Monopoly is an iconic economic game dealing with real estate management. Its growing popularity has caused both younger and older audiences to unconsciously love, and perhaps even hate, the structures on the market. Here are five non-obvious tidbits about this multi-generational board!
1. Its forefather was… a woman!
In the early days of the 20th century, when women were in the process of emancipation, a certain Elizabeth Magie got the courage to obtain a patent for her original game. There would have been nothing unusual about this, if not for the historical context, which indicates that in the reality of the time, only 1% of “female” patent applications received a positive response.
2. Originated in economic science
The intention of creator Liz Magie was nothing less than educational. The original version of Monopoly, then called “The Landlord’s Game,” was intended to spread Geolibertarian economic thought. According to this theory, it is assumed that a person has full autonomy over the results of his work. This means that any good acquired or produced belongs entirely to individuals. However, natural resources, such as lands or territories, should be seen as a common good, the fruit of whose labor should be taxed. The idea of a single tax was juxtaposed with the phenomenon of polarization, where on the rents collected, the rich became richer, the rich.
3. Is there an educational paradox?
It can be said that the history of this game has come full circle in a certain paradoxical way. The rightful cause of any monopolistic market structure is the autonomy of the monopolist. It can be sanctioned legally (legal or administrative barrier), financially, strategically, geographically, or it can result from patents or licenses obtained. In view of this, how great and bitterly unfortunate must it have been for Elizabeth to lose the patent for her original game after 17 years?
The rules of the traditional Monopoly game have tended to conclude that monopolistic practices are the only legitimate market solution that properly rewards the main monopolist. An attempt to combat this trend was to create a board game with completely opposite game rules. In this variation, the game started with a full monopoly of all available enterprises and pursued a single goal, the state of the free market. The controversy over the somewhat stolen trademark and the lack of interest in this edition meant that the game was not as successful as its original. Let’s hope that past success is not a reflection of the modern economic thinking of the younger generation.
5. How much money can be made with paper money?
In 1935, Elizabeth, cashing in the rights to her game, earned an equal $500. It’s a great shame that in the same year, the well-known publisher Parker Brothers (modern Hasbro) paid $10,000 to another entrepreneur, David Knapp, for a similar game set in “The Landlord’s Game”, which we now know as just TE Monopoly. Interestingly, David himself was not the creator of Monopoly as we know it; he merely bought back the relevant patent rights for $200. The overall settlement?
$700 Creators vs. Entrepreneurs $10,000
As you can see, the turbulent adventures of the game became an apt reflection of the coming market turmoil and the competitive race to riches. Who would have expected the educational overtones of Monopoly to be so firmly established in practice?