old parker brothers game jack and the beanstalkParker Brothers published the colorful board game, Jack and the Beanstalk, in 1895.  Bringing the adventures found in the popular children’s fairy tale to the players, the game was another way to enjoy the enchanted, imaginary land.  The game board and box display beautiful images, showing scenes from the story, and makes an attractive addition to any game collection. The one shown in this post is an updated 1901 version.

The story origins of Jack and the Beanstalk are traced back to earlier written accounts of the seventeen hundreds.  It is thought to first be associated with the tale of Jack the Giant Killer.  Although this 1711 story does not include a beanstalk, one of the Giants that Jack kills is called Blunderbore.  This name later appeared as the Giant’s name in various accounts of Jack and the Beanstalk. Other stories, like Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean, found written in 1734, share many of the same elements of today. By the 1800’s the following summary is well known:

Jack and his mother own a cow that stops providing them with milk.  Jack’s mother sends him to market to sell it.  Instead of receiving cash for the cow, Jack trades the cow for ‘magic beans’.  Angry at this, his mother throws the beans out the window and sends Jack to bed.

The beans grow overnight.  Jack climbs the beanstalk and discovers a Giant’s Castle.  Helped by the Giant’s wife, Jack escapes with a bag of gold coins.  He later returns to the Castle and steals a hen that lays golden eggs.  His third trip to the castle has him stealing a magic Harp.  This time, in order to escape, Jack cuts down the beanstalk that kills the Giant.

antique parker brothers game board jack and the beanstalkThe antique Parker Brother’s game conveys the above common told adventure.  The cover of the box displays the Giant sitting at the table, while Jack sneaks off with the Hen that lays the golden eggs.  The center of the game board shows an old man exchanging the magic beans for Jack’s cow.  In opposite corners are Jack’s home and the Giant’s castle; various paths and special marked spaces connect the two homes.  The object of the game is for Jack to escape the Giant (after stealing the Harp), or the Giant to capture Jack.

The game is enjoyed by two players.  One player is the Giant and the other player is Jack.  The game pieces are of two different colors. But, more appropriately, they are also two different sizes.  The large piece represents the Giant, and the small piece represents Jack.   

Each player starts on his home space/star.  They then take turns spinning the spinner and move accordingly.  Jack needs to reach the Red Star of the Giant’s castle, and return home, without being caught by the Giant, in order to win.  The Giant wins if he is able to land on the space Jack is on, by an exact spin.  Jack is safe from the Giant if he rests on any red space. The Giant cannot land on these red spaces and must pass over them. 

Players may move in any direction around the paths.  They are not allowed to ‘pass’ each other. Although the game’s movement is determined by chance (the spinner), it is an exciting game for two players to play and offers the thrill of the hunt and escape!

Collected today, the antique Parker Brother’s game shares a unique and fun glimpse into the past.

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Jenny Kile

Jenny Kile has written 240 posts. She can be followed on +Jenny.

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