What I Learned Today : Monopoly

I’ve learned about The Landlord’s Game three times in the last month. The first was in a John Green book, the second was on the program CBS Sunday morning, and the third was at the Money Museum in Kansas City.

The Money Museum I went to is inside of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City which covers the 10th District of the Federal Reserve, including Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and portions of western Missouri and northern New Mexico. It is free to visit, but currently you do need a reserved ticket to attend. You can find this on their website and is used for Covid-19 contact tracing. The museum is one floor and the main attractions are a coin collection, a 27 pound gold brick that you can attempt to lift, and an unphotographable view into the safe and money shredder. Among the other few exhibits, were pieces about piggy banks and board games.

Vintage Elephant Bank
Elizabeth Magie, Lizzie to her friends, was a board game designer, feminist, and Georgist according to Wikipedia. She designed The Landlord’s Game to help people understand the teachings of economist Henry George. I looked into this very briefly and decided the game was probably a good idea because while the results it promises sound promising , how we would achieve those goals is quite a mystery to me. Henry George believed that what you created belonged to you. Natural opportunities and land however, belong equally to all. So therefore the government should be funded by tax on the land (public property being used privately) rather than on labor.

your free souvenir
The game that Magie created was in fact two games on one board. One set of instructions illustrating George’s beliefs in which all the players won equal earnings and the other showing monopolist beliefs in which one player won when they doubled their own earnings. She did pitch her game at multiple different times starting in 1903 with varying results including patents; however, as the story goes the more popular version was a watered down party version. Charles Darrow did not play The Landlord’s Game with Elizabeth Magie and steal it from her making billions of dollars. The story is not quite as sinister as that.

Magie’s version of the game over time became shortened at parties where obviously one person winning is more fun (matter of fact or opinion). Monopoly traveled all over the United States as a party game moving when the party goers did. Darrow played the game in 1932 at a party in Philadelphia. He liked it so much he asked the host for a copy of the rules. Parker Brothers worked with Darrow and began marketing Monopoly in 1935.