Atlantic City (USA)

Maker: Charles E.Todd - Germantown, PA - ±1932/33

Dimensions of the square oil cloth: About 80 x 80 cm

Prof. Ralph Anspach explains in his book (1st ed. pages 72-74, 2nd ed. pages 126-129) how Charles B. Darrow learned about and subsequently stole the Monopoly design and Rules. Charles Todd (a Quaker friend of Gene and Ruth Raiford) told Ralph:

".... After dinner, we introduced them (Darrow and his wife Esther) to monopoly. We could see Darrow really loved the game and Esther, who was always a little critical, didn't say a word against it which was high praise for her. I tried my level best to teach them all I had learned from Gene and Ruth Raiford. "Are you sure you introduced them to it? They didn't just feign ignorance to set you up for a beating?" "No, no,no. It was clear from the first moment that there was no question this game was completely new to the Darrows." ...

"I remember very clearly the last time we played together. He asked me if I had any written instructions he could borrow. I told him I had never felt it necessary to write down the rules, because for us it was just a fun game. So he said, "Would you do Esther and me a favor and make up a set of written instructions for us plus anything you think ought to be changed or improved?" ... "So I got my secretary to type them up for him - with twelve carbon copies." ...

While we were talking, his wife Olive was rummaging through a beatiful antique chest decorating the corner of the room. Finally, she found what she was looking for. She showed me a blue oil cloth and an Old Maid's game box. I examined them. "Is this the oil cloth and game equipment you used when you played with the Darrows? The one he copied?"

"Darn right," boomend Todd. ... If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it. The oil cloth was almost a twin of Monopoly. Exactly the same Atlantic City street names, like Boardwalk, Pennsylvania Avenue and Marvin Gardens. Same utilities and railroad .. Go, Jail, Free Parking and Go To Jail, Community Chest, and Chance. This wasn't the Landlords game nor the monopoly folkgames I had heretofore encountered because those games still had some trivial differences from Monopoly. ... The only difference was that the familiar rectangular colored panels on which the street names are printed in Monopoly here where small colored-coded triangles and the street names were printed not parallel to the edge of the board but downward toward the center.

I examined the contents of the old maid's box. On the back of the cards, someone had typed directions, such as "Go to Jail", "Take a walk on the Boardwalk", "Pay the community chest $25.00" and "Pay visiting nurse $5.00". The title cards were little rectangular pieces of paper with typed mortgage values. I checked the values later against the Monopoly title cards. No difference. The box also held houses and hotels. They were cut out of wood molding by an amateur carpenter. .... It also struck me that up till now all the folkgame monopoly boards I had discovered were made on wood, cardboard or linen cloth. This was the first on on oil cloth."

As Todd copied Jesse Raiford's original Atlantic City game board, on which the most expensive yellow street is Marven Gardens, which straddles two Atlantic City neighborhoods, Margate and Ventor, he erroneously wrote Marvin Gardens. Also notice the following:

  • No prices mentioned on the spaces.
  • No illustrations, nor on the corner fields, nor on Electric Co., Water Works, Rail Roads, Chance and Community Chest.
  • The Chance space is (very) close to the Free Parking corner, rather than to the Go corner.
  • No name of the game in the center of the game board.