BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Handwriting Game, 1955

Image: A handwriting game being analysed by members of the Ideal Toy panel on Inventor’s Day at the Ideal Toy Company in Hollis, New York. Credit: Orlando/Getty Images, January 1st 1955.

This image, apparently showing a prototype of a ‘handwriting game’ (whatever one of those might be) being demonstrated to an eager playtesting panel, originally appeared in LIFE magazine in the 1950s. I just found it, after following some labyrinthine internet byway, in a slideshow of ‘30 Dumb Inventions’. Ouch!

One wonders what the story is. Perhaps the gentleman at the chalkboard is the inventor (and Marilyn Monroe fanatic) who, having put on his Sunday best and excitedly made his way to the Ideal Toy Company’s front door on ‘Inventor’s Day’, is captured in the photograph in the middle of a make-or-break presentation of his new-fangled prototype. As if in a scene from a 1950’s edition of Dragons’ Den.

A man in a white coat scribbles notes while a test panel consisting of two children chosen specificially for the neatness of their hair look on with ill-concealed indifference. A game about handwriting you say? In which players have to write lines on a chalkboard and then score points based on the clarity of their cursive script? I’m out!

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