It’s time for the A to Z Challenge! Hello and welcome to my main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a novelist. Join me and nearly 2000 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet throughout the month of April. It’s not as easy as you might think. There’s a reason Q and Z are worth 10 points in Scrabble!
For me, this year’s alphabet will be about history and historical science– things that tickle my fancy or capture my imagination. I hope you will find them interesting too.
Keep the topic rolling! If you’ve enjoyed the today’s offering and have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post in the comment section. And…if you enjoy romances with unique twists, a good deal of steam, facts, and characters full of personality and depth, scroll down for a free chapter sampler. I love to make the impossible sound plausible. Suffice to say, I have an unusual mind.
I’m not a big picture person. My head is just too full of details to try to mash them all together and get a larger view. I know myself well enough to know I basically can’t see the forest for the trees. Lucky for me I have a husband whose mind works in the opposite. He sees the forest, I see the trees, and together we go hand in hand without stumbling through the woods. His big picture ability also allows him to trounce me when we play certain board games.
I can run him aground in Scrabble, but boy can he clobber me in Risk or Monopoly. Once when playing Risk, that game of world domination, I literally had him cornered in Madagascar (Risk players will know what I’m talking about). But while I prematurely tasted my first-ever win, he was plotting in his big picture way. In a matter of minutes he had taken all of Africa and the rest of the continents fell like dominoes. I ended up with an indefensible Asia. (again, Risk players will know what I’m talking about) *sigh*
It’s the same with Monopoly. I can practically own the board, and the next thing I know I’m selling my properties like I’m having a fire sale just to pay his rent. I don’t know which game I dislike more. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if I could actually win a game now and then. He’s been after me for years to learn chess. Yeah, that’ll happen. I’ll stick with Scrabble.
It’s hard to imagine Monopoly as we know it turns 80 this year. It’s also hard to imagine the forerunner to the game we know came about as passion for social and economic justice in Edwardian America. It all started with a philosophy called Georgism that inspired a young woman named Elizabeth Magie.
American political economist Henry George wrote an influential book of the times on economic philosophy. His Progress and Poverty stated the economic value derived from natural resources and opportunities should belong equally to all residents of the community in which those resources resided. Essentially, the earth is common property belonging to all humanity. It also said people own the value they create. Apparently Elizabeth Magie’s father was big on this philosophy and encouraged his daughter to read it. Inspired, Elizabeth set to work teaching others about it and came up with the idea for a game.
In 1904 Elizabeth applied for and was granted a patent for The Landlord’s Game— a “practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” Edwardians loved their parlor games as much as the Victorians did, and this one explained how Henry George’s system of political economy could work in for real. Remember, this was the age of the robber baron whose wealth was gained by blatant exploitative practices. The game resonated with people, and the more people played it, the more the concept of social and economic justice grew.
It’s interesting to note that people often wrote in their own street names in place of the ones Elizabeth Magie started with. This personal touch shows just how it resonated with everyone that they’d take the time and thought to put their own town in the game. It began to look like the version we know today when students at Princeton University had a go at it. Changes were made to the game board design and additions to how you could play –own properties in groups, add buildings, and rent increases based on the number of like properties owned, etc. The Landlord’s Game went through several iterations over the next twenty years and the name eventually changed too–The Landlord’s Game — Prosperity — Auction Monopoly —and then simply Monopoly. There was even a short-lived offshoot game called Finance. Through all the changes, Elizabeth was still the patent holder until she sold it to Parker Brothers in1935.
The editor of The Humanist magazine in the 1950’s said this of Monopoly’s early history:
“In those days those who wanted copies of the board for Monopoly took a piece of linen cloth and copied it in crayon. It was considered a point of honor not to sell it to a commercial manufacturer, since it had been worked out by a group of single taxers who were anxious to defeat the capitalist system.”
The Big Controversy
Even though people had been playing the game since 1904, Charles Darrow, an unemployed salesman from Pennsylvania, claimed to have invented the Monopoly game on his kitchen table in 1929–complete with street properties and “little houses and tokens made of found materials”. Shortly after buying the patent for The Landlord Game for a mere $500 from Elizabeth, the Parker Brothers purchased Monopoly from Charles Darrow for considerably more. In fact, it made Charles Darrow a very wealthy man as well as a lying scoundrel. In an episode of PBS’ History Detectives (2004) it was proven that Darrow did not invent Monopoly as he claimed. While investigating a game board for the show, the History Detectives discovered it combined elements of The Landlord’s Game and Monopoly. They concluded the board was the missing link proving Monopoly was derived from the original The Landlord’s Game.
In her 1936 interview with The Washington Star, Elizabeth Magie was asked about her flat $500 for her patent (and no royalties ever). She stated she was ok with it, “if I never made a dime so long as the Henry George single tax idea was spread to the people of the country.”
As per an agreement made when they handed her the paltry $500, the third edition of The Landlord’s Game was published by Parker Brothers in 1939. Curiously the company did not promote it at all. Very few copies survive because the game was recalled from stores and destroyed. Also in her agreement with Parker Brothers, the game was to come with two sets of rules, but only those rules copyrighted by Parker Brothers were actually sold with the game. Purchasers were required to contact Elizabeth to get the original rules instilled with the true meaning of the game. How’s that for fulfilling one’s part of the bargain? From what I’ve read (but did not track down) those original rules may be on the Hasbro website.
Worth noting: Elizabeth wrote an essay published in a 1940 issue of Land and Freedom magazine entitled A Word to the Wise. Echoing the philosophy of Georgism and the game she build around it. In it she states,
What is the value of our philosophy if we do not do our utmost to apply it? To simply know a thing is not enough. To merely speak or write of it occasionally among ourselves is not enough. We must do something about it on a large scale if we are to make headway. These are critical times, and drastic action is needed. To make any worthwhile impression on the multitude, we must go in droves into the sacred precincts of the men we are after. We must not only tell them, but show them just how and why and where our claims can be proven in some actual situation….
How to win this game? Read this!
Tomorrow ~ letter N!
TODAY~ Join me on my satellite blog http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/
Authors’ lives outside of the books we write are often as interesting as the worlds we create. One of the more unusual things my husband and I have done was lead wild foods programs for Chicago’s Field Museum. For this 10-day event I’ll be sharing my recipes. I hope you stop by. There are lots of prizes and you might have delicious and useful ingredients waiting in your backyard. 🙂
Fantastic authors & industry representatives all month long. http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/
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