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Collecting Vintage Board Games

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Victorian 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.

Modern Collectibles

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.


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    • profile image

      Iris Evans 5 years ago

      I have a 1948 game called King Kangaroo, it was invented for soldiers to play during the second world war. It is in excellent condition. Can anyone enlighten me about the value of this game and whether it would be of interest to anyone.

    • teriyaki profile image

      teriyaki 6 years ago from Croatia

      As an avid board game collector, I find your hub very infromative and well written. Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      Board Games 6 years ago

      Great hub. Board games can be a great item to collect and I'm sure most everyone has a board game or two tucked away in the attic:)

    • profile image

      ubosje 7 years ago

      Fun Hub! I mostly love those railroad board games. I even started my own blog ( on railroad board games (as well as on Catan, another one I love). Looking forward to more fun board game blogs on your hub !

    • warboardgames profile image

      warboardgames 7 years ago

      How I'd like to get a version of the "Conquest of the world", which was the basis for creating the board game Risk in 1959!

    • profile image

      Tabitha Oscorp 7 years ago

      Monopoly is such a fun game. My kids have grown out of their board game stage and are on to their pool table addiction now, though.

    • profile image

      PC Board Games 8 years ago

      Nice hub! I love Monopoly too

    • firefly07 profile image

      firefly07 9 years ago from UK

      great hub - just goes to show, never throw anything out - it might become valuable!

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Very interesting. I used to love monopoly. I didn't know they were worth that much....better start looking..... I wouldn't be so lucky though.... got to dream I suppose. good article