Playing cards are truly ancient game-playing devices. Their earliest origins are traced to ninth-century China, where people marked leaves with symbols and spots for game play. Most scholars believe that similar handmade playthings also appeared in Egypt and India. In Europe, the first handmade cards showed up during the 1300s, but printed decks arrived in Germany with the development of printing itself in the mid-1400s. The decks we recognize today came directly from England with the first colonists. After the […]
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Excitement is building around the Strong as we lead up to this year’s induction of new toys into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The toys in this year’s slate of 12 nominees demonstrate all the qualities necessary to earn a place of honor with other classics. Each finalist has the longevity, recognition factor, and play value that let them rise above the more than 300 other toys nominated by the public this year. I can’t wait to be part […]
Playing with words and images can be funny: joke-telling, trickery, and satire allow us to be subversive without the repercussions that may accompany more malicious behavior. At seven or eight years old, my best friend and I produced a fake weekly newspaper. We pasted school portraits alongside our bylines and painstakingly crafted gossip columns, “horror-scopes,” quizzes, and bizarre feature stories about our classmates. No matter that the publication went defunct after a couple of issues or that its circulation was […]
As a curator, I’m enthusiastic about every item I acquire for the museum’s collections, but certain acquisitions are definitely more newsworthy than others. I recently had the chance to appear on regional cable TV news, talking about the museum’s latest Monopoly set. The story involves Strong’s acquisition of this historic version of Monopoly—older even than the “tie-box Monopoly” the museum owns from 1933. The Heap Folk Art Monopoly, as it’s known, predates Monopoly “inventor” Charles Darrow’s published version by some […]
Strong recently acquired a very rare and important board game—“The Jolly Game of Goose.” The game is printed on paper with old, yellowed tape on its folds. It is a prime candidate for intensive conservation (restoration) treatment. But why is it so important to the museum?
The game of goose is an ancient children’s game, possibly tracing its roots all the way back to an ancient Egyptian game called “Mehen,” which was played in early Old Kingdom times (2686–2134 BC). Later, […]
Toy and game inventors deserve their time in the spotlight, according to the annual TAGIE (Toy and Game Inventors Expo) Awards. Bestselling books and hit songs earn authors and singers publicity as well as financial rewards. But create a million-selling toy or game and practically no one knows your name. The TAGIE Awards honor the people behind the playthings, celebrating their creations and the fun they’ve brought to our lives.
A few weeks ago, Nic Ricketts, the museum’s games curator, and […]
You might not think of museum curators as showoffs, but we are. Personally, I love speaking in public and appearing on TV. However, the type of showing off that curators like best is the kind that involves sharing our collections with the world. Sometimes we show off our collections in museum exhibits or at educational events, but neither can display the thousands of great collection objects we want to share.
So I’m extremely excited to announce that the museum’s collections can […]
First patented in 1891, the Ouija Board has been popular ever since—a remarkably long run. Moving a heart-shaped “planchette” across a board printed with an alphabet, the numbers 0-9, and YES and NO options allowed players to spell out and compile apparently un-sourced “messages.” The effect was mysterious then and remains a bit spooky today.
It’s no coincidence that Ouija became popular in the late 1800s when spiritualism was sweeping from Europe to the United States. The original sellers promised an […]
What’s in a name, anyway? From the Ouija board to Twister, from Rubik’s Cube to Pictureka, toy and game designers often seek unique and memorable names, or names that cleverly describe both the thing and the play. “Jenga” is one clever game name. While it doesn’t mean anything else besides the game in English, the word “jenga” is based on “to build” in Swahili. In the early 1990s the promoters stressed Jenga’s name in this advertisement. Kids and adults alike […]