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Monopoly. Salem, Massachusetts: Parker Brothers, 1936.

The origins of Monopoly have been hotly contested. The game is most often attributed to Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman, and dated to 1934. However, many have claimed that Darrow adapted the Landlord’s Game, patented in 1904 by Lizzie Magie, a Quaker from Pennsylvania. Ironically, the Landlord’s Game, based on the economic theories of Henry George, was intended to reveal the social evils of land monopolies and promote a single federal land tax. Parker Brothers eventually paid Magie $500 for the patent to the Landlord’s Game, although she would not allow it to be adapted.

Charles Darrow offered the Parker Brothers the rights to Monopoly, but they initially rejected it. Once his version of the game was successfully marketed in Philadelphia department stores, Parker Brothers offered to buy the game outright. The first versions of Monopoly, as in the example shown, contained two sets of rules: the regular set and the new Short Games rules. The publishers were initially concerned that the original version was too time consuming for the average audience. The royalties from sales allowed Charles Darrow to retire as a millionaire at age 46. Monopoly continues to be one of the most enduring successes of the board game industry.




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