Collecting Vintage Board Games
Board games have been around since Victorian times. These games were beautifully lithographed and generally had intricately detailed artwork, playing pieces and storage containers. And the oldest board games are a hot collectible today.
In the Victorian era one of the premier game companies was McLoughlin Bros. McLoughlin Bros had started out as a book publisher in New York. They came up with a new color printing technology, chromolithograph, for children's books, which they began to use in the printing of the board games that were becoming popular in the late 19th century. McLoughlin Bros. was later sold to a company by the name of Milton Bradley.
Because of the beauty of the game boards, the games from this company, dating from the 1890's, are very collectible and often sell for $10,000.00 or more. One game in particular, Bulls and Bears, is sought by collectors who will pay up to $15,000.00 at auction. Hens and Chickens, another game by this company is more readily available and doesn't bring nearly as much.
Value of the games is dependant on condition, rarity, and whether or not all the pieces are included. Very beautiful, and detailed artwork brings higher prices as well.
Price Guides and Game History
You don't have to find Victorian board games to enjoy collectible games. Collectors enjoy many different genres, and decades, when it comes to game collections.
Characters from comics, movies, or television often found their way into people's homes in the guise of a game. Hopalong Cassidy, Uncle Wiggly, Partridge Family, and Gilligan's Island are all games that are eagerly sought by collectors.
Games from World War II era are also very collectible because of the variety of materials that could not be used due to the war effort. The games are usually more simple in design.
As with the Victorian games, price is set by condition, rarity, desirability, and artwork. These modern games, from 1940s through 1980s, are often available on ebay for less than $25.00.
Collecting Vintage Games
WWII Monopoly:Get Out of Jail Free
An interesting fact about monopoly games is that during World War II the British Secret Service asked the game manufacturers to add special pieces to certain game sets. Apparently the Red Cross was allowed to deliver the game to prisoners of war along with the Red Cross packages of shaving and hygiene goods. The special games had the normal pieces but also included a metal file, compass, and silk maps of safe houses, places where escaped prisoners could find refuge. Along with that there was real money; French, Italian, and German currency hidden under the play money. These special editions were identified by a red dot in free parking on the board. These special Monopoly games helped many prisoners of war "get out of jail free". Sadly, the remaining games were destroyed after the war, so if there are any hidden away they are worth a fortune!
Displaying Old Games
There are several ways to display vintage board games. You can stack the boxes up on a table, or under an end table. Very old games can be displayed under glass on a glass topped display table. If you don't have children at home you can display the game out in a vignette, with other antique toys.
One of the best ways to display game boards that don't have pieces to them is to hang them up on the wall. The beautiful colors, pictures, and designs of the boards work well in many different decorating situations.
Another fascinating use I found for old boards without pieces is to make a journal from the game board.
Collecting and enjoying these old games is a wonderful way to remember the past, and appreciate the fine workmanship that went into everyday objects.