Original Old


The Landlord's Game 1904 Patent Drawing

THE LANDLORD'S GAME | 1903 - 1932


ELIZABETH MAGIE-PHILLIPS: B: 1866 · Macomb, IL | D: 1948 · Arlington, VA 

It is said that in the late 1800s, a young woman named Elizabeth Magie was introduced to the writings of Henry George by her father James Magie, a newspaper publisher and abolitionist during the mid-1800s. It is also said that Elizabeth eventually began teaching others what she learned from studying Henry George's book "Progress and Poverty" and his other works.   

Elizabeth, or "Lizzie" as she came to be called, appears to have met Robert Woolery and worked with him on the design and/or development of the landlord's game.  What is clear, is that Lizzie applied for a patent in March of 1903, which was granted on January 5th, 1904 (Pat. No. 748,626).  However, The Landlord's Game was not produced commercially until 1906 by Lizzie and Georgist friends as the Economic Game Company.  It does not appear the game was commercially successful. 

It is interesting and should be noted that Lizzie's game board designs underwent significant and intriguing changes during the transition from her patent application to the original commercial game in 1906, not to mention the subsequent two designs in the 20's and 30s.  

In addition, the original folk landlord's game board produced by Robert (Uncle Bob) Woolery of Arden, Delaware was developed and played before Lizzie's 1904 patent was issued and 3-4 years prior to the production of Lizzie's 1906 commercial game.  

It appears the Georgist Ardenites were unaware Elizabeth Magie patented and commercially produced The Landlord's Game during this era. Conversely, Lizzie did not realize how far the folk landlord's game subsequently evolved during this period by the time her first patent lapsed into the public domain in 1921, one year after The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY game was created. 

Well after her first patent expired in 1921, Lizzie modified The Landord's Game as evidenced by her second patent issued in 1924, Pat. # 1,509,312. The second patent had a revised game board with the railroads as the corner spaces. It appears there was little interest in commercializing this patent at the time as "The Landlord's Game" was never issued as depicted in the second patent. 

However, 8 years later in 1932, Lizzie produced another commercial game called "The Landlord's Game and Prosperity" under the second patent. This was the second commercial Landlord's Game and evidently the first that had two different rule sets. Once again however, the game was not commercially successful. 

Curiously, the patent for this second commercial game was the patent Parker Brothers purchased in 1935 for it's newly acquired Monopoly game.  Although by this time the second commercial game board no longer resembled the original commercial Landlord's Game, nor the distinctly different folk monopoly games that originally evolved out of the Wharton School circa 1914-1920.  And, since the landlord's game was in the public domain, even before Lizzie's original 1904 patent was issued, let alone after it expired, it raises the question: Why did Parker Bros. bother to acquire the 2nd patent?  The answer to that question was provided courtesy of Ralph Anspach.

It appears that it wasn't until sometime around 1935 that Lizzie became fully aware of the popularity of the folk monopoly games that far surpassed interest in the unprofitable Landlord's Games. Probably about the time she became aware of the Charles Darrow monopoly game and the budding Parker Brothers relationship.  

It was during this period that Lizzie engaged in a publicity campaign, including a photograph of her holding two game boards, one for the "The Landlord's Game and Prosperity" game and one for a mockup of what appears to be a  fictional Monopoly Game board that evidently was never produced commercially.  

SCOTT NEARING: B: Aug 06, 1883 · Kittanning, PA | D: Aug 24, 1983 · Harborside, Maine 

Scott Nearing was born in Morris Run, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from high school in 1901. Thereafter, after abandoning the study of Law, he enrolled in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania (hereafter "Wharton") to study economics. Nearing obtained his BS in Economics in 1905 and his PhD in 1909. From 1908 until 1915 while living/ summering on his leased property at the Georgist enclave of Arden, Delaware, he taught economics at the Wharton School and Swarthmore College.  Nearing was introduced to the folk landlord's game at Arden circa 1908.  Research to date indicates Nearing had very little to no knowledge of Lizzie Magie and no first hand knowledge of her as they had never met during their lifetimes.  He was teaching at Wharton and Swarthmore during this period until 1913 at Swarthmore and 1915 at Wharton.

Sometime while teaching at Wharton, Nearing introduced and used the folk landlord's game as part of his teaching method, initiating a game theory teaching approach still evident, albeit evolved, at Wharton today. 

Scott Nearing’s opposition to child labor, caused him to be dismissed from the Wharton School in 1915.  However, his reputation at the University was belatedly resurrected in modern times, when the university recognized the injustice of his dismissal. 



Academic interest in folk landlord's games originated via Scott Nearing, and later folk monopoly games  via Rexford Guy Tugwell – a former Wharton student of Nearing.  

Dan Layman's folk monopoly game was eventually commercialized as "FINANCE", first published in 1932.  However, his folk monopoly game was the game taken by Ruth Hoskins, a Quaker school teacher, from Indianapolis, Indiana to Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Ruth introduced the folk monopoly game into the Atlantic City Quaker community, which by extension evolved into the Atlantic City Quaker folk monopoly game taught to Charles Darrow in 1933. 

Charles Todd, a friend of Charles Darrow’s Quaker wife Esther, along with Jessie & Ruth Raiford taught Charles Darrow the Atlantic City Quaker folk monopoly game and gave him typed rule sets in 1933. Although Charles Darrow embellished the game into what turned out to be the most successful board game in history, he misrepresented himself as the game’s creator and therefore lied on his patent application about being the game's inventor.     

Ralph Anspach later disproved Darrow's inventor status by establishing indisputable evidence  linking the Atlantic City Quaker folk monopoly game and Darrow’s version of the monopoly game. 

Over forty years ago, Ralph Anspach began his quest for locating early folk monopoly game sets in order to prove monopoly was in the public domain long before Charles Darrow claimed to invent the game.  However, Anspach was unable to obtain his ultimate goal to discover a game set with the word "monopoly" depicted on the game board.  Ironically, one of the 1920 Philadelphia Folk Monopoly game's creators was deposed as part of Anspach's lawsuit.

In 2014, over forty years later, such a game resurfaced out of an estate sale about 7 miles from Arden, DE.  This game, The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game, is the first known folk monopoly game and oldest MONOPOLY game to display the word “MONOPOLY” on the game board.    

The 1920 Philadelphia Folk MONOPOLY Game establishes an important new chapter in the early pre-Darrow and pre-Parker Brothers history of the MONOPOLY game.  Soon, this old MONOPOLY game will become an antique MONOPOLY game when it turns 100 years old in 2020.  It is the oldest MONOPOLY game documented to date as evidenced by its age and the word MONOPOLY prominently displayed on the game board.

Take a Chance to find more information about the folk landlord's and folk monopoly games