Game of District Messenger Boy or Merit Rewarded
Cardboard, wood, lead
Open (board): 16 1/4 × 16 7/8 in. (41.3 × 42.9 cm) Container (box): 1 3/4 × 9 1/2 × 17 1/4 in. (4.4 × 24.1 × 43.8
lithographed: on the box cover: "GAME OF THE/ DISTRICT/ MESSENGER/ BOY/ OR/ MERIT/ Rewarded/ COPYRIGHT 1886 BY/ McLOUGHLIN BROTHERS NEW-YORK"
"Game of District Messenger Boy or Merit Rewarded" board game consisting of board, four lead game pieces (running messenger boys on round bases), in wooden box with cover illustration of boy in blue uniform and cap running with piece of paper in right hand in front of series of buildings and an elevated railroad; box cover inscribed, "GAME OF THE/ DISTRICT/ MESSENGER/ BOY/ OR/ MERIT/ Rewarded/ COPYRIGHT 1886 BY/ McLOUGHLIN BROTHERS NEW-YORK"; board is in the form of a maze, with almost every box marked with description or instruction, such as "Advance to BOX INSPECTOR," with illustration at each corner and spinner at lower right corner.
One of many games produced in the 1880s with a "rags to riches" theme, The District Messenger Boy reflects the contemporary belief that the American capitalist system would reward merit and enterprise regardless of one's background, privileged or humble. Players start the game as messenger boys and attempt to work their way up through the ranks to become president of the firm.
Hofer, Margaret K. "The Games We Played: The Golden Age of Board & Table Games." New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003.
The Liman Collection
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.