances much earlier. In 1903 American woman Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Magie Phillips created The Landlord’s Game, its intent being to explain a single tax theory and to show the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies. The game was first manufactured and sold in 1906. 

First page of patent submission for first version of Lizzie Magie's board game, granted on January 5, 1904 

Phillips offered the game to Parker Brothers, which declined. In 1924 Phillips patented a second design that incorporated street names, the concept that higher rents could be charged as properties were developed and the use of chips as player tokens. 

First page of patent submission for second version of Lizzie Magie's board game, submitted in 1923 and granted in 1924 

She again offered the game to Parker Brothers, which again declined it. 

Between 1906 and the 1930’s various other board games adopted the Philips’ concept of the buying, selling and development of land. Basically the Philips’ game was being sold with minor changes and under various alternative names. One such variation was that made and sold by Charles Darrow, who introduced some design concepts that remain to the present day: black locomotives on the railroad spaces, the car on "Free Parking", the red arrow for "Go", the tap on "Water Works", the light bulb on "Electric Company", and the question marks on the "Chance" spaces. His copyright was granted in 1933. 

First page of Charles Darrow's patent submission for Monopoly, submitted and granted in 1935 

Milton Bradley purchased the rights to Darrow’s game in 1935. Seeing its success, Parker Brothers purchased the rights to Philips’ games and the rights of other persons who had modeled games on Philips’ original versions. It then claimed the rights to Monopoly and began selling the game in 1935. 

Box lid of a Parker Brothers-published copy of Monopoly (the "Number 7 Black Box Edition") from circa 1936-1941. 

Darrow subsequently admitted that he had copied the game from a friend’s copy of The Landlord’s Game and a variant, Finance. He settled with Parker Brothers and ceded worldwide rights. 

1936 poster introducing the board game Monopoly to the United Kingdom 

The current owner of the game is Hasbro.


In 1941, the British Secret Intelligence Service had John Waddington Ltd, the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War 11 prisoners of war held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by Secret Service-created fake charity groups. 


As regards the tokens used, the following is from Hasbro, the current copyright holder and owner of the game: 
With the tokens serving as such an important part of the MONOPOLY game experience, it's hard to imagine the game without them. However, the first game produced in 1935 did not include tokens. Charles Darrow, who originally brought the game to Parker Brothers, recommended that players use household items like buttons and pennies to move around the board. 
Parker Brothers decided to include mover-tokens in the game. The edition produced from 1935-36 included four small wax wood pieces, or pawns. In 1937 Parker Brothers, determined to preserve the game''s tradition, decided to produce die-cast metal tokens that were reminiscent of objects found in households across America. This decision marked the introduction of the flatiron, purse, lantern, car, thimble, shoe, top hat, and the rocking horse. The top hat was modelled after the chapeau of the game's Chairman of the Board, Mr. Monopoly, and the car, his 1930s roadster. 
Two additional tokens, the battleship and the cannon, were also added in 1937. They were used at the time, in another Parker Brothers game called Conflict, which made it easy to add this pair to the MONOPOLY game. These 10 tokens--flatiron, purse, lantern, car, thimble, shoe, top hat, rocking horse, battleship and cannon--were used until 1942. 
With World War II came a metal shortage in the United States. As a result, during the years 1943-47, MONOPOLY games contained tokens made out of wood. Shortly after the end of World War II the metal tokens were brought back to the game. 
The early 1950s brought the addition of three new tokens and the departure of three original tokens. The lantern, purse and rocking horse were replaced by the dog (Mr. Monopoly's dog, Scotty), the wheelbarrow and the horse and rider. These three MONOPOLY game tokens still exist in the classic edition--the MONOPOLY game in the red and white box found today in stores and more than 200 million homes worldwide.

"I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly."

- Steven Wright


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