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Carnival
Carnival
by Milton Bradley (1937)
Player Count
1
Mechanisms
  • Roll / Spin and Move
  • Family
  • Monopoly
  • Rating: 0/10 from 0 users

    Description

    This game has a very interesting "back story" in the convoluted early history of the Monopoly game. It is based on the expired 1904 Elizabeth Magie patent for The Landlord's Game.

    In 1934, Charles Darrow tried to sell his version of Monopoly to Milton Bradley, but they passed on it, knowing the real history of the game. He took Monopoly to Parker Brothers and the rest is history.

    As Monopoly began to become very popular in 1935, Milton Bradley came out with their own "property trading" game, Easy Money. This was based in part on Monopoly and also Finance, which was another very similar game that had been on the market since 1932.

    A race ensued to see who could patent this type of game first. The patent office decided that these games were derived from The Landlord's Game. Parker Brothers purchased the second Landlord's patent from Elizabeth Magie Phillips in November 1935, and Charles Darrow was granted a patent on Monopoly (as an "improved version") the following month.

    Parker Brothers then pressured Milton Bradley to change Easy Money, and remove what they considered aspects of the game that infringed on Monopoly. This included the use of property cards.

    Milton Bradley went along with this, but in 1937, perhaps as a bit of "payback," they briefly marketed this game Carnival, based on the earlier (expired) Landlord's Game patent. This game has what amounts to property cards (the "Concessions").

    So, it may very well be that this game was put on the market by Milton Bradley largely to thumb their noses at Parker Brothers. There was nothing Parker could do to prevent it.

    The iconography on the game board also ties it in directly to Easy Money, since the exact same Bank illustration is used. There are also references to "concessions" and it's very possible this is all in the nature of "subtext" as part of a dialogue between the two major game makers.

    It was only available for sale for a brief period of time, perhaps just long enough for Milton Bradley to make their point about patents. Parker Brothers had been attempting to get a third trading game patent (and actually did so in Canada), but they gave up on the effort in the United States, and this game may have played a part in it.

    If Milton Bradley had challenged the Monopoly patent in court, it likely would have been invalidated, and Parker Brothers knew this.
    Some of the other early Monopoly-related variants are quite valuable (the Knapp/Electronic Laboratories "Finance," "Boondoggling," Rudy Copeland's "Inflation," Cadaco's "Movie Mart," the 1935 version of "Easy Money," etc.) and this game is just about as rare as these are.

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