Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 8, 2014

It's how you play the game­--and which valuable ones you saved

By Linda Hamer Kennett
Daily News

---- — Long before the advent of Facebook or the irresistible draw of an Xbox, we, the children of a simpler time, spent many an hour playing our favorite board games.

Upon completion of the game, Mom would always caution us to “make sure we got all the pieces put back in the box.” A warning not always heeded, and many a red plastic Monopoly motel met its demise from the suction of a Hoover!

Perhaps we would have taken her warning more seriously if we had known that our “Truth or Consequences” game would one day bring $120 at auction, or that serious collectors would consider our “Gilligan’s Island” game a good deal at $200!

Board games have been commercially produced in the US since 1822. However, these very early games seldom surface. Examples that can be found, by the diligent. include 1840s games from the W and B Ives Company, 1860s games from Milton Bradley and Mcloughlin Brothers, and games produced by Parker Brothers from the 1880s.

Most all games from the 19th century are highly prized by collectors, due in large part to their incredible color lithography. McLoughlin and Bliss are collected for their rarity, with some examples bringing upwards of $10,000 at auction.

But don’t despair. If you were thinking of starting a collection, there are hundreds of 20th century games out there that fall into a more moderate price range. Referred to as “modern” games (1940-1970) they will fall into two categories: television based games and pre-television games.

Television-based games were modeled after a multitude of children’s programming. Roy Rogers, Hop-along Cassidy, The Partridge Family, G.I.Joe, Our Gang and King Kong are favorites with collectors. Shows that leaned more to an adult audience also had accompanying games. Names you may remember include Ben Casey, Charlie’s Angels, and Laverne and Shirley.

Among the highest priced games form this era are rare character games produced in the 1960s. If you come across one of these, remember that to be of value it must have the original box, board, instructions, and all of the pieces in mint condition to be of any considerably value.

Pre-television games were often based on favorite pastimes like sports, travel and books. Milton Bradley’s early 1900s “Baseball and Checkers” and the 1926, Parker Brothers double board game”Football, Baseball and Checkers” are both a good find.

Thayer’s ‘The Game of Authors and Their Books’ and Milton Bradley’s “Junior Combination Board” from 1910 with 12 games in one box are also sought by collectors.

Two companies, Parker Brothers and All-Fair Games, continued to produce high quality lithography through 1940 and are sought for their graphics as are a variety of war games.

Listed in the “Guinness Book of Records” as having been played by more than 500 million people, the most popular game board of all times is undeniably, Monopoly. Based on the 1903 designs of Liz Magie, a series of board games games were developed from 1906 to 1930 that involved the buying and selling of land and real estate development. By 1934, the game had evolved into what we recognize today as Parker Brothers’ “Monopoly.”

As I did my research for this column, I discovered many facts about “Monopoly,” the most interesting being that during World War II it was delivered to prisoners of war by the Red Cross.

In addition to the normal pieces these “special” games also included a metal file, compass, silk maps of safe houses, and high denomination French, Italian, and German currency. These games, credited with saving countless lives, are identified by a red dot in free parking on the board.

Ordered destroyed after the war, none are believed to exist.

Until next time,


Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidator specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or for question or comment.