Parker Brothers

George Parker
Born: December 12, 1866, Salem MA
Died: September 25, 1952

An economic mainstay of Salem, Massachusetts from the late 19th through the late 20th centuries, the Parker Brothers Game Company has left few remaining monuments despite the fact that its products included the popular board games Clue, Risk and more importantly, Monopoly, arguably the most well-known board game of all time and which is still embedded in popular culture.
The Parker Brothers were George, Charles and Edward. However, it was George S. Parker (1866-1952) who actually founded the company in 1883 as Geo. S. Parker & Company in Medford, Massachusetts. The other two brothers joined him later (Charles in 1888 and Edward in 1898) and the company was renamed accordingly and moved to Salem, Massachusetts in 1885. George’s operating philosophy was that board games should be played as pure entertainment rather than teaching a lesson or a moral, which was the objective of board games up to that time. The first Parker game was called Banking, which was followed by others such as Klondike and War With Cuba, which were based on then-current events, as well as Rook, which was the most successful card game in the company’s history. George S. Parker designed and wrote the rules for all of the early Parker games.

A consummate game player by nature in the best sense of the term, Parker came to see a relationship between the strategies that guided success in parlor games and the principles that enhanced success in business. He was convinced that these twelve principles led to success in business.

1. Know your goal, reach for it.

2. Find “winning moves.”

3. Play by the rules but capitalize on them.

4. Learn from failure, build upon success.

 5. When faced with a choice, make the move with the most potential benefit versus risk.

6. When luck runs against you, hold emotion in check and set up for your next advance.

7. Never hesitate and give your opponents a second chance.

8. Seek help if the game threatens to overwhelm you.

9. Bet heavily when the odds are long in your favor.

10. If opportunity narrows, protect your strong points.

11. Be a gracious winner or loser. Don’t be petty. Share what you learn.

12. Ignore principles 1 to 11 at your peril!

Despite the fact that it was one of the most successful toy/game companies of the early 20th Century, it wasn’t until 1935 when Parker Brothers entered immortality with the introduction of Monopoly, a game idea which it initially rejected the year before. The game became a huge hit in Depression Age America and its popularity became world-wide. Mr. Moneybags, the Get Out of Jail Card, and the names of the various properties became part of popular culture. Proving that it wasn’t a one-trick pony, Parker Brothers came up with other games that became mainstays of post-World War II toy shelves such as Clue, Risk and Sorry, as well as toys such as the Nerf ball. In 1966, Parker Brothers purchased the rights to produce the Ouija Board. All of these products were manufactured in its factory at 190 Bridge Street, Salem, MA.

George S. Parker, the patriarch of Parker Brothers, died in 1952 and was buried in Harmony Grove Cemetery. The company was sold to General Mills in 1968, the beginning of its absorption in modern corporate conglomeration which ended in 2013 when current owner Hasbro removed all mention of Parker Brothers from its products. The Bridge Street factory was razed in the 1990s, replaced by an apartment complex which has a small monument to the company on its grounds. Otherwise, the only lasting monuments to Parker Brothers are the numerous copies of games that are in virtually every home and the enduring popularity of Monopoly.

Parker Brothers. (2013) Salem Links & Lore.
The Parker Brothers of Salem, Mass. The New England Historical Society.

Available @ the Library
75 Years of Fun; the Story of Parker Brothers, Inc. Parker Brothers, Inc.
90 Years of Fun, 1883-1973; the History of Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers, Inc.
Famous Parker Games 1967. (1967) Parker Brothers, Inc.
The Game Makers : the Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit. (2004) Orbanes, Phillip