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USA - Self-made games


version 2000

versie 2000.



  Number of versions: 12

   Edition: December 22, 2011

In this chapter you will find a few of the socalled folk games described as well as more recent self-made game boards with an interesting  background story.


Courtesy Thomas E. Forsyth.Landlord's Game.A folk game called monopoly was played extensively all over the Eastern half of the United States between about 1910 to 1936. Players personalized the game with their local street names. It was a derivative of "The Landlord's Game" by Lizzie Magie, which was patented by her in 1904. In all likelyhood, it was also Magie who changed this game into monopoly. (Also see much more on Thomas Forsyth's site "Early Game History - 1903 to 1936"). 
(Click on picture for larger image.)
The board "Public Treasure" is on loan from 9 december 2011 by  Thomas Forsyth to
The Strong- National Museum of Play - Rochester,N.Y. where it is permanently exposed in the "Monopoly: An American Icon" corner.

The game now sold as Monopoly was actually invented in and around the Atlantic City Friends School. The invention was a cooperative effort centered on Ruth Hoskins and Jesse Raiford, Cyril and Ruth Harvey. (See "The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle", by Ralph Anspach, 1sted.page 190, 2nd ed.page 296). The game was taught to Charles Darrow by the Quakers and he commercialized it with 5,000 sets, claiming falsely he had invented it. He then licensed it to Parker Brothers in 1934.
Ralph Anspach is now (1999) marketing a replica of the game invented by the Quakers under the name "The ORIGINAL monopoly game". 


John Heap's Landlord/Monopoly - ±1913.Edition: John Heap Landlord/Monopoly
Maker: John Heap - ±1913
Owned by: The Strong-National Museum of Play - Rochester, N.Y.
The game:
The museum gives the following explanation of this game:

"The Heap game was an important piece of evidence in a Monopoly copyright dispute that began in 1974 and spanned a decade. 
John Heap was a civil engineer working for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Altoona. Museum guests can see that Heap’s board reflects his careful design and skills as an engineer and it represents his home town of Altoona, with still-existing streets marked in pen, and postcards showing local landmarks."
It is now on permanent display in the corner "Monopoly: An American Icon" since December 9, 2011 at the National Museum of Play.
(Click on picture for larger image.)



Prof.Ron Stryker's Landlord Game, 1922/1926.Edition: Stryker Landlord/Monopoly
Maker: Prof. Roy Stryker and his wife - ±1927
Owner: Philip Orbanes - Boston
Dimensions of the square oilcloth: 36 x 40" (0.91 x 1.02 m ) (Click on picture for larger image.)
The game:
This is what Philip Orbanes told me about this set he could add to his collection in December of 2002:

"A student named Rexford Tugwell learned the game from Prof. Nearing at the Univ. of Pennsylvania. Tugwell became Stryker's economics professor at Columbia University. Stryker also became a professor of economics at Columbia. He and his wife made this copy of the game, either while he was a student or shortly thereafter. I believe the reason why the street names are from around the country is that they were suggested by students and friends who played the game with the Strykers. The little planning sheets that came with this handmade game are priceless because they show the thought and care that went into the design of the board and its selection of colors. 

The reason why Stryker's game is not mentioned in Prof.Ralph Anspach's book is because it was forgotten until recently. After Stryker went to Washington, Parker published Monopoly and the Stryker's packed their game away. The Strykers moved back to Colorado after leaving Washington, DC in the late 1930s.  When they died, the box was left to their daughter. When she died, her two daughters inherited it. One of them heard of me and offered to sell it as they had no further interest in the game. I think this game has special significance because it fills a void. Namely, it is still called Landlord and yet it is from the early 1920s, but it has some of Monopoly's features. It also retains many of the Landlords game's features and thus appears to be a missing link between the two."

See for more detail pictures and different information the historical site of Thomas Forsyth in Portland - Oregon - USA.

The names of the spaces on the board are mainly found in New York City and nearby Northern New Jersey. However, a few were likely named in honor of places of importance to their friends. 

From HOME on all numbered properties are:

Peoria, Ill. - Alameda, Cal. - Absolute Necessities - No Trespassing/Go To Jail - Jazzmania and Western R.R. - Winnepesaukee, N.H. - Pottawottamie, Mich. - Speculation - Kabinagagami, Ont. - Jail/War Tax $ 10- Ann Arbor, Mich. - Nescopeck, Pa. - The Public Serve Us Gas and Light Co. - Aldene, N.J. - The Erie R.R.Washington Heights - The Bowery - Necessity Doctor - Jackson Heights - Central Park Free - Hohokus, N.J. - Hoboken, N.J. - Chance - Weehowken, N.J. - New York, New Haven, and Death R.R./Communication - Mosquito Terrace - Crimson Rambler Appartments - The Toonerville Trolly Co. - Huletts Landing - Go to Jail/Keep off. This means YOU. - Newport Mews - Hylan-Hurst - Absolute Necessity Food-Clothing - Westchester Country Club - Pacific Philadelphia Rail Road Co./Freight - Fith Avenue - Chance/Oil Stocks - Wall Street and Luxury Tax/Pay $ 75.

Lizzie J.Magie's 1904 patent gives following explanation for certain spaces: 

Absolute necessities: These spaces, which are preferably blue, indicate absolute necessities - such as bread, coal, shelter, and clothing - and when a player stops upon any of these he must pay five dollars into the "Public treasury." (This represents indirect taxation.)

No trespassing: Spaces marked "No trespassing" represent property held out of use, and when a player stops on one of these spaces he must go to jail and remain there until he throws a double or until he pays into the "Public treasury" a fine of fifty dollars. When he comes out, he must count from the space immediately in front of the jail.

Luxuries: These spaces, preferably purple, represents the luxuries of life, and if a player stops on a "Luxury" he pays 50 dollars to the "Public treasury", receiving in return a luxury ticket, which counts him 60 dollars at the end of the game. 

Some remarkable differences of this Landlord Game compared to the patent are:

The starting corner is Home, rather than Mother Earth.

The board's centre field is totally empty, whereas Lizzie Magie suggested to divide this square into 4 divisions for the reception of the boxes "Wages", "Bank", "Public treasury" and "Railroad".

While the Lizzie patent says coal taxes of $ 5 to be payed, prof. Stryker changed it into a War tax of $ 10.00, apparently influenced by the hard times after WW I (1914-1919).

The third corner is a Free Park rather than Free Parking.

All 38 property deeds and Chance cards are neutral and without any color bar nor -triangle. The texts are typed out. Some examples of the simple instructions on the (unnamed) Chance cards are:

Hooke $ 100

Swipe $ 50

War profits $ 25

Pay $ 10

While Lizzie states in her 1904 patent there are "notes" and "money" Ron only applied following coins (laundry-tags): 50x $100 - 25x $50 - 25x $25 - 50x $10 - 50x $ 5 and 100x $1.
There are no hotels, only handmade and painted, flat, unique houses. They are 32 in number. The price of the houses is $ 100.- for all properties. Each time a house is added to the property its rent doubles, a whole street built with 1 house redoubles the rent again, ect. The tokens are 6 triangular wooden blocs.
The typed Rules comprises less than one sheet.

Stroudsburg-1932.Edition: Stroudsburg, PA      
Maker: unknown - ±1933 
Owners: The family of the late Mr. Howard F. Weber
Dimensions of the square oilcloth: 80 x 80 cm (!) cm
The game:
Joan Weber from Sinking Spring, PA - USA, the actual owner of this set tells about it:

"We inherited the game from my husband Bill's parents. When his mother passed away in 1989, the game was found rolled up in her dresser, along with all the pieces. Bill and his older sister played the game with their parents when they were young. The Weber family linage goes back five generations based in Scranton and Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Bill was born in East Stroudsburg, and the streets on the game are personalized in and around Stroudsburg, Pa. His grandparents lived on Scott Street.
As far as the Rules are concerned ... my husband tells me that the family never had any written down Rules, his mother "just knew the Rules, which they went by". 
Bill's older sister states and believes that their parents knew and were friends of Charles Darrow. 

The oilcloth Monopoly board is 31½ inches square, and the edges are slightly tattered
given that is was rolled up in a dresser for so many years. Although, the game really is Oilcloth is well visible. in quite good condition, the paint is quite brilliant on the board and the deeds, which paint matches. We have the houses and hotels, which are made out of wooden molding. The houses are one inch  in length and the hotels are two inches in length. We have 24 houses and 5 hotels. Also, we have the play money which is quite beautiful and colorful.
The Community Chest, Chance cards and deeds are all typewritten." 

After studying the pictures of this oilcloth Ralph Anspach came to the following conclusion:

"The design seems to be very close to what might have been an experimental version created by Darrow since it is very close to Monopoly®. Since the owners knew Darrow, my guess is that he experimented with the game with his friends and they then personalized it. The rectangular color coded panels were often used by folk game players in their designs." 

From the above my conclusion is that this Stroudburg monopoly dates from about 1933
The street names, utilities and railroads include from Go onwards:

1st St. - Community Chest - 2nd St. - Pay Income Tax 10% - D&H RR - Day St. - Chance - Bryant St. - New St. - Jail - State St. - Elec.Co. - Court St. - Main St. - Penn.RR - Wallace St. - Community Chest  - Sarah St. - Scott St. - Free Parking - Oak St.Walnut St. - Chance - Chestnut St. - Lehigh RR - Andrews Ave. - Burton Ave. - Water Works - Mason Ave. - Go To Jail - Cherry Lane - Riverside Dr. - Community Chest - Scottland Rd. - DL&W RR - Chance - Grove Place - Pay Luxury Tax $75 and Elaine Place

I've on purpose added the rather poor section of the "Go To Jail" space in order to get a good impression of the oilcloth. The cloth's back side shows a pattern of squares-in-squares. Further more is to be seen on the playing surface that: 

there are no prices mentioned on the board spaces.

the Chance and Community Chest spaces are both alongside the first side.

there is nothing in the game board's midfield.

the illustrations of the RR, Jail, Electric Works, Free Parking and Water Works are very plain.

The 28 property cards (127x 75 mm) are typewritten on cardstock  that is color coded to the playing surface. The Mortgage Value is written under the rent prices and there is only one "Cost to build".
There are 62 Chance- and Community Chest  typewritten cards (64x75 mm) on cardstock. Both Chance- and Community Chest cards now yellow with age,but most probably white when new. These cards are separated and distinguished apart according to the back of the cards which have, handwritten in pencil, C and CC respectively.
Some of the texts on the Community Chest and Chance cards that deviate from todays editions read as follows:   

Go to Incomce Tax or to Jail.

Hail storm broke your window. Pay $ 25

Your bank balance is below $ 100. Pay $ 1.

You have won second price in a beauty contest. Collect $ 11.

Church benevolence $ 10

The owner of the Pennsylvania R.R. whises to refund you $ 15.

All 26 wooden houses (25 mm) and 5 wooden hotels (50 mm!) are brown. The banknotes actually are "coupons of value" (6.8x14.2 cm). They are all yellow-orange on one side with "Rubenstein's - New York" printed in black on the bottom and green on the reverse. The game has a total of 23,993 coupons of value, divided as follows:128 one's - 89 five's - 79 ten's - 79 twenty's - 87 fifty's - 97 one hundred's and 14 five hundred's. 

It was put up for an auction on ebay in November 2001 for the amount of $ 5,000.


Atlantic City by Charles Todd-1932.Edition: Atlantic City 
Maker: Charles E.Todd - Germantown, PA - ±1932/33
Dimensions of the oil cloth: about 80 x 80 cm
The game:
Prof.Ralph Anspach explains in his book (1st ed.page 72-74, 2nd ed.page 126-129) how Charles B. Darrow learned about and subsequently stole the Monopoly design and Rules. Charles Todd (a Quaker friend of Gene and Ruth Raiford) told Ralph:

".... After dinner, we introduced them (Darrow and his wife Esther) to monopoly. We could see Darrow really loved the game and Esther, who was always a little critical, didn't say a word against it which was high praise for her. I tried my level best to teach them all I had learned from Gene and Ruth Raiford. "Are you sure you introduced them to it? They didn't just feign ignorance to set you up for a beating?" "No, no,no. It was clear from the first moment that there was no question this game was completely new to the Darrows." ...
"I remember very clearly the last time we played together. He asked me if I had any written instructions he could borrow. I told him I had never felt it necessary to write down the rules, because for us it was just a fun game. So he said, "Would you do Esther and me a favor and make up a set of written instructions for us plus anything you think ought to be changed or improved?" .... "So I got my secretary to type them up for him - with twelve carbon copies." ...
While we were talking, his wife Olive was rummaging through a beatiful antique chest decorating the corner of the room. Finally, she found what she was looking for. She showed me a blue oil cloth and an Old Maid's game box. I examined them. "Is this the oil cloth and game equipment you used when you played with the Darrows? The one he copied?" 
"Darn right," boomend Todd. .... If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. The oil cloth was almost a twin of Monopoly. Exactly the same Atlantic City street names, like Boardwalk, Pennsylvania Avenue and Marvin Gardens. Same utilities and railroad .. Go, Jail, Free Parking and Go To Jail, Community Chest, and Chance. This wasn't the Landlords game nor the monopoly folkgames I had heretofore encountered because those games still had some trivial differences from Monopoly. ... The only difference was that the familiar rectangular colored panels on which the street names are printed in Monopoly here where small colored-coded triangles and the street names were printed not parallel to the edge of the board but downward toward the center.
I examined the contents of the old maid's box. On the back of the cards, someone had typed directions, such as "Go to Jail", "Take a walk on the Boardwalk", "Pay the community chest $25.00" and "Pay visiting nurse $5.00". The title cards were little rectangular pieces of paper with typed mortgage values. I checked the values later against the Monopoly title cards. No difference. The box also held houses and hotels. They were cut out of wood molding by an amateur carpenter. .... It also struck me that up till now all the folkgame monopoly boards I had discovered were made on wood, cardboard or linen cloth. This was the first on on oil cloth."

As Todd copied Jesse Raiford's  original Atlantic City game board, on which the most expensive yellow street is Marven Gardens, which straddles two Atlantic City neighborhoods, Margate and Ventor, he erroneously wrote Marvin Gardens. Also notice the following:

No prices mentioned on the spaces.

No illustrations, nor on the corner fields, nor on Electric Co., Water Works, Rail Roads, Chance and Community Chest.

The Chance-space is (very) close to the Free Parking corner, rather than to the Go-corner.

No name of the game in the center of the game board.


Darrow's first Oil Cloth 1933.Edition: Atlantic City
Maker: Charles B.Darrow - ±1933
Owner: National Museum of Play, the Strong - Rochester, N.Y.
Diameter of the circular oilcloth: 85 (!) cm (Click on picture for larger image.)
The game:
C.B.D used a circular oil cloth at first just to be different from the Quackers but he must have found out soon that retailers don't like circular games since they take up too much room.
The purchase of this set by The Forbes Magazine Galleries is described as follows in the Maine Antique Digest, Febr. 1993:

"Forbes Magazine Collection Pays Record Price for Monopoly But Has No Monopoly on Monopoly.

An original Monopoly game, handmade by Charles Darrow, probably in 1933, that descended through Darrow's brother-in-law's family sold at Sotheby's on December 16, 1992, for $ 71,500, a record for an American board game.The buyer was the Forbes Magazine Collection.
The game is drawn on a circular piece of oilcloth, probably the shape of Darrow's dining table. It is one of the earliest sets to survive, one of three calligraphic sets known to exist, and the only circular one. The rules  are believed to have been supplied by a friend of Darrow's, Charles E.Todd of Germantown, Pennsylvania, who had taught  the Darrows to play Monopoly. Darrow asked Todd to write out the rules as he remembered them and change anything that needed improving. Todd reportedly had his secretary make up a dozen sheets.
The record game consists of a manuscript "board" on circular off-white oilcloth, 33½" diameter, the typscript set of rules on machine-made wove paper watermarked with an interlocking VV in an oblong lozenge, and   214 playing pieces, comprising 28 deeds, 14 Chance and 14 Community Chest cards, hotels and houses made of brown-stained pine, money in $500, $100, $50, and $20 denominations printed from line blocks in green (front) and yellow, yellow-orange, or orange (back), and seven playing tokens (possibly not original).
Darrow's early calligraphic sets have generally turned up in Quaker families in the Philadelphia area. The circular one sold at Sotheby's was given in 1933 to Darrow's brother-in-law, J.Barclay Jones of Radnor, Pennsylvania and then to his mother-in-law, Emily Bishop Harvey of Radnor, and then in 1933-34 to her cousin, Margaret Bishop Dawson, from whom it descended to the consignor."

Courtesy of the National Museum of Play at The Strong.

Exactly 18 years later this circular oil cloth was sold again, for more than double the purchase price, at Sotheby's as it was announced on 17 December, 2010: 
"A packed salesroom of toy collectors and enthusiasts watched as The Malcolm Forbes Toy Collection achieved $2,388,637 today at Sotheby’s New York. The collection of toy boats, soldiers, motorcycles and classic board games was lovingly gathered over nearly four decades by
legendary collector Malcolm Forbes and his sons.

.......... Another major highlight from today’s sale was an original Monopoly game-set of circular design, handmade by Charles Darrow, probably 1933, and descended in his family. The gameset sold for $146,500, well-above the $80,000 high estimate. It is the earliest Darrow set known to survive, the only one of circular shape, and the earliest to include the rules."
It was purchased by The Strong- National Museum of Play - Rochester,N.Y. and since 9 December 2011 on permanent display in the corner "Monopoly: An American Icon."



Atlantic City by Charles B.Darrow-1932.Edition: Atlantic City       
Maker: Charles B. Darrow - Germantown, PA - 1933/34
Dimensions of the oil cloth: about 80 x 80 cm
The game:
Since the Quackers used to make their games on oil cloths, Darrow did the same! Another proof of the fact Darrow copied Todd's game board is he copied Todd's mistake with the Marvin Gardens property as well.

Differences in finish, compared to Todd's set copied:

There are prices mentioned on the board's spaces.

There are color bars on the street spaces.

The Chance- and Community Chest spaces on the game board are next to the "wrong corners" as well. However, the 
spaces are well marked.

No treasure chest yet on the Community Chest spaces.

Strange question mark on the concerning fields.

The "stations" already are illustrated with todays engine.

We also recognize the car on the Free Parking corner.

However, there is a strange Jail on the concerning corner space.

The Electric Co. and Water Works spaces are illustrated with unusual illustrations.

No name of the game in the center of the game board.

Tim Walsh writes in his book "The Playmakers" (page 49-51) about Charles' hand manufactured boards:

"Taking oilcloth (a cheap fabric with a washable surface used for tablecloths), Darrow first tried making a circular game board. 
He added more color to the property spaces and, more importantly, illustrations that brought the game to life. The famous black Railroad silhouettes, the red car on Free Parking, the red arrow and boxy letters on the GO space, the Water Works faucet, the Chance question marks and the pointing hand for the space marked Go To Jail did not appear on any pre-existing Monopoly games. Bill Darrow (Charles' son) contends that all of these legendary icons were the direct work of his father. "He didn't have any money to hire an artist yet. He used stencils for the railroads and the rest was all hand-painted." Phil Orbanes, former senior president of research and development at Parker Brothers, says, "Darrow gave Monopoly its first visual signature. His artist stylized the corners of the board ... and created the first copyrightable look, the look that all of America has come to know, the look that represents the game of Monopoly."
In 1933, Darrow copyrighted his version of the game and began selling homemade copies of it to friends and associates. "It took him all day to turn out a single game," Bill Darrow said. "A local lumber yard gave him some old pine moldings that he cut to make the houses and hotels." Darrow produced the game for about $1.00 and sold it for $2.00, not a bad profit in the dark days of the Depression, yet he knew he could sell more if he could make them faster. "As you can well imagine it was pretty damn labor intensive," Bill said. "He just got snowed in and it was just a matter of time before he went running down to Patterson."
"Patterson" was Lytton Patterson, Jr., a friend of Charles Darrow and owner of Patterson and White Printing in Philadelphia. To automate whatever part of the manufacturing process he could at an affordable cost, Darrow hired Patterson and White to print only the black outlines on a limited number of oilcloth boards, which he would then hand color. 
With Patterson's help, Darrow doubled his output to two games a day, but demand still outpaced his ability to hand color the board, hand cut the hotels and houses, and type up the rules and game cards. When Patterson and White took over the bulk of the production, leaving Darrow to paint the boards and assemble the sets by hand with the help of this wife and young son, the entrepreneur was able to make six games a day. It still wasn't enough."


Components, without game board - Ken Koury.Edition: Components of a hand-made edition
Publisher: Most probably Charles B.Darrow -1933/34
Dimentions of the board: see above and below
The game:
This picture was put at my disposal by Ken Koury - USA, practicing attorney by day and a Monopoly buff by night.
On page 175 of his book "Monopoly, The world's most famous game" Philip Orbanes has following comments on these attributes:

Illionois Avenue.

"I noticed that these cards bore a striking resemblance to the typed, hand-painted components fashioned by Charles Darrow in 1933 and early 1934. While their origine was uncertain, there were several clues. They seemed to be the work of someone in a hurry. There are misspellings ("Ilionois") and the paint on the title deeds was sloppily applied - exactly what you would expect from someone impatient with performing this task day in and day out. The typeface resembled that on the hand-typed Darrow cards on display in the Forbes Gallery. 
While these clues were not conclusive, Ken Koury may well have found a rare set of components handmade by Charles Darrow."

However, a few years later researchers discovered the above mentioned considerations to be capable of improvement. 
The most striking point is the fact that Darrow hasn't made property cards that included the phrase "Title deed" prior to November 1935. In addition Darrow's own handmade sets had the colored stripe at the bottom of each card, not the top as we see in this set. There were no cards of this type prior to the Darrow Black Box set of 1935.
So the most logical conclusion is that these attributes have been copied from an early 1936 Parker Brothers Monopoly set and moreover by someone else than Charles Darrow and  ±1936 at the earliest.

Ken payd US$ 29.- for these attributes on ebay.



Phil Orbanes shows the framed CBD board.Edition: Atlantic City CBD-board - unfinished      
Maker: Charles B. Darrow -1933/34 
Dimensions of the oil cloth: about 80 x 80 cm
The game:
This picture of Phil Orbanes showing a framed Darrow oil cloth board was taken inside the Parker archives in 1988. Darrow would have hand-colored them after return from the printer, his friend Patterson, who mastered the art of printing on oilcloth. (see above).
This means it is one of the first boards made in series and still partly hand crafted. That is why it must have been printed late 1933-early1934 after the unique hand made game boards made by CBD and before his White Box edition, which he started to produce by the fall of 1934.

I feel this version have to be mentioned in this chapter on "Self-made Games".




One of two CBD TIE-BOXES.Edition: Atlantic City CBD-board, Tie-box edition  
Maker: Charles B. Darrow -1933/34 
Dimensions of the oil cloth: 58.4 x 58.4 cm 
Box length: 61 cm
The game: (
Click on the pictures for a slightly better image)
April 9, 2008 edition of Antique Trader announced the live auction, on April 12, of this edition by Noel Barrett in New Hope - PA. 
It got lot number 512 and in the last 53 seconds of the bidding between 3 bidders its price rose from $ 32,500 to the final price of 
$ 42,500
(excl. $ 8,000 commision)!

Board of Tie Box game.This is how Noel Barrett introduced this game:

"This Monopoly set is one of only two known examples of what is referred to as the 'tie box' version of this ever popular game. The printed oil cloth 'board', which rolls around a rigid cardboard tube for storage, was hand colored by the Charles Darrow himself - the man credited with bringing the game to Parker CBD Tie-Box.Brothers. The other known example is sometimes on display at the Hasbro headquarters. Hasbro now holds the rights to the game. The set has the full complement of property cards, 15 each of Chance and Community Chest cards, 4 figural metal tokens, along with a quantity of wooden house and hotels. Also included is a printed copy of the original type written instructions
The first Darrow set was laid out on circular oil cloth. He later switched to a square board and when tired of hand lettering and lining the board himself he began having the cloth printed. In computer speak this would be version 2.1. This is a unique opportunity to acquire one of the iconic pieces of American board game history. 

: This game was given to a lady who home-nursed Mrs. Darrow after child birth. It was consigned by the sole heir of the former nurse. For many years it sat in a closet in Easton, PA - unused since the children of the household much preferred the folding board version of the game. 
Board 23" sq., box 24" l.

Condition Report: excellent (there is a 6" clean tear in the cloth near one corner, there is a removable tape repair on the back side which renders the tear near invisible from the front)"



Detroit Monopoly-1936.Edition: Detroit Monopoly
Maker: Elmer Fisher - 1936
Owners: Mr.Ray Brewton family
Dimensions of the board: 62.5 x 62.5 x 4.2 cm
The game:
Rev. Marjie Brewton from Bryant-SD-USA tells about this set:

"This wooden, hand-made Monopoly game was a gift to my mother Esther Solberg when she graduated from high school in 1936. It was made for her by her uncle Elmer Fisher during the time he was confined to the tuberculosis section of the Herman Kiefer Hospital in Detroit - Michigan.

The board is of handpainted varnished plywood. All of the buildings are built to scale of what he could see out of his hospital room window! Besides the houses and hotels, he added apartment buildings and 4 skyscrapers from the Detroit skyline. The Photo Archivist of the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library could identify three of the four skyscrapers, namely:

The Fisher Building, from the Fisher Body Works, which is now part of General Motors Corp.

The Buhl Buiding, well recognizable by it's cross shape.

The Penobscot Building, actually having a radio tower-like structure with a red ball on top.

Above that he made one Fox Theatre (in red with FOX written in white), which is still in operation, one Hospital (white building with red roof) and 2 garages (yellow buildings with red roofs) where you can "get your flats fixed".
In the match you first buy a house, then one apartment building, then a hotel and finally a skyscraper. There are 12 different colored apartment buildings, all having a black roof. It is said the apartment buildings look like the St. Eloise Mental Hospital.
Unlike in the regular Monopoly set Elmer made 20 (white) houses with different colored roofs. He also made but 4 (brown) hotels all having a red roof.
The garages, theatre and skyscrapers can only be built on 4 properties: Joseph Campeau Ave. (1st side), Dexter Blvd. (2nd side), Grand River Ave. (3rd side) and Woodward Ave. (4th side). The Woodward Ave. card for example reads as follows:



$ 400


$ 50

With Garage

$ 600

With Theatre

$ 1700

With Skyscraper

$ 2300

Garage costs

$ 400

Theatre costs

$ 400 + 1 Garage

Skyscraper costs

$ 400 + 1 Theatre

He made all the property cards (dim.: 70 x 75 mm) with a typewriter and oil paint. The Chance- and Grab Bag cards are typed with hand drawn edgings of red and blue ink. (He changed Community Chest into Grab Bag … perhaps to protect himself from copyright laws?) Since there are skyscrapers and one would need more money, the one dollar bills of a regular Monopoly set have "thousand" typed on them. Also he made it $ 300 as you pass Go.

As a child, my brothers and I played with this as it was the only game we had … Meanwhile I've built a padded carrying case for the board, bankers tray and all the pieces."

Elmer turned out to create more deviations in the design of his Detroit game, compared to in those days recently introduced Parker Brothers Monopoly. The most striking is the fact that there are 12 spaces on each side instead of 10. They are:

GO - Brush St. - Grab-Bag - Beaubien St. - Brewster St. Settlements - Jos. Campau Ave. - D.T. & I. R. R. - Chene St. - Chance - Clay Ave. - Telephone Co. - Casmer St. - IN JAIL/ JUST VISITING - Drexel Ave. - Light Co. - Lenox Ave. - Field Ave. - Gray Ave. - Pere Marquette R.R. - Joy Road - Grab-Bag - Euclid Ave. - Dexter Blvd. - Seward Ave. - QUIET/HOSPITAL ZONE - Seminole Ave. - Chance - Iroquois Ave. - Van Dyke Ave. - Burns Ave. - Grand Trunk R.R. - Chicago Blvd. - Grand River Ave. - Boston Blvd. - Water Works - LaSalle Gardens - FREE PARKING LOT - 
Outer Drive - East Jefferson Ave. - Fisher Road - Grab-Bag - Merriweather Road - Michigan Central R.R. - Woodward Ave. - Chance - Bloomfield Hills - Checker Cab Co. and Palmer Woods.

A look on the gameboard tells us that:

There is no name of the game mentioned on the centre-field.

The Grab-Bag and Chance- fields are situated near the 2nd and 4th corner.

The 4 Railroad stations are situated on the seventh place of each side and the space shows the rail instead of a locomotive. The railroads are all Michigan State rail lines.

There is a real rascal in Jail.

There are 4 utilities! Electric Company is here Light Co. and Water Works also here is situated 2 spaces ahead the 4th corner. But there is a taxi company Checker Cab Co. operating on both the other sides as well. On the concerning spaces Elmer painted a very detailed T-Ford with spare tire on the back and a Michigan license plate # 123 - 36 (US mark for 1936). On top of the car is the cab number 99 and through the back 
window there are 2 people kissing eachother.

On the Free Parking space is now Quiet/Hospital Zone.

There is a Free Parking, however it is situated on the 4th corner. Note that there is no referral to the Jail. The 
only way one can get put in jail is to be unfortunate enough to draw the Chance or Grab-Bag card that orders you there.

There are 5 tokens, resp.: 3 Scottie dogs (on a yellow, white and red base), an elephant and a donkey. That are all animals made of ivory (!) mounted with a small nail to a little piece of wood as a base.
There is a wood bankerstray (dim.: 55.2 x 22.9 cm) as well, containing 7 places for the banknotes, 4 compartments for the buildings and cards and a section divided by tin dividers into 12 smaller sections for each of the various colors of property cards. The dice are also made of ivory, yellowed by age, with black pips.
With this set is a copy of regular rules for the game, and beyond that the instructions are on the property cards.

On an Antique Show in July 1999 in Des Moines - Iowa the market value of this set was appraised as Folk Art US$ 1,500.00 to US$ 2,500.00 or more.


Handpainted game board of unknown maker.Edition: Atlantic City Monopoly
Maker: unknown - date ?
Dimensions of the board: 60.1 x 60.1 cm
The game:
Unfortunately there is little known about this set offered on ebay. However it is obviously not too ancient a copy of the regular standard game with streets of Atlantic City.
Seller described it as "A homemade Monopoly board that came out of a house in New York. The squares are hand-painted, the Chance- and Community Chest cards are hand-typed, the wooden houses and hotels are carved, while real Monopoly money is used. The instructions are of the regular game as well."

The picture still shows that the gameboard is of untreated plywood with protected corners. Here again nothing is written in the centrefield of the gameboard. It looks like there are pictures of locomotives sticked on the station fields. The property cards are strengthened with 
black electrical tape.

This set was sold on ebay December 1998 for US$ 125.-.


Your comments and/or additional informations will be highly appreciated! Only then this catalogue remains interesting! So please do send a message to:
Uw opmerkingen en/of aanvullingen worden zeer op prijs gesteld! Zo blijft deze catalogus actueel! Neemt u dan ook gaarne contact op met:

albert c. veldhuis
Zoetermeer - The Netherlands
e-mail: monopoly@muurkrant.nl