monopoly game board

It was 1934, the height of the Depression, when Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, Pennsylvania, showed what he called the Monopoly game to the executives at Parker Brothers. It is unbelievable they rejected the game due to "52 design errors"! But Mr. Darrow wasn't daunted. Like many other Americans, he was unemployed at the time and the game's exciting promise of fame and fortune inspired him to produce it on his own.

"The Monopoly Book, Strategy and Tactics” by Maxine Brady, published by the David McKay Co. in 1975, describes Charles Darrow as an unemployed salesman and inventor living in Germantown, Pennsylvania, who was struggling with odd jobs to support his family in the years following the great stock market crash of 1929.

Charles Darrow remembering his summers spent in Atlantic City, New Jersey, spent his spare time drawing the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen tablecloth, with found pieces of material and bits of paints, wood etc. contributed by local merchants. A game was already forming in his mind as he built little hotels, houses and other tokens to go along with his painted streets.

With help from a friend who was a printer, Mr. Darrow sold 5,000 handmade sets of the game to a Philadelphia department store. People loved it! But as demand grew, he couldn’t keep up with all the orders and came back to talk to Parker Brothers again.

The rest, is history! Monopoly was first marketed on a broad scale by Parker Brothers in 1935 with international licensing rights given to Waddington Games of the United Kingdom (both of which are now part of Hasbro). Waddington’s version (with locations from London) was first produced in 1936.

The MONOPOLY game was the best-selling game in America. And over its 65-year history, an estimated 500 million people have played!
Over 200 million games have been sold worldwide.
More than five billion little green houses have been “built” since 1935.
A set made at Alfred Dunhill, with gold houses and silver hotels, sold for $25,000.
The longest game in history lasted 70 straight days.
The longest game in a bathtub lasted 99 hours!

The original Monopoly game had been localized for the cities or areas in which it was played and Parker Brothers has continued this practice. Their version of Monopoly has been produced for international markets, with the place names being localized for cities including London and Paris and for countries including the Netherlands and Germany, among others.

Charles B. Darrow

In recent years, different manufacturers of the game have created dozens of versions in which the names of the properties and other elements of the game are replaced by others with some theme. There are versions about national parks, Star Trek, Star Wars, Disney, various particular cities (such as Las Vegas or Cambridge) and villages (such as “Calumetopoly” for Calumet, Michigan), states, colleges and universities, the Football World Cup, NASCAR, and many others.

In late 1998, Hasbro (which had taken over Tonka Kenner Parker in the early 1990s) announced a campaign to add an all-new token to U.S. standard edition sets of Monopoly. Voters were allowed to select from a biplane, a piggy bank, and a sack of money--with votes being tallied through a special website, via a toll-free phone number, and at F.A.O. Schwarz stores. In March 1999, Hasbro announced that the winner was the sack of money. Thus the sack of money became the first new token added to the game since the early 1950s. In July 2000, in a major marketing effort, Hasbro renamed the mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags to “Mr. Monopoly,” felt by some to be a blander name.