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The Improved and Illustrated Game of Dr. Busby

card game

The card game Dr. Busby is considered the first popular and best-selling card game in the United States, and the game that fostered American interest in games and gaming generally. Anne Wales Abbott, a New England educator, supposedly invented the game in 1840, and produced a few simple copies on her own. Scholars believe that is why the 1843 Ives version has "Improved and Illustrated" as part of its title. Dr. Busby is also recognized as the first game in which an African-American person is depicted. Unlike later versions of the game, Dr. Busby's "servant" is shown well-dressed and respectable. Later games contained exaggerated and stereotypical negative depictions of African-Americans and other immigrant groups. While the Parker Brothers game manufacturing firm later purchased Ives' copyright for Dr. Busby, every other major game maker produced a version of the game. Some changed the game title to avoid copyright infringement, others ignored the Ives copyright. Dr. Busby, and its variants, continued to be popular throughout the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth.

  • Designer: Anne Wales Abbott
  • Manufacturer: W. & S. B. Ives
  • Material: printed cardstock
  • Origin: Salem, MA
  • Style: matching
  • Object ID: 115.4179
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