I have quicksilver materialistic urges: what I want now are Monopoly pieces, or rather artistically-enhanced versions thereof. There is a Salem source of this desire, and it is a timely one: Parker Brothers of Salem acquired one of the key patents they needed to produce their version of Monopoly on this day in 1935, and it was an immediate blockbuster, perhaps (or in spite of) the ongoing Depression. Parker Brothers’ long residency in Salem (1883-1991) is no doubt due in large part to the success of this ultra-American game. It was apparently rushed into production even though Parker Brothers president George Parker had low expectations: a series of boxes from 1935 bear the inscriptions “patent applied for” and “patent pending”. Inside are wooden houses and hotels and the original dark-iron tokens: the iron, racing car, thimble, shoe, top hat and battleship (the Scottie dog and wheelbarrow were added in the early 1950s).
1935 Patent Pending Monopoly Box: Source.
And that’s the other reason why I’m craving Monopoly pieces now: my favorite token was always the iron, and it has recently been cast out of the game, replaced by a cat. I’m a cat lover as well, but the new token just doesn’t have the texture of that old iron: thankfully my Monopoly game is pretty vintage, and thus iron-clad. And when a little tiny metal token just won’t do, several artists have been inspired enough by the game–and its iconic pieces–to create bigger and bolder versions. I want all of these creations by Stuart Whitton, which are hand-drawn on vintage postcards, but I think they’re long gone.
Stuart Whitton’s drawings of “infamous” Monopoly pieces at Behance and stuartwhitton.co.uk.
Since I’m particularly fond of the retired iron, I did find a more attainable object: a pewteresque replica: not very subtle, and far less artistic, but BIG. But where to put it? It screams doorstop to me, but when I went in search of a place, I found not one, not two, but THREE old 19th century irons propped up against doors on my third floor. I don’t think I need one more, even if it has an air of Monopoly about it.
November 6th, 2014 at 11:16 am
I remember visiting the factory as a kid. There were buckets of these tokens. My sister always got an iron, and me the shoe. I have a few shoes in my jewelry box from those visits. They fit on my index fingers (when I was small) and I would walk them around on the table. One of my Mom’s uncle did the lithography for some of the game boards.
November 6th, 2014 at 12:31 pm
A nice memory, Heather.
November 6th, 2014 at 11:25 am
I’d have liked to see the wooden houses and hotels!
November 6th, 2014 at 12:32 pm
They’re pretty easy to find–and cheap! Much better than plastic.