A friendly game of Monopoly at the kitchen table can bring out the worst in everyone in your household faster than you can say “community chest.” Yet, the classic board game still holds a place in many of our hearts (and closets). For some, though, Monopoly games aren’t so much a fond childhood memory as they are a prized collectible. I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind: “What’s my game of Monopoly worth?” Especially if, like me, you have a copy that’s old enough to rent a car. The answer may surprise you, so before you rush to your attic, roll the dice and read on to find the most collectible editions of this beloved board game.
Renowned game makers Parker Bros. first debuted Monopoly in 1935, but that certainly wasn’t the beginning of the game’s story. In brief, from me (and in much greater detail from one of my WorthPoint® fellows), the first incarnation of the game was The Landlord’s Game, invented by Elizabeth Magie Phillips in 1903. Around 1932, entrepreneur Charles Darrow first played a version titled Monopoly at a friend’s house. He was so enamored with it that he asked for a written set of rules and later began to make and sell the game himself.
These earliest published versions of Monopoly by Darrow are highly collectible. Collectors distinguish between the “black box” and the “white box” versions, produced between 1933 and 1935. These games can be distinguished by their minimalist packaging, the lack of a brand logo, and Darrow’s name in the corner of the “Free Parking” square, copyright 1933. When Darrow approached Parker Bros. with his game, the company agreed to publish it, despite initially passing on the concept as pitched by Magie Phillips years earlier, buying both creators out of their respective patents in 1935.
THE FIRST PARKER BROS. EDITIONS
Speaking of those patents, the initial rollout of Monopoly was so eager that Parker Bros. had to make three different versions of the box in its first year. A “Trade Mark edition” came first, with the game’s box displaying the words “Trade Mark” but no patent information, as it wasn’t yet acquired. This first edition was followed by the “Patent Pending” version of the box, otherwise identical to the first. Finally, the “Patented” version came in late 1935, with one last edit to proudly display the company’s first US patent for Monopoly on the box.
Sellers and collectors alike should know the differences between these three, which are admittedly small to the eye but huge to the wallet. You can find this information under the game’s title on the box in plain black text. The “Patented” version is the most common and is worth much less on average than the older “Patent Pending” and “Trade Mark” editions. Depending on their condition and completeness, those versions can sell for hundreds or even thousands.
THE LAST PARKER BROS.
With Monopoly games, the earliest editions are rare examples in which age matters. Monopoly was such an unexpected, instant hit for Parker Bros. that the company pumped out the game right from the start. Over one million copies were sold in 1936 alone. This oversaturation means that most games from Monopoly’s early years are often similar in value to brand-new ones at a big box store today. As we advance, you’ll find that age isn’t everything, but eras certainly are.
When Hasbro bought Parker Bros. in 1991, it intended to continue making the company’s most popular game. However, an in-house edition of 650 games from Parker Bros., dubbed the “Last Edition,” was produced to commemorate the change of ownership. For the general public, there was a much fancier option: a limited-edition wooden game with an accompanying table and chairs made by Franklin Mint. After the merger, Hasbro expanded Monopoly’s near-monopoly on the board game industry by licensing themed versions to other companies, starting in 1995 with the San Diego Edition of USAopoly, made by Winning Moves Games.
Once it was clear that these unique twists on Monopoly were a runaway hit, Hasbro contracted Winning Solutions Inc in 2000 to make even more themed sets. Monopoly games adapted to the fantasy worlds of Star Wars and Star Trek did just as well as those set in interesting real-world locales like Las Vegas and London. Today, there are over 300 official themed varieties of the game, and several unofficial ones, too. Any game that ends in “-opoly” rather than using the full name “Monopoly” is an unlicensed imitator, which many collect as well.
There are two primary considerations regarding the value of branded Monopoly games: the brand’s current popularity and how long the game was sold. While Pokemon is a giant in video games, the brand’s themed Monopoly sets don’t fetch much more than their retail price on the secondhand market. The 1999 edition was released at the peak of Pokemon fever in the US, sold incredibly well, and was reprinted several times, meaning many collectors already own it.
On the other hand, the original South Park Monopoly was only in production for a single year in 2012. The mismatch between the game’s family audience and the show’s adult material likely led to this short-lived run, but thanks to its relative rarity, sets in good condition can sell for hundreds. Hasbro has since reprinted it by popular demand, so be sure to check the date. Other Monopoly games for niche, but die-hard, fandoms like the KISS army and Frasier also do well on the secondhand market.
HASBRO’S NEW CLASSICS
Licensed games weren’t Hasbro’s only foray into tweaking classic Monopoly. The brand also made a few updates to the game’s color scheme and overall style throughout the 2000s and introduced new pieces like a toy debit card reader in the Electronic Banking edition. Embracing modernity, however, isn’t usually why folks play Monopoly, so this particular version of the game was once a flop but is now a sought-after collectible.
Besides the upgrades and themed versions, Hasbro has had the most success making a collectible Monopoly game when celebrating its anniversary. Commemorative editions of the game typically have a redesigned “retro” box and metal pieces like the original. In the case of the above example, some are full-blown luxury decor items decked out in crystals and gold. These evoke the style of the Parker Bros. deluxe games with a modern, premium twist and are a must-have for collectors.
CAN YOU “COLLECT” $200?
The most reliable way of collecting $200 is still passing “GO” in the game itself, but if you’ve got the right copy in good condition, you may have a treasure on your hands. Armed with the knowledge above, look in your basement and see. Check out the copyright dates and brand names on either the box or the board itself and compare with photos from our Price Guide to figure out what edition you’ve got and what it’s worth. Or, if you never knew until today that there was a KISS-themed Monopoly, and now you must have it, you’re welcome for that. Remember, collectors, don’t go bankrupt, or you lose in real life, too!
Rory Tessmer is an eBayer and freelancer from southeastern Wisconsin with over a decade of specialty retail and resale experience under their belt. Rory has had the pleasure of seeing (and sometimes even playing with) hundreds of unusual collectibles over the years, from tesla coils to military mule-branding kits. In their spare time, they enjoy cooking, gaming, and noodling around with their synthesizer.
WorthPoint—Discover. Value. Preserve.