The Game of Uncle Sam’s Mail, by the McLoughlin Bros.

GAME OF UNCLE SAM’S MAIL. New York: McLoughlin Bros., 1893.
Large folding game board, 20 ½”h x 34 5/8”w, accompanied by 5 (of 6) wooden playing pieces, 140 (of 144) small (1 ½” x 2 ½”) printed cards, four dice, and two dice cups. All housed in original compartmented box (9 5/8” x 21 5/8” x 2”), the lid with applied chromolithographic label and instructions printed on the reverse. Board with minor foxing, sides of lid largely perished, but extremely appealing and, with the exception of the missing playing piece and 4 missing cards, relatively complete.
$2,500

A wonderful McLoughlin Bros. game celebrating the United States’ huge and efficient postal system, with a large cartographic board and a spectacular chromolithographic box.

The game is played on a very large, color-printed map of the United States, with red dots identifying cities and towns. The country is criss-crossed by heavy lines color-coded to represent the nation’s many rail systems and, while red lines in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico indicate shipping routes. Each player draws six cards, each card representing a letter to an actual political figure, including even then-President Grover Cleveland, who served two nonconsecutive terms, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897. The players then take turns rolling dice, with the rolls determining the distance they may travel as they “deliver” their letters to their proper destinations around the country. The first to deliver all of his or her letters wins the game.

The game board is itself attractive, but—as often the case with McLoughlin Bros. games, the box is a showstopper. It bears a large, pasted on chromolithographic collage of images including a postman delivering mail, a steam vessel, railroad, mail stage and even an express rider, all in vibrant colors with the title in gold.

The game was produced by the New York City-based firm McLoughlin Bros. Established in the mid 1850s, the firm was a pioneer in the use of color printing processes in children’s books, games, puzzles, and toys. In 1920 it was purchased by Milton Bradley and its Brooklyn factory closed, though the brand remained alive until the 1970s. The firm’s output is sufficiently significant to American printing history that the American Antiquarian Society has built a major collection more than 1700 examples of McLoughlin Bros. work, much of which was produced well after the Society’s collecting limit of 1876.

Provenance and references
The game was previously in the renowned collection of Bud and Judy Newman of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Background on the McLoughlin Bros. from Laura Wasowicz, “McLoughlin Bros. Collection” on the web site of the American Antiquarian Society.