In 1934 Charles Darrow sent copies of his white box Monopoly game to Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley. Both companies turned the game down. In early 1935 Parker Brothers changed their mind and bought Monopoly from Darrow. Almost immediately Milton Bradley put together a game based on Knapp's Finance.
The 1935 edition of Easy Money (#4559) was almost a carbon copy of Finance. The money, property cards, and even the tokens were similar. The biggest difference was that Easy Money didn't have Chance and COMMUNITY CHEST cards, only one deck of Give or Take cards. The houses were about the same size as Darrow hotels and were color coded with the playing tokens. The layout of the board was different with low and high priced properties mixed up around the board, but the colors were similar to Finance. There were more spaces in each corner and the center was round instead of square but the influence was apparent. The strangest thing about this game was that the game board folded backwards with the playing surface facing out.
After the Monopoly patent was granted on 12/31/1935 Parker Brothers flexed their muscles and told Milton Bradley Easy Money had to change. Milton Bradley bowed to the pressure and changes were made to the game. The biggest change was the deletion of the property cards. The actual game play changed little; houses were used to denote ownership instead of deeds. Prices and rents were added to the spaces on the board.
After coming to a licensing agreement with Parker Brothers over the Monopoly patents Milton Bradley didn't want to be outdone so they applied for and were granted a design patent. Interestingly though, the design was only used on a short run deluxe edition. The board on this edition was larger and the houses were natural with painted roofs. It appears that Milton Bradley tried to patent this version as early 1936 sets say "Patent Applied For". This application was either withdrawn or rejected. Later 1936 sets show the dual Monopoly patents.
Beginning in 1936 Easy Money was available in three versions, small box with separate board (4039), large box (4457), and deluxe (4460). As mentioned earlier the 1936 deluxe game had a different board. There are 2 different standard boards from the 30s. The first was red, yellow and blue and has different properties than the 1935 board. It also does not have Give or Take spaces on the board (a person rolling doubles draws a card). This board was available with "Patent Applied For" and with the Monopoly dual patents. The other is red, yellow, and green and has dingbats (like the EL Finance game). This board has the same properties, no Give or Take spaces and seems to only have been available with dual patents. My guess would be that this second board was the one that remained until the next change in the 1940s.
The 1940's brought about a maroon box available in small and large and a redesigned game board. This board design was to be used for the next 40 years. A maroon coloured deluxe edition was also available in the 1940's (I am currently looking for a maroon 4457 and a maroon deluxe edition for photographs if you can help).
In the 50s the game box was redesigned again to an orange box. This again was available in small and large boxes (the small box 4039 was changed to a large box with the same number and the large box was renumbered to 4620).
These editions would be available until 1974.
A new deluxe edition was available (4605), but was identical to the standard edition except for the box.
This edition would be available until 1974.
In 1974 the face of the game changed again, by a power of 10 (prices were 10 times higher than previous editions). The board was again very colourful in pink, yellow, blue, and green; and there were full colour pictures in the centre and the corners. I'm not sure how long this edition lasted before production was ceased. This was a continuation of #4620.
In 1996 another version of Easy Money was released by Hasbro that had absolutely nothing in common with previous editions. This was a completely different game that just used the same name.