Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., home of the National Toy Hall of Fame, has acquired an early version of Monopoly that was used as evidence in a 10-year legal copyright battle regarding the actual inventor of the game.
The folk-art Monopoly board game, created by a member of the Heap family between 1910 and 1917 in Pennsylvania, is the second-oldest known version of the game, and the oldest version with all of its pieces intact. This version was one of the games used in the defense of Ralph Anspach in a trademark infringement case that went to the Supreme Court. Anspach challenged the lawsuit brought against him by General Mills Fun Group by producing early versions of the game that proved that Charles Darrow, the credited inventor who originally sold the rights to the game, was not the actual inventor. Anspach won the case on this evidence.
Strong Museum of Play owns 65 Monopoly sets and related games, including an additional early version of the game by Charles Darrow. The museum is considering a special display of both the Heap and Darrow games during the National Toy Hall of Fame induction on November 4.