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July 30, 2013

While learning to master fire, harness the power of the sun, and ward off invading hordes, over the centuries man somehow managed to find time to play games.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses some of the most beautiful and valuable treasures ever created.  And, yes, there's even a section devoted to games.

What appears to be an interesting old box and odd shaped rocks actually comprise an ancient Egyptian game called Senet and Twenty Squares.  Dating from ca 1646-1458 BC, the game pieces are comprised of ivory, wood and a copper alloy.

These intricately carved pieces belong to an Egyptian game of
Hounds and Jackals.  Made from ivory and ebony, the game
dates from 1814-1805 BC.

This deck of playing cards is from the Netherlands and dates to
between 1470-1480 AD.  Composed of pasteboard with pen and
ink, games such as this one were often customized for the purchaser.

This exquisite game table was made by German craftsman David Roentgen,
ca 1789.  The materials include oak, walnut, veneered mahogany, maple,
holly, and tooled leather.  Pieces such as this were often made from discarded
wood but the results are beautiful and timeless.

Much closer to present time, these painted pieces are from a deck game called Horse and Jockey which was played aboard ocean liners of the Furness Withy Line, ca 1935. 

One of the most popular games ever produced is Monopoly, invented by Charles Darrow.  In 1935, Parker Brothers bought the rights to Monopoly and the rest is history.   Less than 25,000 copies of the original game were simply stamped 'Trade Mark' and are the most sought after by collectors.

While pre-1970 games are more collectible than ever, condition is the key to
investing.   Make sure all of the pieces are included and the box or packaging is intact.

The Game of Captain Kangaroo was manufactured by Milton Bradley
in 1956 as The Captain Kangaroo Show grew in popularity.  It's
available for sale at several online sites in the $100-$135 range.

Parker Brothers produced the Babes In Toyland board
game for Walt Disney in 1961.  Rather hard to find, this
game can be purchased for under $50 at many online sites.

The 1969 game Oh, Nuts was made by the Ideal Toy Company.  Priced
at $28, it's in mint condition and includes all of the game pieces. 

As with any serious business venture, education and knowledge of the commodity are crucial.  Warman's Antique American Games is an excellent source of information for pricing and the collectibity of antique games and there are innumerable online sites for information and the sale of vintage games.

A Gilligan's Island board game might be worth $600 while a Partridge Family game from the same period might be worth $25-$50.  Board games from the 1970s remain undervalued in today's collector's market so pay sharp attention while shopping yard sales, thrift shops and flea markets.    Amazon

Before rushing out in search of vintage games take the time
to go through your mother's attic.  You might be surprised
at some of the treasures she kept from your childhood!


  1. I always enjoyed board games when I was younger. New ones would always arrive at Christmas, and we would sit down as a family in the afternoon to play them. Many were variations on a theme, but I liked the exciting new look. It just isn't the same with the games consoles. I've played Monopoly on the Wii, and it has to be the most tedious game ever when played that way.

  2. We would have Monopoly game marathons at Thanksgiving and during the Christmas holiday, too. My older brother always wanted to be the banker - and he almost always won! I wish more families would play board games and spend less time on individual electronic devices. One day a week the parents should hide the batteries and rechargers! -- Jan