The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., acquired the antique version of the popular real estate board game as the highest bidders at a Sotheby's auction in late December.
Handmade by unemployed heating engineer Charles Darrow, it features a circular piece of oilcloth drawn on with gouache and pen-and-ink, includes more than 200 pieces including a rules sheet, playing cards and playing pieces like draw-cards, hotels, houses, banknotes and tokens. Darrow crafted around 5,000 copies of the game in Find Local Homes for Sale Browse through photos of millions of home listings on AOL Real Estate See Homes for Sale Search Foreclosures for Sale 1933 for a Philadelphia department store before selling the game to Parker Brothers. Based on the Landlord's Game, first patented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904, Monopoly became the bestselling game in the country during the Great Depression.
Curator Nicolas Ricketts of the Strong told AOL Real Estate, "Adding this game to our collection is important because it is the most important game in America -- and the fact that it's already an inductee into the National Toy Hall of Fame is the best example of the wide range collection we have."
Curators at the Strong started eyeing the classic, Hall of Fame game, which they had seen at the Malcolm Forbes Museum in Manhattan, awhile back. They also knew that Forbes's children were selling some of his collection items they no longer had an interest in, and that the museum was closing.
"Of course we had to deliberate long and hard, and knew it would bring a lot of money," says Ricketts of the rare Monopoly game. "We knew this was something we had to do. We have these massive collections, we study the history of play here; and in America, Monopoly is the most popular game and bestselling game of all time."
One of the most important factors about having this particular version of the game in their collection is that in essence this is considered creator Charles Darrow's prototype. It's believed to be shaped in the size of Darrow's dining room table where it is believed he and his family enjoyed playing the game.
Ricketts knew this and went to Sotheby's to bid on the item and luckily only had one other bidder up against him, a phone bidder. "It didn't take a long time because the auctioneers had to move things along so it went pretty quickly, which I expected, because I've some experience at auctioning," Ricketts says.
Immediately after they won, the bidding folks at the museum quickly arranged to have the very delicate and fragile item via a fine art shipper after the New Year. Once it arrives, the piece will be displayed alongside the 65 other Monopoly versions that help tell the story, in a slightly darkened space to protect the cloth and pieces.
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