Strong National Museum of Play recently acquired the second oldest known version of the game Monopoly. It's also believed to be the oldest Monopoly game with all its playing pieces intact.
This 1913 version of the game was developed by Roy Heap and called the Roy Heap Folk Art Monopoly game. It pre-dates Charles Darrow's 1934 official version of Monopoly by some 20 years.
"It's all handmade, the board itself is handmade. That's now framed and it's under glass,” explained Nicolas Ricketts, Strong’s museum curator. “The real estate cards, they, too, are handmade. The colors and the numbers correspond to the spaces on the board."
Darrow's version of the game, the one we are all familiar with, represents Atlantic City. Heap’s game represents Altoona, Pennsylvania, his hometown.
People in the early days designed their own version of Monopoly based on where they lived and the game grew from there.
"It's based on another game called the Landlord's Game that was much older,” Ricketts said. “But Monopoly was played a little bit differently and it was really involved with the accumulation of wealth. You get rich and the person you're playing goes to jail."
Monopoly is considered the world's most popular board game. It's in the National Toy Hall of Fame. But there's controversy surrounding the game's origin and who really invented it.
Darrow sold his version of the game to Parker Brothers in 1935. Then in the 1970s, a man named Ralph Anspach was sued for trademark infringement. The legal battle lasted 10 years.
During the trial, Anspach uncovered early versions of the game and Heap was called to testify.
"The right to Monopoly was owned by General Mills, they owned it at that time. They sued another gentleman who had invented a game called Anti-Monopoly, and they didn't want him to use the name. At that time, he brought several older versions of the game like this out as evidence," Ricketts said.
The issue was settled in 1985 with Parker Brothers retaining the registered trademark.
Heap's 1913 version of Monopoly and Darrow's official 1934 edition will go on display at Strong National Museum of Play November 4.
Strong National Museum of Play