Children's Board Games

Figure 1.--These German children are playing a board game in their garden, probably about 1930. The girl wears what looks like a gym tunic over her middy blouse. The older boy wears an open collar short, short pants, and long stockings pulled over his knees. The children are playing "Fang den Hut". Image courtesy of the MD collection.

Board games were not precisely toys. For organizational simplicity, however, we are including them in our list of toys. Board games existed for centuries. Perhaps the oldest game palyed in the West is chess, a game of Arabic origins. Board games hav, however, much more ancient origins. The histories of all the major board games played today from all over the world. Chess descended from Shaturanga. Draughts or checkers descended from Alquerque. The ancient Egyptians played a game called Nine Mens Morris. Backgammon descended from Senat. Chinese Checkers is a modern version of Halma. There ater a wide variety of popular Asian games that are not well known in the West, including Go, Shogi, Chinese Chess, Mancala and Pachisi (Ludo). There are also a variety of unsual games like the ancient Norse game of Tafl, the Madagascan game of Fanorona and some really ancient games like the Royal games found at Ur. Many of these games were not children's games, but diversuion for adults. The chess board was eventually used for other games such as checkers. Beginning in the 19th century a wide variety of other games appeared. Both boys and girls enjoyed playing them. Of course individual games had varing appeal to boys and girls. These games were mostly played at home, often in a parlor. Many were made especially for children. We noted some being played outside in the garden as well, perhpas during a hot summer day. We are not sure what games were played in the 19th century. Some popular 20th century games in Britain and America include Clue, Monnoloply, and Snakes and Ladders. There were also substantial differences among different countries. The German games compamy Ravensburger tells us on their homepage that their classic games "Fang den Hut" ("Trap the cap"), "Memory", and "Malefiz" ("Barricade") are still in the top list of internationally successful game titles.


A german reader tells us, "The game the children are playing here is called "Fang den Hut". The English translation is "Trap the cap". I played it as child myself. It was first introduced in 1927 and is still very popular in Germany today."


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Created: March 5, 2003
Last updated: March 6, 2003