©Thomas Forsyth 2015
By following the progress of both Magie's versions of Landlords and monopoly, one can get a pretty good idea of what the rule set for the Arden Landlords game from summer of 1903 might have been like. Our first clue comes from Lizzie Magie's patent application just months earlier in March of 1903. The patent starts with the goal of the game to be to gain as much wealth as possible, the one with the most at game's end wins. She also writes, "The series of spaces upon the board are not colored to distinguish them; but of course other means of making them distinctive may be employed." While her original art work did not include color, she goes on to suggest its use as she follows with color recommendations for certain spaces. Later, in the patent claims (the real strength of a patent) she goes on to say, "some of the spaces of the different series corresponding, and distinguished by coloring or other marking, so that the corresponding spaces in the different divisions may be recognized..." While the patent rules fail to mention specific monopolization of "property groups" between the corners and the railroads, a key element of monopoly, she does mention that groups of properties could be identified by color or other means.
The Arden board design lacked color, but Magie did employ other means to uniquely identify groups of spaces. This is found via a lettering system. There are two points that one needs to pay close attention to. First, the letters are not alphabetically sequential. Property groups are lettered A through H, divided into eight groups residing between each board corner and the railroad half way between the corners. She skips to the letter M for Utilities, then N for railroads, not using I and J, the next letters after H. In her 1906 published version of Landlords we see her first known set of rules for the game. While the 1906 Landlords is clearly based on the 1903 design, changes suggest that Magie had begun her long journey into teaching the Georgist Single Tax principle through the game's design and rules. Over time Landlords would become a very different game than monopoly. The 1906 game does suggest that the earlier 1903 game did contain houses for property groups, and two rule sets, one monopolistic the other Georgist (anti-monopolistic.) The second important point to pay close attention to is that the property groups in the 1903 Arden version had eight property groups divided between the corners and the railroads.
The Heap board, which I date as 1910, actually has its roots at the Wharton School of Finance in 1909, where Scott Nearing was first a student, then a Professor. In letters from that time I have found that the game was called monopoly in 1909, not Landlords. In a letter from Scott Nearing to Ralph Anspach, Nearing states that he always knew the game he learned in Arden as Landlords, and always called it that. (Letters and dates come from the Anspach - Hoskins archives collection.) Sometime between 1906 (when the Nearing brothers learned the Arden game) and 1909, (Heap game) one version of Landlords was renamed monopoly. Why? Because the Arden game had two rule sets. When people played by the purely monopolistic rule set they called it monopoly. As I've traced the passage of copies made from the 1903 Arden game all the way to Charles Darrow in 1933, I found something quite interesting. For many years the exact lettering sequence in the Arden game was retained. It's easy to recognize as related to the Arden design because the lettering A-H for property groups, M for Utilities, and M for Railroads remains without any new variation in lettering sequence. People began to add color, but retained Magie's unique letter sequence. Eventually the letters were dropped and colors remained as the way to distinguish unique groups on the board. The eight property groups remain at their same locations between corners and railroads. We can also find games that came out of the Wharton School group that were still called Landlords, while the rule sets and design were clearly monopoly based on Magie's Arden designs and split rule sets. Thus, the name remained somewhat interchangeable for monopoly depending on who learned from whom. This name carryover by some individuals of the game name Landlords vs. monopoly added to confusion about the original origin of monopoly. This was later taken advantage of.
Getting back to the Arden rules; we can draw on the first available rules sets and board design by Magie after the Arden design, this being her 1906 published version. We can also draw on the rule sets and board designs all the way from the Arden board to Charles Darrow. From these we can draw some reasonable conclusions. Mine is this (based on a lot of evidence still to be published); Magie's design for her friends in Arden likely contained a rule set based on Georgist Single Tax theory. It also contained a second set of rules, those where for what we now call monopoly. This rule set involved obtaining any of eight property groups between the corner spaces and the railroads, once obtained one could build houses and raise rents. One could also monopolize the utilities and/or railroads for increased rents. There was Chance with cards, and all of the corner spaces were in place - Mother Earth (Go), Go to Jail, Jail, Park Free (later Free Parking.) Indeed, Magie, as she later claimed, did invent monopoly. Great confusion comes out of the fact that both Magie's Georgist Landlords game and greedy monopoly games were originally played on the same board design, and called the same name, Landlords. It was monopoly that retained most of the characteristics of the Arden design over the years. Monopoly was not a spin off from Magie's earliest design of Landlords. Monopoly was one of two sets of rules created in 1903 by Magie, present in the Arden game. It took a couple years for players who used only the monopolist rule set to distinguish such by calling the game monopoly.
While I am basing my conclusions on the best 'available' evidence at this time and am willing to adjust with factual evidence be it supportive or contrary. I invite anyone who has additional information that either supports or challenges my views to come forth and share what they have. I will give due credit for contributions if requested. My goal is to tell the true history, not to bias it for personal reasons. For now, I will make a definitive statement that Lizzie Magie invented both Landlords (Georgist theory) and monopoly (monopolistic rules and play) in 1903. Until additions made by the Thuns in Reading, PA, and especially the Quakers in Atlantic City, there were very few 'significant' changes to Magie's original game design and play of monopoly, originally sharing the name Landlords.
I will elaborate with greater detail when I post my sections on timeline, the name game, more rules, photos, and documents.