tv Book Discussion on The Monopolists CSPAN March 31, 2015 8:00pm-8:35pm EDT
most people are familiar with the red hotels greenhouses and mr. monopoly. most people saying parker brothers. the idea is at america's darkest hour he makes this game and puts the houses on atlanta boulevard for a happier time. you can see the monopoly patton looks like what we know as monopoly today. tokens, board, property. this version of the story has been on the website for years. some people believe daro was the inspiration for early characters. the only story is not true.
it started out originally with lizzie magie. she had a patton for a type writer gadget and was an outspoken feminist and had views on this. this is before women could vote. her father was james mcgee who wasn't just a newspaper owner but travelled with lincoln during the lincoln-douglas debates and was around for the founding of the republican party. lizzie magie had appeared on stage as well and wrote short stories and a book of poetry as well. she was very impacted by this man henry george. i am sure people in this room know about henry george but a lot don't. the short version is he was a ponent of single tax theory and he had an idea if you only tax
land the working class has a better shot at equality. he writes a book progress and equality and it is a massive best-seller. you can read about people packing hall do is hear him speak and lizzie magie is moved by this. here is the patton for the 1904 landlord's game. she applied in 1903 and received it in 1904. the idea of taking to a board game for a teaching tool might seem strange but in her day it made sense. they were becoming cheaper to manufacture and politicians were talking about the fight for leisure time and child labor laws improving and lighting all
day helped fuel the demand for did go board games. she was concerned with land usage. she makes the game and it spreads like wildfar in the east. on the far left, rex tugwell was one of the monopoly players. and you have ernest angel who was a national chair of man of the new yorker. scott nearing plays the game. he was professor at warton who was involved in an important academic freedom case. some say he started the green movement.
ardin delaware is a single tax colony where the game flourished. upton sinclair's house in ardin was called the jungelo and there was a sex scandal that took place but maybe that is another presentation. it was played everywhere harvard and so on. in 1924 she renews the patton. it continues to spread. she spent time in chicago so you can see the loop and chicago properties on there. and one of the groups that embraces monopoly as a game is a quakers of atlantic city. this is a quaker monopoly night. they had wooden boards people made on their own and they would add properties for whatever city they were in. philadelphia and boston and this was an atlantic city version of the game.
we have an atlantic city board. this is charles todd board and you look as this compared to the lizzie magie game the similarities become closer and closer. charles todd lives in philadelphia and learns the game from friends in atlantic city. we runs into the friends and says come over and we will have a monopoly tide. so the darrens and the todds have marketplace -- monopoly. after the game he asked for a copy of the rules. he does it even though it is odd. charles todd's secretary types up the rules. let's go to parker brothers in the '30s. in the mid-1930s it was a firm in crises.
no body was buying anything. george parking founded the firm in the 1880's and it wasn't looking good. his son in law who is second from the left just took over at parker brothers and he was a lawyer by training and very little gaming experience. he needed a solution and needed it fast. darryl starts selling the monopoly game. this place is still in philly. if you were a fan of "manequin of "manequin "that is where it was shot. this is a picture of barton and he is older here. but they strike up a deal that will buy the games. monopoly is a best seller and
the story of it being invented during the great depression is a huge part of the publicity for the game. they made a game called bowls and bears that didn't sell well. there was never a board game creation story like this story and he is giving interviews and press everywhere. one of the things they need to do is make tokens. parker brothers caused on doust manufacture who makes cracker jack prizes. a lot of the token you can see have loops because they were originally made as charms. even beyond the cracking jack prize situation if you were a company like a flat iron company you might give customers an iron token. so they used the existing molds.
it is fought long before parker and barton realize they have a problem and there are a lot of other monopoly games out there. barton writes to daro saying where did this game come from? can you give us a detailed history of the game. we might use it for publicity. the very short version is he waffles and doesn't address the genesis of the game let alone it was around for 30 years before selling. one of the games is a finance game. you can see it looks a lot like monopoly and dan played as a paternity guy at college and sold it on his own. and parker brothers acquire it for not a lot and start to buy up other similar games. milton bradley was their rival
and had a game that mimicked monopoly and drew origin from the landlord game. the train had left the station by the mid-30s. lizzie magie's landlord game is forgotten. she is not happy and in 1936 she gives an interview from the washington star and she is holding up her board and the monopoly board on the market and says ms. phillips she was married by then, it is understood she received $500 for her pattont and gets no royalties. if you count the fees used up in developing it the game cost her more than making it. that is the deal she received from parker brothers. so why did the patton office grant this when lizzie magie had
two runs before it? we will never know. there is a document around pattons that explains how and why this happens. we don't know what happened at the patton office. this is his obitary deeming him as the founder of monopoly. lizzie magie dies and there is no mention of monopoly here or on her grave. this whole history was an accident and it came out accidently because of this guy. this is a picture of ralph at berkeley. he games a game called anti-monopoly because he is
upset about the opec oil car tells. this is him and his son on the left. he feels monopolies roots are negative and he wants a philosophical game. this is a drawing one of his sons did. it is very '70s. ralph nadir and that kind of public service lawyers are the heroes of the game. he hears from parker brothers attorneys saying you cannot make anti-monopoly. and that kicks off a ten year legal battle between ralph and his family and parker brothers and they rip a part trade right patton and copyright law and that is more detailed in the book. as part of the lawsuit, everybody else thought he was the inventor of the game but he starts to find out the roots go
far back and finds layman who is an elderly man living in pasadena and finds charles todd and hunts down the quaker players. this is ralph's notes to find out who went to school with who and who knew who and reverse engineering the monopoly story and winding back and trying to find the thread between the game and the patton. these are the quakers and shhome passed away but they did ultimately testify. charles todd tells the story i told you and he made a point he didn't live in atlantic city. carlos todd lived in philadelphia and his friend.
in atlantic city the gardens and spelled en but on the board it is spelled in. and one thing people look at in copy cat chases when you try to prove plagiarism is when someone copies an error because what are the odds. so he spelled it with an in. the color groupings are something the court is interested in. in the early games you can see they are everywhere. ralph tried to find a copy of the board with the word monopoly on it. most people testified it was definitely called the monopoly game pre-parker brothers.
and i got this from a reader who said we have one in our attic and i e-mailed ralph and said the boards do exist after 40 years. he was kind enough to let me use it. the story is getting press. the anti-monopoly case and ralph telling people this game existed before the parker brothers. and there is an atlantic city monopoly tournament and the parker brothers are sponsoring it and they are giving out the cup with the daro name and ralph decides to set-up a truth about monopoly lecture next to the tournament. and the parker brothers catches wind of this and no one goes to the lecture. but you would not know this by looking at the photo of ralph in atlantic city. he heard from a couple college
kids from cornell who were kicked out and made a game about how to win at monopoly that parker brothers attacked them over. there is another tournament taking place in washington, d.c. shortly thereafter. and ralph joins forces with the college kids and go about slipping the truth about monopoly under the plates of journalist and that gets a rise. that college kid was jaywalker who is the founder of priceline. this was their book and i did success searching. their names are on it. if you want a pure how to play monopoly book it is pretty great. so meanwhile in court, parker brothers wins an injunction and when you have an injunction you
throw it in a wearhouse and decide what to do. but they staged a bury the boards not far from where they are being manufactured from. this legal battle went on for years and ralph's personal relationships were strained and his legal fees added up and this is not good for the self-esteem. he won victory in california but parker brothers appeals to the supreme court. ralph needed a lawyer and found carl pierson who is still practicing here. it is the two of them working out of carl's office up against who is who in trademark lobby. the supreme court refuses to
hear the case and wins the settlement for his damaged games and he wins the right to talk about the origins of the game. he had previously turned down a massive settlement offer that was a lot of money but he would not be able to talk about the history of the game. victory is not enough. he and his friend russ foster and there is a bad quality photo here, but they decide they want to dig up the games. they go to minnesota and they think they know where they are buried and they look and look and have no luck. somebody says you are in the wrong place and ralph says we will go back. they said you might have a problem they built condos on top of where the games are buried. when people ask me why do you spend all of this time writing book about monopoly and board games which is a legit question i think some days the games are
going to be discovered. i feel like we need a document to explain why 40,000 board games ended up buried in minnesota. so monopoly today i keep a close eye on how people talk about it. john skewert embraced it. if you are into cat memes it made appearances there and gossip girls and sopranos. i want to find out who has these tattoos. i feel like if you are a monopoly sleeve you will come to me at one point on the book tour. but i think it is funny it is opt opposite of what it was. this is my book. you can buy millions of copies and tell your friends. and how to get in touch with me if you have any questions.
i think we will take questions now and i went through it quickly but there is 300 pages if you want more. let's take some questions. don't all talk at once. yup in >> what was your discovery process on the history? what led you to get into it and find the backstory? >> this whole project came about by accident. i was on staff at the wall street journal and i was going to have a throw away line about monopoly being invent during the great depression. and i did the reporter trick of calling someone who was involved in litigation which was ralph and reached out and i said i am a reporter at the journal and i am trying to find out the truth about monopoly and i just assumed it was invented during the great depression by a guy and ralph got back to me saying
he knew all about the history of monopoly and started talking. i think as a report sometimes everybody thinks they are a deep throat and you take people seriously but you are kind of like you get a lot of conspiracy theorist. this was like the jay walker piece and it all checked out. i wrote the story, met with ralph in san francisco and he had boxes of depositions, documents, photographs, and recordings and all of the this tough that makes your report soul glow. and now they are in my apartment. and so i started with those and then kind of reported out from that. so a good example is with lizzie magie he knew she existed but i wanted to know more about her and approached the beginning of the book like it was an
autobiography about her. and researching someone abscure from this area without kids was hard. public resources from the library were incredible and ancestory.com and the census is incredible. figuring out what street the quakers lived next to where lizzie was living most of her life. some of the book is not digital. among journalist and readers there is an idea if it isn't on google it is not real information. i kept finding over and over again these gems that were in people's attic or tucked away. just so much of this book was not out there digitally.
her father this didn't end up in the book but her civil war letters were at the new york civil society and you get gloves, dig through them and get a portrait of what these people were like. things like that made them into human beings as opposed to textbook names. it was totally different from doing a newspaper story because most of the people i was writing about were deceased. ralph was a huge resource and i never asked more from anybody in terms of time and walking me through the timeline of how he found things he had a lot of notes and documented this well. i interviewed his son and his ex-wife passed away. three people died in the time i was reporting this. i was gathering as much as i could. interviews and such. a lot of things -- i had so many moments when i thought why can't
i ask you a question. there was a lot of geneology. but it was a hodgepodge of everything. it was overwhelming. the hard part was gathering the string and putting it together. it felt unwieldy. yes? >> i was wondering is there a thing that you found that you had never known. can you talk about that? >> ralph e-mailed be a couple days ago and his son is a lawyer in new york and wrote his harvard law admission essay about the monopoly trial and growing up in courtrooms helped him be a lawyer. ralph splits time between the states and europe which isn't a bad way to live. he said live dpin begins at 89. and i thought we should all be
lucky to be so spry in our 80's. he is an expert in all of this. he was an economist before this. he had a good idea of enhenry george and how it all came together. he knew lizzie magie existed but the deeper stuff was something i spent a lot of time on. there were things we would not need to be interested in. like the quakers and the history of atlantic city was in the book and what it was like living there. he lived in berkeley in the '70s so he would not have to zoom out and look at the political climate there. a lot of the character developing and a lot of the details were in the depositions
but didn't make it into the brief. than were interesting but not part of the timeline he put together. flushing out character and the lizzie magie and history board game pieces. the first half of the book was less reliant on the documents. [inaudible conversation] >> his conviction through the whole thing is amazing. turning down the selling offer which is a big turning point in the book. his background i felt like i needed to understand because the first year or two of reporting this i had many moments where i thought like why did he keep doing this. it was straining this family finances and hind-sight is 20/20. more about his background and leaving before the nazis came in and his life as an immigrant in the state was important backgrounds. and his sons were describing the
parent and said there was always a cause rather it was rallying against the vietnam war or anti-monopoly. he seemed happy but he was so secure and confidant in this after obeseing the story together. the supreme court court case ended in 1983. whenever there is a mention in the news of the story he was like ahh. so yeah it is a long time to wait to have your story told. yes? [inaudible conversation] >> i reached out and approaches the reporting of the book like where was reporting a times or journal story so no surprises and you want as many people to participate. i contacted hasbero and there was turnover and i didn't follow the play by play.
i sent them hundreds of fact checking questions that were answered and i contacted them and they didn't respond. because they acquired parker brothers in 1991 i mean most of the book takes place before then, and a lot of the documents -- i was lucky because i tried to give everybody a voice in the story. and barton had a deposition. so i feel like we did get to hear from him. we have the letters and things that i don't know what documents they would have had because they acquired the company. researching was really important to me. it took digging but there was stuff out there. i don't believe so. but it is funny because in the accept depositions you can tell
it is a lot of lawyers and that is a common typo. i had to make sure there was no clarence in the book. it is a relatively common last name i believe so i don't believe any relationship. >> now you are seeing a lot of the history has been changed in twirls terms of who was the creator but what has been done to honor the legacy of lizzie magie? >> that is a wonderful question. the short answer is i don't know. she didn't have children and i tried to contact distant rel relative relatives but by then they are so distant it is what it is. ralch went about trying to make sure the quakers were not acknowledged and put up a plaque and my version of it is telling her story.
i cannot tell you how many times in the last few years people say you are writing a book about monopoly and the depression game. i think that part one is just getting the story out there. but i don't know of anything tangible. if you have ideas i am all ears. yes? [inaudible question] >> that is a good question. i am not a game clothollector but everyone once in a while one pops up on ebay. they are not crazy expensive as far as i know. and in general board games are
weird collectibles and it is similar to what comic books went through where people thought they were not valuable and people were suffering comic books with them. and if you are a superman fan it makes you choke up. but i think board games are cultural artifacts and reflects times they were made in. i almost wish people valued them more because it me it is a game about berkeley. any other questions? very quite crowd. [inaudible question] >> yes. they have a collection -- this museum as a couple games that are right outside the door. the straw museum upstate has
some games. the forbes gallery had a tremendous monopoly collection including the pod board and they auctioned them. there was a -- this was a couple years ago and there was a flurry of e-mail activity and the case in history is contentious. the straw museum acquired one. we know what they look like and know about them but they are in private hands now. when i was in the first stages of researching the book i could go to the forbes gallery, look around, get a visual sense but now it would be harder to do. rod rod they have a lot of great stuff. cheap jet blue flight it you are
trying to go. anything else? that you know so much. [applause] >> the book is up here and mary pilon would be happy sign a copy for you. >> you are watching booktv in prime time. a reminder every weekend booktv features 48 hours of non-fiction books beginning at 8 a.m. eastern on saturday. go to booktv.org for the schedule. and with congress on recess the booktv prime time continues on wednesday with a focus on technology. at eight, a discussion on the topic from the boston book festival and then the co-founder of paypal is here on his book. and then a look at the $2 trillion global automoti