US Monopoly Set

On the left is Parker Brothers standard US version of the game of Monopoly which has been produced since 1935. Although Parker Brothers is no longer an independent game manufacturer, and the license for the game is now owned by Hasbro, Inc.- the game continues to be produced in many versions.

Under license, one company markets an American version with components of sterling silver and gold and a board of mahogany. Another company offers a standard version made of chocolate which is completely edible. The collection includes even a “doll house” version of the game with a 5cm square board and .3cm tokens.

Newer US Monopoly set

Newer standard US editions are primarily the same as the earlier versions and all printed text for the game are in what is considered “American” English. The money and property cards have not changed over the years until the marketing of a 21st century edition.

In addition to a number of standard US American English editions in the collection, one is in Chinese, one is in Dutch, one is in Finnish, one is in Spanish, one is in Swedish, and also there is a Canadian version. Though not in the collection, there is also a French version, a British version, a German version and many others. The boards and other printed materials of non-US linguistic versions are generally modified to reflect street names familiar to users of a specific linguistic version. For example:

Comparative Street Names on Versions of Monopoly Boards
AMERICAN Boardwalk Park Place Marvin Gardens
BRITISH Mayfair Park Lane Piccadilly
GERMAN Schlossallee Parkstrasse Goethestrasse
FRENCH Rue de la Paix Champs Elysees Rue Lafayette
SPANISH Paseo del Prado Paseo del la Castellana Plaza de Espana

Chinese Property Cards
Chinese Monopoly Cards
Dutch Property Cards
Dutch Monopoly Cards
Spanish Property Cards
Spainish Monopoly Cards

The standard US version uses a number of common “American” tokens such as a thimble, a hat, a car, etc. Tokens, "Chance Cards" and "Community Chest Cards" vary from version to linguistic version because of the cultural context of some of the content. In the main, the play of the game is the same regardless of version. However, while the procedures for play may not vary, there is some rule variation, again because of the cultural context.

Canadian Monopoly Set

For example - Parker Brothers Canadian version was first offered to the public in 1982. Although the Canadian version (photograph on the right) has a number of bilingual materials and the design includes aspects of Canadian culture, this version is primarily in the English language. (There is an all French language version available, with content based upon France and French culture.) The Canadian version makes use of street names in Canadian cities, and some of the materials include information in both Canadian English and French. The Canadian version includes a beaver - and other well-known Canadian symbols as player tokens.

The collection also includes a 1980 microcomputer version of the standard US version produced by a group known as the Compucolor Northern California User’s Group. The board image was designed for the Compucolor Computer, which was a Z80 machine. The play of the game was coded in a version of the Basic Software language. Commercial contemporary PC versions are now available on CD from Hasbro, Inc.

Who Invented Monopoly?

According to television's The History Channel

The most commonly known story of the invention of Monopoly centers around Charles Darrow, an unemployed engineer from Germantown, Pennsylvania. As the legend goes, Darrow created the game on an oil cloth on his kitchen table, all the while dreaming of fame, fortune, and summers spent on the Jersey shore, which explains the game's Atlantic City street names. It is true that Charles Darrow presented the game to Parker Brothers in 1934, but was turned down because the company felt the game, which they said had "fifty-two fundamental design errors," was too complicated and would take too long to play. In 1935, after Darrow had some success selling the game on his own, Parker Brothers reconsidered and bought the rights to Monopoly for an undisclosed sum.

Most people don't know, however, that Monopoly is related very closely to a game called The Landlord's Game which was created and patented in 1904 by Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie, from Virginia. Magie developed the game, which, like Monopoly, had forty spaces, four railroads, two utilities, twenty-two rental properties, and spaces for Jail, Go to Jail, Luxury Tax, and Parking, as a way to teach the single-tax theory. Magie, a Quaker, was a firm believer in the single-tax theory's basic tenet, that a person's taxes should be based on the amount of land that he owned, a popular idea around the turn of the 20th century. The game spread through word of mouth. Rules were relayed from one group of friends to another and boards and game pieces were homemade. It is believed that Magie's game may have even found its way to the University of Pennsylvania economics department, as well as the campuses of Princeton and Harvard. Magie kept up with the changes that wider play made in her game, by adapting the rules to allow improving properties, naming the properties, and giving players higher rents if they owned a monopoly. In 1924, Magie attempted to interest George Parker in purchasing the rights to her improved game, but was turned town on the basis that her game was too political.

Although there is much speculation about how Darrow happened upon the idea for his game, it is no myth that Monopoly has enjoyed tremendous success since its 1935 Parker Brothers debut. It is sold in more than eighty countries and has been translated into twenty-six languages, including Braille.

And More Versions

Swedish Monopoly Set

In addition to national versions such as the Swedish version on the left - over the years, a number of limited edition Monopoly-type games have been produced by various cities as tourism souvenirs. The collection also includes a number of Monopoly “like” games such as Anti-Monopoly and Class Struggle. These latter games are intended to demonstrate the philosophical obverse of an exclusive possession - "the monopoly". Many of these latter games engendered legal battles between Parker Brothers and a number of small "one-game" companies. Published information about Monopoly is copious. One of the reasons for this is the number of illegal or non-licensed versions that have generated court battles between Parker Brothers and many others. A general "Pro-Darrow" reference about the game itself is THE MONOPOLY BOOK, 1974, ISBN 0-679-20292-7.

A 1999 magazine ad offers buyers a choice of "the real estate game" board customized for either all 50 US states, or a choice from among 29 major US cities. The ad states that "gameboards, playing pieces, and cards highlight key landmarks of each city". Recently, Hasbro, Inc. has issued a version of Monopoly based upon the STARWARS trilogy of motion-picture fame. It appears from a number of advertisements that it is now possible to buy a Monopoly set with a board and playing pieces designed for almost any city or fictional place or personal "space" one desires.

Last update March 5, 2010