For those who do not know, the 19th of March marks a special day on the calendar. Happy Monopoly day to all the money grubbing little capitalists out there.
It’s hard to believe that Monopoly, the one board game everyone probably had in their homes growing up, is celebrating 83 years of teaching us about money (both good and bad). Since its debut in 1936, Monopoly has captivated more than a billion people across 114 countries around the world with that number growing daily. It’s probably one of the only board games that we have multiple versions of in our home. And while the board game thought me the value of money (and the dangers of having none), it also taught me how to manage conflict, especially when my brother and I would catch my sister cheating. There are few board games out there that hold so many fond memories for me. With this in mind, I’ve decided to delve a little deeper into the history of this iconic board game to find out what lies beyond the plastic houses and paper money.
1. Girl Power!
While the Monopoly we all know and love was developed by Charles Darrow in 1933, stenographer and actress Elizabeth Magie came up with the first rudimentary version, called The Landlord’s Game, which was supposed to teach players about the dangers of real-life monopolies. Because Magie self-published the game, this left the door wide open for pretty much anyone to make their own variation of the game. Darrow later perfected the mechanics and the rules of the game and sold the rights to the rules he developed for the game to Parker Brothers, who eventually began publishing the game in 1935. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2. Before the Battleship, Shoe and Racecar there was…
The original Monopoly components Darrow used in his prototype version of the board game consisted of items he found lying around his home. This included handwritten cards, wooden houses and hotels as well as charms for tokens from his niece’s bracelet. The first ever Monopoly tokens were an iron, purse, race car, battleship, purse, cannon, shoe, thimble, lantern and rocking horse. Since then there have been twenty different tokens for the board game, including amongst others an elephant and the newly introduced T-Rex.
3. The Monopoly mascot actually has a name
The moustachioed monocle wearing gentlemen seen on the cover of the Monopoly board game is called Mr Monopoly. Originally, he had a far more creative name, Rich Uncle Pennybags. However, after a re-branding, his name was changed to the current Mr Monopoly. In 2008, he ditched his classic bow tie for a sliver M-shaped one. Of course, as one would expect, Mr Monopoly also featured on Forbes Fictional 15 wealthiest characters, coming in a respectable 12th place with a net worth of $1.2 billion. In 2015, he celebrated his 80th birthday by ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ. Isn’t it great being rich (not that I would know)?
4. And so do the policeman and prisoner
One would expect the face of Monopoly to have a name associated with him, but did you know that the angry looking prisoner and the finger pointing policeman also have their own names? The prisoner is fittingly known as Jake The Jailbird, I presume Pete The Prisoner was already taken, and the policeman is called Officer Edgar Mallory. The question remains, what did poor Jake do to Officer Mallory to send him to prison and get him so worked up?
5. The longest game of Monopoly ever took 70 days to complete.
Yes, that’s right. If you think it’s bad when a game of Monopoly takes a few hours to complete, try 70 days. Just to put it in perspective, a normal game of Monopoly usually lasts about two hours – that is if your little sister isn’t cheating. The longest game took over 1680 hours straight. Now that is what I call commitment.
6. The most expensive Monopoly set is valued at $ 2,000,000
If you are complaining about spending a few bucks on a board game, imagine spending $ 2,000,000 on a board game. Let that sink in for a bit. The most expensive Monopoly game ever was created by jeweller Sidney Mobell in San Francisco in 1988. The set contains a 23-carat gold board, solid gold houses and hotels decorated with rubies and sapphires and an even more impressive dice that has 42 full cut diamonds as the dots. Talk about valuable board games.
7. There are more than 300 versions of Monopoly
Even though Monopoly does tend to show its age compared to the newer shinier board games out there, it’s popularity has been steadily growing due to its collaboration with other well-known pop culture brands. This has lead to over 300 different versions of the beloved board game such as a Transformers version, a Rick and Morty version and the recently released (and loads of fun) Gamer version that features popular Nintendo characters. While each of these versions of the game mixes up the rules in a different way, the core mechanic stays the same. It’s a clever way for Monopoly to reach new and younger audiences.
8. There are new tokens on the way
In 2017, Hasbro asked fans of the board game to vote for the new set of tokens that will be used going forward. Over 4.3 million fans voted to secure spots for the Scottie Dog, T-Rex (Heck, yeah!), Top Hat, Rubber Ducky, Cat, Car, Penguin and Battleship. Its great to see that classics such as the Top Hat and Battleship will be joined by more modern (and honestly more exciting) tokens such as the T-Rex and Rubber Ducky.
While Monopoly has come a long way, it’s great to see the much-loved brand continuing to evolve through collaborations and the introduction of new tokens. Hopefully, we’ll see the brand continue to innovate and expand the experience. Happy Monopoly Day to you all!