Something You Didn't Know About Monopoly

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

(You'll  never look at the game  the same way again!)

Starting  in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and  the Crown was casting about for ways and means to facilitate  their escape...

Now  obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and accurate map, one showing
not  only where stuff was, but also showing the locations of 'safe houses' where a POW on-the-lam could go for food and  shelter. Paper  maps had some real drawbacks -- they make a lot of noise when  you open and fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get  wet, they turn into  mush.

Someone  in MI-5 (similar to America's OSS ) got the idea of printing  escape maps on silk. It's durable, can be scrunched-up into  tiny wads, and unfolded as many times as needed, and makes no noise whatsoever.

At  that time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had perfected the technology of printing on silk, and  that was John Waddington, Ltd. When approached by the  government, the firm 
was only too happy to do its bit for the  war effort.
Monopoly Board

By  pure coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular American board game, Monopoly. As it happened,  'games and pastimes' was a category of item qualified for  insertion into   'CARE packages', dispatched by the  International Red Cross to prisoners of  war.

Under  the strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old workshop on the grounds of Waddington's, a  group of sworn-to-secrecy employees began mass-producing  escape maps, 
keyed to each region of Germany or Italy where  Allied POW camps were regional system). When processed, these  maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they would  actually fit inside a Monopoly 
playing  piece.

As  long as they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington's  also managed to add:

1. A playing token, containing a small  magnetic compass
2. A two-part metal file that could easily  be screwed together
3. Useful amounts of genuine  high-denomination German, Italian, and French currency, hidden  within the piles of Monopoly money!

British  and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first mission, how to identify a 'rigged' Monopoly set  -- by  means of a tiny red dot, one cleverly rigged to look  like an ordinary printing glitch, located in the corner of the  Free Parking  square.

Of  the estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an  estimated one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.. Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy  indefinitely, since the British Government might want to use  this highly successful ruse in still another, future war.

The  story wasn't declassified until 2007, when the surviving craftsmen from Waddington's, as well as the firm itself, were finally honored in a public  ceremony.

It's  always nice when you can play that 'Get Out of Jail' Free'  card!

Whether you are searching for Boardwalk, Park Avenue, or along Connecticut Avenue, Lise Howe can help you find a home anywhere in the DC metro area. Just give her a call at the Chevy Chase Coldwell Banker office at 202-362-5800 or on her direct line - 240-401-5577 or email her at


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  1. Tom Davis 02/20/2010 03:51 PM
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Deena Cottingham
GreenApple Staging & Images, Calgary Staging & Photography - Calgary, AB
Home Stager & Photographer

You're right . . . I'll never look at the game the same! Wow, really interesting history. Thanks for sharing. Love the "get out jail free card"!

Feb 16, 2010 01:03 PM #1
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc - Gulf Breeze, FL
Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl.

That is so interesting, as I love monopoly and have never heard this. My family plays the game at least once a month at family night.

Feb 16, 2010 01:06 PM #2
Teresa Fiveash, ABR
MidSouth Residential, LLC - Memphis, TN

How amazing!!  What an ingenious plan and to think how long it was kept in secret.  I love learning about history.  Thanks for writing this...very interesting!  I'll have to share with my 8 year old who loves Monopoly!  Talk about thinking outside the box!

Feb 16, 2010 01:08 PM #3
Tom Davis
Harrington ERA,DE Homes For Sale, $$ Save $$ Buy Today ! - Dover, DE
FREE Delaware Homes Search!, $$ Save $$ - Find Homes! Delaware Realtor

Isn't this neat!  Wow...I love monopoly!  No one plays it with me as they say it takes too long but I have so much fun playing it!!! 

Thanks and loved that history on it! Neat , Neat!!

Tom Davis

Feb 16, 2010 02:02 PM #4
Gary Swanson
Century 21 Harris & Taylor - Grants Pass, OR

Great history lesson Lise.  I love World War II history and had never heard about this.

Feb 20, 2010 04:14 PM #5
Ellie Shorb
Compass Real Estate - Chevy Chase, MD
Realtor DC, MD & VA Luxury Home Expert

Wow. Incredible story... I will share with my kiddos after school! So clever.

Feb 22, 2010 10:39 PM #6
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