10 Things You Never Knew About Monopoly

It’s not just pieces and property. Time to find out more about Monopoly!

Monopoly board with pieces and dice

by Rebecca Dubock |
Updated on

Monopoly is possibly the nation’s favourite board game. But how much do you know about this feud-causing classic? Here are 10 facts to wow your family with at the next games night.

1 Nice to meet you

The name of the Monopoly man who appears in the game’s logo is actually Milburn Pennybags, also known as ‘Rich Uncle’ Pennybags. He was modelled after 1910s US banker J P Morgan.

2 Who’s the real Pennybags?!

John Travolta plays Monopoly with real money! Talking to James Corden on The Late Late Show, he said, ‘Look, It’s $20, it’s $100… it’s not that [much]. I think in totality it’s $2000 if you replace the whole thing.’ Let’s hope for his competitors’ sake that he’s not a good player.

In the money?

3 They’re just like us after all

The late Queen banned the Royal Family from playing Monopoly at Christmas, as ‘it gets too vicious’. One royal even turned down a gift of the game that he was officially presented with, saying ‘we’re not allowed to play Monopoly at home.’

4 Out with the old...

Many of us feel a strong connection to the piece that we always play with, but over the years plenty of pieces have been retired from the game – such as the cannon, the handbag, the rocking horse and the lantern.

In 1999 the sack of money became the first new piece to be added to the game in 40 years, but it was retired within a decade.

5 ... In with the new

But Hasbro has also introduced some new pieces since 2017. Have you played with the penguin, the rubber duck or the cat? Honourable mention goes to the T-rex, which was overwhelmingly voted into the game in 2017, but was retired last year in favour of reinstating the thimble.

Monopoly dog
You can’t beat a classic

6 Wild cards

Depending on how old your set is, you might be familiar with some different cards in Community Chest or Chance.

‘You have won a crossword competition. Collect £100’ has sadly been retired, but in 2018 the ‘MONEY GRAB’ card was introduced: ‘Take all £100 bills from the Bank, and throw them in the air! All players race to catch them. Keep what you catch, and put any bills that land back in the Bank’. This might be a recipe for making an already contentious game frankly dangerous, but who are we to judge?

7 Escape from Colditz

In the Second World War, British Intelligence devised an ingenious method of helping members of the armed forces who were imprisoned in German POW camps: smuggle tools for escape to them inside Monopoly boards!

Games posted to the inmates contained a compass, two small metal files and a map printed on silk hidden inside the board itself. Inclusions of full stops on the board itself would indicate where the map depicted. For example, a full stop on Mayfair indicated that a map of Sweden, Norway and northern Germany was inside. Now that’s how to get out of jail free!

Colditz Castle
Colditz Castle

8 Streets paved with gold

The most expensive Monopoly set ever made was created by jeweller and artist Sidney Mobell. He used 18-carat gold for all the pieces and the board was plated in 23-carat gold. The money was made of gold paper, and the pips on the dice were even made from diamonds. The set is valued at $2 million but has never been sold, and is displayed at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

9 Money, money, money

Ever since the first UK edition of the game was introduced in 1936, the rules have stated that each player starts with £1500 – adjusted for inflation, that’s equivalent to about £131,500 today.

The prices set in the original game were loosely representative of real properly prices. However, even the cheapest location on the board (these days it’s Whitechapel Road) now has an average sale price of £423,509 in real life – and Mayfair will still bankrupt us all at £6,830,154!

10 Do pass GO

The word record for the fastest time to visit every location on the classic UK Monopoly board – on foot – was claimed by Alex Radford in 2018. It took him just 1 hour 45 minutes and 35 seconds.

The classic version

Twists on the original including versions for kids

A physical and immersive edition of the board game

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