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The Parlor Base Ball Games of
McLOUGHLIN BROTHERS Game of Base-ball, Home Base Ball Game, The World's Game of Base Ball, The Diamond Game of Base Ball, Zimmer's Own Base Ball Game, and others

-- text copyright 2014--2021 by the Baseball Games front office staff --
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      McLoughlin Brothers of New York, over the last third of the 19th century and the early years 
  of the 20th, were the premiere American publishers of children's books, games, and other ephemera.  
  Surviving examples of their products, many of them printed in beautiful chromolithography, are avidly   
  collected today, and their variety of tabletop baseball games are among the most desired -- in many 
  cases among the rarest, and inevitably among the costliest -- in the sports memorabilia hobby. 

This photo-essay attempts to gather and organize all the known McLoughlin baseball efforts -- no simple task, since McLoughlin issued several different games with very similar titles (often the exact same title), frequently reissued a game using a different title, sometimes included copyright dates and often did not, and copyrighted some titles for games that evidently never went into production under that title but may have been produced using a different title. Titles seen on a game's box, its playing board, and its directions frequently do not match, nor, often, do the titles used for listing a game in company catalogues. So what? Well, for collectors, it's vital to distinguish, for example, between Game of Base-ball and Game of Base Ball, and even more crucial to distinguish between Home Base Ball, Home Base Ball Game, Home Base Ball Game. (period), and Home Baseball Game...
Additionally, copyright dates do not necessarily certify that a game was published in that same year, and existing information obtained by earnest researchers is often in conflict. We're using the observations of those other researchers and collectors and those of our own bifocaled eyes, as well as the information found in a very incomplete selection of McLoughlin company product catalogues and Price Guides, to assemble here a sort of annotated chronology of McLoughlin baseball. Some dates and details are supposition; additional information and corrections are welcome (contact us at the Baseball Games Forum) and will be added here as they're verified.

      Before we start, let's kill one urban legend that's been perpetuated by a few collectors and historians who 
  really should know better or who should at least have thought to ask around -- no, there is no McLoughlin   
  baseball game from "1856."  But for a few scattered gaps among relatively trivial details, the McLoughlin line   
  is pretty well and thoroughly documented, and after a single pre-Brothers game (Yankee Pedlar, or What Do 
  You Buy, by John McLoughlin), only four other games appeared prior to the late 1860s in their product line 
  of picture-books, Valentines, and wooden blocks.  It was not until the late 1860s that McLoughlin Brothers 
  proceeded strongly into game production, and while the company turned out roughly a hundred boardgames 
  and card games between 1867 and 1885, most were themed along the lines of childhood education (Good and 
  Bad Scholar, Grandmama's Geographical Game, Uncle Sam's History of the U.S., &c') or social and moral 
  instruction (Conversations on Marriage, Grandma's Old Testament Game, Going to Sunday School, &c').  
Less than a dozen games are credited to McLoughlin Brothers before the 1870s. While more purely diversionary entertainments, including several hunting-themed games, joined their games line-up before 1886, the only true sports-themed game among them was Jerome Park Steeplechase, the horse-race game that broke from the gate in 1875 and, with a number of changes to title and graphics, remained in their catalogue well into the 20th century. There is no evidence anywhere that anyone's yet turned up that any tabletop baseball game was conceived prior to the Sebring and Buckley patents of 1867 and 1868. The "1856 McLoughlin" citation is surely the result of a typo in some reference to McLoughlin's first efforts at baseball-themed games in 1886.
A much more thorough and detailed synopsis of the history of McLoughlin Brothers Inc is included at the end of this photo-essay. We've borrowed it, with permission, from the website of the American Antiquarian Society, whose digitized offerings of McLoughlin catalogues proved invaluable in assembling this article, and liberally augmented it with additional information gleaned from a number of other sources. It's well worth reading for the context it provides, illuminating the company's origins, ascendance, prestige, influence, and demise. Readers looking for a clearer understanding of the chromolithographic printing process distinguishing many McLoughlin products may also find useful a series of relevant links at the end of this article.

McLoughlin Brothers' career in baseball began in 1885 with the brilliantly colored picture-book, Base Ball ABC. We include it here in this foto-essay on their games not only because it represents their earliest foray onto the diamond, but also because...

... you'll easily recognize that the artwork from the pages of Base Ball ABC was used again, a year later, on the box lid of one of their very first and most famous baseball games (below). Victorian primers of this sort always put us in mind of Edward Gorey's 1963 classic, The Gashlycrumb Tinies...

  McLoughlin finally got into the action with two games  
  first published in about 1886. Game of Base-ball, at left, is 
  among the most iconic and elaborately produced numbers in 
  the McLoughlin line.  The example here, only a bit rough 
  around the edges for its more than a century and a quarter, is 
  distinguished by its blue border decorated with bats and balls,  
  and by its lack of a copyright date.  Other examples of the  
  17x9.5" box feature subtle variations, such as a solid black or 
  navy border, a mottled blue border, or the brown border seen 
  below left, and the addition of an 1886 copyright date.  
      The game includes the box, gameboard, one spinner for 
  the side at bat and one for the the side in the field, miniature 
  metal figures -- nine fielders, a batter, and two umpires -- 
  puck-shaped wooden markers for baserunners, scorecards, 
  and a booklet of directions, written in confoundingly 
  laborious prose for so simple a game. 

The brown-bordered box, above, displaying the 1886 date. At right, the gameboard, opened, with the metal players and the dual spinners in place. Below, the gameboard folded closed -- the bright green of the playing field peeks through one of the holes that anchors a spinner.
Typical of McLoughlin games, it's Game of Base-ball on the box, "Parlor Base-ball Game" on the board, "The Game of Base Ball" in the directions, and "The National Game of Base-Ball" in its 1886 catalogue debut. It is our sad duty to report that, for all the sumptuous beauty of the game and its parts and pieces, it is an awful thing to play. Gamers alternate spinning as batter and fielder, resulting in the batter almost always hitting safely and then being put out on base. Baserunners advance, on average, roughly once every twelve spins on a balk and once every six on a passed ball.

The spinners, directions booklet, baserunner markers, umpires, and all but one of the fielders are seen above. At right, the spinners, the closed board, and the slate scorecards.

Click here for a closer inspection of the dual spinners, and here for a look at the complete directions...

Home Base Ball also debuted in 1886, featuring rules nearly identical to those of Game of Base-ball -- which leads us to infer that this was a sort of "economy" version of the same game. Today among the scarcest of all surviving McLoughlin games, information on this number is a bit vague.
Evidently it was sold as just the gameboard (15.5x13" open) -- no box, spinners, or playing figures -- and the directions booklet, and meant to be played with dice, radically skewing the frequency of play results. Just how gamers were to roll a "1" with a pair of dice remains a mystery...

  Pardon us for a moment, and please follow, while we wander off 
  on a bit of a tangent.  At left is the page from the 1886 McLoughlin 
  catalogue which offers the first glimpse of the two games we've just   
  discussed.  The discrepancies between the details in the catalogue 
  descriptions and the actual titles and dimensions of the games upon 
  being put into production rather threw us for a bit.  But given the 
  McLoughlin tendency toward inconsistency and inaccuracy in their 
  catalogues, and the likelihood that, at the time the catalogue was 
  sent to press, the games were still in the pre-production stage, 
  subject to redesign and repackaging, we can confidently interpret 
  the text (aided obviously by the illustration) to refer certainly 
  to Home Base Ball and Game of Base-Ball. 
What really caught our attention, though, was the mention in the Home Base Ball listing that "The design is an accurate picture of one of our leading Base-Ball grounds." While the rolling fields in the idyllic pastoral of Base Ball ABC and Game of Base-Ball is a decidedly generic scene (outfield play must be quite the adventure), the huge berm backing left field and left-center, and the urban vista of smoke-belching factories far beyond the outfield, seen on the gameboard of Home Base Ball, were details seemingly too specific to be merely the product of the artist's imagination. Was the text in the catalogue on the level? If so, which ballpark was depicted?
We threw ourselves into finding an answer to this little puzzle, but despite a concerted effort searching high and low, we eventually struck out, and turned for assistance to a great help and great friend to this site, Tom Shieber, Senior Curator of Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Tom also runs a marvelous blog, Baseball Researcher, and there indeed did he provide our answer: "There Used to Be a Ballpark Right Here -- Washington Park." Thank you, Tom!

  If you haven't departed us for Tom's blog, we have one additional 
  mystery to present before the cavalcade of McLoughlin games 
  resumes in earnest, and, alas, this mystery remains unsolved.  
  At right, behold the remnants of possibly the only surviving 
  example of The Sporting Life Official Game of Base-ball.  
      The manufacturer as well as the rules are unknown, but while 
  the mini-bat and sturdy wooden players suggest a rather more 
  roughhouse play mechanic than the gentle spinners and delicate 
  paper die-cuts that typify McLoughlin games, the gorgeous cover 
  art and, in particular, the elaborate lettering identical to that on the   
  1886 Game of Base-ball argue for this, too, being a McLoughlin 
  product.  The tiny line of type near bottom center of the box lid 
  reads "Copyright 1887," but a thorough search of the available 
  McLoughlin catalogues and of 1887 and 1888 issues of The 
  Sporting Life turns up no trace of any advertisement nor mention 
  of the game.  
      The box lid features a colorized version of part of a W P Snyder 
  illustration from the 8 May 1886 edition of Harper's Weekly -- 
  "A Double Play -- First League Game, New York against Boston, 
  April 29."  That would be the Gothams (later the Giants) hosting 
  the Red Stockings (eventually the Braves) at the original Polo 
  Grounds (6th Avenue at 110th Street).  Full illo here.  

The World's Game of Base Ball arrived in 1889, capitalizing on the success of Albert Spalding's celebrated baseball World Tour of 1888-89.
The Rules for Playing, at right, interpret the results indicated by the 40-sectioned spinner, which again offers loads of offense -- batters hit about 16-for-33. Compare McLoughlin's Diamond Game of 1894 (farther below).
One prominent source named the players pictured on the 16x9" box and board as Browns star (later notorious owner of the White Sox) Charlie Comiskey, and the owner of the best nickname in the history of baseball, Bob "Death to Flying Things" Ferguson, but we were long highly dubious of those identifications. Neither image is labelled with a name, and, not that McLoughlin were obligated to depict relevant (or even real) players, neither Comiskey nor Ferguson were in any way at all involved with the tour, and Ferguson had retired as a player five years earlier. We stand corrected, as we often must. Collector Kris Sweckard joined our Forum in November 2017 to apprise us of the undeniable similarity of the player illustrated on the right of the box and board to the image of, yes, Comiskey, on the 1887 "N172" Old Judge card at right. And, he smartly suggested, it's just the wrong Ferguson -- not ballhawk Bob, but tragic Philly star Charlie (in his own N172 at left), chosen to be pictured in timely, freshly posthumous tribute. His story is here.
  A further footnote-worthy correction, February 2020:  Hall of Fame Senior Curator Tom Shieber helps us out yet again with this delightfully 
  annoying and scrupulously researched item, The Death of "Death to Flying Things", establishing that occasionally spectacular infielder Bob 
  Ferguson was never referred to during his playing career by that particular sobriquet.  Career stats here, his SABR bio here. 

The consensus on Base Ball Game is that it debuted in 1892. It was one game among six sold together as McLoughlin's "Junior Series" -- this, presumably, with Old Maid and four more -- which appears as item 408 (some examples sport the inventory code on the box lid) at least as far back as their 1894 Price Guide and persisted as such in their catalogues from at least 1895 through 1900 and into the 1910s (retitled the "Little Gem Series" in 1917 and renumbered 4800 in 1919). McLoughlin states of the "Junior Series" games, "All of them are very simple, calculated for child's games exclusively," and always lists them as 6 1/2" square, although collectors can testify they're 7 1/2" square. Over its long production run, Base Ball Game became two different games. The first version combined the batting and fielding spinners of the earlier games we've shown into a single spinner (near right), yielding the same play mechanic. The second version used a different spinner (far right), changing game play.
That second-version spinner and the gameboard were used again for their 1897 edition of Base Ball Game (farther below).

 Here, now, is the item many of you have been 
 waiting to see:  Zimmer's Base Ball Game.  
 Among the most highly prized, and now costliest, 
 of all tabletop games in any genre, only about 
 a dozen examples are known to survive, and it's 
 a sure bet to top five figures at auction.  
     Invented and patented by Joseph Meaher of 
 Cleveland, the game began life in prototype 
 form as Zimmer's Own Base Ball Game 
This 23"-square 1892 prototype may be the only surviving example of its kind. Although a radical departure from their line of gentle boardgames and delicate card games, the sturdy mechanical action game was put into production by McLoughlin Brothers beginning in 1893.

The finished product, now Zimmer's Base Ball Game, is a bit smaller than Meaher's original, just over 21" square, although it's described as 20" square in the splashy entry in the 1895 McLoughlin catalogue (above). Now bearing the likeness and endorsement of Cleveland catcher "Chief" Zimmer along with images of 18 other mostly star players of the day ("celebrity" tie-ins were rare in McLoughlin games), the game remained a staple of their product line through at least 1900.

  Zimmer, long-time battery-mate of Cy Young, is regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of his day.  Stats here;  
  an item regarding the boardgame, from the 28 November 1891 issue of The Sporting Life, here.  
      Rhys Yeakley of Net54 notes that "Chief Zimmer was not a Native American;  he was the captain of the Poughkeepsie 
  Indians baseball team and as a result, since the team was the "Indians" and he was their leader, he was nicknamed Chief."  
      Robert Edward Auctions adds that "Chief Zimmer was one of the first players to actively pursue marketing ventures. 
  His Zimmer-brand cigars were also one of the earliest of all player-endorsed cigars." 
      Just in case you were curious. 

Above, the nearly pristine gameboard of the Zimmer's famously found stowed in a storeroom closet at the Bingham-Waggoner estate in Independence Missouri in March 2008, including one of only three known apronless lids. Whether or not Zimmer's is "the finest" or "most beautiful of all games," as touted by most of those privileged to own an example, is very much a matter of taste and opinion (we'd say it's the T206 Wagner of games, with all that implies) -- but there's no question that it is indeed a very impressive thing. The owl seems awed by it.

"Zimmer the Catcher" oversees the action, but it's Buck Ewing behind the plate, catching the deliveries of Amos Rusie. Dan Brouthers is at 1st, Montgomery Ward at 2nd, Jack Glasscock at short, and George Davis at 3rd. In the outfield, Billy Hamilton mans left, Jimmy McAleer patrols center, and Big Sam Thompson is in right. On the bench, left to right, or top to bottom, there's Germany Smith, Ed Delahanty, Patsy Tebeau, George Davies, Bid McPhee, Jake Virtue, W Zimmer (probably Chief's little brother), Kid Nichols, and Cy Young. [ Click here for stats. ]

The Diamond Game of Base Ball -- a little game (8 1/2 x 4") and another little mystery. Common wisdom, for whatever that's ever worth, puts an 1894 date to the game. We can't say that's wrong -- it would fill some of the gap between the 1893 Zimmer's and McLoughlin's next baseballian boardgame offerings in 1897.

But the Diamond Game title was copyrighted in 1888, and the game -- with its 40-sectioned spinner -- plays in essentially identical style to The World's Game of Base Ball from 1889. Was Diamond Game already on the market in '88, then pimped out as World's Game for the World Tour a year later? Or was World's Game the original version, reissued five years later as the scaled-down Diamond Game with the World Tour buzz having faded? Catalogues from those years are missing -- perhaps the unseen inside of the box lid would tell us...
Ehh... nope. Thanks again to Kris Sweckard, we now have a look inside, and all we learn is that the rules are identical to those in 1889's The World's Game of Baseball (farther above).

Above, some figures from a Chicago team set -- at top: right field (reversed), batter, catcher; at bottom, umpire (reversed), center field.
      The recent discovery of an uncut sheet settled a long-standing 
      mystery.  Behold, above, Amusement For Boys To Cut Out. 
The figures were fairly well-known in the hobby, but were always seen indeed cut out, leading many to speculate they were pieces from an unidentified boardgame by an unidentified publisher. We finally recognized them as identical to the players illustrated on the playing fields of the 1892 and 1897 versions of McLoughlin's Base Ball Game (click here for a closer look at the boardgame players and compare). But the exact source or purpose of the figures remained unknown. Collectors from the Net54Baseball forum spotted the uncut sheet seen at top at the 2013 National Sports Collectors Convention, solving much of the riddle. A variety of sets were published, representing teams from various major league cities. The uncut sheet contains the Philadelphia set. Click here for a closer look at some other examples. McLoughlin Brothers produced -- for Victorian boys as well as girls -- a huge array of paper doll sets, including military, marching band, Boy Scouting, and "Wild West" figures. These must be "Base Ball Nines," item no. 251 in the Paper Dolls section of their 1894-95 price list, although we find no listing for them in any available catalogue.

Above, some figures from the New York team set -- top row: left field, center field, catcher; bottom row: batter, shortstop, 2nd base.

Years went by before we finally got a sufficiently close look at Game of Parlor Base Ball to discern that the copyright noted at the lower right of the box lid reads "1897," not 1891 or 1892. The game shows up in the 1897 through 1900 McLoughlin catalogues, listed in this 1897 edition (above) merely as "Base Ball Game."
Given McLoughlin's propensity for inexactitude in titles, it's impossible to say for certain whether a game listed, without an illustration, under a generic title in earlier catalogues is this game or that. "Parlor Base Ball Game" in their 1894 Price List could have been this or any one of four or five other games, and while new additions to their product line were usually noted as such in their catalogues, Game of Parlor Base Ball wasn't so listed in 1897. But we're sure of the date now -- 1897 it is -- forcing us to edit and rearrange our chronology here. Game of Parlor Base Ball (18.5x17.5") uses the same dual spinners, with subtly altered colors, as Game of Base-ball from 1886. We've yet to see an example that features the "18 metal figures" mentioned in the catalogue, just one that included 18 wooden "pucks" as markers. All or part of the box lid artwork will be seen again in five contemporary or subsequent McLoughlin entries.

Here's the 1892 Base Ball Game again, now with new box lid graphics for its 1897 edition -- still product number 408, still part of the "Junior Series" game set. You'll recognize the batter from the cover art of Game of Parlor Base Ball from 1897 (previous entry). Click on the lower right corner of the box lid for a closer look the rules.
The playing field remains unchanged from the 1892 original, but the 1897 edition of Base Ball Game uses the second spinner shown earlier, providing a far better (if still childishly simple) game. Batters now hit at about a far more reasonable .292 clip. Click on the spinner in the picture above for a closer look at it. Again, this version of Base Ball Game remained part of the McLoughlin product line all the way through the 1910s.

Here's Home Base Ball Game., period. No, seriously -- you must include the period at the end of the title if you're referring to this 1897 edition. Above, the game's entry in McLoughlin's 1897 catalogue, described with typical underestimation as 19.5x10.5" (it's just a bit larger at about 20x11"). The 1897 copyright date appears in tiny print along the lower border of the box lid. The artwork from Game of Parlor Base Ball is used again here, and so, unfortunately, is the single spinner version of the old 1886 spinners, reverting the game to those clunky 1886 rules. Home Base Ball Game. in this form was produced until 1899, after which it would be replaced by the same game in a larger format. And without the period.

Home Base Ball Game. on the box, "Game of Baseball." (period) in the catalogue, "Simple Game of Home Baseball." (period) inside the box lid.

  One more baseball-related item 
  from the 1897 catalogue:  
The picture would have to be that at right, the great cartoonist R F Outcault's effort for the New York World edition of 12 April 1896, of course featuring the famous first superstar of the funny pages, The Yellow Kid, front and center amid the usual rowdy chaos of Hogan's Alley.

This Game of Base Ball is a real rarity, and so it again poses a bit of a mystery. At least two sources put an 1899 date to it, although we don't know if anything in the game itself corroborates that. The gloveless fielders and the players' jockey-style caps seen in the box-lid illustration suggest a scene roughly twenty years earlier, but graphics, of course, can provide only a "no-older-than" date. We've not found the game in any available McLoughlin catalogues.
One of the larger boardgame offerings from McLoughlin at 22x13", Game of Base Ball (no hyphen) uses three spinners to provide a method of play unique among McLoughlin baseball games -- balls and strikes from the pitcher's spinner, results of the batter's swing from the spinner at home plate, and fielder/baserunner results from the spinner in left field. The "spinners" at lower right are more properly "dials" or "indicators" for the ball-strike count.

Home Base Ball Game returns in larger (15x14.5") form (and without the terminal period in its title) in 1900. The artwork from the 1890s Game of Parlor Base Ball appears in a teal frame on the tan box. The old 1897 copyright is at the center far right on the box lid, but you can ignore that, and we'll tell you why...
Above, a variant edition, the cover illustration bordered in gold or beige on a floral-print box. The 1897 copyright text has moved to just outside the catcher's ankle, while the new 1900 copyright notice is presented at bottom center of the box lid. Both this and the edition at left were produced in 1900 or later.

  Home Base Ball Game. -- the skinny one with the period 
  in the title -- is listed in only the 1897, '98, and '99 
  McLoughlin catalogues.  In the 1900 catalogue, it's gone.  
The square, periodless edition of Home Base Ball Game debuts in the 1900 catalogue (above). We're completely confident that the 1897 date seen on a few examples is just a carry-over from the earlier edition, referring to the rules and/or artwork and not to the production date of the game.

The playing field and spinner from the 1900 edition of Home Base Ball Game, above. McLoughlin persisted in using their 1886 game rules and method of play in their more upscale baseball games, even though the spinner and rules already in use in their cheaper Base Ball Game for younger children provided a much better -- and as a simulation of 1900-era real-life baseball, a less unrealistic -- gaming experience.

Another member of our Forum, high-end 19th-Century game collector Steve, introduces us to yet another variation in Home Base Ball Game graphics -- here, yellow "drapery" on the right instead of red. The 1900 copyright date is printed minutely beneath the "M" and "E" in "GAME."
The playing field of the "gold curtain" edition repaints the sandy-beige position indicators in red, and the corner insignia are a bit more florid, as seen again in the game's next iteration, below...

Later in the long production run of Home Baseball Game, the pastoral background of the original box lid artwork is dropped out, replaced by silhouetted figures. This variation sports a 1900 copyright date at bottom center of the 15x14" blue plaid box -- although it's certainly from later than that -- but omits the product number.

The inside of the box lid presents the directions for the "Simple Game of Home Baseball." in one broad column. Along with the same spinner used in the previous edition, eighteen wooden pucks are included as markers. Some colors on the playing field have changed from the earlier edition. Is there a pinkish hue? Yeah, a rosy glow.

More subtle variations appear in the graphics of another post-1900 example of Home Baseball Game, including a tan box lid that notes the product number (5195) at the lower left corner, but omits a copyright date. Here, a teetotum is included. We don't know if it's original to the game or fell in from somewhere else, but it may be related to the third spinner seen in the 1899 Game of Base Ball. The game became part of a multi-game set -- the "Evenings at Home Series" -- in the 1910s, and was renumbered 4850 in 1919, in case you're thinking of ordering.

The National Game of Base Ball gives one last turn at bat to the kid first seen on Game of Parlor Base Ball. This game is about 19.75x10.5", similar to the 1897 edition of Home Base Ball Game. As a new century dawned, McLoughlin began packaging many of their games in multi-game sets, as they'd done with the "Junior Series" that included Base Ball Game. National is noted as part of the "Out Door Sports Series."
The playing field, too, is the same as that in 1897's Home Base Ball Game. A 1901 copyright is displayed above the rules printed inside the box lid. Fifteen years down the road, those rules, and the results on the combined spinner, haven't really changed at all since 1886 -- nor have the uniforms or equipment, which, although beautifully depicted and lithographed, no question, still have an antiquated 1870s-1880s look.

  McLoughlin Brothers copyrighted another title -- The Exciting Game of Base Ball -- in 1904, 
  but we're confident no game ever went into production under that name (heavens, no one wants to 
  get the children excitable).  No new baseball game was forthcoming from McLoughlin until... 

Huzzah! McLoughlin's team at last gets up to speed and joins the 20th century with this big mechanical action number, Home Base Ball Game, listed above in their 1914 catalogue.
A gorgeous watercolor illustration sprawls across the big 25x15" box lid of Home Base Ball Game. The product number -- 5650 -- is seen at left in the catalogue, and above at the lower left of the lid, making later editions easy to track though the game's final appearance in the 1919 McLoughlin Order List. Often ascribed to various dates as far back as 1908, it's "New Base Ball Game" in the 1914 catalogue and just "Home Base Ball" thereafter, so we suspect 1914 did indeed mark its debut.

  The playing field of Home Base Ball Game,
  at left.  Below, some of the game's implements 
  and playing pieces.  The pitching device, at 
  bottom, is manipulated with a simultaneous 
  pinching and twirling motion (inset). 
At right, Baseball and Checkers ~ Two Game Combination, the 1920s number by Milton Bradley, which bought up McLoughlin in 1920 and made use here of both the old artwork and, yikes, the 1890s game board and spinner.

  Milton Bradley used the cover art yet again -- 
  very briefly -- on this rare circa 1929 prototype   
  of Babe Ruth's Baseball Game, a new game 
  completely different than any of the McLoughlin   
  efforts -- the American edition used cards to 
  determine play, a Canadian edition employed 
  a spinner.  In actual commercial production in 
  the 1930s, the Bradley game used a completely 
  different piece of cover art -- a cartoon of, oddly, 
  a slim right-handed batter with no resemblance 
  to the Sultan of Swat.  But we digress...  

As the company's star began to fade in its final decade of game production, decorative elements and lithographic quality of McLoughlin games became less elaborate, presumably to hold down printing and production costs.

Above, left and right, two later editions of Home Base Ball Game. At about 23x17", these editions are slightly longer and slimmer than the circa 1914 original; parts and pieces are held in a compartment at one end rather than in a separate parts box.

   McLoughlin Brothers began 
   producing combination games --    
   boards that allowed for playing 
   two or more different games -- 
   in the 1900s or 1910s. 
Duck on Rock and Baseball, above, in the 1914 McLoughlin catalogue, and at right

The Duck on Rock side, above, and the Baseball side below. Milton Bradley later produced Duck on a Rock as a boxed folding boardgame, not backed with baseball.
  Base Ball and Hunting and 
  Trapping appeared for many 
  years in McLoughlin catalogues 
  (the 1914 listing is shown here), 
  but we'd never seen any example 
  until long after we built this 
  page.  Now you can have a look 
  at it too:   Hunting  Base Ball  
The 1920 McLoughlin order list added Base Ball and Checkers to their final line-up.

  More combination games, 
  featuring, well, more 
  combinations of games, 
  joined the McLoughlin 
  line-up in the 1910s.  
  Fourteen different games 
  can be played on the 
  two-sided game board 
  of the number at right --  
  baseball, football, golf, 
  and steeplechase among 
  those seen on this side, 
  checkers and miniature 
  shuffleboard among those 
  on the reverse.  Milton 
  Bradley produced this in 
  exactly the same form in 
  the 1920s and '30s as 
  Senior Combination 
  Board, so we take it 
  this must be the Junior 
  Combination Board 
  featured in McLoughlin 
  order lists from 1916 
  through 1920.  

  Below and at right, two editions of The Game of Baseball, both probably 
  from the late 1910s. 
The gameboard is identical to that in the post-1900 edition of Home Baseball Game (the "pinkish" one) and the game employs the same spinner, making this essentially the seventh incarnation of their 1886 Game of Base-ball. Except for the combination games above, The Game of Baseball (don't forget the "The") very likely represents the final, cursory McLoughlin stabs at the diamond game, if the seriously drab graphics, in sad contrast to their luminous 19th-century efforts, are any indication. photo courtesy of The Strong, Rochester NY

    McLoughlin Bros., Inc.
based on Brief History of the McLoughlin Bros. by Laura Wasowicz, American Antiquarian Society https://www.americanantiquarian.org/mcloughlin-bros 2008 April
edited 2015 February by the Baseball Games front office staff to include material from additional sources

John McLoughlin Jr

McLoughlin Bros., Inc. was a New York publishing firm, especially notable for pioneering the systematic use of color printing technologies in children's books during the latter half of the 19th century. The company began in 1828 when Scottish coachmaker-turned-printer John McLoughlin Sr opened his own printing concern on New York City's Tryon Row (now the last block of Centre Street before it becomes Park Row). He wrote and published a series of semi-religious tracts titled McLoughlin's Books for Children. In 1840, he partnered with engraver and printer Robert H Elton to form Elton & Co., publishing toy books, comic almanacs, and valentines. In his teens, John McLoughlin Jr (1827-1905) learned wood engraving and printing while apprenticing for the company run by his father and Elton. By 1851, McLoughlin Sr and Elton had retired, giving John Jr control of the business, which he renamed John McLoughlin, Successor to Elton & Co. He started to publish picture books with that imprint, and soon acquired the printing blocks of Edward Dunigan, a New York picture-book publisher for whom Elton had executed many wood engravings. After a fire destroyed the Tryon Row operation, the company relocated to 24 Beekman Street (now the back of 8 Spruce) in lower Manhattan. According to McLoughlin Jr's obituary in Publishers' Weekly (6 May 1905), he made his younger brother Edmund McLoughlin (1833 or '34 - 1889) a partner in 1855. However, the firm was not listed in New York city directories as McLoughlin Bros. until 1858. During the early years of this partnership, the product line expanded to include games, wooden toy blocks, and paper dolls. By 1863, the firm had expanded its headquarters at 24 Beekman Street as well, to include 30 Beekman. Foreign books were not then protected by United States copyright, so McLoughlin reprinted British books in a cheaper format, introducing to American children the work of illustration greats like Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, and Kate Greenaway. After the Civil War, McLoughlin Brothers acquired their own illustrators, and helped popularize the work of artists including Thomas Nast, William Momberger, Justin H Howard, Palmer Cox, and Ida Waugh. John McLoughlin Jr continually experimented with color illustration -- progressing from hand stenciling, to the mechanical relief process of zinc etching, to the planographic process of chromolithography. The company's commercial and creative development found McLoughlin Bros. relocating to 52 Greene Street (just south of Broome) in May 1870. In February 1871, they opened their main office at 71 Duane Street (between Broadway and what is now Thomas Paine Park), and a color printing plant in Brooklyn at 65 South 11th Street (corner of Berry). This factory -- at that time, the largest color printing factory in the United States -- employed as many as 75 artists, and is the probable site of the firm's experimentation with color reproduction techniques. McLoughlin introduced the photographic process which produced the illustration directly on a zinc plate, with oil colors then being applied to the plate. By the 1880s, McLoughlin books regularly featured titles in folio formats, illustrated by chromolithographs. A number of titles were probably "pirate" editions of picture books issued in England by firms such as George Routledge & Sons. Edmund McLoughlin retired in 1885, and the firm's Manhattan office moved several times over the next twenty years -- 623 Broadway (1886-c1892, between Houston and Bleecker, next to the Cable Building -- look up!); 874 Broadway (1892-1898, northeast corner of East 18th); and 890 Broadway (1899-c1920, next to what's now Loew's 19th Street East). After Edmund's retirement, the business took on a third generation when John McLoughlin Jr's sons, James Gregory and Charles, joined the firm. By 1886, the company published a wide range of items including cheap chapbooks, large folio picture books, linen books, puzzles, games, and paper dolls -- the number, variety, and quality of their games exceeding those of their major rivals, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, and Selchow & Righter.
After John McLoughlin Jr's death in 1905, the company suffered from the loss of his artistic and commercial leadership. By 1919, his sons had retired or died as well, and H F Stewart was listed as president, with Gregory McLoughlin, son of James Gregory McLoughlin, as vice president. In 1920, McLoughlin Bros., Inc. was sold to Milton Bradley, the Brooklyn factory was closed, and the company was moved to Springfield Massachusetts. With this sale, McLoughlin Bros. ceased game production, although the publication of picture books continued. McLoughlin Bros. enjoyed some success in the 1930s with mechanical paper toys called "Jolly Jump-Ups," but the McLoughlin division of Milton Bradley stopped production during World War II. A 1955 flood severely damaged the Springfield plant, destroying many of the McLoughlin company records, but an archival collection of McLoughlin Bros. materials had been assembled by company Vice President Charles Ernest Miller (1869-1951). Between 1950 and 1951, with the firm in the process of being sold or liquidated, the McLoughlin Bros. executive officers divided among themselves the firm's archival collection of books, drawings, company correspondence, illustration blocks, paper dolls, freestanding wooden dolls, puzzles, and games. After Miller's death on 4 March 1951, this archival collection was held by Miller's daughter, Ruth Miller. In December 1951, the McLoughlin Bros. trademark was sold to New York toy manufacturer Julius Kushner. Under Kushner's leadership, some popular favorites like the Jolly Jump-Ups were reissued. However, the McLoughlin line of children's books was sold to Grosset & Dunlap in June 1954. Subsequently, several books bearing the McLoughlin Bros. imprint were issued, but the name dropped out of print by the 1970s. In 1968, Ruth Miller sold the archival collection to collector Herbert H Hosmer. In 1978, Hosmer donated the collection to the American Antiquarian Society. Another significant mass of McLoughlin materials -- manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, correspondence, photographs, dummies, illustrations, color separations, proofs, samples, mock-ups, blank books, and production material, dating from 1854 to the early 1950s -- is organized as The McLoughlin Brothers Papers, part of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi. It includes the work of artists and engravers such as Edward Cogger, William Momberger, Robert Graef, H G Nicholas, and Johnny Gruelle, among others.

Chromolithography: Bringing Color to the Masses by Dennis Gaffney http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tips/chromolithography.html Antique Prints Blog: Chromolithography by Chris Lane http://antiqueprintsblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/chromolithography.html Chromolithography by junkpile http://www.everything2.com/title/chromolithography Chromolithography Prints – Why they are considered ‘originals’ by Royce http://www.tssphoto.com/index.php?p=693 Chromolithographs (progressive proofs and prints) -- The New York Public Library http://seeing.nypl.org/2781-6.html Progressive proof book -- Cigar label Lithograph by Mike Dalton Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZfLR3rf85I Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkFAlTW--Yg

  The authors extend their thanks to  
      Rick Tucker of The Association for Games & Puzzles International 
      Tom Shieber of The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum 
      übercollector Mark Cooper 
      Steve Schreiber of the Bingham-Waggoner Estate 
      The Strong National Museum of Play 
      The American Antiquarian Society 
      Kris Sweckard and Steve "FunNGames1" of the Baseball Games Forum   
      members of the Net54baseball forums 
      and The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries 
  for research and information that contributed to assembling this article. 

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