Fourty years before they would issue Monopoly, Parker Brothers issued the “Yale-Harvard Game” in 1894. This beautiful Victorian Era game came in the beautifully illustrated box seen above. The game board measures 21 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ and has delightful color images seen below.
What’s interesting is that the first Yale-Harvard football game was played in 1895, a year before this game was released. In 1894, when the game was issued, it is likely that the game played was a form of rugby.
In the Parker Brothers game each player has seven numbered pieces representing football/rugby players. The number on a piece represents the maximum number of squares the piece may move. A die roll decides which team starts with the ball. Each side alternates moving one player. The ball may be taken from the opposing ball carrier by landing on the same space by exact count. The ball may also be pitched between pieces in the same horizontal row.
Parker Brothers had a patent issued for the unique design of their game board. U.S. Patent #526,908 was issued on October 2, 1894 to George S. Parker of Salem, Massachusetts and Joseph P. Friend of Beverly Massachusetts. The uniqueness of their design was that the game board was flat and therefore easier to play on that a board that can be folded. They also had a drawer built into the side of the box, which holds the pieces in a “convenient and secure manner.” A copy of the patent on file with the US Patent and Trademark office is below.
The game is extremely rare, especially in its original state with all the pieces still intact. One recently sold at auction for $1,800.