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Board game:Monopoly

Lester Belden McAllister Jr.ca. 1937

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

One cannot overestimate just how popular the board game Monopoly became, soon after its introduction by Parker Brothers in 1935. In the midst of America's Great Depression, many different games enjoyed great popularity as people tried to save money by staying home and amusing themselves with inexpensive pastimes. Lester B. McAllister, of Oak Park, Illinois, was 14 years old in 1935. He had two younger sisters. He had played Monopoly but lacked the funds to purchase a set--even though he worked delivering newspapers and did odd jobs for neighbors. Indeed, his father took in boarders to help the family get by. So Lester, partly to help keep his sisters amused, created his own Monopoly game. Basing his design on the classic Charles Darrow-inspired Parker Brothers version, he changed most of the properties to reflect Illinois cities, towns, and places he knew. He wrote out all the chance and community chest cards with humorous penalties or benefits, such as "Languish in jail for two turns for driving intoxicated," and "Pay $25 for unlawful parking and talking back to the officer." He wrote property names on his board by hand, while his mother helped decorate each property with humorous little drawings. The family used small charms and metal tokens as playing pieces, and utilized wooden checkers at hotels, and metal retailer tax tokens, issued in 1935 by the state of Illinois, as houses. Lester later gave the well-used set to his daughter, who kept it as a family heirloom. It remains a testament to the creativity and humor of its maker, a young man who made the best of hard financial times and also understood the importance of play, with his own version of the most popular new game of the era.

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Details

  • Title: Board game:Monopoly
  • Creator: Lester Belden McAllister Jr.
  • Date Created: ca. 1937
  • Location: Oak Park, IL
  • Subject Keywords: Monopoly, Illinois
  • Type: Board Games
  • Medium: printed paper, ink, cardstock, wood, metal
  • Credit Line: Gift of Margaret McAllister in memory of Lester Belden McAllister Jr.

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