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I recently acquired an old Monopoly game.  I sorted through the pieces and everything seemed to be there (except the rules of play).  The box specified that the game includes eight tokens, but oddly, this box contained ten. 

I am unsure which pieces did not belong:

  • Top hat * +
  • Dog (Scottish Terrier) +
  • Race Car +
  • Cannon *
  • Boot *
  • Person on horseback
  • Iron *
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Battleship * +
  • Thimble * +

* The six original Monopoly pieces in 1935.
+ The current Monopoly tokens list for current-edition games (plus: Cat, Penguin, Rubber Ducky)

After a poking around the internet (see here), I learned that many Monopoly pieces have come and gone over the years.  Some interesting tidbits:

  • Over the years, the composition of the pieces changed. Pieces were made of Zamac (zinc alloy), a lead and tin mixture, paper and sawdust composite, and wood.
  • During WWII, wooden pieces were introduced so that the metal could be used for the war effort.
  • After the 1970’s the pieces shrank in size.
  • In 1998, a vote was held to choose a new piece from among: Sack of Money, Piggy Bank, or Bi-plane. The Sack of Money won.
  • In 2013, the Iron was retired, and the Cat replaced it after a vote among: Cat, Diamond Ring, Toy Robot, Helicopter, and Guitar.
  • In 2017, the Penguin, T-Rex, and Rubber Ducky replaced the Thimble, Wheelbarrow, and Boot.
  • In 2022, several pieces came out of retirement, and several relatively new pieces were retired.

Here is a comprehensive list of token comings and goings from this article:

Token

Introduced

Retired

Cannon

Early 1935

1946

Iron

Early 1935

2013

Thimble

Early 1935

2017

Thimble (comeback)

2022

Current

Boot

Early 1935

2017

Top Hat

Early 1935

Current

Battleship

Early 1935

Current

Race Car

Mid 1935

Current

Purse

Late 1935

1950

Lantern

1936

1950

Rocking Horse

1936

1950

Horse and Rider

1940

2007

Wheelbarrow

1940

2017

Scottie Dog

1940

Current

Howitzer

1946

2007

Money Bag

1998

2007

Cat (Hazel)

2013

Current

T-Rex

2017

2022

Penguin

2017

Current

Rubber Ducky

2017

Current

 

Although I am not a particular fan of the game of Monopoly (I need more patience), I do find the tokens intriguing!

What do the changes in pieces say about what was happening in our society at the time?

I can see why the Iron and Thimble were retired because of the “domestic” feel associated with them, but what of the Thimble’s comeback in 2022?  Perhaps COVID-19 inspired us to become craftier?

For the pieces that have endured – is there something about those pieces that speaks to us on a fundamental level?  The long-timers like the Top Hat, Thimble, Dog, and Race Car are truly part of the "American persona."  Conversely, we decided it was time to set aside the Iron, Cannon, and Howitzer.  I can get behind those decisions.  The Boot, Wheelbarrow, Purse, and Money Bag all had long runs, but the T-Rex was gone in a flash.

So … do you think that selecting a certain piece says something of our personality?  Here are my (unofficial) personality profiles for the current pieces:

  • Top Hat – formal, proper, organized, concerned with appearance
  • Race Car – competitive, sporty, James Bond type
  • Battleship – serious, super competitive, ready to take on anything or anyone
  • Thimble – domestic, crafty (with whiff of shyness perhaps?)
  • Dog (Scottish Terrier) – loyal, fun loving, up for anything, spunky, a little naughty
  • Cat – independent, but willing to cuddle
  • Penguin – concerned with the environment, doesn’t mind the cold
  • Rubber Ducky – wacky, fun-loving, perhaps a bit immature, a child at heart

If I had to choose: Dog, Rubber Ducky, or Penguin would be my top three.  (You always need a backup in case you don’t get your first choice.) What about you?  Do you have a favorite?  Do you think there is any correlation between the piece a person chooses and their personality?

And now, a small tribute to the Thimble:

Thimble

Dimpled elf hat,
protector of fingers,
epitome of domesticity!

By day,
you shield against needles
deflecting stabs
in the war of stitches.

At night,
you retire to your
sewing-box sanctuary,
nestled among
scraps of fabric.

© Tracey Kiff-Judson, draft 2024

Thank you for joining me in my Monopoly-token ponderings.  Please share your link below!

47 comments

  • What fun you had with these monopoly pieces! I like the Dog, Penguin and Rubber Ducky also, but I also like the Wheel Barrel connecting us with the earth and gardening–maybe they'll bring that back… Fun poem, for an important tool, this is a great line, "the war of stitches." Thanks for all Tracey and for hosting! Hope you are continuing to feel better!
    • Thank you so much, Michelle!  The wheelbarrow is definitely a good one.  I have never seen the rubber duck token in person, but it has to be cute!

      Edited on Thursday, 11 January 2024 22:48 by Tracey.
  • I always liked the iron, but I thoroughly enjoyed your thimble poem! As Michelle says, "war of stitches" is a great line, and pretty much sums up my sewing experience. Ha. Thanks for rounding up.
     
     
  • Love this! I always wanted to be the racecar or the shoe. I never wanted to be the thimble...but now I do. I too am familiar with the "war of stitches." Great post. Thanks for hosting. 
  • I think I loved the iron and top hat as a kid, even though I hated Monopoly then and now! I love the many facets of the thimble's personality you show--whimsical, heroic, domestic...Thanks for hosting, Tracey!
  • Monopoly has an interesting history in terms of the actual creator vs the person who took the game. Claiming the token of choice was always a scramble amongst my siblings. The thimble was Mom’s first choice. 
  • Oh my gosh, Tracey - how I LOVE this post, and your oh-so-creative poem!  (I only have a signpost to here this week at my blog, but I'm so glad I came to check out your wonderful offering.) These pieces bring back so many memories, and I still have an ancient game here somewhere.  I liked the way the little boot felt when you picked it up, but my childhood fave was probably the doggie.  I had no idea a T Rex joined the ranks, even for a short while, or a rubber ducky!  Thanks for this fun tour and broader contemplations around all these pieces. 
    • Thank you, Robyn.  Yes, I like the way the boot feels too!  There is something very pleasantly tactile about all of them.
  • I absolutely love this deep dive into the monopoly game. I'll take the thimble and the race car.  I really like the first line: dimpled elf hat.
  • This is just wonderful to read, Tracey, and remember the memories, of when and who chose what, and on. Like Jone, I love your idea of the "dimpled elf hat". My choice was always the dog, I can feel it now! Thanks for this lovely post and for hosting, Tracey. 
  • Tracey, thank you for hosting PF today. I used to play Monopoly all the time while I was growing up. I even have our original game for anyone interested. I only remember a thimble and house as the pieces that I loved. I enjoyed your theme this week. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
    • You know, that makes me wonder ... it seems like everyone has a Monopoly game in the back of their closet.  I wonder what board game has sold the most, not counting checkers or chess. Hmm ... well, I found this list: Top 20 Popular Best-Selling Board Game of All Time (2023) (moneyinc.com), and assuming it is correct: 1. Chess, 2. Checkers, 3. Monopoly, but from there some of the others surprised me!
  • Fascinating. I love that there's a rubber ducky and a penguin. Clearly, we have an old set because I've never seen those. 

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