A lot of people have old versions of Monopoly at the back of their cupboards. It’s the sort of game that people keep hold of rather than selling it on or donating it.
So, if you have an old copy of the game lying about then you might be wondering exactly how to age a Monopoly game. In this guide, I’ll explain how you can find out how old a Monopoly set is.
How To You Tell What Year Your Monopoly Game Is
There are so many different versions of Monopoly available that it can be hard to work out which one you’ve got. Of course, the basic ingredients of a game of Monopoly will be common to all versions of the game.
But if you look a bit closer you will see that there are differences that will help you to work out how old a game is. In this post, I will show you some ways to try and figure out how old your Monopoly is.
1. Who is it made by?
One of the first things to check is the name of the manufacturer. If you have a game of Monopoly that is made by Parker Brothers then you can be sure that your game is at least 30 years old.
Hasbro bought the rights to Monopoly in 1991 so if you have a game made by Hasbro it will have been made since this time whilst a Parker Brothers edition will be from before 1991.
If you have a really old version there is a chance it dates from between 1933 and 1935 when the game was first released by Charles Darrow before he sold the game to the Parker Brothers.
If there is another manufacturer listed it may be that you have a version produced outside of the USA. For example, in the UK, Monopoly was licensed to Waddingtons to produce a British edition.
If you have ever played your game it’s likely that you figured this out already from the London-based street names.
2. Is there a copyright date?
Another way to check is to look at the gameboard to see if there is a date listed for the copyright. This can be found in the center of the board underneath the Monopoly logo on older versions but is nearer the edge on later editions.
There will usually be several dates that reflect the different copyrights that have applied to the game since its original release by Parker Brothers in 1935. For example, it might say ‘© 1935, 1946, 1961 by Parker Brothers’. The last date is the date of your edition. In this example, it would be 1961.
The most valuable early editions of the game state ‘Patent Pending’ on the box and have ‘Darrow 1933’ printed in the jail square.
3. Compare it to an image online
One of the easiest ways to find out what version of Monopoly you have is to compare it to images online. This is especially important if you have a really old copy from 1935-1954 as there were loads of different versions released that look very similar.
You might like to take a photo of your game and do a Google Lens image search to see if that can find a match.
4. What game tokens do you have?
The type of token that you have in the game is another clue as to how old it is. The first Parker brothers editions introduced the six original tokens: the battleship, boot, cannon, thimble, top hat, and iron. A race car and purse were quickly added to make it 8 tokens by the end of 1935.
During WWII, these metal tokens were replaced by wooden pawns or pieces made of a paper and sawdust composite. During the 1940s a few new designs were tried like a wheelbarrow, Scottish terrier and a plane.
The Monopoly pieces then became standardized between 1950 and 1998, for nearly 50 years the pieces were a battleship, boot, cannon, horse and rider, iron, racecar, dog, thimble, top hat, and wheelbarrow.
Monopoly pieces have changed a few times since 2000 and it should be easy to date a game from this period by searching online.
5. Are the houses wooden?
If you have a Monopoly set with wooden houses you can be sure that it’s one of the oldest editions from the 1950s or earlier.
Even back in the 1930s, some versions had plastic houses. At the time this was an exciting new technology and only the most expensive Monopoly versions had plastic houses while most of them still had wooden houses.
There are quite a few different designs for houses and hotels from the 1930s to 50s. The rare 1935 patent pending edition of the game had round and octagonal wooden houses and hotels so these are easy to recognise. There are some editions with really nice wooden hotels that are red with Grand Hotel painted on the side in gold.
There are even a few editions of Monopoly that were released in the early days that had metal houses and hotels that were painted red and green. From the late 1950s onwards the design of the plastic houses and hotels has changed very little.
6. Is it based on a movie or TV show?
There are now loads of licensed versions of Monopoly based on things like Star Wars, Disney, Walking Dead or even the boyband One Direction! If you have a game like this that strays away from the traditional street-based design you can be sure that it’s relatively new and was produced in the Hasbro era.
What do I do if I have a really old version of Monopoly?
The first thing to do is to try and work out exactly which edition of Monopoly you have. If you have followed the points above you will have a good idea. But there were a lot of very early editions and the differences are small.
Here are some clues to look for if you think you have an early edition:
- ‘Charles Darrow 1933’ printed on the jail square (this was left there for several years after Parker Brothers bought the game)
- The earliest versions had no property prices printed on the board
- Chance, Community Chest, and Luxury Tax squares have no pictures
- The back of the property cards is blank on older sets
- The $22 rent on the Marvin Gardens property card was later corrected to $24
- Chance cards with printing only and no pictures is an older set
- Early sets stated Income Tax is 10% or $300
If your board does not have Charles Darrow 1933 on the jail square, then the copyright date is your best guide.
Is my Monopoly game worth anything?
If you have an old or rare version of Monopoly then it could be worth something. The easiest way to find out is to look on eBay to see if the same edition is listed for sale or has been sold recently.
This will give you a good idea of what someone might be likely to pay for your Monopoly set. Sometimes a game can be rare without being especially old, so if you have an unusual edition of Monopoly it’s worth having a quick check to see if it could earn you some money.
If you’re thinking of selling your game, you should check out my post Are Old Monopoly Games Worth Anything?
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post and that you now have a better idea of how to work out the age of a Monopoly set.
If you have a very old edition it could be worth quite a few dollars but you may want to keep hold of it to have your own important piece of board game history.
It will definitely be a talking point whenever you play the game and, who knows, the value may well go up as it gets closer to being 100 years old.