The Monopoly pieces – officially called ‘tokens’ – are what you use to represent yourself during a game. You might have noticed that different Monopoly sets have different tokens as the pieces have changed over the years.
A lot of people have a favorite token and will argue until they’re blue in the face if someone tries to take it for a game. Others aren’t as fussed, and will happily pick up any of them to play a game. Which camp are you in?
In this post, we’ll look at the Monopoly tokens in detail, from the very first ones to the newest Monopoly pieces that have been added to the game. It’s worth noting that there’s some contention over the exact dates for when tokens were introduced, so I’ve used the best estimates.
The Original Monopoly Pieces
When Monopoly first launched, it didn’t come with any tokens. Players were encouraged to use buttons or charms from their own homes.
When Parker Brothers bought the rights to Monopoly in 1935 they introduced six original tokens: the battleship, boot, cannon, thimble, top hat, and iron.
The six original Monopoly pieces:
- Top Hat
Later in 1935, the race car was added to the game to make seven Monopoly tokens, and shortly afterward, the purse was added to make eight.
Monopoly Pieces Over The Years
Early Monopoly Tokens
The first Monopoly tokens were made from a zinc alloy known as Zamak. These were replaced later in the 1930s by tokens made from a mix of lead and tin, which didn’t oxidize and turn black in the same way as the Zamak tokens sometimes did.
The first playing pieces were made by Dowst Manufacturing Company. When Parker Brothers began to license the game around the world they included the same pieces with the game.
Monopoly Tokens During The War
When America became involved in the Second World War, the metals used to make the die-cast pieces were instead needed for the armed forces and other essentials. So instead, wooden Monopoly pieces were introduced.
The wooden Monopoly piece looked like pawns from a chessboard but in various colors and designs. They had already been used in earlier versions of Monopoly in Canada.
Some games were produced with composite pieces, made from a mix of paper and sawdust. These were flimsy and fragile, so they weren’t as popular as the wooden ones. The composite pieces are collector’s items now.
Post-War Monopoly Tokens
Once the war ended, the Dowst Manufacturing Company decided to focus on die-cast toys instead of making playing pieces for board games. So, Parker Brothers brought manufacturing in-house and started using pewter. Some versions of Monopoly still use pewter while others used plastic.
The first new piece to be introduced was the wheelbarrow in the 1940s, along with the horse and rider and the Scottish terrier.
The car also gained a driver in the 1940s, although he only lasted until 1950. In 1946 the cannon was replaced with the similar howitzer, while an airplane was also introduced – but only until 1950 again.
Three other pieces were retired in 1950 – the lantern, the rocking horse, and the purse.
Monopoly Tokens From 1950 until 2000
From 1950 until 1998 the Monopoly game pieces stayed the same – they were the dog, battleship, race car, top hat, iron, horse and rider, and howitzer. Those eight Monopoly game pieces formed the backbone of the game for many years.
In 1998, with Hasbro now in charge, a new playing piece was added. 1.5 million people voted in a competition to decide whether the new token would be a sack of money, a piggy bank, or a bi-plane.
With 51% of the vote, the sack of money won. It was used for a decade before retiring in 2007.
Monopoly Tokens From 2000 Onwards
The sack on money was not the only Monopoly piece to be retired in 2007. Two other Monopoly pieces – the horse and rider, and the howitzer – were also retired that same year.
No more changes would be made until 2013 when the decision was made to retire the iron. Another vote was held, and the cat won out over the diamond ring, toy robot, helicopter, and guitar.
Current Monopoly Tokens
In 2017, the thimble, the wheelbarrow, and the boot became the latest retired Monopoly pieces. They were replaced in another popular vote, this time by the penguin, the t-rex, and the rubber ducky. These are the newest Monopoly pieces.
Here’s a full list of old and new Monopoly pieces with dates:
|Top Hat||Early 1935||Current|
|Race Car||Mid 1935||Current|
|Horse and Rider||1940||2007|
|Sack of Money||1998||2007|
Special Monopoly Tokens
So far, we’ve discussed the tokens present in the US classic editions of Monopoly over the years. However, it’s worth mentioning that many of the hundreds of different Monopoly editions come with their own themed tokens.
Across the various special editions of Monopoly, there are literally hundreds of different playing tokens to choose from.
You can also get collectible Monopoly token surprise packs that come with five new tokens.
80th Anniversary Edition Tokens
In 2015 Hasbro released a special 80th Anniversary Edition of Monopoly. While other anniversary editions have been released, this one is notable as it used a mix of classic Monopoly pieces with some from outside the main line. The idea was to use one token to represent each decade.
Tokens in Monopoly 80th Anniversary Edition:
- 1930s: Lantern
- 1940s: Bathtub
- 1950s: Cannon
- 1960s: Horse and Rider
- 1970s: Pillar with race car on top
- 1980s: Train (used in the Deluxe Edition of the game)
- 1990s: Sack of Money
- 2000s: Cat
Monopoly Token Madness
In 2017 a special version of Monopoly named Token Madness was released. The key difference was that it included 16 tokens in total, with 8 classic pewter pieces and 8 modern gold ones.
The classics included the dog, the thimble, the classic car, the cat, the battleship, the top hat, the wheelbarrow, and the boot.
The modern pieces included a penguin, a CRT television, a modern race car, a rubber duck, a wristwatch, a wheel, bunny slippers, and a Mr. Monopoly emoji.
Monopoly Pieces In The UK
For most of Monopoly’s history, the UK has used the same playing tokens as the US game. It’s only in the early years that the UK was different. During World War II some wooden pawns from a different game, ’64 Milestones’, were often used. After the war, these were replaced with cardboard cut-outs on colored bases. [Source]
The UK Monopoly tokens were changed again in 1953 for sheet metal tokens, fitted into metal stands. They remained this way until 1960 when the pewter tokens started to be used.
Monopoly Token FAQs
The new Monopoly game pieces are the t-rex, the penguin, and the rubber ducky. These were voted in to join the existing ranks in 2017 as part of a major marketing campaign. 64 pieces could be voted on, including the classic tokens.
Of the older tokens, the thimble, wheelbarrow, and boot didn’t receive enough votes to survive. They were the ones retired to make room for the new tokens.
There are currently eight Monopoly tokens in the game. These are the dog, the battleship, the race car, the top hat, the cat, the penguin, the t-rex, and the rubber ducky.
Two of the current Monopoly pieces – the battleship and the top hat – survive from the very first tokens introduced in 1936.
There’s no confirmed story for the inspiration for the Monopoly tokens, but the best-accepted theory is that the iron, thimble, and boot represented the hard-working poor, while the top hat represented the rich. The cannon and battleship were just re-used from another Parker board game called Conflict.
The rarest Monopoly tokens are those made from compressed paper and sawdust during the Second World War. These were so fragile that they often broke, and so complete ones are sought after by collectors.
Otherwise, because of how popular Monopoly was even from the early years, none of the tokens are worth a lot, though some of the original designs may be slightly harder to find.
On their own, Monopoly tokens aren’t worth much money. Even a complete board game with all tokens from decades ago is only worth a few hundred dollars, and that’s if it’s in excellent condition. Compressed paper and sawdust tokens from the 1940s, however, are rare and valuable.
Most Monopoly tokens are made from pewter – a metal alloy that consists of tin, antimony, copper, bismuth, and may contain some silver.
Some modern versions of Monopoly use molded plastic instead, while wartime Monopoly tokens were sometimes made from wood or compressed paper.
There is no best Monopoly piece, although according to various surveys carried out the race car and the Scottie dog are two of the most popular. The most recent Monopoly World Champion, Nicolo Falcone, used the race car in his 2015 final.
The Monopoly thimble was retired in 2017 after coming bottom in a fan vote. It was one of three pieces retired at the time, replaced by the t-rex, the rubber ducky, and the penguin.
The Monopoly iron was retired in 2013 and replaced by the cat token. The cat won more votes than the other proposed new tokens – the guitar, toy robot, diamond ring, and helicopter.
There is now a duck in Monopoly. The ‘rubber ducky’ was one of three tokens chosen to add to the game in the 2017 vote held by Hasbro.
The duck is the fourth animal token to have been introduced to Monopoly, following the Scottish terrier and the horse with rider (both 1940s), and the cat (2013).
The thimble was removed from Monopoly in 2017 because Hasbro held a vote on which tokens people wanted to keep and add to the game. The thimble, despite being one of the original pieces, came bottom in the results.
The bottom line
Despite having been a popular board game for almost a century, some of the very first Monopoly tokens introduced have endured. Over time they’ve been added to as the roster has expanded, and some classics have been retired.
There’s now a real mix between the classic Monopoly pieces and much more modern options, and who knows when Hasbro will next shake things up. We might even see some of the retired Monopoly pieces make a grand comeback.
Of course, you can always buy a special edition set if you want some more unique tokens themed to your interests, or shop around for an older set if you want to relive some of the tokens of years gone by.