Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monopoly and the Jersey Shore

Since I am raffling off a 1st Edition 1935 replica Monopoly set with wooden houses and original style pieces when we hit 1,000 followers on this blog I thought I would re-post this story on Monopoly that I ran back in 2009.
Hope you enjoy it.

The inventor of Monopoly was Charles Darrow an unemployed salesman from Germantown section of Philadelphia.

Considering our current economic crisis I thought I would share the story of the game we all grew up with. I remember marathons that lasted days.

Darrow was struggling trying to support a wife and child. He visited Atlantic City as a child and later as an adult and knew the resort well. One day during the depths of the Great Depression Charles Darrow sat down at his kitchen table and decided to invent a game about buying and selling real estate. He made the decision to name his properties after the streets he knew from the time he enjoyed in America's Playground.  Darrow chose streets that met Boardwalk from Park Place to the inlet.
When he came up one street short he just borrowed the name of a small, Margate community; Marven Gardens, and changed the name to Marvin Gardens. He also needed another railroad as the area was serviced by only three. Darrow took a local bus line; the Short Line and converted it to a railroad and made it famous. Hey it was his game :)

According to legend his first game was painted on an old oil cloth and he shopped it to the large game manufacturers including Parker Brothers. They seemed to like Darrow's game but felt it violated the rules of family games in that it violated the 45 minutes or under rule ( who thought of that one.)  As we Jersey Shore types know a classic game of Monopoly can go on for days.
They also believed that his real estate transaction rules were too complicated for us amateurs. In 1934 they turned it down with no yes votes.

Darrow would not be deterred, borrowed money and manufactured several thousands sets and shopped them in the large departments stores of Philadelphia.  The stores could not keep them on the shelf as word spread of the new "Jersey Shore" game.

Parker Brothers realized the blunder they had made and approached Darrow with a deal as long as he agreed to a few minor rule changes. The out of work salesman agreed and retired to a life of wealth.
That's the story of Monopoly.  Break out the game and have some fun.

1 comment:

  1. Charles Darrow did NOT “invent” Monopoly. He did not even create the Atlantic City version. Lets go back to 1902 when we have our first reference to a game similar to Monopoly, The Landlord’s Game. This was patented on January 5th. 1904 by Lizzie Magie, a Quaker woman, who intended the game to be an educational game enlightening players as to the wrongs of monopolies. The game developed within the Quaker community and Magie acquired a second patent (patent no 1,509,312) in 1924. This patent number actually appears on early Parker Brothers’ editions of Monopoly from 1935 through to about 1941, as a single patent or part of a duel patent number.
    On 1st. January, 1933 Darrow and his wife Esther, were introduced to the game when they attended a Monopoly party with Esther’s friends. Darrow claimed that he liked the game so much that he asked for a concise set of rules. He also made a copy of the board, including copying the incorrect spelling of Marven Gardens that the Quakers had incorrectly written when they originallydrew up the board. Darrow then started to produce the game fraudulently claiming it as his own invention and copyrighting it in 1933. He never again spoke to the Quaker group that he had learnt the game from.
    Having bought the rights to the game from Darrow, Parker Brothers discovered the real history of Monopoly and had to buy the rights to other games to avoid court cases being made against them. Magie received a mere $500 for her 1924 patent of The Landlord’s Game.
    The later details of your account are correct, Monopoly was initially turned down by both Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley for three main reasons, lasting too long, being too complicated and not having a definite end as players went round and round the board indefinitely.
    For a full history of Monopoly I suggest you read two books, ‘Monopolygate’ by Ralph Anspach for the anti-Parker Brothers’ version and ‘Monopoly, The World’s Most Famous Game and How it got that Way’ by Phillip E. Orbanes from the pro-Parker Brothers’ prespective.