The Landlord's Game is a board game patented in the 1900's by Elizabeth Magie. It is a realty and taxation game, similar to Monopoly. Though many similar home-made games were played at the beginning of the 20th Century and some predate The Landlord's Game, it is the first of its kind to have an attested patent. Magie re-patented a revised edition of the game in the 1920's.
Magie based the game on the economic principles of Georgism, a system proposed by Henry George, with the object of demonstrating how rents enrich property owners and impoverish tenants. She knew that some people could find it hard to understand why this happened and what might be done about it, and she thought that if Georgist ideas were put into the concrete form of a game, they might be easier to demonstrate.
Although The Landlord's Game was patented, it was not taken up by a manufacturer until 1910, when it was published in the U.S. by the Economic Game Company of New York. In the UK it was published in 1913 by the Newbie Game Company of London under the title Brer Fox an' Brer Rabbit. Despite the title change, it was recognizably the same game.
Magie moved back to Illinois, where she was born, was married in 1910, moved with her husband to the Washington D.C area, and eventually patented a new version of The Landlord's Game in 1924 (under her married name, Elizabeth Magie Phillips). This version, unlike the illustration depicted in her first patent, included named streets, some named after locations in Chicago. Apart from commercial distribution, it spread by word of mouth and was played in slightly variant homemade versions over the years by Quakers, Georgists, university students and others who became aware of it.
Magie held the copyright for The Landlord's Game until 1935, when she sold it to Parker Brothers for $500. The company had recently started distributing Charles Darrow's Monopoly, and was buying up the copyrights of various commercial forms of the game in order to claim undisputed rights to selling it. As part of the purchase agreement, which Magie insisted upon, Parker Brothers manufactured and marketed three of her games, one of which was an un-altered version of The Landlord's Game which sold several hundred copies until it was discontinued.
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