The Monopolization of Monopoly
Daniel W. Layman, Jr.

by Burton H. Wolfe
©1976 The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Under oath in January 1975, Layman was testifying about reading the latest in a 40-year string of bogus magazine articles on Monopoly and its origins. This one, from Eastern Airlines' magazine Pastimes, was a condensation of Maxine Brady's bogus history in The Monopoly Book, which states:

"One evening in 1930, Darrow sat down at his kitchen table in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and sketched out some of the street names of Atlantic City on the round piece of oilcloth that covered the table ... A new game began to take form in his mind."

That's from the opening chapter of the book. In the second chapter she states: "Monopoly was invented in 1933." But though she changed the date by three years, Charles Darrow remained the sole inventor so far as Maxine Brady was concerned.

Dan Layman explained in his deposition that the bogus history in Maxine Brady's book, as transferred to Pastimes magazine, was called to his attention by a college fraternity brother who played Monopoly with him in 1927 and who commented in a letter: "They forgot to mention that when Darrow died, he was working on the invention of the wheel."

Why are Layman and his pal so sarcastic? For very picayune reasons - such as the fact that they played Monopoly six years before Darrow ever saw it and Layman published the first set of rules for the game in its modern form.

Layman, now retired and living in Pasadena, was a student at Williams College in Reading, Pa., during the late 1920s, when he was introduced to the game of Monopoly by two of his Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity brothers, Frederick and Louis Thun. After leaving college, Layman returned to his home in Indianapolis and worked there. In his spare time he taught Monopoly to a variety of friends who made their own boards. Eventually Layman got the idea of marketing the game. So, he drew up formal rules, as they had been passed on to him by the Thun brothers, and got a company called Electronic Laboratories, Inc., to make the board, cards, money and pieces (hotels, houses, markers). Layman produced the game under the name "Finance" because, as he testified in his deposition in the Anti-Monopoly lawsuit:

"I understood from various attorney friends of mine that because Monopoly had been used as the name of this exact game, both in Indianapolis and in Reading and in Williamstown, Massachusetts, that it was, therefore, in public domain and that I couldn't protect it in any way. So, I changed the name in order to have some protection."

From Indianapolis the game traveled back to the East Coast through friends of Layman. We may as well get in the names of at least some of these people, in views of the injustices they have endured.