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United Kingdom Condensed History (UK)

UK - Game Code: 102

In the 1930s, a printing firm from Leeds called John Waddington Ltd. (Waddingtons) had begun to branch out into packaging and the production of playing cards. Waddingtons sent the card game Lexicon to Parker Brothers hoping they would publish it in the United States. Parker Brothers sent over a copy of Monopoly to Waddingtons early in 1935 just after they had got the rights from Charles Darrow and before printing it in the United States.

Victor Watson, the managing director of Waddingtons, asked his son Norman (who was head of the card games division) to test the game over the weekend. Norman was impressed by the game and persuaded his father to call Parker Brothers on Monday morning - transatlantic calls then being almost unheard of. This call resulted in Waddingtons' obtaining a license to produce and market the game outside of the United States.

It was felt for the game to be a success in the United Kingdom, the American properties needed to be replaced with London locations, so Victor and his secretary, Marjory Phillips, went to London to look for locations. They came up with some roads, and a couple of areas of London like The Angel, Islington ad Mayfair.

The standard British board was for many years the version most familiar to people in countries in the Commonwealth (except Canada, where the U.S. edition with Atlantic City-area names was reprinted).

The original income tax choice from the U.S. board is replaced by a flat rate on the United Kingdom board, and the $75 Luxury Tax space is replaced with the £100 Super Tax space. The United States Edition now also uses the flat $200 Income Tax value and the upped $100 Luxury Tax amount since 2008.

In the cases wherein the game was produced under license by a national company, the £ (pound) was replaced by a $ (dollar) sign, but the place names were unchanged (e.g. Australia). These days, all boards have the Monopoly M as currecncy.

Note: The first red street's name on the board was originally called Strand, but was changed to The Strand from 1993.

Identification & Location In Time

When Monopoly in the United Kingdom first came out, you could ask the manufacturer (Waddington's) any question about the game as long as you included a stamp for the return postage.

With that information, we can try and date some versions:

The value of this stamp increases as the set gets newer. The postal rates were for letters in those times:

  • 1½ d. : from January 1937 onwards
  • 2½ d.: from May 1940 onwards
  • 3 d. : from October 1957 onwards
  • 4 d. : from May 1965 onwards
  • other rates from September 1968 onwards

In the fities/sixties, the "transition period", is when Parker Brother’s copyright is mentioned on the game board and the reported service is no longer offered. The editions are starting to get a reference number.

Shortly after Monopoly was introduced in the USA by Parker Brothers in 1935, it was Waddington's who started to sell the London version in Europe, mentioning "Trade Mark - Pat.app. for No 3796-36". This patent application is still mentioned on the banknotes for many decades after the war.

It is presumed that it took until just before World War II (1939-1945) before the Patent No 453689 was granted. As far as the banknotes are concerned, they showed this patent number only in the War Time Packs.

During W.W. II, the so called War Time Packs were different due to the restrictions. Their features were:

  • No dice, but a spinner instead.
  • No metal tokens but flat cardboard figures on wooden foot.
  • The use of various kinds of paper for the Chance and Community Chest cards.
  • Different colours of the banknotes, printed on white paper.
  • In the box is a small "apology note" or an overprint on the Rules sheet.

The stations were originally from the London North Eastern Railway (L.N.E.R.), which later became part of British Railways with Nationalisation in 1948, and this was reflected on the board with the name change to British Railways

In the late fifties and early sixties was a "transistion period". On the one side "Waddington’s engines illustration" is still used, while on the other side Parker Brother’s copyright is mentioned from 1961 onwards. On the mini box of the English editions is only Trade Mark with or without the number 711981.

All standard early production had Patent applied for 3796-36 on both the box and board labels as well as the play side of the board. By around mid / late1939, the labels on the boxes and board were changed to Patent 453689 whilst the playside remained p.a.f. (patent app. for). The money also had 3797-36 for another two or three years.

The above patent application 3796-36 was made by US Parker Brothers (whom Waddington was given a sub licence) on Feb 7th 1936 and the publication date (granted) was September 16th with number 453689, however this number 453689 was not used until about 1939.

By November 1952, when the patent 453689 expired, a new UK Trade Mark was applied by Waddington, filed under section 28 board games, and was granted in June 1954 with number 711981, this mark was first used about a year later by Waddingtons on all their monopoly productions, and the 453689 was removed and never appeared again. There was a brief period when only Trade Mark without any numbers or Patent was used, this happened late 1955.

The 711981 is still valid, it has been renewed many times, with the current owners being Hasbro. The next renewal date is 7th November 2021.

As from 1961 Parker Brothers influence becomes increasingly obvious. This year is mentioned on the board’s midfield and the "engines illustration" disappears. The long box with red-white-red lid replaces the "mini box".

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