Pigs in Clover

Pigs in Clover Cartoon

A cartoon accompanying a NEW YORK TIMES editorial circa 1889, with the caption The Democratic Pigs in Clover - How Shall We Ever Get Them In Again, reflected the popularity of a new game - Pigs in Clover. The game is a manipulative maze puzzle 16.6cm in diameter by 3cm high, made of wood and cardboard, originally with a glass cover.

In 1978, when donating a copy of the cartoon to the Museum, Marion Joyce (a long-term board member of Selchow & Righter, the agent for the game) stated that G.M. Crandall, the game's inventor, applied for a patent in February 1889. S&R became agent for the game shortly thereafter. In the first few years, orders were in excess of 8,000 a day. Mr. Righter had so many orders that he decided to fill only local requests. Out-of-town orders were filed away.

The game was played at home, on buses, in the street, on park benches, etc. The game became a national preoccupation in the United States, prompting a number of newspaper articles. Senators took the game into the Senate Chambers during debates, and this started a frenzy of orders. Benjamin Harrison (US President from 1889-1893) is said to have played the game in the White House instead of tending to politics.

About the Cartoon

The man on right in the green vest and trousers has the word Watterson printed on his shirtsleeve near the cuff. The Pig Pen in the center of the gameboard resembles the White House. On each glass marble is a sketch of a well known politician of the time: Randall, Hill, Cleveland, Whitney. Benjamin Harrison (Republican) beat Grover Cleveland (Democratic incumbent) for the presidency in the 1888 election. Cleveland had a popular plurality, but lost the election, receiving 168 electoral votes to 233 for Harrison. Tammany in New York is said to have cost Cleveland the election. In the subsequent election, Cleveland beat Harrison and returned to the White House.

About the game

Pigs in Clover game

The Museum's copy is an original edition produced by the Waverly Toy Works, New York City in 1889. The container bottom of wood, covered with printed paper, is the gameboard. Different colored cardboard pieces 1.5cm high, representing "fences", are glued perpendicular to the bottom, about 2cm apart, each with an opening opposite to a solid side so that they encircle the center. In the center is a wood covered round red pigpen with an open doorway. There are five 1cm diameter terra-cotta marbles, 2 mottled red, 1 gray, 1 yellowish, 1 beige, representing the pigs. The cardboard container lid, pictures a man with a stick and farm hat, chasing pigs into a shed. Game instructions are printed in black at the bottom of the cover picture.

Warman's Antique American Games (ISBN 0-695-8921904)
Wonderful World of Toys, Games, and Dolls (ISBN 0-911594-08-6).

NOTE: This page was originally created and posted on the Web on June 21, 1995. Subsequently it has been modified and periodically updated. Last update April 7, 2010