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Gavitt's Stock Exchange
Gavitt's Stock Exchange
by Decision Games (I), Gavitt Publishing and Printing (1903)
Player Count
2 to 6

Playing Time
30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Card Game
  • Economic
  • Trains
  • World War II
  • Designers
  • Joseph Miranda
  • Harry Gavitt
  • Mechanisms
  • Set Collection
  • Trading
  • Point to Point Movement
  • Artists
  • Joe Youst
  • Family
  • Solitaire Wargames
  • Country: Burma
  • Decision Games Mini Series
  • Decision Games Commando Series
  • Rating: 3.5/10 from 2 users


    Gavitt's Stock Exchange is widely credited as the inspiration for the perennial best-seller Pit by Parker Brothers. The box and rules for the original game by Topeka, Kansas-based entrepreneur Harry E. Gavitt say it was covered by four copyrights and multiple patents dating as early as Sept. 15, 1896.

    The only thing it has in common with the Pit game developed by Edgar Cayce and first sold in 1904 is the open-outcry method for trading cards and the objective of being the first to collect a complete set.

    G-S-E, as it is also called on the box, is themed as a railway stock trading game rather than a commodities pit, and has a deck of only 49 cards: 8 shares in six railways plus a "Fatal Telegram" card. This compares with decks of 65 and 74 in Pit games. Similarly, G-S-E allows players to trade only one or two cards at a time, compared with a maximum of four for Pit.

    The play of the Telegram card is very different from the Bull and Bear cards used in Pit. It always starts with the dealer, and is added to the first trade that player makes. In other words, if the dealer trades two cards for two cards, the other player receives two plus the Telegram. That player in turn must include the Telegram in his next trade and so on. The Telegram has no benefit and at hand's end equals a penalty of $100 if held by the winner and $150 if held by anyone else.

    Scoring also differs from the later Pit. Railway shares are worth between $125 and $250 (a narrow range than in Pit). The player who first corners a railway must shout "Topeka" in honor of Gavitt's hometown, and scores double the value of his 8 rail cards. The other players, however, also score, each collecting the face value of his largest set. First player to $2,500 wins the game.

    Gavitt was determined to foster boisterous play, and his rules specify that bids must be made at least twice as loud as normal conversation, and that players must make their first offers as soon as they pick up their cards, and another every five seconds thereafter. Breaking these rules carries a penalty of $25 for each offense!

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