History of Monopoly from its origins to the present day

History of Monopoly from its origins to the present day

On November 5, 1933, Monopoly is published for the first time after a long history of patents and copyrights. Monopoly is the best known game of all time, an unmissable companion for evenings and quarrels with friends. This board game is one of the most popular in the world and also has another record, that of having had, over the years, countless themed versions.

Being an icon of popular culture, Monopoly, in recent times, it has been rethought in an even more pop key, taking inspiration from films, TV series and video games. In fact, there are versions dedicated, for example, to Super Mario, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Pac-Man and many other famous media (you can find out which are the best editions for sale by reading our article at this link)

Let's find out in detail the history of this game with impressive numbers: one hundred and seventy million copies sold all over the world, one hundred and fourteen countries where the game is marketed and translated into fifty different languages.

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The birth of Monopoly, a story for women

The birth of Monopoly is quite controversial. The origin dates back to 1903, when an American woman, Elizabeth Magie, filed the official patent which was then renewed in the 1920s. The game signed by Magie is certainly very different from what we are used to today. The original name was Landlord's Game, or the landowner's game.

This first version of Monopoly wanted to explain a controversial phenomenon that developed in the first decade of the twentieth century, that of land grabbing, that is the appropriation of land in developing countries. So it has a completely different connotation with respect to the modern rules of the game and also with respect to its setting.

The game was inspired by the ideals of Georgism, a philosophical current in vogue at the beginning of the last century, which considered the land as a common and not a private good. According to economic ideology, the land had to belong to all humanity, assuming the payment of a single tax to take advantage of it. Elizabeth Magie with this game wanted to raise the consciences of the youngest by trying to understand the Machiavellian deceptions of the society of the time. This game was not very successful and its use was purely didactic.

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From Landlord's Game to the game we all know

After an initial failure, Elizabeth Magie, to obtain the second patent in 1924, modified both the rules and the game board of what was Landlord's Game, gaining more and more success with the public. The game began to be known as Monopoly and was then sold to Electronic Laboratories under the name of Finance, which then sold the rights to another company that put it on the market.

History changed when such a Charles Darrow came into contact with the game, which in the meantime had undergone some changes. He too modified the board and some rules to then obtain the patent for the game that began to be known as Monopoly. The rights of the game were then sold to Parker Bros. which also acquired those of Finance and Landlord's Game to have a "monopoly" on the game itself.

There were so many disputes related to the authorship of the game, which dragged on for a very long time. Do you think that a game called Anti-Monopoly was created precisely to counteract the erroneous authorship of the game by Darrow. In short, an endless and unclear story that lies behind what is the buying-selling game par excellence.

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Monopoly, the Italian version of the game

In 1936 Monopoly entered Italy, where it took the name of Monopoli and was published by Editrice Giochi. The game was distributed in the middle of the fascist era. The Italian dictatorship absolutely forbade the use of Englishisms, for this reason even the toponyms have all been Italianized and, above all, the title of the game lost the final "y" which was replaced with the "i".

The Fascist regime also imposed that the Italian edition of the game had names that recalled the dictatorial ideal, toponyms that were then replaced after the fall of fascism. Street names have remained unchanged since then. What changed, however, were some rules of the game. The toponyms on the bridge were invented by Emilio Cirri who took inspiration from the streets of the city where he lived, Milan. Even today, walking through the streets of the Lombard capital it is possible to come across Piazza Vesuvio, Piazza dell'Accademia and so on.

Furthermore, in a classic Italian edition for children of the game, called Monopolino, and inspired by the characters Disney, the rules were much simpler and suitable for children.

Click here to buy the Monopoly themed Game of Thrones

Curiosities about Monopoly

In addition to the various curiosities related to the history of the first edition of Monopoly and how it then evolved in the game we all know, there are many curiosities about it. We talked about the Italian edition, for example, and the different name it had acquired during its publication in the Fascist era. Well, the name Monopoly remained in vogue until 2009, when the rights to the game were acquired by Hasbro which still owns them.

When you happen to play with friends in Monopoly you usually start the game in afternoon and then conclude it in the evening. However, not everyone knows that the longest game in Monopoly lasted a good seventy days. An event not to be believed, but likely, if you think of the cumbersome game rules that can make the games very long.

The toponyms of the streets and squares on the board of the Monopoly are inspired by really existing places, except for Parco della Vittoria which in reality does not exist in Italy. In addition, the name of the last and very expensive space on the game board changes from country to country. For example, in the Spanish edition it is called Passo del Prado and in the French one Rue de la Paix. In the original made in USA version it is called Boardwalk, the name of a street in Atlantic City.

Another curiosity concerns the different editions made over the years and which are highly sought after by collectors. To date we have almost three hundred versions of the famous game. The first special edition was linked to the city of London which was the first to have the honor of having an ad hoc edition. Then there are all the special editions made over the years and linked to symbols of pop culture such as films, TV series and video games well known by the general public.

One of the most particular special editions is the one put on the market in France for the 80th anniversary of the game. For this occasion, Hasbro produced eighty special boxes which were marketed alongside the standard ones. The peculiarity of these eighty packs of Monopoly was that instead of fake money there was real money, a great deal for those who managed to grab one.

Click here to buy the Monopoly Junior

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