Saturday Scenes

Thu 10 November 2011

Do Not Collect $200

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:49

On the 5th of November 1935, Parker Brothers released the board game Monopoly. But where the game come from? That’s a somewhat convoluted tale.

The game was apparently designed by Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman who based the streets on Atlantic City, New Jersey. He sold copies of the game for four dollars but as the orders increased, Darrow contacted Parker Brothers to see if they would be interested in producing the game. Parker Brother’s responded turning him down. They said the game was too complicated, too technical and took too long to play.

Darrow produced five thousand copies to sell on his own. A woman named Sally Barton played the game at a friend’s house and told her husband George Parker about it. George Parker was the president of Parker Brothers at the time. Parker bought Monopoly from Darrow and marketed it nationally. Darrow became a millionaire from the royalties.

Howwever, as far back as 1904, there was a disturbingly similar board game patented, the Landlord’s Game. This game had the basic concepts in place, including the “continous path” without clearly defined start and end spaces. The properties were rented and placed in groups. The names of the streets were indicative of the area (Poverty Place, Easy Street and Lord Blueblood’s Estate) but the general layout looked the same. The Landlord’s Game was popular and many people copied the game once they’d been introduced to it. The new creator would paint the squares onto a table cloth, often adding favourite street names and new rules. It was effectively an open-source game and as it spread, it became known as “Auction Monopoly”, later shortened to “Monopoly”.

Monopoly Monopoly – Charles Darrow

Friends of Ruth Hoskin, Eugene and Ruth Raiford introduced the game to a hotel manager in Germantown, Pennsylvania named Charles E. Todd. Todd knew Charles and Esther Darrow, they were occasional guests at the hotel and Esther Darrow was a next-door neighbor to Todd before she was married Charles Darrow. Todd claims that sometimes in 1931:
“The first people we taught it to after learning it from the Raifords was Darrow and his wife Esther … It was entirely new to them. They had never seen anything like it before and showed a great deal of interest in it… Darrow asked me if I would write up the rules and regulations and I wrote them up and checked with Raiford to see if they were right and gave them to Darrow – he wanted two or three copies of the rules, which I gave him …”

George Parker had actually been approached about the Landlord’s Game twice before and declined it. After Parker Brother’s purchased Darrow’s version, they re-discovered the Landlord’s Game and realised their new release was simply a modification of it. Darrow admitted that he had copied the game from a friend’s set. Parker Brothers bought out the patent for the Landlord’s Game and revised their agreement with Charles Darrow, receiving worldwide rights to Monopoly in return for covering the legal costs to defend the trademark.

So everyone’s a winner … except for the early developers, of course.

Meanwhile, on the 5th of November 2011, these photographs were taken and copied and shown all over the Internet:

And here are the winners who took the opportunity to submit:

Have you got a camera or a smart phone?

You should take a photograph on Saturday. It’s easy to join us!

Simply send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location and all the rest happens automatically!

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

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