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Online Collections

Mansion of Happiness

board game

1843

"Idleness" leads directly to "Poverty" - at least, it does in the Mansion of Happiness, a board game developed by Anne W. Abbot, the daughter of a New England clergyman, and published by W. & S. B. Ives in the 1840s. Such moral lessons formed the heart and soul of the earliest board games in America. This example is actually marked with the original registration date, 1843. The Mansion of Happiness, "an Instructive, Moral, and Entertaining Amusement," was thought to be the first board game commercially available in the United States, and it certainly was the first to become widely popular. The game fulfilled the desire of the expanding middle class for new kinds of leisure activities that would reinforce their firm moral values in their children. Games like this one were supposed to be educational, depicting the destruction that results from vice and the rewards to be reaped from the virtuous life. "Passion" leads to "Water" for a "dunking"; "the Sabbath Breaker" goes straight to "the Whipping Post"; but "Piety," "Chastity," "Humility" and "Industry" all advance players along the path toward the "Mansion of Happiness." In deference to the Temperance Movement, players advanced along the uncertain path by spinning a "teetotum" rather than rolling dice, associated with gambling.

ManufacturerW. & S. B. Ives
Materialcardboard | paper | lithographed
OriginSalem, MA
Styletrack section | race
Object ID78.412

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