Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fun and Games, 1930s Style

More estate sale fun. A bachelor who died at age 85 had hung onto all sorts of items that had once belonged to his parents. The scattered collection of items in this small house was diverse and fascinating. I'm just going to show you the games for now.

The people who work for these estate sale companies also have a clear interest in and enjoyment of these old things. I don't know how they manage to avoid buying up all the best stuff themselves! There must be rules about that. For me, it would be a challenging and counterproductive job (I would end up spending more than I earned).

I was looking for games first, because I like to use the pieces in the mini toy collections I package in small tins and sell in my Etsy shop under the imaginative title Stuff! (Yeah, I didn't exactly use a focus group for that one, can you tell?)

I have often thought that it would be great to find a used Monopoly game some day, because few things have more little kid appeal than the fanciful game tokens used in Monopoly.

And, whaddya know, there was a Monopoly game — a very old one, possibly from the 1930s, with wooden houses! Apart from that, the game appears to have changed little, if at all. The board, the game tokens, the money and the Chance and Community Chest cards all look pretty much the same.

But then I saw another game I had never heard of before, Easy Money, and when I opened the box I was struck at how the little houses looked like Monopoly houses.

Easy Money game tokens and houses
As it turns out, Easy Money was introduced in 1935 by Milton Bradley, right after Parker Brothers came out with Monopoly, and there's no question that it was intended to grab some market share from the popular game the company's rival had introduced.

Give-or -Take cards instead of Community  Chest & Chance
According to World of Monopoly, Both Milton Bradley and the Parker Brothers originally turned down Monopoly when the game's inventor approached them in 1934, but then Parker Brothers got smart and changed their mind. They secured a patent on Monopoly by the end of 1935 and forced Milton Bradley to make some changes to its copycat game. The one I have is the 1936 revised edition.

The board is so colorful and delightfully graphic that we will probably mount it on the wall in the basement TV room like a poster.

Easy Money is no longer around, although the game went through many revisions and modernizations right up into the 1970s. One of the women working the sale said she remembered playing Easy Money as a kid.
Easy Money wooden dice and houses

The play money for this game is smaller than Monopoly money, at 1.5" x 3"
You can read more about the history of the two games, and about Milton Bradley, who was also a supporter of the kindergarten movement in the Progressive era, at these sites:
World of Monopoly
Reference for Business (Company History Index)
The Play & Playground Encyclopedia

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