1904 – The Landlord’s Game:

The Landlord’s Game was patented by Lizzie Magie in 1904. One of the first board games to use a ‘continuous path’, rather than the traditional linear board, it set out the foundations for the board game which would later become Monopoly.

The Landlord’s Game was designed to show that rent only makes property owners richer while leaving tenants worse off. 

This early board game has many similar features to Monopoly. It introduces the concept of ‘ownership’ of a space on the game board. A player who later lands on the same space performs a different action to that of the first player (ie paying rent rather than purchasing the property) despite the original player’s token no longer being on the same space.

Magie submitted a copy of the game to Parker Brothers in 1910, which George Parker decided against publishing.

The game did not have a huge uptake, primarily being played by Quakers, Georgists and university students.

1924 – The Landlord’s Game 2:

The original patent for The Landlord’s Game expired in 1921. This resulted in many handmade copies circulating, also known as Monopoly. Therefore, to regain control over these handmade games, a second version of the Landlord’s Game was patented in 1924, this time under her married name of Elizabeth Magie Phillips. This version of the game included named streets.

This 1924 edition has properties named after streets and locations in Chicago. It also introduced a new ‘Monopoly’ rule, that higher rents could be charged if all three railroads and utilities were owned. Also, properties could be improved, and rent increased, by adding ‘chips’ – similar to the modern-day Houses and Hotels.

Magie once again submitted The Landlord’s Game to Parker Brothers. Geroge Parker still declined, stating that the game was ‘too political’.

Finance – 1932:

Daniel Layman published a variant of The Landlord’s Game in 1932 called The Fascinating Game of Finance – later renamed to Finance.

This version featured four railroads (one on each side of the board), Chance and Community Chest cards and spaces and grouped properties together by symbol, instead of colour.

This version of the game was taken back to Atlantic City and the properties were renamed to that of streets from the city. This is the version of the game that credited Monopoly inventor, Charles Darrow learned. He began distributing handmade copies – named ‘Monopoly’. It included the original misspelling of Marvin Gardens and the renaming of the Shore Fast Line as the Short Line. Demand for the game soon increased and Darrow contacted a printing company. Darrow, his son and his wife created the designs commonly seen on boards today. Black locomotives on the railroad spaces, the car on Free Parking, the red arrow for Go, the tap on Water Works, the light bulb on Electric Company, the question mark on Chance spaces and the colours above the property name.

Darrow’s Monopoly – 1934:

After even bigger demand, Darrow attempted to sell Monopoly to a number of publishers. Firstly, to Milton Bradley, who rejected it. Then to Parker Brothers, who rejected the game as it was ‘too complicated, too technical, and it took too long to play’.

However, the game sold well during the Christmas season of 1934 in Philadelphia and the President of Parker Brothers contacted Darrow to schedule a meeting.

In the meeting, it was agreed that Parker Brothers would purchase Monopoly and the remaining inventory. However, Parker Brothers later learned that Darrow was not the sole inventor of the game. To ensure the company had the legitimate undisputed rights to the game, they brought out many patents and copyrights of similar or clone games. Primarily, Magie’s 1924 patent of The Landlord’s Game, along with Finance. After the initial publication, Parker reached a court settlement with Rudy Copeland’s Inflation, and agreements were made with Big Business and Easy Money (based on Finance).

In a second meeting, Darrow admitted he had copied the game, and he and Parker reached a new revised royalty agreement, which gave Parker Brothers the right for the rest of the world.

Monopoly in the UK:

Before being printed in the United States of America, Parker Brothers sent a copy of the game to John Waddingtons, a playing card producer who had previously sent Parker Brothers a copy of Lexicon. The managing director of Waddingtons, Victor Watson, asked his son Norman to play test the game over the weekend. Norman was very impressed by the game and persuaded his father to make one of the first transatlantic calls – this call resulted in Waddingtons obtaining a license to produce the game outside of the United States.

Watson believed that for the game to be a success in the UK, the Atlantic City property names should be switched for those of London. Watson, with his secretary Marjory Phillips, headed to London to look for locations. 21 locations were chosen with 4 stations as well. The 22nd location, The Angel, Islington was chosen as it was the restaurant that Watson and Phillips later met in to discuss which properties should be chosen.

The $75 Luxury Tax was changed to £100 Super Tax, and the £200 or 15%-Income Tax was changed to a flat fee of £200 only.

The American style Car on Free Parking and term Community Chest remained.