Race Around The World

Closed Board

In 1982, the Museum acquired a copy of Race Around The World - a map game which is thought to be published in 1891 by the famed game makers "McLoughlin Brothers". From the title of the game, one assumes that it is a game about the historic trip of Nellie Bly. Bruce Whitehill's American Boxed Games and Their Makers 1822-1992 includes information about two similar games published by the McLoughlin Brothers in 1890 titled Around The World With Nellie Bly - but not Race Around The World. Whitehill says:

"Boxed board games of geography and travel were popular in the United States in the late 1880s. A game that had been issued earlier might be reissued and renamed in conjunction with a particular event or person - for example, as with Nelly Bly, Phoebe Snow, and later Charles Lindberg. Other times, a game would be issued following a newsworthy event in order to capitalize on the popularity of the theme. In this way manufacturers would save licensing fees (and time) by issuing a game that related to a well-known event without actually naming the people involved - such as the game of  SKY-HI, New York to Paris (which did not mention Lindberg) - issued by Cutler and Saleeby around 1926."

Thus, it was not unusual at that time (and now too) for producers of games to offer a number of different editions of similar games for which they held the license. As Whitehill suggests, Race Around The World is just another world travel game capitalizing (by its title) on the Nelly Bly publicity.

Who was Nellie Bly? What was the publicity about? When did all this happen?

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was the pseudonym of Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (1864-1922), American journalist, born in Cochran's Mills, Pennsylvania. Noted for her enterprise in news reporting, she served at various times on the editorial staffs of the Pittsburgh Dispatch, the New York World, and the New York Journal. In 1888 she spent ten days posing as a patient in the mental hospital on Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island), New York City, to gather information about the treatment of the inmates. She recorded her findings in the book Ten Days in a Madhouse (1888). In 1889 Bly made a well-publicized trip around the world by train and steamboat in an attempt to make the journey in less time than the fictional character Phileas Fogg in the novel Around the World in Eighty Days, by the French writer Jules Verne. Bly completed her trip in the record time of 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and she chronicled her adventures in Nellie Bly's Book: Around the World in Seventy-two Days (1890).
(Source: Microsoft Encarta  Reference Library 2003.)

Game Board

The photograph at the top of this page is of the game box (23.5cm x 39.5cm x 4.6cm) which opens to reveal the game board itself embedded in both the top and bottom of the box. The board is 47.1cm high x 78.8cm long x 2.3cm thick and is a geographic map of the world. Note that the map attempts to convey that "the world is round", and it repeats the left portion on the extreme right. Across the map are red numbered tracks starting in Great Britain on the left and ending in Great Britain on the right! Below the red tracks at various intervals are printed movement instructions for the players.


Embedded in the board are two "spinners" which are used by the players as a chance device to determine the number of spaces to move on the red track. Each player has the use of one spinner. While both "spinners" look and function identically, the one on the right is removable. This "spinner" is the top of a cup which holds the player markers used in the game.

The game is for two players and there are two markers - one red, one green - in the shape of pegs 3.4cm long x .4cm thick. Throughout the board on the red tracks are a number of holes cut into the board into which the pegs fit to mark progress in the game.

The player who goes "around the world" first - is the winner!

Last update March 24, 2010