Mary Pilon

is New York-based sports reporter at The New York Times and is writing a book about the history of Monopoly.



Fun With the 1911 FAO Schwarz Toy Catalog

One of the joys of my Monopoly book research has been learning more about the history of the toy and game industry, from parcheesi to Pokemon. Just in time for the holiday season, Smithsonian Magazine, points us to the FAO Schwarz toy catalog from 1911, which is extra fun to peruse as so many little ones are opening gifts today. In honor of Xmas, here are some highlights I couldn’t resist sharing with the rest of the class. 

There are two pages devoted to lawn croquet sets, plus this awesome newfangled thing called basketball. 

Everything about this pneumatic diver is perfect.  

As is this creepy, very “life-like” swimming doll. 

The presence of toy “dog whips” are clearly also a sign of changing times. 

As are these splendid automobile caps and goggles.

I would have killed for this at-home wooden roller coaster as a kid. Part of me still does. 

Happy holidays! 

Here’s a tangent to my Monopoly book research session the other day at the library that I thought was worth sharing with the rest of the class: The cover of Vol. 1, No. 1 of Vogue, published on Dec. 17, 1892. This was during the Benjamin Harrison administration and long before women could vote in the US, before Margaret Sanger made her campaign for birth control rights and before two world wars would place more women into the workforce. To say nothing of those long skirts! 

The caption at the bottom, in itty bitty print, reads: “VOGUE — A DEBUTANTE” 

Then, inside a fancy definition and guide to the origin of the word Vogue. “General drift of ideas; rumor; report.” 

PSA: In Chicago Talking History, Monopoly, Journalism

I’ll be in Chicago this Saturday for what is looking to be a fun-filled panel "Writing History at the Wall Street Journal."  (More info about the American Historical Association’s Annual Meeting here.)

I’m on to talk about Monopoly, now a book in the works, and we’ll hopefully address some of the broader chatter about the relationship between history and journalism. Giddy to be sharing the stage with some of my fave reporters at a great venue for history buffs.