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Criss Cross

game prototype | game board

Unemployment inspires creativity--at least in the case of Alfred M. Butts, an architect made idle by the Great Depression. Butts had time on his hands and play on his mind. Observing that the most popular games fell into three categories--numbers (bingo), moves (chess, checkers), or words (crossword puzzles, anagrams)--he devised a game that deliberately combined all three variations. His game included 100 tiles each bearing a letter of the alphabet used to form words on a square grid. Each letter carried a numerical value, and a player scored points by tallying up the values of the letters in the words her or she laid on the grid. The player with the highest score after all the tiles had been used won the game. Butts was a better game creator than marketer. He first called his game Lexiko, then renamed it Criss Cross. He never offically published either prototype game. A blueprint of the Criss Cross game board may have been a prototype, or used for play testing. In 1948, Butts hooked up with James Brunot; between them, they refined the rules and design of the game and settled on yet another new name: Scrabble.

  • Manufacturer: Alfred M. Butts
  • Material: printed paper
  • Origin: New York, NY
  • Style: word
  • Object ID: 114.4668
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