Monopoly is one of those games that everybody knows how to play. Infuriating for everybody playing it, apart from the winner and yet we still go back to play another game. Although it originated in the US, it is a British classic and it is the British version of the board which was used throughout the Commonwealth. If I ever find myself in London I’m always excited to see one of the street names from the famous board on an actual street sign.
I recently came across an edition of the game which was produced during the Second World War. This was a time when resources were scarce and people needed a distraction from the threat of air raids and invasion. So the continued production of board games and other forms of entertainment was important for public morale.
The interesting thing about this wartime edition of the game is the alterations that were made to the game pieces. All available metals and plastics were being driven towards the war effort so the pieces, instead of being cast in metal are made from card slotted into a wooden base, all of the houses and hotels are made from wood dyed the correct colours and the money is only printed on one side.
Probably the most interesting part is the dice “spinner”, made from cardboard due to “the difficulty of obtaining dice”. Whether or not the spinner offered the same random nature of dice I’m not sure but I suppose in times of need sacrifices had to be made. It might seem like a small amount of plastic could have been spared for things like dice, but it wasn’t just the materials but also the manufacturing time and labour which had to be concentrated more on the war effort. Every available factory and machine would have been commandeered for the good of the country.
It’s amazing that buying a Second World War era Monopoly set would cost you little more than buying a brand new edition of the game. This set is worth between approximately £10-£15 and a new set can be found for as little as £12. I think if you’re looking to buy a set, try to get hold a more interesting, slightly older edition.