On This Date in History:
When I was a kid…I’m talking kidnergarten through second grade…we played Monopoly all the time. We’d have games that lasted for days. Tom Cruce was always hiding money under the board and so we never knew how much he had. I think sometimes we made up our own rules. The game would often be transferred from one house to another, depending on the mood of the mother of whatever house we began the game. If the atmosphere became too tense, we simply moved to someone elses house.
That is my history of Monopoly and its probably a little more clear than the history of the game itself. Parker Brothers made a lot of money selling the game after it bought the rights in 1935. It had always been believed that Charles B. Darrow sketched the original version on a piece of oil cloth. Darrow, an out of work salesman, did not have the means to distribute the game so he offered it to Parker Brothers. But the game company thought it was too complicated and took a pass. So, Darrow joined forces with a friend and sold several sets in and around Philadelphia. Parker Brothers took another look at it and bought the rights. But, the story may be a bit more complicated than that.
In 1971(1973 or 1974 in some sources), someone came out with Anti-Monopoly. Naturally, Parker Brothers
wasn’t too enthused and off to court they went. In the testimony, witnesses claimed that the game had been patented on this date in 1904 by Elizabeth J. Magie. Ms. Magie followed the theories of economist (now thought of as a socialist) Henry George and came up with the game to show the evils of real estate monopolies. Her early version was known as the Landlord Game and spaces sported names like Lord Blueblood’s Estate where trespassers were sent to jail. There was also Poverty Place. By the 1920’s, the game was being played in eastern universities by students who held left-wing ideals. At the Quaker Haverford College in Philadelphia, the student yearbook in 1924 made reference to the game and called in Monopoly.
Five years later, the students at Atlantic City Friends School were introduced to the game by a Quaker teacher. The spaces were given names found in Atlantic City with property values assigned and spaces painted in the colors that are familiar today. The story goes that a visitor to the school
took the game back to Philadelphia and showed it to a Quaker hotel manager named Charles Todd. Todd, in turn, showed it to Darrow. Todd said that Darrow was slow to catch on to how the game was played. Todd claimed that Darrow asked him to write up the rules and make a copy of the game board for him. Todd then asserted that “he(Darrow) stole the game and took it from there.” As proof, Todd said that when he made a copy for Darrow, he misspelled Marven Gardens. Instead of an “e” he used an “i” and that is why Marvin Gardens is not spelled properly on the board game.
So, Charles Darrow may indeed have been a fraud…but he did gain a monopoly…at least for awhile after he received