Category Archives: The eBay Beat

The eBay Beat: Shanghai Real Estate, Darrow Black Box, Australian Stock Exchange

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There have been three recent eBay auctions of note, including one where it is not possible to know how much the item sold for. However, it was surely a lot of money, and the rarity of these items makes them interesting regardless.

Australian Stock Exchange

We have written before about the Stock Exchange Add-On to Monopoly sets, first sold in 1936 by the Capitol Novelty Company but soon purchased by Parker Brothers. This rare Australian version, made by the John Sands company, sold for $29.22 USD via a UK auction.

John Sands, in turn, licensed Monopoly from Waddington’s, the English firm that had obtained the rights from Parker Brothers in 1936. The first Aussie sets appeared in 1937.

In general, the Australian Monopoly sets were not as well made as their American counterparts. This Stock Exchange is similar to the US version, except that it is denominated in pound sterling instead of dollars (although Australia has their won dollar today), and the instructions are on a separate sheet instead of being printed on the inside of the box top.

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1935 Darrow Black Box

This recent auction for an incomplete Darrow Black Box Monopoly set, although not in the greatest condition, is still noteworthy, since it must be one of the 1600 sets actually sold by Charles Darrow, and not one of the 5900 that were taken on by Parker Brothers. Parker applied a label to the outside of the game board, not present here, and substituted their own rules. Neither version included tokens, which the buyers were expected to provide themselves.

While not worth anything like the $9,900 asking price, this is still a valuable item with an estimated worth of perhaps $2,000. However, the auction was ended by the seller, possibly indicating a private deal of some sort was reach at undisclosed terms. We may never know the exact amount.

This set includes its apparently original price tag from Snellenburg’s, a Philadelphia department store. Despite their reputation for selling modestly priced items, demand for Monopoly was apparently high enough in early 1935 that they sold this set for $3.00 instead of the usual $2.00. The more elaborate Darrow White Box sets had sold for $3.00 before this.

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Shanghai Real Estate

Our final item is especially rare– a 1930s Chinese Monopoly knock-off. Monopoly became a US phenomenon in 1935, and a world-wide one in 1936. This nicely made set is especially rare since Shanghai was captured by the Japanese in 1937.

This item has been listed several times, with the most recent auction being here. At present, the asking price is $5,113.15. Its actual value, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. One reason it has not sold as of this writing is that $5,113.15 is a lot of money, especially when there are practically no previous sales that collectors can refer to.

-Clarence B. Darwin

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RARE 1904 Elizabeth Magie Card Game Competition or Department Store

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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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The eBay Beat: Metal Monopoly Money, Boondoggling Board, Stock Exchange

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Metal Monopoly Money

A nearly complete set of metal Monopoly money recently sold on eBay for $811.00.

These are very rare, as evidenced in the price. Metal money was used for a few years in the late 1930s in some of Parker Brothers’ most expensive sets, perhaps inspired by the poker chips sometimes used by early Monopoly players. You could also purchase a set separately from those games.

Parker did use similar metal money in other games in this era. However, these coins in particular have been criticized for their design since they apparently do not stack well.

Here is the seller’s description:

You are bidding on a box of metal Monopoly money (coins) – box is approx. 4 3/4″ x 2″. The last ones on Ebay sold in 2012 for 1439.00 you can’t find them on eBay or anywhere else on an internet research. The coins are a Parker Brothers after market item sold as replacement pieces or to upgrade other sets. Denominations are $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $500. I don’t know how many coins there should be, there are spacers in the box to hold them in place and box looks full maybe a few missing. The box has some wear, a little bit of scuffing and a tear. Coins are all in good condition.

 

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Boondoggling Board

Although in general Boondoggling sets have sold for a lot of money in the last few years, this recent auction for the board only was an exception. It seems to have gone unnoticed by some collectors and sold for just $16.66.

We recently reported on a complete Boondoggling set that sold for $500. Looks like someone got a real bargain here.

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Stock Exchange Add-On

A Parker Brothers Stock Exchange Add-On recently sold on eBay for $275.00.

As the BoardGameGeek web site notes:

STOCK EXCHANGE was orignally marketed by Capitol Novelty Co. as a supplement for Monopoly, Easy Money, and Finance real estate trading games. It allows players to buy and trade stocks in addition to real estate. Players attempt to build a portfolio of stock which will pay them dividends and give them more monetary clout during the game.

Parker Brothers purchased the game from Capitol Novelty in 1936 and marketed it for a short time as a supplement for only Monopoly and Finance games (both Parker Brothers games), dropping Milton Bradley’s Easy Money game. The 1937 version dropped the Finance reference and only listed Monopoly on the game box.

Contains: Stock exchange board space (fits over “Free Parking.”), eleven new Community Chest cards, ten new Chance cards, thirty stock shares (five each of six different companies).

 

Stock Exchange was available in the US during the late 1930s, and there are a few variations of these sets. There were also international versions (for Canada and Australia at least), and those are collectible as well.

The add-on was briefly reissued in a new version made by Chessex in 1992 that is considered less collectible.

Stock Exchange is also thought to have helped inspire the Parker game Bulls and Bears (1936), which was heavily promoted as a supposed follow-up to Monopoly. Parker used Charles B. Darrow as a sort of celebrity endorser to this game, claiming he was the inventor. But he actually had even less to do with this game than with Monopoly. Bulls and Bears was developed by Parker’s own staff.

Perhaps Parker Brothers hoped to burnish Darrow’s credentials as a supposed inventor of Monopoly in the public mind by associating him with another game.

The name also harkens back to the Parker card game Pit, which eventually acquired Bull and Bear cards.

Bulls and Bears sold well for a brief period of time, but it was not a very interesting game compared to Monopoly, in part because it did not have Monopoly’s 30 year gestation period.

The square patch that came with Stock Exchange sometimes got glued onto Monopoly boards, and is generally considered to reduce their value as a result. Often, partial Stock Exchange sets are found mixed in with Monopoly sets, and these generally are missing the box, which is key to value.

-Clarence B. Darwin

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The eBay Beat: Trade Mark #9 Monopoly Set (1935)

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FYI, a 1935 Trade Mark version of a #9 Monopoly set recently sold on eBay for $330.99.

This was the very first “white box” version of Monopoly sold by Parker Brothers. It was modeled after the 1934 Darrow White Box sets that were sold by Charles Darrow. However, there were significant differences between the two.

From 1934-35, Darrow offered two types of sets, but not at the same time. First, there was the White Box version, which retailed for $3.00 and had a 20″ game board. The game cards and utensils were all at one end of the box, making it somewhat unbalanced. The rules were printed right onto a cardboard insert that fit into the box bottom. It was not glued into place.

To the best of our knowledge, Darrow had 1,000 of these sets made, in two batches of 500 each. There are some minor differences between the sets, notably in the property cards. Darrow put some of the pieces in later sets into wax sandwich bags.

You will find lots of detailed pictures of these variations on Dan Fernandez‘s excellent Sundown Farm and Ranch web site.

The Darrow White Box itself was 21″ long and took up a lot of space on the department store shelves in Philadelphia and New York where they were sold. The store’s buyers advised Darrow to make a smaller set,

In this period, Monopoly had competition from Knapp Electric‘s game Finance, which had 90% of the elements we generally associate with Monopoly. Finance was sold in a small black box with separate game board, an arrangement Darrow adopted for his 1935 Black Box sets. Both Finance and the Darrow Black Box retailed for $2.00, a figure that is probably not coincidental.

Along with the box, Darrow downsized the game board for this version to about 19″ square. This size was then adopted by Parker Brothers when they started making the sets.

7,500 of these were made in early 1935, but Darrow had only sold 1,600 of these by the time he made his deal with Parker Brothers in March of that year. Reluctantly, Parker took on his remaining inventory.

100 sets were given to Parker employees so that they could learn the game. As far as is know, the rest of the sets were sold by Parker Brothers in the next few months. They substituted their own version of the game rules for Darrow’s, and put a Parker label on the front of the board.

Neither type of Darrow set came with tokens. You were supposed to supply your own. However, in Darrow’s own circle, players had already began using metal dime store tokens as playing pieces. Darrow, however, could not find a supplier for these, but recommended them to Parker Brothers, who already had a business relationship with the Dowst company who made them.

The first Parker Brothers Monopoly sets came out in June 1935 as their #7 version. This was a slightly modified Darrow Black Box. Thinking Darrow’s box too small, Parker substituted a somewhat larger one with more colorful graphics.

Approximately 25,000 of the #7 sets were sold in the first few months. The legal description on these has led Monopoly collectors to call them “Trade Mark” sets.

Soon after the #7 went on the market, Parker introduced the #9 White Box version, which at first retailed for $3 as had Darrow’s. This used a standard 19″ board, and therefore the boxes are a bit smaller than Darrow’s.

The implements were put into the center of the box, which made it more balanced. Parker improved on Darrow’s set by including 10 metal tokens and a double supply of play money.

This is the type of set shown pictured in this recent eBay auction. While the Darrow White Box had graphics only on the top of the box, via a decal, Parker’s version continued the printing onto the two sides.

This is the rarest type of #9 set. Some people think that the following version, which had the 1,509,312 patent number overprinted onto the box top, is more rare, but my experience had been that the opposite is true.

Another difference is that the #9 has painted houses and hotels, while the #7’s are simply dyed.

During 1936, Parker Brothers made some important changes to the #9. After continuing with the standard black board for some time, the White Box was given its own green board with Monopoly lettered on it in script. At the same time, it got the fancier “Grand Hotels” that were first used in the #10 Fine Edition starting in November 1935. I assume that the amount of play money was increased as well.

With these improvements, Parker Brothers increased the price of the #9 to $3.50. This version continued with few changes for several years. Those sets are common, while the 1935 Trade Mark #9 is not.

While not in the greatest condition, $330.00 seems like a more than fair price for this set. For some reason, the tokens do not have the black patina usually found in early sets, and the rules that were included were not the ones originally used for this game. The correct rules would be the same Trade Mark version found in contemporary #7 sets.

Although this set was designed for use by as many as 10 players and had double the amount of play money, this was not mentioned in the rules. Starting with the copyright 1936 rules, however, Parker Brothers did make such a distinction in their rules.

-Clarence B. Darwin

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The eBay Beat: Boondoggling (1936)

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FYI, a rare 1936 Boondoggling game just sold for $500 on eBay (photos enclosed).

Boondoggling is an early Monopoly knock-off and was also a timely political game in the 1936 presidential election season, which ran from about Labor Day until early November. It was created by a couple of college professors who were anti-New Deal. The game plays like Monopoly in reverse, where the various players try to be the first to spend all their money on wasteful government programs, or “boondoggles.”

The dictionary definition of boondoggle is:

1 : a braided cord worn by Boy Scouts as a neckerchief slide, hatband, or ornament. 2 : a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft.

According to the Wikipedia:

The term arose from a 1935 New York Times report that more than $3 million had been spent on recreational activities for the jobless as part of the New Deal. Among these activities were crafts classes, where the production of “boon doggles,” described in the article as various utilitarian “gadgets” made with cloth or leather, were taught. The term’s earlier definition is thought to have its origin in scouting, particularly in reference to a woggle.

The word quickly caught on, and was often used by opponents of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR embraced the term and said, in effect, if it will help us get out of the Depression, by all means, let’s have boondoggles.

FDR’s opponent in the 1936 election was Kansas Governor Alf Landon, who would have governed more in the Hoover mold. He lost in a landslide.

The Boondoggling game appeared briefly during the campaign and appears to have been published by the Washington Star, a Republican newspaper. GOP activist Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter and a staunch FDR opponent, mentioned it in her syndicated column.

Since it was apparently not marketed to department stores, the usual outlet for Monopoly-type games, Boondoggling’s overall construction was cheap and insubstantial, with a paper board and flimsy box. Few were sold and even fewer have survived.

I have owned a few examples of this game. I once owned the board in the collection of the Strong Museum of American Play, and sold another example to the family of one of the creators.

For a time, this was an under-appreciated game, but prices have greatly increased in the last few years.

As an anti-New Deal game, it is a contemporary of Rudy Copeland’s Inflation, also from 1936. That was a much higher quality product.

Ironically, in spite of the anti-New Deal theme of Inflation, Rudy Copeland campaigned for FDR in 1936.

While Boondoggling was not around long enough to draw legal action from Parker Brothers as a Monopoly knock-off, they did try suing Rudy Copeland over Inflation, which was sold in department stores. Once Copeland was able to find more than two dozen people who swore they had played Monopoly prior to its supposed invention by Charles Darrow, Parker and Copeland settled out of court. He received a financial settlement from Parker Brothers, along with a license to use the two Monopoly patents that Parker owned.

However, by 1937, the bloom was temporarily off the Monopoly rose, and Inflation quickly faded from view, as Boondoggling did before it.

In 1951 there was a game called Boondoggle, tied in to the 1952 presidential election, but there was no connection with the earlier Boondoggling game. I believe there was a 1980 version as well.

The various tokens used in Boondoggling had the names of various FDR advisers, popularly known as the “Brain Trust.” These included Rexford Tugwell (1891-1979), who was also an early Monopoly player.

-Clarence B. Darwin

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