Monopoly: An American Icon

Monopoly exhibit
Monopoly Darrow detail

Do not pass Go! Come directly to The Strong museum to see Monopoly: An American Icon. Guests of every age will discover the surprising story of one of America’s oldest and most popular board games in this one-of-a-kind display. Marvel at rare and historic versions of Monopoly—never before gathered together in one public space—as well as examples of modern-day sets and spinoff products based on this National Toy Hall of Fame classic.

Among the rare Monopoly sets on display:

The John Heap Monopoly, 1913: Heap’s board reflects his careful design and skills as an engineer and it represents his home town of Altoona, with still-existing streets marked in pen, and postcards showing local landmarks. The Heap game was an important piece of evidence in a decade-long Monopoly trademark dispute that began in 1974.

Charles Darrow Hand-Made, Round Monopoly Set, 1933: Charles Darrow, an unemployed plumber in search of income, was the first to market Monopoly. According to legend, his original round board was created to fit his dining room table. Darrow drew and painted the oilcloth board and produced the paper property cards. The family added their own favorite charms or figures to use as tokens.

Charles Darrow Hand-Colored “Tie-Box” Monopoly Set, 1933: Charles Darrow produced 5,000 copies of Monopoly at his own expense and sold them through a Philadelphia department store. Adding a printed label to boxes used for selling neckties, he peddled the games at Philadelphia’s Wanamaker’s department store; he soon interested Gimbels and FAO Schwarz in the game. After Parker Brothers noted the buzz and picked up the game, sales skyrocketed.    

Monopoly: An American Icon is produced by The Strong.