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Why does Monopoly have such odd player tokens?

4450 day(s) ago

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When it was first put in production in 1935 Monopoly used colored pawns much like those used in a modern Sorry! game set. These were only used in the states for the first two years of production, but have been seen off and on in international editions.

In 1937 Parker Brothers decided to replace these tokens with metal pieces that could be identified by colorblind players. They chose off-the-shelf designs from makers of bracelet charms that resembled items that could be found in an average American home. The tokens were chosen primarily to have as much difference in shape as possible. There were eight original pieces: a clothes iron, a race car, a top hat, a shoe, a thimble, a lantern, a purse, and a rocking horse. The wheelbarrow was added later that year.

In 1940 Parker Brothers released a game called "Conflict." It was a flop, so leftover battleship and cannon tokens from the game’s production were added to the Monopoly sets. The lantern, purse, and rocking horse were replaced in the early 1950's with a dog and a horse with a rider. A train was added for deluxe editions and a bag of money was sold with games sold between 1999 and 2007. Occasionally the lantern, purse, and rocking horse pieces have been include in special editions.

There is a persistent myth that either American military intelligence or Britain's MI-9* sent Monopoly sets to POWs containing compasses and files disguised as game pieces, while silk maps were concealed in the game board. While support groups did send games, items like this wouldn't have been included as they could easily be detected.

*This branch of British intelligence specialized in aiding resistance fighters and troops behind enemy lines. It was only active during WWII.

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