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Online Collections

The Checkered Game of Life

board game

1866

Have you ever played The Game of Life? The Milton Bradley Company developed The Game of Life in 1960 to celebrate its hundred-year history, which began in 1860 with The Checkered Game of Life. But don't expect to collect that dream job, car, spouse, and kids when playing this 19th-century game with a similar name. The Checkered Game of Life is not about money - it's about virtue and morality. One of the earliest board games in the country, it offered Americans a welcome alternative to card games. Combining chance and skill to negotiate life's many challenges, players traversed a checkered board of colored squares representing the virtues of honor, truth, and temperance, or the vices of idleness, crime, and drink. Naturally, players could not use dice, because they were associated with gambling; instead, they used a teetotum - a top with numbered sides. The game was tremendously popular, selling out its first run of 45,000 copies in less than a year. Reviewers praised the game for offering families an entertaining way of instructing children in the advantages of moral behavior. Bradley skillfully promoted his product, including it in his collection of "Games for Soldiers" - nine games on lightweight pasteboard marketed to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

ManufacturerMilton Bradley Company
Materialprinted cardboard
OriginSpringfield, MA
Styleboard game | checkers
Object ID96.385

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