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This Month in Business History

Monopoly Patented

Rachel Doepker, Intern
Ellen Terrell, Editor
Business Reference Section
February 2009; Revised December 2009

      Overview             Print Resources
Internet Resources     LC Catalog Searches

Overview

On December 31, 1935, the now ubiquitous winner-take-all board game Monopoly was patented (Patent Number 2,026,082). Since that day, it has been translated into 37 languages and evolved into over 200 licensed and localized editions for 103 countries across the world. The game of capitalism, competition and business strategy has firmly established itself as a significant piece of popular culture.

Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, PA created the game known today during the Great Depression. In 1934, he presented the game to executives at Parker Brothers and was rejected. A year later, after he sold 5,000 homemade copies of the game, Parker Brothers bought the game.1

 

Governor Earl Warren of California and four of his six children

Above:
Governor Earl Warren of California and four of his six children spend a pleasant evening at home with one of their favorite family games...

Prints & Photographs Division
Library of Congress
Reproduction number: LC-USZ62-103135

Some controversy has surrounded the invention of the game, whether it was created by Charles Darrow in 1934 or Elizabeth Phillips, who had patented Landlord's Game in 1904 (Patent Number 748,626; see also Patent Number 1,509,312) as means of educating citizens on Henry George's single tax movement.2 Parker Brothers bought the Landlord's Game rights from Phillips for $500 with an agreement to manufacture the game for distribution3 and thus was free to pursue development with the game known today as Charles Darrow's Monopoly.

Over 250 million sets of Monopoly® have been sold4 since its invention and the game has been played by over half a billion people5 making it possibly the most popular board game in the world.

Interesting facts

Monopoly was banned in a number of countries throughout the world - the former USSR, China and Cuba - for its overtly capitalist principles.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/12/05/mf.waropoly/index.html External Link

On August 27, 2008 at 14:00 GMT, approximately 3,361 worldwide board game fans united to attempt a Guinness World Record for "World's Largest Simultaneous Game of Monopoly."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/28/idUS30314+28-Aug-2008+BW20080828 External Link

If you have any further questions or would like additional information, please Ask A Librarian.

Internet Resources

Monopoly   (Hasbro)
http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_us/ External Link

Official Hasbro Monopoly page, including information on the history and interesting facts External Link about the game

Monopoly   (About.com: Board/Card games.)
http://boardgames.about.com/od/monopoly/ External Link

FAQs, tips, history, links to other resources, and trivia

Monopoly, Monopoly:  Part 1. The History of the Monopoly Board Game and Charles Darrow, by Mary Bellis.   (About.com: Inventors.)
http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa121997.htm External Link

A historical look at the development of the game of monopoly, including earlier versions and patents of Monopoly type games, and discussion of some of the controversies surrounding the game, including a link to Bellis' article about Ralph Anspach's 1974 creation of the game Anti-Monopoly External Link.

Monopoly - History
http://www.monopoly-history.com/ External Link

Monopoly enthusiast John Poland shares his collection and knowledge of the game and its history.

Present at the Creation: Monopoly. by Juan Williams. From Morning Edition : National Public Radio, November 25, 2002. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=855128 External Link

A succinct history of the game Monopoly, along with images, Monopoly trivia, and links to other NRP reports on Monopoly.

What's Wrong with Monopoly  (the game)? by Benjamin Powell. Mises Daily. Ludwig von Mises Institute. 2004.
http://mises.org/daily/1451 External Link

A critique of the game based on market economy principals by economist Benjamin Powell, formerly Assistant Professor of Economics at San Jose State University, now Assistant Professor of Economics at Suffolk University.

Who Invented Monopoly?
http://adena.com/adena/mo/ External Link

Links to articles and photos plus excerpts from "The Monopolization of Monopoly" by Burton H. Wolfe from the April 23, 1976, newspaper issue of The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Print Resources

Axelrod, A. Everything I know about business I learned from Monopoly: Successful Executives Reveal Strategic Lessons from the World's Greatest Board Game. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press. 2002.
LC Call Number: HD 30.28 .A97 2002
LC Catalog Record: 2002100437

Anspach, R. Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle: the true story behind Monopoly. Palo Alto, CA: American Printing. 1998.
LC Call Number: GV1469 .M65 A67 1998
LC Catalog Record: 98186436

Kennedy Jr., R. Monopoly, the Story Behind the World's Best-Selling Game. Salt Lake City, UT: Gibbs Smith. 2004.
LC Call Number: GV 1469 .M65 K46 2004
LC Catalog Record: 2004013643

Orbanes, P. The Monopoly Companion: the player's guide: the game from A to Z, winning tips, trivia. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media Corporation. 1999.
LC Call Number: GV 1469 .M65 O73 1999
LC Catalog Record: 99016930

Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story. / Tostie Productions in association with Rhino Films present ; produced by Kevin Tostado and Craig Bentley ; directed by Kevin Tostado. United States. [New York?] : New Video Group, c2010.
LC Catalog Record: 2012600776
Documentary web site

Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story is an Emmy® award-winning documentary on the history of the iconic boardgame.

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on this topic in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. For assistance in locating other subject headings that may relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.

Monopoly (Game).

Monopoly (Game)--History.


 1. Monopoly, Monopoly: Part 1. The History of the Monopoly Board Game and Charles Darrow, by Mary Bellis. (About.com: Inventors.)
http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa121997.htm External Link

 2. The $500 Buyout
http://adena.com/adena/mo/mo13.htm External Link

 3. Monopoly, Monopoly.
http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa121997.htm External Link

 4. Monopoly History and Fun Facts,
http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_US/discover/about.cfm External Link

 5. Monopoly History,
http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_US/discover/about.cfm External Link

Last updated: 11/3/2014

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