Card game:Game of Dr. Busby

Milton Bradley Companyca. 1890

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

The card game Dr. Busby was the first American game to sell so many copies, it is believed that it started the whole game craze in this country, beginning in 1843. The game was probably designed by Anne W. Abbott, of Salem, Massachusetts, and it was published by the W. and S.B. Ives Company in that city. Abbott designed several other games as well. The Ives Company and family continued to hold copyrights on the game but as their business shrank they allowed other publishers to print copies of the game, so versions exist by all the major game publishers of that period--which probably originated as Ives products. In 1887 the last remaining Ives family member sold the copyrights to George S. Parker, so Parker Brothers continued to publish versions of the game, making grandiose claims in the game's instructions about "the first game ever published in America." McLoughlin Brothers, for one example, published its own version and simply altered the spelling of the title, to "Dr. Fusby." And various other makers altered the spelling in different ways. Dr. Busby is a matching game in which a player may call for a card to match his or her hand from the person on the right. If a card is given, the asking player may continue. Opponents with no cards lose, while the winner is the player with all the cards (and thus the matches) in hand.

Milton Bradley's late-19th century version of Dr. Busbe (spelled with a "y") shows the doctor, on its box cover, as a quack selling snake oil to the populace. It is a near duplicate of the J.H. Singer version (107.2531) in the museum collection. Singer went out of the toy business in 1895, and inventory was essentially purchased by Parker Brothers. How did Milton Bradley then publish this image?

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  • Title: Card game:Game of Dr. Busby
  • Creator: Milton Bradley Company
  • Date Created: ca. 1890
  • Location: Springfield, MA
  • Subject Keywords: Dr. Busbe
  • Type: Card Games
  • Medium: printed cardstock, paper


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