This game is not licensed nor produced by Hasbro, Inc., producers of MONOPOLY® game equipment & related marketing efforts.
THE OLDEST KNOWN FORMAL MONOPOLY GAME - 97 Years Old
THE 1920 PHILADELPHIA FOLK MONOPOLY GAME is an original, almost 100 year old MONOPOLY game that was created in the fall of 1920. It reflects the 1920 Philadelphia, PA area, especially the Main Line western suburbs near Haverford College. The game set was created by two sons of an old Main Line Quaker family who were members of the Haverford College classes of 1922 & 1924. The game was played with classmates at Haverford College and in their nearby family home in Haverford, PA.
The two brothers, Edward (Ted) Allinson Taylor and Lawrence (Larry) Newbold Taylor, learned about the folk monopoly game during late summer 1920 while staying at their family's cabin within the private Pocono Lake Preserve. Larry and Ted were taught the folk monopoly game by Rexford Guy Tugwell who, along with his wife, spent two weeks as guests of Henry Woolman at his nearby cabin within the Pocono Lake Preserve.
Consequently, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk Monopoly Game is part of the “Wharton Woodies” lineage. “Wharton Woodies” is an appellation coined by the writer that applies to wood folk monopoly game boards originating out of the Wharton School during the 1914-1915 school year with the Wharton Class of 1915, of which Rex Tugwell was a member - obtaining his B.S. in Economics that year. "Wharton Woodies" also includes the wood folk monopoly game board descendants of these 1914-1915 folk monopoly games. Yes, this writer is declaring that the folk monopoly game originated at Wharton during the 1914-1915 school year based upon the latest research and evidence.
After obtaining his master's degree in 1916 and disillusioned by the encroachments imposed upon Wharton faculty, Tugwell left Pennsylvania in 1917 for a year at the University of Washington in Spokane, Washington. He left after one year when he departed to France during WWI, after accepting an opportunity arranged by Felix Frankfurter to live in Paris in 1918 and manage the American University Union, a leave center run by a consortium of a dozen universities for American officers serving in France. Tugwell returned to Wharton in 1919 to pursue his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania, which he obtained in 1922. In 1920 Tugwell secured a position at Columbia University teaching economics. See the “HISTORY OF MONOPOLY” webpage for more information.
During this time in late summer 1920, while pursuing his doctorate at the Wharton, Rexford Guy Tugwell was transitioning his household from Philadelphia, PA to New York city take up a professorship position at the Columbia graduate school of economics. The two week stay at the Pocono Lake Preserve was a vacation layover during this transition. As an economics professor at Columbia, Tugwell introduced both the folk monopoly and folk landlord’s games there. He was a member of the Columbia faculty from 1920–1936. As an active supporter of the New Deal, Rex Tugwell was a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Brain Trust," a group of six academics, including Felix Frankfurter, that advised FDR during his time as New York governor and later during his presidency.
Coincidently, another direct link between The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game and the FDR administration is Edwin (Edward) Bernard Rosskam. Edwin Rosskam was a freshman class-mate of Larry Taylor and he was the artist who painted The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY game board during his only year (1920-21) at Haverford College. Afterwards he left Haverford to study art at the University of Pennsylvania. Edwin Rosskam later went on to become a famous depression era photographer within the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and thereafter.
In 1928, eight years after the creation of their MONOPOLY game, Larry and Ted closed the old family home after the death of their mother. During this process, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game set was misplaced and was never recovered by the Taylor brothers.
Forty-five years later in 1973, Larry Taylor responded to a newspaper article regarding the fictional Charles Darrow monopoly creation story. He wrote a letter-to-the-editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune titled "Missed A Monopoly Chance”, signed "Lawrence N. Taylor, Venice", that was published on Sunday, August 12, 1973. The letter describes the hand crafted monopoly game that he and his brother Ted created in the fall of 1920. Larry wrote about their game's history and attributes that clearly identifies The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game. To see the article, go to the "Missed A Monopoly Chance" page within this website.
Two years later in 1975, Larry Taylor was deposed as part of the Anspach - Parker Bros. litigation. In his deposition, Larry identified additional attributes of the hand-made game he and his brother made that definitively identifies The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY game set. In addition, the game set itself exhibits attributes specifically referencing Ted, and referencing Ted and Larry Taylor's extended family holdings. This provides capstone and indisputable provenance of the direct linkage between The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game and its' makers Ted & Larry Taylor.
Fast forwarding thirty-nine years later to the summer of 2014, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game resurfaced, 86 years after the Taylor brothers lost possession of their folk MONOPOLY game and 94 years after they created it, when their folk MONOPOLY game set was listed on eBay and auctioned as part of an unrelated Philadelphia family estate sale. The auction was subsequently won by the writer. At the time, there were only two pieces of information about the MONOPOLY game provided by the estate liquidator that was obtained from the estate heir. One, was that the heir's mother, from whose estate the game set originated, told the heir not to give the game away because it was worth some money. And, two, the game was originally owned within the family by the heir's grandfather. This was the extent of what the heir knew of the game. The estate liquidator would not divulge additional information regarding the estate. However, the writer was able to locate the necessary information via the estate liquidator’s website since it was the only estate being handled by the estate liquidator at the time. The family’s name and the estate liquidator’s name remains confidential in respect for their privacy.
Based upon an extensive in-depth research of the estate family and The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game properties, the writer determined that the heir's grandfather did not create the game. He and his extended family of the era did not fit the demographic profile and not a single family member of the era had attended any college or university. Let alone a college circa 1917-1923 which was the origin date range established based upon property dating. Of course, the exact dating and lineage of The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game was later identified in 2017 when Larry's 1973 letter to the editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was discovered by the writer. As a result, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game's origin history and lineage has been re-established and the game is now back in the public domain. As a nearly 100 year old MONOPOLY game, it becomes an antique MONOPOLY game in 2020.
One critically unique characteristic of The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game set is that it is clearly and indisputably a formal MONOPOLY real estate board game. The game board center prominently exhibits the word “MONOPOLY” and is the only known folk monopoly game set to date that does so. And, did so approximately 15 years prior to the 1935 issuance of Charles Darrow's errant Monopoly patent and the 1935 issuance of Parker Brother's related Monopoly Trade Mark.
Consequently, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game is tangible evidence of a formal MONOPOLY real estate trading game extant in the public domain in 1920. It reinforces the voluminous circumstantial evidence gathered by Ralph Anspach of numerous folk monopoly players who testified they played a real estate game called “monopoly” within the 1914-1933 era before Charles Darrow’s introduction to folk monopoly. The 1914-1933 date range was established due to facts discovered by the author that support later dating for two documented folk monopoly games - the Joseph A. Buckwalter game from 1910 to circa 1914, and the Roy Ormerod Heap game from 1909 to circa 1916-17.
Regardless, based upon information recently discovered by the author, the 1914-1915 school year represents the genesis of the folk monopoly game at Wharton and subsequent expansion from there to colleges and universities within the north-eastern, eastern, south-eastern and mid-western regions of the USA well before 1935 when questionable circumstances resulted in a Monopoly patent issued to Charles Darrow and a related Monopoly trade mark issued to Parker Brothers.
Finally, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game is the oldest known formal MONOPOLY game set exhibiting a number of firsts in the folk monopoly world as follows:
1. The game set uses both paper and poker chip money.
2. The game set includes custom made-for-the-game movers/ markers/ tokens which are literally “men” as they represent 11 US Presidents. Made of mahogany wood, they were hand carved by Larry Taylor, who was known at Haverford College as a carver of little men.
3. The game set exhibits unique hand-carved three-dimensional hand carved (also by Larry Taylor) rectangular mahogany wood houses which exhibit two additional unique characteristics:
a. Each house has a pin stuck in the bottom center of the house that is snugly fitted into a single hole drilled into the game board adjacent to the property numbers - consequently, the houses are not easily knocked off the board, an act that most monopoly players have personally experienced; and
b. There are five categories of houses with 1-5 holes drilled from side-to-side so that each of the four sides of each house exhibit at least one window that one can see through and up to five windows per side – in other words, the number of windows per house (1-5) indicates the number of housing improvement on a property. This characteristic eliminates the crowding of multiple houses on a property since only one house, with the correct number of windows, is snugly fitted to the property to which it belongs and therefore no need for hotels.
As a result of these characteristics, this game set is the total package. And, the quality of materials and construction speak for themselves.
The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game set provides a tour of Philadelphia locales during a time when playing folk monopoly was just beginning to become a popular pastime at north-eastern, eastern and south-eastern seaboard colleges, after first being played at Wharton, Haverford & Swarthmore. Eventually, folk monopoly game play also extended to the mid-west to Michigan and Indiana.
The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game board is a well-engineered, hand-crafted, and finely finished wood game board constructed for generations of game play.
The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game utensils box contains:
- Leather Dice Cup w/ Cellulose Dice
- Manual Typewritten Property Deeds
- Large & Small Haverford College Card Stock Paper Money
- Hand carved Mahogany Wood Houses with open Windows
- Hand carved Mahogany Presidential Men/ Movers/ Tokens
A separate caddy holds smaller denomination poker chip money.