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Who Introduced Chinese Checkers To U. S. And When?


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I'm getting conflicting information about the introduction of Chinese Checkers to America.

Some sources give Pressman credit, with a date of 1928, but that seems out of line with other records. If Pressman did come up with it in 1928 there sure was a delayed reaction before it caught on.

Does anyone have evidence for earlier than December 1935? By someone other than the J. F. Friedel Co. of Syracuse, NY?

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Neat. I don't have a date on it either. It might be the less than or equal to 1948 version mentioned here. Funny that they don't mention "Ching Ling" though. Wonder where they get the 1948 date from. Maybe that's when Kayson's Novelty Co. ceased to exist under that name.

Here's a press release and ad from what appears to be Friedel's early push for recognition.


By the way, do you know what you'd be playing if you were playing "Chinese Checkers" in 1923? . . . . Mah Jongg.

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Yeah, I would have seen that site sometime, if not yesterday. It was linked in this thread about Lawrence Brown's version of the game. Marble Bag... Brown Manufacturing Co.

The story told about Brown there makes it seems as if he was the only maker from 1937 to 1943. We know that's not true. I think it's sorta like how during the twilight years of their careers, various marble company presidents were given credit for having mechanized marble making. The Chinese Checkers game was huge. It's sorta natural that stories might be embellished about its development and promotion.

Well here's an ad for Brown's version, Chinker Chek.


Here's the Pressman version, Hop Ching. Ooops, lol. I didn't prep one of those yet. It's not as if I'm anti-Pressman. Really I'm not! Pressman sold marbles. They helped Alley become and/or stay a major player. I gotta like 'em. Just trying to get the Chinese Checkers story straight. :-)

Here are some others I did prep. (click to enlarge)

Another Friedel:


A local color pic:


(by the way, parties where Chinese Checkers in its various incarnations were played made the society pages quite a bit. :-)

A lithographed version involving some quantity of steel. (there's been some question about when steel versions were produced.)


Another name variant while I'm in the neighborhood.


One more. Burnstine's Hop Chek.


one one more, the earliest ad I've seen so far. Sorta boring as far as the Chinese Checkers ref. But cute ad for the Fortune game. lol


Edited by Steph
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Pressman's version - Hop Ching - was mentioned in society page reports starting at least by August 1938, which would indicate some amount of fame. But it's sort of interesting that Burnstine advertised a Chinese Checkers game in the June 1938 edition of Playthings while Pressman did not mention the game. Was it just not that important to Pressman at the time? Or was there some other reason not to advertise the game which was such a boon to their business? such as they only started their Hop Ching push after that Playthings went to print?

Whatever the reason, Burnstine featured the game while Pressman's ad was more along the lines of "we are here".


Here are some Hop Ching ads from Aug. and Sept. 1938. (click to enlarge)

th_1938_08_18_p2_IThinkIllinois_HopChi.jpg . . th_1938_09_09_p24_Winnipeg_HopChing.jpg . . th_1938_09_30_p6_BillingsMT_HopChing.jpg

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I finlly feel I can contibute something, lol I live in outside Syracuse NY. This thread made me remember this box. You may be disappointed .

J.F. Frieder co. The inside box lid has instructions but no date. Sorry about the pics I've only had this computer about a week and havent figured it out yet.



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That's super cool and I am not disappointed at all! :music-rocker-001:

It certainly adds a new dimension to the question! Who turned the game into a marble game instead of "checker" game? (and did the change take place in the Halma stage, the Stern-Halma stage or the Chinese Checkers stage?)

Maybe that was THE version Friedel sold or only ONE version. who knows? it will be interesting finding out! . . wonder if I overlooked any clues in what I've already read.

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according to my limited research, 1899 is the first year for a patent for the use of marbles on a game board as "men" (i.e., they are placed in concave spots as markers). this one uses marbles to jump and remove the piece that was jumped: game-board or puzzle USP 623876

here's another one from the same year. this one uses marbles to jump--but NOT remove any other pieces (the object being to move one's marbles from start to home): solitaire game USP 631050.

regarding turning the game into marbles vs checkers: the latter patent mentions using checkers as alternative playing pieces. i have seen many old board-game patents that mention checkers, pins, pegs, marbles, and the like, as types of games pieces or markers that can be used. i don't think it's much of a stretch to imagine the different game pieces. anyone trying to make a buck off marbles would have pushed a game board with cut-outs or concave spots.

my guess is that ordinary folks may have even made their own game boards and used buttons or nuts or whatever was free. but folks who were financially advantaged would have desired the more sophisticated games with colored marbles and game boards.

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Wow - here's the link to the obituary for Jack Pressman's widow, Lynn. Elizabeth found it and posted it at MM.

Lynn Pressman Raymond, Toy Executive, Dies at 97

Here's the portion pertaining to marbles:

In 1942, she married Mr. Pressman, known as the Marble King for his mysterious ability to obtain stocks of children’s marbles despite wartime shortages. More notably, he had put Chinese checkers in millions of American homes, after spotting the game on a sales trip to Colorado in 1928.

It reinforces the 1928 date but makes it even more likely to be a "typo" which got perpetuated for whatever reason. If it had said that he spotted the game on a sales trip to Europe, that might have given the 1928 date some credibility. But on a sales trip to Colorado? Means the game was already developed, and available in the U.S. (sorry to restate the obvious, but it seems key!) So that would fit into the late 1930's arc of ads and "hot new game" announcements I've been tracking.

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*hehe* Neat observations Paula.

I saw those tongs yesterday. My thought was an LOL and a bit of applause at the enterprising inventor who may have been hoping to ride the wave of Chinese Checkers popularity by creating a perception of a need for this accessory!

Thanks for the info about the various items used as "men" in games. I think you're right about the buttons, by the way. Not only does it make good sense! but I'm pretty sure I've read about it in ordinary people's literature - as opposed to ads.

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O.K. I got a phone call from Mike Johnson last night about this subject. Interestingly, Mike informed me that when American Machine Made Marbles (2006) went to Schiffer Publ. in its 'final' copy a significant section on Chinese Checkers was deleted along with numerous other subjects.

Lawrence W. Brown (1881 - April 4, 1960) of Brown Manufacturing, Clinton MO came up with a game for 2-6 players called The Game of Chinker-Chek in 1935. Brown filed for a Pat. in 1937 but it was never granted. It appears that numerous other people tried for a Patent but because of the great similarty I assume of the game to existing games the guys in the patent office couldn't get their heads around it. Heck, Art Fisher tried to get a Patent for Jump-Chek in 1939 but it was a no-go. When Brown swung into action he was producing 4000 boards daily and getting his marbles from WV suppliers. The games was marketed initially mainly between the East Coast and Ohio.

That's pretty much the extent of the information conveyed to me by Mike. I really do not know how this all fits in to what you've already dug up because I'll admit that I've mostly skimmed here but I felt that Mike might have a decent take on matters being as much of a marble historian that he is and also a gonzo Chinese Checkers nut!

Oh, Brown died tragically 4-4-1960 in a gas explosion.


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Thanks for Mike's version. The Lawrence Brown part is close to what was said in post #3 of this thread, Marble Bag... Brown Manufacturing Co.. That exact wording has shown up in more than one location so I don't know who originated it.

There's a key difference between your Mike Johnson report and the wording in the Brown Mfg Co. thread:

Lawrence W. Brown of Brown manufacturing company, Clinton, Missouri, experimented with a variation of Chinese chess starting in 1935.

So that's different from actually coming up with his version of the game in 1935. On the other hand, Friedel had his game for sale in 1935.

What we have so far is three American men being given credit for establishing Chinese Checkers in America: Pressman, Brown, Friedel.

The stories about Friedel were written in 1936, the stories about the others some time later.

The gist of my opinion about the Pressman and Brown versions is that they were embellished as part of a tribute to the men at the end of their careers. Much like how in their later years Berry Pink, Art Fisher and Clinton Israel were each given credit for having invented the marble machine.

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Adroit observation and likely the cause of many questionable attributions. Not to be insensitive on the subject but I just don't get too all-fired excited about narrowing these things down. Guess I'm not much of a historical 'digger.' I lean much more towards a specific appreciation of individual marbles. Hard to do with Chinese Checker marbles but I have some examples that are surprising and practically lookers. David

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  • 4 months later...

Cool pix all around, Randy. Mesh bag, dated board, instructions. All cool. (even the wahoo - that's a fun memory)

I take it the Gotham board is the only one with a date?

BJ - don't know what to say! :P How old was Young? ;)

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