Tag Archives: Henry George

RARE 1904 Elizabeth Magie Card Game Competition or Department Store

P1060809

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.

P1060801

P1060802

P1060803

P1060804

P1060805

P1060806

P1060807

P1060808

P1060810

P1060811

P1060812

Screen Shot 05-15-16 at 10.16 PM.PNG

1936 Monopoly Origins Document

MonopolyOrigins

I recently stumbled upon a very interesting document on an obscure blog, where Brian Sutton-Smith explains:

Today, the “real story” behind the invention of Monopoly, America’s most iconic board game, is well-known. But, as the game’s popularity began to intensify, executives at Parker Brothers wanted to keep the origin of Monopoly a secret. LeRoy Howard, a game designer and developer at Parker Brothers, advised George S. Parker about purchasing Monopoly from Charles Darrow in 1935. During the acquisition, Parker Brothers learned that Darrow’s commercially-produced version of the board game was based on Elizabeth M. Phillips’s previously-patented creation, The Landlord’s Game. In the end, Parker Brothers purchased the original patent from Phillips for $500. The document, titled “The Origin of the Game of Monopoly,” includes a handwritten annotation that reads “Not for Publication, L.H.” and was originally marked “Confidential.”

I can shed some additional light on this. Although this 1936 document was not published, it must have been prepared by Parker Brothers as press release material that could have appeared in magazines or newspapers. Similar accounts, although not as lengthy, did in fact appear in the press around this time.

In light of the Anti-Monopoly case and various events that took place after 1948, it may surprise some to learn that this was, in fact, the official Parker Brother position on the origins of Monopoly. From early 1936 until Mrs. Elizabeth Magie Phillips died in 1948, Parker Brothers credited her and Charles Darrow as the co-creators of Monopoly.

By this time, Parker Brothers had obtained a virtual monopoly on the rights to Monopoly, so far as they were able to do so at the time. As we know today, the basic game of Monopoly derives from The Landlord’s Game, which Elizabeth Magie patented in 1904. By the time this article was written, however, her original patent had expired, and therefore it is not mentioned here.

Competitors such as Milton Bradley were certainly aware of it, however, as they issued the game Carnival in 1937, based on just that expired Landlord’s Game patent. But Parker Brothers did not want to mention it here, as it would have tended to undermine their legal claims to Monopoly, serving to have the Monopoly patent invalidated.

No mention, of course, is made of the various early Monopoly players such as the Thuns, Daniel Layman, Ruth Hoskins, Eugene Raiford, et al who made various contributions to the game before Charles Darrow learned it from Charles Todd. Therefore, Parker ascribes any and all such improvements to Darrow.

Charles Darrow, while certainly not the inventor of Monopoly, was certainly instrumental in developing the game to the point where it became successful. He brought it over the finish line, so to speak.

In order to consider what were the aspects of Monopoly that Parker Brothers considered to be Darrow’s intellectual property, one has only to compare the 1935 patent application with the similar game Fortune they issued the same year. This can be considered as Parker’s backup plan, a game that they could quickly popularize if it turned out that Charles Darrow was not the true inventor of Monopoly.

If Parker was forced to terminate their contract with Darrow and cease paying him a royalty, they would have gotten behind Fortune instead. Fortune is almost identical to Monopoly, but with a different name.

There are also different property names and, of course, this game did not use Darrow’s iconic illustrations or the distinctive metal tokens made by Dowst.

Interestingly, the 1935 Fortune has only houses, not hotels, and they apparently credited this innovation to Darrow.* But it does have both Chance and Community Chest cards. By the time this game came out, Parker Brothers apparently knew that these were not introduced by Darrow.

The 1936 Parker Brothers document summarizes, in a fairly factual way, the true origins of the game Monopoly, but leaves out anything that would have tended to undermine their legal position regarding the game. It is very complimentary to Mrs. Elizabeth Magie Phillips, who surely could have insisted on collecting a royalty on Monopoly but who, instead, sold her second Landlord’s patent to Parker for $500.

The “conventional wisdom” today is that she was cheated out of a fortune, but the real situation is more nuanced and certainly more interesting. As a dedicated follower of economist Henry George, Mrs. Phillips took out patents on her inventions in order to receive proper credit and recognition, but Georgists would have considered it unseemly for her to have profited financially from such a legalized government monopoly.

By 1935, she was already well off through her marriage to Albert Phillips, who was a successful publisher. Although she kept abreast of game patents through her connections at the patent office, Mrs. Phillips never made any attempt to benefit financially from any of her various patents. She made no attempt to stop earlier commercialized games based on her invention such as the 1932-35 Finance, which was about 90% the same as Monopoly.

In 1935, she was being courted by three different game makers regarding her 1924 patent– Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley, and Knapp Electric. But there was never any doubt in her mind that she would make a deal with Parker Brothers, although she insisted on dealing directly with company founder George S. Parker, who she considered the “King of Games.”

History belongs to the living, and therefore it should be no surprise that Parker Brothers stuck to the narrative as outlined in the above document at least until Mrs. Phillips died in 1948. The very deferential tone towards her stands in contrast to the stance Parker took before buying her patent. A brief mention of Monopoly in a 1935 issue of Fortune magazine includes a denial that the game was invented by Henry George.

This kind of slight, and Parker’s subsequent building up of Darrow as a game inventor, rankled her to the point where she gave some press interviews in early 1936 that mentioned her 1904 patent. As a result, Parker Brothers took additional steps to mollify her. They agreed to publish two more of her games (Bargain Day and King’s Men) and crafted this very carefully worded narrative.

The problem is, they forgot the parts about Elizabeth Magie Phillips from their press pronouncements after she died. It was not until the early 1970s that she once again received her due as the true inventor of Monopoly, and this is in large part through the efforts of Dr. Ralph Anspach and the Anti-Monopoly case, without which much of the game’s origins would have been lost in the mists of time.

-Clarence B. Darwin

*Pictures of the game on the Board Game Geek web site show hotels, but these must have been imported later from some Monopoly set. The copyrighted rules only mention houses.

The Card Game of The Monopolist

P1060528

The Card Game of the Monopolist
New From Folkopoly Press

I have written before how, in my humble opinion, what we know today as the game Monopoly had it’s origins as a card game. I think it is more useful to think of it as a card game that developed the need for a board, rather than a board game that developed a need for cards.

The original inspiration for Lizzie J. Magie to create The Landlord’s Game was the death of radical economist Henry George in 1897. She hoped to keep his ideas alive with this game.

It also had inspiration in the various financial card games of the 1890s, which were hugely popular. Some of these games were quite complex and sophisticated and included things such as play money and involved financial trading. The various property groups in Monopoly, in this view represent “suits” as in a card game.

Besides inventing The Landlord’s Game, precursor of the game Monopoly, Lizzie Magie also created other card games in the early 1900s, including Competition, or Department Store (sold by the Flinch Card Game Co.) and Mock Trial, the first game she sold to Parker Brothers.

So, I think it is reasonable to conclude that before she came up with the board game version of The Landlord’s Game, there was a card game version that preceded it. As we know, Landlord’s was very much different than the other board games of the era, having little in common even with something like the 1878 Game of the Monopolist.

Unfortunately, if such a card game version of Landlord’s actually existed, it has not been documented in the historical record to date.

I decided a few years ago to reverse-engineer this earlier card game version of Landlord’s that I think must have existed. Recently, I made a conceptual breakthrough and have now finished making just such a game.

It has been my goal to make the minimum amount of changes necessary, using the 1906 Landlord’s Game as a starting point.

Since Landlord’s is now a registered trademark*, and this new game is merely my interpretation of what it could have been like, if it existed, I have given it a different name. Under the circumstances, The Card Game of the Monopolist will do just fine.

I am now ready to offer The Card Game of the Monopolist, a late 1890s version of what we know today as The Landlord’s Game and Monopoly, for just $39.95. This price includes shipping within the United States.

Most of the cards in this game are identical to the ones in my new game Progress and Poverty, which is based on the 1906 Landlord’s. The rules are an adaptation of those rules, with only those changes that are necessary to play the game using only cards and no board.

The conceptual breakthrough I had was that each square on the game board is, in itself, rather like a card. So, carrying over all the existing cards from the game, which include the deeds, Chance, and Luxury cards, plus the play money, we now have a deck of Game Play cards that each represent a square on the board. The Game Play cards are a different stack than the deeds.

At the start of the game, the Game Play cards are shuffled, and the used cards are put into a discard pile. Each player takes their turn around the table, one at a time, and as various properties come up, that player has the opportunity to purchase a deed from the Bank, at auction or otherwise. If a Chance card comes up, the player draws a card from that deck.

Once the entire deck of Game Play cards has been gone through once, the deck is reshuffled and used again. Each time a round is completed, the players collect their wages from the Bank, as they would when passing Mother Earth or Go on a game board.

Games can go on for a set number of rounds, using a time limit, or when the Bank runs out of money. The various players then total up the value of their cards (including the Luxury cards) and the one with the highest value is the winner.

The game can still accommodate the “Georgist” rules of play in just the same manner as Landlord’s does.

The original 1906 Landlord’s was designed as a game that could be played by 2, 3, or 4 players. This too seems derived from its original status as a card game. There are four sides to a card table. As I have mentioned, the property groups are like suits, and their value increases once you have a complete group and can make “improvements” (i.e., put houses on them). The way that Luxury cards are collected throughout also harkens back to other card games.

Using a deck of Game Play cards introduces a random element into the game, making the use of dice unnecessary. In this version of the game, tokens are not needed either.

While I don’t know for certain whether such a card game actually preceded the board game we know and love, it fits the facts and I think of it as the simplest, most elegant solution to determining the pre-history of Monopoly.

Each game comes with:

1 Implements box, 1 set of Rules, 80 Houses, 16 Education cards, 2 Free College cards, 16 Chance cards, 27 Luxury Cards, 29 Deeds (the usual 28 as in later Monopoly games, plus “Speculation”), 4 Natural Opportunity cards, and 41 Game Play cards, plus Scrip Money in the following amounts:

54x $1

54x $5

81x $10

54x $50

81x $100

A total of $11,934.

-Clarence B. Darwin

The Card Game of the Monopolist
Price: $39.95

PS- For shipping outside the US, drop us a line at:
folkopolypress@gmail.com

Thanks.

P1060530

P1060529

P1060527

P1060526

P1060525

*The Landlord’s Game is a registered trademark owned by Thomas Forsyth. Folkopoly Press is not affiliated with Thomas Forsyth,