Card game:Game of Dr. Busbe

Milton Bradley Companyca. 1905

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play
Rochester , United States

The card game Dr. Busbe was one of the most popular games of the middle and late 19th century. Nearly forgotten today, Dr. Busbe was invented in America around 1840 by Anne W. Abbott and published by the W. and S.B. Ives Company of Salem, Massachusetts. Abbott also invented the board game "The Mansion of Happiness" for Ives about the same time. Though Parker Brothers purchased the Ives firm in later years, Milton Bradley was the first known to copyright the game's name. Other firms copied the Ives game from the beginning. McLoughlin Brothers called their version "Dr. Fusbe," perhaps to avoid copyright infringement, and some other manufacturers changed the spelling as well. Here, Milton Bradley spells it with an ending "y." All the major game companies produced a version.

Dr. Busbe is a matching, and a memory game. Players hold "families" of four related cards in their hands, for example, the Doctor, his wife, and their two children. Players ask for one card they do not hold from first one, then the next players on their right, but incorrect guesses end the turn. The first player with all groups, and thus all the cards, wins the game. The early versions of this game all seem to share racial and ethnic stereotyped illustrations and names, in their family groups, which are completely unacceptable in contemporary times. This may well be a reason that the game so completely disappeared. Unlike Old Maid, most Americans today did not grow up playing Dr. Busbe.

This Milton Bradley version of Dr. Busbe, from the early 20th century, features a respectable looking doctor as its box cover image. He is, however, hawking a bottle of something to an expectant crowd. This box design is a close duplicate of 107.2537 and 107.2538, also in the museum collection.


  • Title: Card game:Game of Dr. Busbe
  • Creator: Milton Bradley Company
  • Date Created: ca. 1905
  • Location: Springfield, MA
  • Subject Keywords: Dr. Busbe
  • Type: Card Games
  • Medium: printed cardstock, paper
  • Object ID: 107.2539

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