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Mark Twain's Memory Builder A Game for Acquiring and Retaining all sorts of Facts and Dates

board game

American author Mark Twain began a project in his spare evenings during the period he was writing "Huckleberry Finn" in the late 1870s and 1880s. Twain and his family enjoyed playing games, so he devised a fun way for his daughters to memorize historical dates and facts--a task they found otherwise dull. While his children used posts he placed along his driveway to represent reigns of the kings of England, Twain's idea for a board game scored points for evey correct date or fact a player recalled on her turn. Players kept score with straight pins, stuck into the appropriate space on the game board. Twain tinkered with his game for several years, then applied for and got a patent. A silent partner in his nephew-by-marriage's publishing house, Twain produced some prototypes and tested them in toy stores. As interesting as he found the memorization of dates and facts, nobody else felt the game would sell. Twain's extensive instructions may have been partly at fault. One critic called the game "a cross between an income tax form and a table of logarithms." The game never saw widescale production.

InventorMark Twain
Materialprinted paper | cardboard | metal
OriginNew York, NY
Styletrivia | educational
Object ID115.708

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