When I was young, back in the last century before video games and feminism were invented, a popular board game was The Barbie "Queen of the Prom" Game, below right. Described as "a fun game with real-life appeal for all girls," it was pretty much what you'd expect: the pursuit of boyfriends and fancy dresses, with the ultimate goal to land one of the hot guys – Bob, Tom, or Ken, and avoiding poor ginger Poindexter with his ink-dot eyes – as your date for the prom, where you hoped to be crowned QUEEN. My friends and I thought it was way cool.
The board game, above, is apparently the late 18th c. version of The Barbie Game. Called Hymen's Advice to the Ladies: A New Invented & Entertaining Game of Courtship & Matrimony, it does in fact offer some entertaining possibilities (probably more exciting than most parents would have wanted, too) for those ladies on the quest for a husband. This game is featured in the current Justin Croft Antiquarian Books sale catalogue(page 12, item 25):
A rare and interesting board game for young women, taking the players on a journey through courtship, engagement, and, finally, marriage. On the way are a first kiss, a first argument (over money), a duel, a visit to the vicar, a short-cut to Gretna Green, breaking off, and so on.
I've also spotted spaces on the board labeled The Ring, The Bann, The Licence, An Offer, Mutual Passion, An Answer, A Settlement, A Love Letter, and A Wounded Heart. No mention of avoiding Lord Poindexter, however.
Certainly it's all much more thrilling than Barbie's prom, and much more expensive, too. A vintage 1961 copy of The Barbie Game can be had on eBay for under $100, while the asking price for the one-of-a-kind Advice to the Ladies is £1800. Hope that Settlement is a good one!
Many thanks to friend of the blog Mitch Fraas, Scholar in Residence, Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, University of Pennsylvania, for sharing this game first on Twitter. Mitch has assisted us with blogs before - see here and here.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.