Monday, January 19, 2015

Board for Parker Brothers' 1936 version of the game Finance

(Huggles not included.)

A while back, I came across a well-worn board and set of rules for Finance, a board game with an interesting history that's tangled together with the beloved and ubiquitous Monopoly.

The very short version of that history goes something like this:

  • 1904: Game designer Elizabeth Magie (1866–1948) receives a patent for The Landlord's Game. It is designed (ironically) to specifically show the dangers and ill effects of monopolies and champion the adoption of land-value tax.
  • 1910: The first edition of The Landlord's Game is published by Economic Game Company.
  • 1912 or 1913: A Scottish adaptation of The Landlord's Game, titled Bre'r Fox and Bre'r Rabbit, is published.
  • 1921: The original patent on The Landlord's Game expires.
  • 1924: Magie receives a patent on a revised version of The Landlord's Game.
  • 1932: The second edition of The Landlord's Game is published by Adgame Company.
  • 1932: The game Finance is released. It was created primarily by Dan Layman, who based his game directly on The Landlord's Game.
  • 1933: The game Monopoly is first "created" by a group of Parker Brothers game designers working in tandem. (But not solely by Charles Darrow.)
  • 1933: Layman sells Finance to Knapp Electric for $200.
  • 1935: Magie sells her patent to The Landlord's Game to Parker Brothers for $500, plus an agreement to have Parker Brothers publish some of her other games.
  • 1935: Parker Brothers purchases Finance from Knapp Electric for $10,000. Changes are made to the game to make it less like The Landlord's Game/Monopoly.
  • 1935: Monopoly is first published and sold by Parker Brothers.
  • 1936: Finance is first published under the Parker Brothers name.

For a more exhaustive detailing of this tangled web, check out the Wikipedia article History of the board game Monopoly.

The board featured in today's post, then, is from the 1936 edition of Finance, as published by Parker Brothers. It still, however, retains a great deal of similarity to its inspiration, The Landlord's Game, and what we now know as Monopoly. It features groups of properties, starting with Goat Alley, Central Street and Main Street, and ending with Silver Circle and Union Square. In between there are place such as Boomtown, Lonely Lane, Hollywood Terrace, Peachtree Street and Fifth Avenue. There are four railroads — Boston & Maine, Union Pacific, New York Central and Santa Fe. There are also Chance spots on the board.

Here is a look at the board's four corners:





As you can see from the Goat Alley space, there are also rents and the buying of houses (to increase land value) associated with each property on the board. According to the rules pamphlet, players could put up to six houses on each lot. Six houses made the rent worth 32 times the printed price.

Also according to the rules:

  • Players receive $200 (their salary) each time they pass "Cash Here."
  • Railroads cannot be bought or sold.
  • When there are no more natural wood (uncolored) Houses left unused, a Building Shortage occurs. A Player may, at private trading, buy natural wood houses from some other Player who will charge him a profit, or he must wait until some Player, in order to raise money, sells his Houses to the Bank.
  • Much of the fun of the game and some of the skill comes in Private Trading. A Player, at any time, may offer to sell any Lot, including Houses, he owns to any other Player as a private transaction and at a price agreed upon between the Traders.
  • Players may not borrow money from another Player for any reason during this game.
  • In the Course of the Play, Players will eventually be retired from the game [through bankruptcy], leaving only One Player, who will, therefore, be the Winner of the Game.

Finally, there's also this fun spot on the Finance board...

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