King of the Turf Board Game, 1939

CFM 1992.031.0405 (detail)
Gift of Catherine A. Solomon, Jean Solomon Turner, Marie Solomon Kahn

Description: This game includes a box measuring 19.54 X 11.74 inches with a long playing board, 4 of the 6 original horse pieces, dice, and a dice cup.

History: In 1992, Wilmington’s Solomon sisters – members of a prominent local Jewish family – gave a large donation of family items to the Museum. This board game was among the items they donated. Members of the Solomon family came to Wilmington from Germany in the 19th century. The Solomon sisters’ grandfather, Sigmund Solomon (1844-1940) and his brother Bernhard (1854-1943) founded a successful dry goods business. The girls’ father, Harry Myer Solomon (1890-1962) was active in the family business and was a veteran of World War I. Harry married Mary Louise Fick (1883-1976) and the couple had three girls: Marie (1925-), Jean (1926-2010), and Catherine (1931-). Catherine received this board game in 1939. In 2012, Catherine recalled that her older sisters went to the 1939 New York World’s Fair and she stayed home because she was deemed too young to attend. She received this game at that time. King of the Turf is a classic type of racing game. This edition was marketed as “modern” by naming it after a 1939 movie called King of the Turf. To play the game, each player throws a die to select horses. Then, three dice are thrown at once. Horses move forward based on how the dice fall. The first horse over the finish line wins.

Games with boards – like Mancala – have been played for thousands of years. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that commercially manufactured boxed games with boards began to be produced in mass quantities. The United States’ board game business took root in the 1840s. After the Civil War, improved color printing techniques helped board games proliferate. Companies like Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, and Selchow and Righter began making large quantities of board games such as Parcheesi and Life. Although we might think of them as “timeless,” many games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Battleship were introduced during or after World War II.

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