The history of Monopoly

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2012 under Board Games | Comments are off for this article

monopoly black godfather editionMonopoly is the world’s most popular board game, but not many are aware of its true history. The ‘official take’ on its inception, promoted by the game’s brand owners Hasbro, states that it was invented by a steam radiator repairman named Charles Darrow. The game was patented by Darrow and the Parker Brothers in 1935 and sold 2 million units in two years, making it a thumping success since its introduction.
However, the true history of Monopoly can be traced back much before the Darrow and Parker Brothers slant on things. The game owes its origins to Elizabeth Magie, who had created her own board game called ‘The Landlord’s Game’ in 1904. This board game was used as a tool for teaching the philosophy of a 19th century writer named Henry George. George’s core philosophy was that no single person could claim private ownership of land.
The Landlord’s Game didn’t achieve much success, but gained a niche following in the Midwest and Northeast, following which Magie patented it in 1924. Monopoly has taken many of its cues from The Landlord’s Game, as well as those of other board games that sprung into existence from the early 1900s to the 1930s. However, the game was marketed and sold as being the brainchild of Charles Darrow from the 1970s onward. It was only with the help of a lawsuit by Professor Ralph Anspach against Parker Brothers that the real, ‘hidden’ history of the game was brought to the surface and rediscovered.
Regardless of this lengthy court case, Hasbro, the current parent company of Parker Brothers, does not recognize the game’s history prior to the Charles Darrow angle.
A fun fact about Monopoly: A special edition of the game was created during World War II by John Waddington Ltd., on orders of the British Secret Service, for the benefit of British prisoners of war in Nazi Germany. This version of Monopoly was used to hide compasses, maps, and genuine money to help the prisoners of war escape.