November is Financial Literacy Month, and we can think of no better way to celebrate it than with one of the original games designed to teach the public about money… Monopoly! November 19 also just happens to be National Play Monopoly Day. Why not whip out the board game this weekend and enjoy a round? We’ve also got 6 fun bits of Monopoly trivia you might not have known about the game to help get you in the mood and learn the history behind it!
“The Landlord’s Game” was the first version of Monopoly – and it was created by a woman, in 1904
What we know of as “Monopoly” today was actually first patented about 30 years earlier. It was the creation of Lizzie Magie. She was an artist, writer, feminist and inventor who worked as a stenographer and typist at the Dead Letter Office in Washington, D.C.
Magie was quite the inventor, and is worth reading about! But The Landlord’s Game that she patented in 1904 was a square board with nine rectangular spaces on each side, set between corners labeled “Go to Jail” and “Public Park.” Sound familiar? Players circled the board to buy property, collect money and pay rent.
She created the game to teach about wealth inequality
The original goal of the game was to teach people of the lower class about wealth inequality. There were two sets of rules: “monopolist” and “anti-monopolist.” Her freely-stated goal, however, was to demonstrate the evils of accruing vast sums of wealth at the expense of others. She told a reporter in 1906, “In a short time, I hope a very short time, men and women will discover that they are poor because Carnegie and Rockefeller, maybe, have more than they know what to do with.”
Monopoly’s inception has an ironic story behind it
The Landlord’s Game sold for a while, but there were several homemade versions of her game circulating. A man named Charles Darrow took one of those homemade versions to the Parker Brothers, claiming it was his. Parker Brothers originally rejected the game, citing fifty-two fundamental errors, but they changed their mind in 1935 and decided to sell it.
Monopoly was a huge hit, selling around 278,000 copies in its first year alone. Ironically, Magie never saw a penny from Monopoly’s wild success.
The game pieces were originally based on the trinkets of a charm bracelet
Have you ever wondered about how such an eclectic collection of game tokens came to be? A thimble, a hat, a car, and an iron even. Well, the original die-cast tokens were inspired by his nieces, who suggested using the metal charms from a charm bracelet.
The Monopoly Bank is smaller than you think!
Do you know how much money is in the bank? The reality is that it’s only $20,580. Is that more or less than you thought it would be?
Family night Monopoly never lasted this long, we bet
While Monopoly can be a long family game for some, the average game is actually about 90 minutes. But the longest game that we know of took around 70 DAYS. And there’s a bunch of other zany records… including the longest game played upside down, which is 36 hours!
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