RARE 1904 Elizabeth Magie Card Game Competition or Department Store


FYI, we are auctioning off a very rare, collectible game on eBay (listing here):

This auction is for the RARE 1904 card game Competition, or Department Store in used but nearly complete condition.

This game has been attributed to Elizabeth Magie by the George Glazer Gallery of New York, sellers of antiquarian globes, maps and prints in New York City.  This would make it her first published game, predating the first commercial version of The Landlord’s Game by two years.

The Landlord’s Game was invented and patented by Lizzie J. Magie (also known as Elizabeth Magie Phillips), a follower of economist Henry George (1839-1897), popularizer of the “Single Tax.”  Her intention was to use her game to keep Henry George’s ideas alive after his death.  His most famous work was the book Progress and Poverty.

This game is of great historical importance, since it is quite possible that The Landlord’s Game was first developed as a card game before it acquired a board.  Thematically, Competition or Department Store is a precursor of her later game Bargain Day (published by Parker Brothers in 1937), which also had a department store shopping theme.

We do know that Elizabeth Magie invented other card games besides this.  In 1910, Parker Brothers published her game Mock Trial, and her final patent, issued in the mod-1920s, was for an educational card game.  This auction also includes an extremely rare Parker Brothers advertising flyer from 1910 that promotes Mock Trial (pictured).

This game includes:

1 box

106 cards (should be 107, plus one card that should be glued to the outside of the box)

59 White Discs (should be 100)

17 Red Discs (should be 25)

We will include high quality reproductions of the two missing cards, plus a copy of the game rules.*  The red and white paper discs should be quite easy to supplement, meaning you can actually play this game just as people did 112 years ago.

I do not know of ANY early Monopoly game collector who has even a partial version of this extremely rare game.  This is only the second example I have seen in over 10 years of collecting.  Even the Strong Museum of American Play in Rochester, NY has only a partial set with a lot fewer pieces than this one.

The discs represent play money that makes up a Bank.  Each player becomes their own store, and receives an inventory card plus several letter cards.  These are arranged to form words that represent inventory stock.  There are cards for Checks, a Fire Sale, a Bargain Sale, Bills, a Financial Panic, a Cyclone and a Fire.  There are also cards for Fire Insurance.

The winner is the first player to collect $50.

*Her name is misspelled as “Magee” on the rules.












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6 thoughts on “RARE 1904 Elizabeth Magie Card Game Competition or Department Store

  1. Peter Freitag

    I recently purchased a copy of this game and I am now more confused than ever. The 1904 copyright of the game, clearly stated on the instruction sheet, was issued to “Elizabeth Bowman Magee.” You write that “Her name is misspelled as ‘Magee’ on the rules. Are you sure it is a misspelling? Is it possible that this game was mis-attributed by the Glazer Gallery? Lizzie Magie’s middle initial was “J.” There is nothing in the biographical information on Magie that says anything about the name, “Bowman.” Any information you can provide would be appreciated.


    1. David Sadowski Post author

      I might question it too, except that misspellings were rife in 1904, and this game has all the “hallmarks” of being by Elizabeth Magie.

      To think otherwise, you would have to believe that there were two different women, with nearly identical names, both inventing games at the same time.

      Meanwhile, I am going to do some research to see if there actually was some other person named Elizabeth Bowman Magee, and when they might have lived.

      On the other hand, if you decide you don’t want your game, I’d be glad to pay you double the $5 it cost you after I fell asleep and forgot to bid on this one.


      1. Peter Freitag

        Thanks, David, for the information. I agree that it would be quite a coincidence if there were two game inventors: one Elizabeth Magie and one Elizabeth Magee. And I also agree that the “Competition or Department Store” theme is very Magie-esque (cf. “Bargain Day”). But my confusion still stems from the “Bowman” name which, as far as I can tell, does not seem to be related to Lizzie Magie. Did you find out anything more about the existence of an Elizabeth Bowman Magee? Thanks for your generous offer of $10 for the game but, until I am able to discover more about it, I think I’ll hold on to it. I dare say that if the game really is by Elizabeth Magie, it might be able to fetch just a bit more than that on eBay. Peter


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