A Game Board Patent

Today’s spotlight document comes in the form of a printed patent drawing.  This illustration was part of a 1904 application for an improved game board.

Gameboard Patent
Drawing for a Game Board, 1/5/1904. From the Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. National Archives Identifier: 595519

Lizzie J. Magie, a citizen of Brentwood, Maryland, submitted this familiar-looking game design as a way to demonstrate economist Henry George’s concept of a single-tax, which was a popular idea being proposed for use in the United States.  Dubbed the Landlord’s Game, the ultimate object of the game is to become the wealthiest player while accumulating as much money as possible.

And why is this so familiar?

In 1935 a game based off of Magie’s board design was patented: Monopoly.

We use it to teach about the Constitution at Work, since Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power…To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

This document is just one of many records from the Patent and Trademark Office we hold at the National Archives available for use on DocsTeach.

Today’s post came from former social media intern Holly Chisholm.

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