The History of Scrabble?


A word game where players place tiles marked with letters on a 15×15 grid to form words. Each tile is worth a specific number of points and a blank tile is worth zero points.

The game is famous worldwide and can be found in three of every five American homes. It’s a family favorite that improves vocabulary and mathematical skills.


Originally called Criss-Cross Words, Scrabble was invented by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938. Initially the game was played without a board and players earned points based on the length of the words formed. He later developed a board and tiles that were stamped with letters and values.

The game grew in popularity and began to sell in stores as a new form of entertainment for families. It was also a great way for people to exercise and learn new words. But it wasn’t always easy for Butts to market his invention and make a profit.

Butts had an interest in games, and he loved playing chess, crossword puzzles, and anagrams. When he was working in New York, he had an idea for a new game that he thought could be a hit. He started by cutting out squares of plywood and gluing paper letters to them, then used those boards as the basis for a new game called Lexico.

He spent a lot of time playing his game and studying the front pages of newspapers to see what kinds of words were most commonly used. He was able to figure out the ratio of words to letter values that were most popular.

The next step was to create a game that would allow for more word combinations. He added a 15-by-15 grid board and a tile rack, and created a set of rules to make the game more appealing to consumers. But the biggest challenge was getting the game manufactured and distributed.

So, Butts teamed up with James Brunot, who had worked for the War Relief Control Board and had been a social worker. They rented a small, red schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut, where they worked tirelessly to manufacture a dozen games per hour.

In addition to manufacturing the game, Brunot also marketed it and sold it in stores. He hired 35 workers to work in the factory, which had a capacity of 6,000 sets a week.

By the time the company had reached its peak in 1953, five million Scrabble sets were sold worldwide. Butts retained patent rights to the game and kept a portion of the profits.

James Brunot

If you’re a word lover, you’ve probably played Scrabble at least once in your life. It’s second only to Monopoly as the most popular board game in America. Scrabble is a board game of interlocking words where players try to form winning combinations using all seven tiles.

The history of Scrabble dates back to the 1930s when Alfred Mosher Butts conceived a new word-building game called Criss-Cross Words. Butts tried to sell his idea to game manufacturers, but they were unimpressed. He kept trying and eventually met James Brunot, a Newtown, Connecticut resident who liked the game and wished to manufacture it.

In 1948 Butts sold Criss-Cross Words to Brunot in exchange for a royalty on each game. Brunot rearranged the premium squares and slightly changed the rules, as well as renamed the game Scrabble, which means “to scratch frantically.”

Brunot’s production and marketing company began in his home, where he made sets with the help of friends who would stamp letters onto wooden tiles. Initially, Brunot’s small company lost money but the games started to sell.

Once Brunot realized that the tiles had to be of equal size, he and his wife Helen began buying strips of letter-sized plywood from local mills. They would then have a woman named Mannix cut the pieces into individual tiles in her shop.

However, the Brunots were unable to keep up with the demand for their games. So in 1952 they licensed Long Island-based Selchow & Righter Company, a well-known game manufacturer founded in 1867, to market and distribute their games in the United States.

Throughout the 1950s, the popularity of Scrabble continued to grow and even Selchow and Righter had to increase their production capacities in order to meet the increasing demand for the game. As stories about Scrabble appeared in national newspapers, magazines and on television, it seemed that everyone had to have a set immediately.

In 1972, Selchow & Righter purchased the trademark from Brunot, thereby giving them exclusive rights to all Scrabble Brand products and entertainment services in the United States and Canada. This was the start of Scrabble’s transformation into a successful, commercially-produced game.

Selchow & Righter Company

In 1952, when James Brunot realized that he could no longer keep up with the demand for his games, he licensed the manufacturing and marketing rights to Scrabble to Long Island-based Selchow & Righter Company. In the years that followed, the SCRABBLE brand became the world’s most popular board game.

The Scrabble brand has a rich and complicated history, with multiple companies producing the game and its variations. Selchow & Righter Company was among the most successful of these firms.

When the firm first began making games in 1927, its repertoire consisted mostly of revisions of public domain games. This was due in part to war rationing, which restricted the production of paper and wood, staples for the game industry.

But once war ended, the company refocused its business and started producing original creations. Some of these new titles, like Consetta, did not sell well enough to remain in the catalogue.

One of these new creations, Parcheesi, provided the company with a cash windfall. Using that capital, the firm produced a variety of Parcheesi variants that did much to increase the game’s popularity.

This strategy, though criticized by contemporary marketing wizards, was effective and made the game more appealing to retailers. And it allowed the company to focus on other, more profitable products.

Selchow & Righter was also successful at avoiding competition, largely by focusing on a few products that developed outside of the company’s efforts. This strategy helped the firm survive the waves of industry consolidation in the 1920s and 1960s.

During these times, many toy manufacturers found themselves in the same position as Selchow & Righter. Generally, toy makers’ profits and longevity in the marketplace depended on a few winning products that they purchased from other toy manufacturers.

In the case of Selchow & Righter, those products were Parcheesi, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit. Not one of these blockbuster successes was actually a Selchow & Righter product, but they all profited from ideas that Selchow & Righter acquired from other toy firms.

In the early 20th century, Selchow & Righter was a jobber, a firm that purchased other toy firms’ games and manufactured them for wholesale distribution. This was a common practice in the game industry before toy makers stepped up their defenses against trademark and patent infringement.


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