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1945_10_06--026_SP [Game Maker]

GG We have a date with the Sphinx . . . in 1970" ' THE SATURDAY EVENING POST "We can't take trips now, but someday we're going to be free to enjoy life—to go wherever we wish. What will we do for money? We've arranged all that with the Penn Mutual Underwriter!" WOULDN'T you, too, like to make your dreams come true—to make certain of your trip to ancient Thebes or beautiful Rio de Janeiro? You may wish to retire to a quiet cottage by the sea— raise spaniels and collect postage stamps. Whatever your ambitions, a Retirement Income policy, bought now, will help you realize them. Ask a Penn Mutual Underwriter to show you what he has done for so many other men and women. With no obligation on your part, he will explain Retirement Income to you, and also advise you about your broad insurance program, including such factors as Social Security and the often neglected matter of in- heritance taxes. THE PENN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY FOUNDED 1847 INDEPENDENCE SQUARE, PHILADELPHIA BA( K OF YOUR INDEPENDENCE • • STANDS THE PENN MUT .AL Your Life Plan deserves the expert guidance of a Penn Mutual Underwriter (Continued from Page 50) them are submitted to the House of Parker in a year's time. For the most part, they are sent in by people whose friends have told them, " You've got a million in that game, pal. Why don't you have it put on the market?" Upon the arrival of such contributions in Salem, they are opened and assayed. But though every mail brings unsolicited contributions, few of those from amateurs are purchased, because they usually rely on principles already well known in the trade or are devised without a knowledge of what the public is willing to play. Those games judged worthy of further consideration are passed upon by an official screening committee, and if they survive that test they are routed along for a final O.K. to Mr. Parker, who brings sixty years of experience to bear upon those selected. If he is still interested, the game is worked over, improved and sometimes tried out on several Salem children and adults, who act as an extremely hard-boiled jury. Quite often, a game inventor brings a new game to Salem in person and "sells it" with such conviction that the screening committee almost loses its New England detachment. "Such games might be world-beaters if the inventor could go into each home with each copy and put it over, but, unfortunately, he can't spread himself that thin," says Mr. Parker. No one type of mind has a corner on thinking it can produce a salable game. Hiram Maxim dreamed up an artillery game; Boake Carter, Lowell Thomas and Roger Babson all came up with game ideas. The Babson one, as might be expected, was too statistical for the general public, and Babson decided to stick to his statistics. A character in Texas bombards Parker Brothers with stacks of telegrams and letters. The burden of these messages is, "Send me a million dollars, and I'll send you a game." Sometimes the price goes up and sometimes down, depending on the Texan's mood. One telegram read: "Unless I hear from you by Saturday, the price will be a million and a half." A current-event-minded contributor wrote in to suggest a new kind of checkers to which dictators had been added to outrank the kings. Asked to list the game crazes that have reached pandemic proportions since 1900, George Parker begins with a 1902 smash hit —Ping-pong. Ping-pong evolved from an indoor tennis game made by Parker Brothers in the gay 90's. The original was first labeled Child's Tennis and later Table Tennis. It had a rousing vogue in Great Britain. In the 90's, Hamley Brothers, London's leading sporting goods and games purveyors, sold Parker's Child's Tennis game. Someone in London suggested that in place of a ball covered by a knitted jacket, a smaller celluloid ball be used. It was also suggested that battledores with vellumcovered sides be used for rackets. This British improvement added to the speed of the game, and by 1901 and '02 it had become the rage. No game with the exception of Monopoly, introduced by Parker Brothers in 1935, ever put the British in such a dither. The sound of the celluloid ball against vellum suggested the name Ping-pong and Hamleys christened the game with that onomatopoeic title. Hamleys transferred the American rights to Parker Brothers who introduced and exploited the game on this side of the Atlantic. October 6, 1945 Pillo Dex, put out by Parker Brothers in 1897, had possessed some of the elements which afterward made Pingopos diitsye disease. GIitnos u redai hilaaritheir opportunity for ffoen Girls and Richard Harding Davis swains to pitch their inhibitions overboard. It was played with rubber balloons by players on two sides of a dining-room table, with a ribbon down the center to separate the opponents' field of play. Players used the backs of their hands in batting the balloons back and forth. In 1902, Ping-pong swept the United States. Cartoonists recorded its arrival by making sketches showing it being played in kitchens by the hired help. Also in 1902, which seems to have been a bonanza year for parlor divertisements, Flinch, a card game, sold with wild abandon. In 1904-05, the game Pit—inspired by the doings and undoings of the bulls and bears on the Chicago wheat market— was a sensation both in America and in England, and Parker Brothers was forced to employ three cardmanufacturing companies to help supply the demand. In 1906, having it in his mind to invent a card game for people who considered it wicked to play auction bridge, George Parker thought up a widely different and popular game called Rook, which even outsold Flinch, although Flinch still sells steadily and more than 8,000,000 copies of it have been sold. In 1909, the country was swept by the picture-puzzle or jigsaw-puzzle madness. Having used every available foot of space in their main building, the Parkers had to rent a special building in which an additional 150 employees handled the orders that flooded in. The best of these puzzles were called Pastime Picture Puzzles, and a number of them went to the household of the Russian emperor, and were said by London dealers to have filtered into Buckingham Palace in surprising quantities. Teddy Roosevelt had an uncanny knack of fitting the queerly cut shapes together with extraordinary rapidity. One such picture-puzzle masterpiece was framed and still hangs on the Parker Brothers' office wall in Salem. It contains 2000 pieces, its price was forty dollars, and an expert cutter spent several days producing it. For that matter, all of Parker Brothers' cutters were expert. The pieces they cut were not jigsawed out of plywood in helter-skelter fashion, but were cut into recognizable shapes such as bull's heads, lobsters, enlarged snowflakes and stars. A period followed in which no one item boomed. Then in 1924-25, mahjongg deluged the country with a storm of tiles representing east winds, south winds and bamboos, while the cry of "Pung " echoed in the land. Parker Brothers views mah-jongg in the same wistful way that a fisherman views "the big one that got away." An American named Joseph P. Babcock, living in Shanghai, took an old Chinese game, revised it, made it practical for Americans and British expatriates to play, and introduced it into the Shanghai Club, naming it mah-jongg. Sets of Babcock's game were brought to California by returning travelers, and a Californian named Dyas undertook to market the game for Babcock. When Babcock arrived back in the States, he found that everybody on the Coast was playing his game, but many of the sets were pirated editions. "He sent us a shipment of sets," Parker told me.


1945_10_06--026_SP [Game Maker]
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