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The Checkered Game of Life

game board

The Massachusetts printer Milton Bradley began his game-making career in 1860 with the publication of The Checkered Game of Life. This game is not about money - it's about virtue and morality. One of the earliest board games in the country, it offered Americans a welcome alternative to card games. Combining chance and skill to negotiate life's many challenges, players traversed a checkered board of colored squares representing the virtues of honor, truth, and temperance, or the vices of idleness, crime, and drink. Naturally, players could not use dice, because they were associated with gambling; instead, they used a teetotum - a top with numbered sides. The game was tremendously popular, selling out its first run of 45,000 copies in less than a year. Reviewers praised the game for offering families an entertaining way of instructing children in the advantages of moral behavior. Bradley skillfully promoted his product, including it in his collection of "Games for Soldiers" - nine games on lightweight pasteboard marketed to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

ManufacturerMilton Bradley Company
Materialprinted paper | cardboard | metal
OriginSpringfield, MA
Stylerace | checkers
Object ID114.5535
Credit LineGift of Diane Olin in Memory of Stephen Olin

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