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Vintage Kiddo :: Never Bored of Board Games


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.


image: PopKulture

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: popkulture

So sweet, isn’t it? But then check out the 1967 version….this is the one my cousin had in the 70s. I think the illustrations on the game pieces are soooooo terrific!


image: hm david

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

image: susanna ryan

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 here—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 below!

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

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Posted in Best of Alix, Vintage Toys + Fun Stuff.

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20 Responses

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  1. Dottie says

    I had Hexeo! We used to play that at my Grandma’s house under the air conditioner on hot days.

    I love the looks of vintage game boards, but I love that you are actually playing them with Wolfie, because that’s what it’s all about! YEAH!

    • Alix says

      Dottie what was that awesome chess game you told me about? Mess???? We need a follow up to this post!!

  2. pilgrim says

    wow. chutzpah looks amazing. this round up is FABULOUS as per usual 😀 something about the harlequin pattern in the 2nd memory pic really speaks to me. i think one year i got easter eggs wrapped in similarly patterned foil. <3

    • Alix says

      Chutzpah is hilarious. The cards are all, “Your son, the doctor, takes you to Miami….”

  3. RocketGirl says

    GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASS! I loveloveloved that game, and completely forgot it existed until this post. Once again, Alix digs into my locked memory vaults and pulls out a gem!

    • Alix says

      That’s my job, missy…..I was an anthropology major ya know! Excavatin’ memories is my specialty!

  4. Jaymi says

    My husband and I collect vintage board games adn keep them in a closet like in The Royal Tenenbaums. These games are AMAZING though!!!! Wow! Thank you for shaing these gems with us.

    • Alix says

      How fun! Do you have a photo of them??

  5. melanie says

    I remember playing that version of Memory when I was a kid and loving it. Thankfully Moira loves playing Memory too and turns all sorts of card games (Go Fish, This Old Maid, Snap – all the old ones with pictures on them) into memory games these days. I also have the Charley Harper memory set which is lots of fun.

  6. Amy jo says

    Love your “little box of mid-century chocolates”! I try and look for vintage playing cards when I thrift. And wow,I dig the Clue graphics. Any idea who the illustrator is?

  7. 3 ring circus • heather says

    i always head to the game section! i have found some awesome games

    like this matching one
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/3ringcircus/4368784533/in/set-72157623087875473/

  8. Amber Liddle says

    I love love love the idea of hanging the boards up, that nursery picture is amazing. And to the poster that has a closet full of games like the Tenenbaums–I love you. That is my favorite part of that movie, a whole walk in closet full of board games!!!

  9. Krissy @ B.Inspired Vintage says

    The game section is my favorite part of the thrift store lately. I’ve found a lot of great vintage and educational games for my little ones. And I love collecting vintage game pieces. Not sure what I’m going to create with them, yet, but I love them! I hadn’t thought about putting the boards in a grouping on the wall like that – AWESOME!

  10. Kaekae says

    3 Up was basically 3d tic-tac-toe. we picked an old copy up at a yard sale in the 80s.

  11. Corrine Lawrence says

    Hello! That memory game you’ve featured – I can’t believe it. I have looked everywhere for that game as it has a huge place in my childhood. The images are so unusual and seemingly random. Whenever I try to describe it to my mum or sister, they look at me as though I’ve gone nuts. I’m in the UK and struggling to find a complete set. Any ideas? Also love the game boards on the walls – truly inspirational!

    • Alix says

      HI corrine! i’ve seen this game listed in different variations on ebay! How cool you had it as a child. Do a search for Vintage Memory Game and I bet you’ll turn something up! It had different covers but the tiles were often the same. GOOD LUCK!

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