Playing Cards: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Playing Cards: A 2010 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Playing cards are truly ancient game-playing devices. Their earliest origins are traced to ninth-century China, where people marked leaves with symbols and spots for game play. Most scholars believe that similar handmade playthings also appeared in Egypt and India. In Europe, the first handmade cards showed up during the 1300s, but printed decks arrived in…

The Story behind Strong’s Folk Art Monopoly Game

The Story behind Strong’s Folk Art Monopoly Game

As a curator, I’m enthusiastic about every item I acquire for the museum’s collections, but certain acquisitions are definitely more newsworthy than others. I recently had the chance to appear on regional cable TV news, talking about the museum’s latest Monopoly set. The story involves Strong’s acquisition of this historic version of Monopoly—older even than…

Which Came First, the Goose or the Egg?

Which Came First, the Goose or the Egg?

Strong recently acquired a very rare and important board game—“The Jolly Game of Goose.” The game is printed on paper with old, yellowed tape on its folds. It is a prime candidate for intensive conservation (restoration) treatment. But why is it so important to the museum? The game of goose is an ancient children’s game,…

Batter Up, Uncle Sam!

Batter Up, Uncle Sam!

Strong National Museum of Play has many historical artifacts that help to tell the story of play in the wider context of American history. One of my favorite posters in the museum’s collection shows how baseball intersected with American history in the early twentieth century. Baseball was widely recognized as America’s national sport by the…

ROC Gardens

ROC Gardens

Most of my colleagues and friends know this about me: I am a gardener. Except during winter, you’ll find me in my garden whenever I have a spare moment. Gardening ranks as one of the most popular forms of adult leisure, so I know I’m not alone in my hobby. My gardening enthusiasm also links…

Color Us Happy!

Color Us Happy!

Do you remember coloring pictures when you were a child? Does that unforgettable crayon aroma send you back in time? Coloring is one of the easiest and most economical ways for a child to discover his or her creative spark-and nearly everyone does it! I vividly recall my childhood coloring experiences. I especially remember the…

Jenga. Jenga? Jenga!

Jenga. Jenga? Jenga!

What’s in a name, anyway? From the Ouija board to Twister, from Rubik’s Cube to Pictureka, toy and game designers often seek unique and memorable names, or names that cleverly describe both the thing and the play. “Jenga” is one clever game name. While it doesn’t mean anything else besides the game in English, the…

Playing with Politics

Playing with Politics

Now that Election Day has come and gone, it’s time to think about the fun side of politics. Yes, there is a fun side to politics, at least when you look at the dozens of politically-themed games in the collection here at Strong National Museum of Play. Throughout American history, games of all sorts have often reflected…