The Mansion of Happiness
The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement is a children's board game inspired by Christian morality. Players race about a sixty-six space spiral track depicting virtues and vices with their goal being The Mansion of Happiness at track's end. Instructions upon virtue spaces advance players toward the goal while those upon vice spaces force them to retreat.
The Mansion Of Happiness was designed by George Fox, a children's author and game designer in England. The first edition, printed in black ink using a copper plate engraving, produced only a few hundred copies. Later in 1800, a second edition was printed, again using a copper plate engraving and black ink but lettering was included on the game board dedicating the game to the Duchess of York. Laurie and Whittle published a third edition in 1801 with black ink from one engraved copper plate and gold ink (which includes real gold) from another engraved copper plate, again for the Dutchess of York. Printing gold not only added another color but homage to royalty. In all three editions, the paper was glued to linen so it could fold up and be inserted into a heavy attractively labeled cardboard case.
W. & S. B. Ives published the game in the United States in Salem, Massachusetts on November 24, 1843. It was republished by Parker Brothers in 1894 after George S. Parker & Co. bought the rights to the Ives games. The republication claimed The Mansion of Happiness was the first board game published in the United States of America; today, however, the distinction is awarded to Lockwood's Traveller's Tour games of 1822. The popularity of The Mansion of Happiness and similar moralistic board games was challenged in the last decades of the 19th century when the focus of games became materialism and competitive capitalistic behavior.
With the industrialization and urbanization of the United States in the early 19th century, the American middle class experienced an increase in leisure time. The home gradually lost its traditional role as the center of economic production and became the locus of leisure activities and education under the supervision of mothers. As a result, the demand increased for children's board games emphasizing literacy and Christian principles, morals, and values. Advances in papermaking and printing technology during the era made the publication of inexpensive board games possible, and the technological invention of chromolithography made colorful board games a welcome addition to the parlor tabletop.
One of the earliest children's board games published in America was The Mansion of Happiness (1843), "the progenitor of American board games". Like other children's games that followed in its wake, The Mansion of Happiness was based on the Puritan world view that Christian virtue and deeds were assurances of happiness and success in life. Even game mechanics were influenced by the Puritan view. A spinner or a top-like teetotum, for instance, was utilized in children's board games rather than dice, which were then associated with Satan and gambling. While the Puritan view forbade game playing on the Sabbath, The Mansion of Happiness and similar games with high moral content would have been permitted for children in more liberal households.
In 1860, Milton Bradley developed a radically different concept of success in The Checkered Game of Life, the first American board game rewarding players for worldly ventures such as attending college, being elected to Congress, and getting rich. Virtue became a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Daily life was the focus of the game with secular virtues such as thrift, ambition, and neatness receiving more emphasis than religious virtues. Indeed, the only suggestion of religion in Bradley's game was the marriage altar. The Checkered Game of Life was wildly popular, selling 40,000 copies in its first year.
Protestant America gradually began viewing the accumulation of material goods and the cultivation of wealth as signs of God's blessing, and, with the decade of economic expansion and optimism in the 1880s, wealth became the defining characteristic of American success. Protestant values shifted from virtuous Christian living to values based on materialism and competitive, capitalist behavior. Being a good Christian and a successful capitalist were not incompatible. Dice lost their taint during the period, and replaced teetotums in games.
In a twist on The Mansion of Happiness, McLoughlin Brothers and Parker Brothers released several games in the late 1880s based on the then-popular Algeresque rags to riches theme. Games such as Game of the District Messenger Boy, or Merit Rewarded, Messenger Boy, Game of the Telegraph Boy, and The Office Boy allowed players to emulate the successful capitalist. Players began these games as company underlings, newbies, or gofers, and, with luck, won the game with a seat in the President's Office (rather than a seat in Heaven, as in The Mansion of Happiness) or as Head of the Firm. In Parker Brothers' The Office Boy, spaces designating carelessness, inattentiveness, and dishonesty sent the player back on the track while spaces designating capability, earnestness, and honesty advanced him toward the goal. Such games reflected the belief that the enterprising American – regardless of his background, humble or privileged – would be rewarded under the American capitalist system, and insinuated that success was equated with increased social status via the accumulation of wealth.
Wealth and goods became game rewards during the last decades of the 19th century with the winner of McLoughlin Brothers' The Game of Playing Department Store, for instance, being the player who carefully spent his money accumulating the most goods in a department store. Bulls and Bears: The Great Wall St. Game promised players they would feel like "speculators, bankers, and brokers", and the 1885 catalog advertisement for McLoughlin Brothers Monopolist informed the interested, "On this board the great struggle between Capital and Labor can be fought out to the satisfaction of all parties, and, if the players are successful, they can break the Monopolist and become Monopolists themselves".
The Mansion of Happiness is a roll-and-move track board game, and, typical of such games, the object is to be the first player to reach the goal at the end of the board's track, here called The Mansion of Happiness (Heaven). Centrally located on the board, the goal pictures happy men and women making music and dancing before a house and garden. To reach The Mansion of Happiness, the player spins a teetotum and races around a sixty-six space spiral track depicting various virtues and vices.
Instructions upon spaces depicting virtues move the player closer to The Mansion of Happiness while spaces depicting vices send the player back to the pillory, the House of Correction, or prison, and thus, further from The Mansion of Happiness. Sabbath-breakers are sent to the whipping post. The vice of Pride sends a player back to Humility, and the vice of Idleness to Poverty. The game's rules noted:
"WHOEVER possesses PIETY, HONESTY, TEMPERANCE, GRATITUDE, PRUDENCE, TRUTH, CHASTITY, SINCERITY...is entitled to Advance six numbers toward the Mansion of Happiness. WHOEVER gets into a PASSION must be taken to the water and have a ducking to cool him... WHOEVER posses[ses] AUDACITY, CRUELTY, IMMODESTY, or INGRATITUDE, must return to his former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and not even think of HAPPINESS, much less partake of it."
Design and publication
The Mansion of Happiness was published in many forms, first in England, then in the United States. It was designed by George Fox and published as a linen game board that folded into a hard cover booklet. Laurie and Whittles published the game in 1800, 1801, and again in 1851.
It was first published in the United States by W. & S.B. Ives in Salem, Massachusetts on November 25, 1843. Their game was a folding game board with a cloth and cardboard pocket attached to the bottom of the game board along its edge. In the pocket were the rules, implements, and teetotum. Its teetotum was an ivory dowel sharpened to a point at the bottom end inserted in an octagonal ivory plate. This type of teetotum was referred to as a pin and plate teetotum.
When board games were published in 1843, morality was the most important aspect of the game. Since dice were called "the bones of the Devil" because they were used to determine which Roman soldier would keep Christ's loin cloth, teetotums were used instead. There were many different printings of Ives' The Mansion of Happiness.
FIRST EDITION: The first two print runs used Thayer and Company lithograpers, with one litho stone for the color and the other for printing black on the white paper stock. Because the paper of 1840's through 1890's included a lavish amount of fiber, often taken from mummy wrappings, it would not fade or decompose like the wood pulp paper used today. The first printrun copied the Laurie and Whittles game. Laurie and Whittles used gold ink. Thayer mixed his ink to look gold but it really was a goldish brown. Like Laurie and Whittles game, Thayer used an octagonal end space.
SECOND EDITION: In Thayer's second print run, in 1844, he used the same litho stones as used in the first edition. Green was used instead of goldish brown and the endspace remained an octagon. By September 24, 1844, between 3000 and 4000 of the Thayer printed games were sold by its publishers, W. &. S.B. Ives.
THIRD EDITION: By the end of 1850, Thayer left the lithography business and transferred ownership to his brother-in-law, J. Bufford who named the company J. Bufford and Co. In the third print run, in 1851, Bufford & Co. used two new litho stones to print the games. Green was again used on one of the litho stones but the end space was a green circle. The other litho stone printed black.
FOURTH EDITION: Thayer then returned to his business with J. Bufford as a partner, and in 1853, used two new litho stones and printed the fourth printrun that year. Thayer again printed one color in black and one color in green and changed the endspace back to a green octagon. The entire game board looked different than his first two print runs and the position of "Thayer and Company Lithograpers" was moved.
FIFTH EDITION: Thayer and Bufford were bought out by Chandler in 1853. so a fifth printrun was needed by the Ives brothers and two new litho stones were made. Chandler printed black using one stone and green with the other and the endspace was changed back to a green circle.
SIXTH EDITION: William and Stephen Bradshaw Ives dissolved their partnership on April 24, 1854. William then put most of his time managing his newspaper, The Salem Observer. Stephen Bradshaw went back to practising law. Stephen Bradshaw's son, Henry P. Ives partnered with A. A. Smith to continue the business in the same location, whereupon they chose lithograper F.F. Oakleys to use two new litho stones, one for black and the other for green, retaining the circle endspace. In addition to continue publishing The Mansion of Happiness, H. P. Ives and A. A. Weeks published at least two new games: Experts and Tournament & Knighthood.
SEVENTH EDITION: By December 21, 1860, Henry P. Ives bought out A. A. Smith to obtain the business. A. A. Smith then partnered with G. M. Whipple to form another bookstore and publishing business where they published The Game of Authors. Henry P. Ives continued to publish The Mansion of Happiness using other lithographers, including Taylor & Adams of Boston in 1864,
EIGHTH EDITION: In 1886, Henry P. Ives sold his remaining inventory to George S. Parker. George S. Parker reprinted the green cover label to read H. P. Ives, Geo. S. Parker & Co. and affixed this label to the back of the gameboard over the original H. P. Ives label. By 1888, Henry P. Ives sold all the game rights of the Ives family to Geo. S. Parker & Co., part of them in 1887 and the rest of them in 1888. The green printing and circle end space remained through different lithographers until 1886.
TENTH EDITION: McLoughlin Brothers of New York published their own edition in 1895, using different lithographs from the 1894 Parker Brothers edition, both on the game box cover and game board.
ELEVENTH EDITION: In 1926, Parker Brothers Inc. republished The Mansion of Happiness in its original form, with ominor modification to game spaces. The game included the circular end space introduced by J. Bufford in the third edition. This sixth edition used a folding game board with a fabric and cardboard pocket on the back edge of the game board. The teetotum was made using a wood dowel and cardboard hexagon.
Disproving a myth that lasted 145 years
Anne Wales Abbot was believed to be the designer of the Ives' game, The Mansion of Happines for over 145 years, from 1843 to 1989. She, however, did not design Ives The Mansion of Happiness but did design two other Ives' games: Dr. Busby and Master Rodbury and His Pupils.
The Mansion of Happiness was considered the first mass-produced board game in the United States for almost 100 years. In 1886, George S. Parker purchased some of Ives' inventory from Henry P. Ives, who had taken over the Ives' business. George had his own oversized green label printed and proceeded to glue it over the Ives label. When the last of the Ives brothers died in 1888, board game titans Charles and George Parker purchased the rights to The Mansion of Happiness. In 1894, Parker Brothers republished The Mansion of Happiness in their new patented box. The game came with a cover on top of a box. The game board was attached to the top of the box and a drawer was added to the box for the implements and spinner. A teetotum was no longer needed as a metal pointer could be attached to a lithographed card using a pop rivet. The pointer could then spin around to produce a random number. The game board and box top were printed using lithography, making the game look like a work of art. Some of the vice spaces were removed (those depicting women engaged in immoral acts and behaviors), and men were substituted for women in the House of Correction. The game remained in the Parker Brothers catalog for thirty years, displaying the line, "The first board game ever published in America" on its box cover.
In 1895, the New York game firm of McLoughlin Brothers printed and published another version of The Mansion of Happiness. The McLoughlin version used even better artwork than the Parker Brothers version which makes it more valuable to collectors. The McLoughlin version used a game box with the game board attached to the inside bottom of the box. Implements and spinner were simply placed in the box.
The distinction of "the first published American board game" however is awarded today to Traveller's Tour of the United States published by New York book sellers F. & R. Lockwood in 1822. Because printing of game boards was more difficult in 1822 than 1843, the term mass market is a gray area. In 1822 reversed etched copper plates were used to print game boards. After the first 2,000 impressions, breaks quickly appeared in lines. Games were so expensive, the people who could afford them did not want game boards they could not read. By 1843, lithography with water color painting was popular. Lithography could easily produce 40,000 perfect impressions.
In spite of America's fascination with wealth and goods in the last decades of the 19th century, didactic Christian games held sway then and well into the twentieth. Even as late as 1893, for example, McLoughlin Brothers released The New Pilgrim's Progress, an upgrade of its 1875 publication based on John Bunyan's moralistic Christian classic, The Pilgrim's Progress. Similar to its predecessor, the new edition of the game saw players racing about a track from the City of Destruction to The Celestial City with way-stops at The Slough of Despair, Vanity Fair, and Beulah Land.
The affluence of the last decades of the 19th century generated America's first board games based on the idea that happiness and success were not incompatible with the accumulation of wealth through competitive, capitalistic behavior and culminated in 1935 with the publication of Monopoly, the most commercially successful board game in United States history.
Games with a Christian moral cast still hold a place on the American tabletop. Rainfall Educational Toys' Larry Burkett's Money Matters: The Christian Financial Concepts Game (1993) has players of seven years to adulthood moving about a board collecting income and paying off bills. The game's rule book states:
"Stewardship means taking care of our possessions, knowing that everything we have actually belongs to God. A key goal of this game is to teach that it is not how much money people have but their stewardship that is important. Players learn that (1) they can reach their financial goals by budgeting their money carefully and (2) it pays to be generous".
- Angiolillo Collection: Laurie and Whittles, printed the designer on their The Mansion of Happiness game board, Laurie and Whittles Publishers, 1800.
- The Salem Gazette page 3, column 5, November 24, 1843.
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- The Salem Gazette page 3, column 5, November 24, 1844.
- Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society vol. 86, part 1, April 1976.
- Essex Institute Newsletter vol. 13, no, 4
- The Salem Observer page 3, column 4, April 22, 1854
- The Salem Observer, page 3, column 4, December 23, 1845.
- Angiolillo, Joseph A. Jr., Angiolillo Collection, On the game board front, "J. J. Oakleys & Co. Boston"
- The Salem Observer, page 3, column 3, January 2, 1858
- The Salem Observer, page 3, column 4, January 1, 1859
- The Salem Observer, page 3, column 3, December 21, 1860
- Angiolillo, Joseph A. Jr., Angiolillo Collection, On the game board front, "Taylor & Adams, Boston"
- A copy of this game is owned by The Essex Institute which is part of the Peabody Museum in Salem, Mass.
- 1887 Geo. S. Parker & Co. Catalogue
- 1888 Geo. S. Parker & Co. Catalogue
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- The copyright on the box cover in the "Angiolillo Collection" is 1895.
- A copy of the republished game is owned by Joseph A. Angiolillo Jr. and it appears in the 1926 Parker Brothers, Inc. Catalogue
- Abbot, Anne Wales Dr. Busby and His Neighbors "A Story by the Author of Willie Rogers and The Games of Dr, Busby, Master Rodbury" printed on the title page, 1844.
- Geo. S. Parker & Co. Catalogue, page 3, 1886.
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- History of the Game Monopoly. Retrieved 24 November 2008.
- Larry Burkett's Money Matters at Game Board Geek. Retrieved 20 December 2008.