For a long time, I’ve wanted to have a really old version of Monopoly in my collection. They’re not particularly rare and can be found in antique stores all over the country. But because they’re old and part of our culture, most are grossly overpriced.
I’ve never found a copy at our Goodwill or any thrift stores. By sheer luck, I discovered a complete copy in the bins at a Goodwill Outlet in Omaha. We were on our way back from a weekend of playing board games with friends and took a break from the drive to scour all the things Goodwill couldn’t sell in their stores. We regularly find complete games and a lot of extra pieces I can use for prototyping new games. I usually pick up loose Monopoly money to leave in friends’ other games, so they later wonder where it came from.
Surprisingly, this time I hit the jackpot and found a complete set from the 1940’s. At that time Parker Brothers housed the game in a small box and provided the board separately. It isn’t uncommon to find one without the other, and this is the case with ours. We could not find the matching vintage board anywhere.
That one missing part didn’t prevent me from grabbing the Monopoly box from the bin. I assumed there would be many parts missing. The price at this location was $1.59 a pound. Because it contained only wooden parts, I assumed it would set me back less than $2.
When I opened it up, it was obvious this copy of Monopoly hadn’t seen much play. The wooden pieces were a bit faded, as is typical. Most of the money is in pristine condition and every single property, second chance and community chest card was present.
There’s an entire collector community devoted to all things vintage Monopoly. It was at one of their sites I was able to determine my box had originally been issued between 1941 and 1946 based upon the patent number, cities listed on the box, and the company slogan.
There’s no need to bore you with how to play Monopoly. I’m sure you already know the game by heart. Nevertheless, there’s something special about owning an incredibly early copy when annual production runs were only a couple hundred thousand at best. Today, they’re in the millions! If you can’t find one locally, there are plenty for very reasonable prices on eBay. Remember, these are over eighty years old!
What is the oldest game in your collection?