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Vintage Flashback :: Never Bored of Boardgames


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image: maeve dooley

Like most thrifters, I usually have my little “areas” I like to check out at the thrift store. Of course you want to check out everything, but you really have to prioritize, ya know? When I was younger, I used to bee-line to the dresses and lingerie (for groovy nighties and slips) and then I’d hit the shoes and  jewelry and purses. Once I had a nicer flat, I branched out to include housewares and occasionally furniture (I didn’t have a car, so that limited my “big items”) and of course records. As I got older, and eventually had a bebe, I developed a passion for graphic design—unearthing vintage children’s books was on the top of my list. And then one day, right around when Wolfie was born, I cruising through the toy aisle and I spied this:

It was a simple Memory game….the box was a bit beat up, but I loved the type in the title so I stuck it in my cart. As I wheeled around the store I kept glancing at it. I decided to open it up, carefully prying the masking tape that help the sides closed. I was DEEELIGHTED to find the most wonderful collection of little picture tiles imaginable.

My favorite part of thrifting is when you when find something you didn’t even know you wanted. And this was like a little box of mid-century modern chocolates. Each little illustration was more special than the next. Some were actually Eames illustrations (yes, “those” Eames….) from their House of Cards deck. The others were just super cool and charming little drawings.

I was smitten! And also delighted. Just when I thought I had figured out all my little “areas” in the thrift store, here was a whole new category. Board games! It had never really occurred to me to check that section. I remember thinking, “Have I been under a rock? Is everyone snapping up games?? How have I missed this!” Luckily my friend Jenny said to me, “You know after you found that Memory game, I always make a point to swing by the games!” She’s a consummate thrifter so I felt better knowing that I wasn’t alone in my new discovery.

Ever since then, I always make sure I take a little stroll down the toy and puzzle aisle to look for fun board games. I’m rarely disappointed. The games are usually fun (we love to play boardgames and card games) but even when they’re a little lame, the graphics more than make up for it. Check out the mysterious 3-Up. No clue how to play this, but I loved the colors and had to buy it!

Here are some others that I thought were really fun:


image: e.e. reilly

Heh. I remember this one….featuring the exciting SLAM-O-MATIC!


image: christian montone

These little shopping cart game pieces are brilliant.


image: neato coolville

So good, it’s NIRTZ. (huh?)


image: christian montone

Please note the “cootie” in the bottom right corner.

This one I left at the store—not sure I would ever be up for a rousing game of FINANCE. But I do love the cover and snapped a photo of it.

Hee. For some reason Wolfie loves this next game, even though he doesn’t really “get it”. It’s from 1967 and it’s called Chutzpah. It’s essentially a Jewish version of Monopoly—a mazel to the illustrator because the lettering is pretty awesome.

Often you’ll find the artwork changed from year to year and I always love to discover different versions of games I loved. Take this classic, Go to the Head of Class. In the 50s it looked like this:

image: susanna ryan

So sweet, isn’t it? But then check out the 60s version….this is the one my cousin had in the 70s. I think the illustrations on the game pieces are soooooo terrific!

Butch! Susie! Cowboy Joe! Oh how I love ya. They totally remind me of Art Seiden drawings.


image: popkulture

And finally. One of my faaaaaaavorite games growing up was CLUE. I loved it. My 70s version had photographs of all the characters—I loved the vampy Miss Scarlet the best. Then I found THIS:

Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the leadpipe…

Aw yeah, so fantastic, eh?? Miss Scarlet is so much sweeter than the 70s version I grew up with. I wonder who made the call, (“Let’s vamp her up!”) my Miss Scarlett was asian with a sultry stare and a red cigarette holder. A far cry from that demure cutie up there! You can see more on the post I did about vintage Clue games.

So there you have it. Pretty fun huh! And if you don’t want to play the actual board games, you can always hang them up and enjoy them as art—which i think is a pretty swell idea.


image: buddy rooster

What are some of your favorite childhood board games??

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7 Responses

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  1. Marta says

    Hi! I need that memory game! Honestly, these illustrations are great. I usually only buy old books, but I’m sure I would have bought this game. I also love old flash cards and alphabets. Have a great weekend!

  2. Stacy says

    Oh my goodness! Is it bad that I can actually remember the tv commercials from some of these? Games always looked so cool and I wanted some of them SO BAD! 🙂

  3. jess judkins says

    I was at goodwill earlier this week and spotted an old Jeopardy boardgame and almost almost almost bought it for Scott (he is a board game fanatic) Im always paranoid that the games wont have all the pieces but now I may just take that chance and get some 🙂 they would make great Christmas gifts AND we all love family game night 🙂

  4. OliversForest says

    i have never seen a real life vintage memory game! i want one!

  5. Leanne says

    Love these! I want that adorable Memory game! And I miss that Clue game from my childhood. We have a couple of old games that survived from our aunts and uncles – Stock Ticker and Feely Meely! http://www.vintagebooksfortheveryyoung.blogspot.ca

  6. Angela says

    I had that Memory game when I was a kid and always LOVED the illustrations, now I play it with my kids. I had no idea that some where Eames’ illustrations. Now I want to go and frame the cards for the playroom.

  7. morgane frimane says

    what a lovely vintage selection ! My fav is the memory



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