Recommend
297 
 Thumb up
 Hide
35 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Darkies in the Melon Patch» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Darkies in the Melon Patch: Disquieting and Inconvenient rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: locked_in_3...2...1... [+] [View All]
Joseph
United States
flag msg tools
Today, we're all Spaniards!
.

Bear with me, we've a rocky ride ahead.

I first became aware of this bit of vintage Americana about a year ago, due to a BGG discussion regarding the game’s origins. Since then, I’ve wanted to research the game myself, to find out what all the fuss was about. Eventually, I bought a copy for myself so I could examine it firsthand.

Before I get to the heart of the matter, disclosing the origins of Darkies in the Melon Patch (DitMP), let’s go over the basics.

How to play

DitMP is a simple roll and move game, based on the venerable chutes and ladders franchise. The theme of DitMP, concerns a group of African Americans racing to get out of the local melon patch as quickly as possible. Hazards faced along the way include angry farmers, bearded grandmothers, and distracting events such as melon races and seed spitting contests. My copy of the game is copyrighted by the Hudson brothers, in 1910.

Components review

DitMP comes with a solid mounted board, populated by cartoonish depictions of African Americans. Most of these images are lifted from the pages of vintage advertising programs from 1910 to 1940. The playing pieces, at least in the copy I purchased, were made of Sculpey modeling clay. Sculpey didn’t appear on the retail market until the 1950s. I’ve noted that other copies of this game come with a variety of pieces, some of which are made out of wood. Quality and composition vary greatly. Also, curiously, the playing pieces were painted with water based hobby paint, which appears to be of modern origin. Other games from that era were still using solvent, oil, or lead based paints for the majority of their products.



The board, although a bit muted in it color, is nearly identical in quality, texture, and sheen to a product printed out on a modern inkjet printer. For a game roughly 100 years old, the brown packing tape used to hold together the board has held up rather well. Lastly, the cover, upon closer examination, displayed some graphical anomalies consistent with desktop publishing software. Regrettably, whoever rendered the text over the central image, forgot to turn on the anti-aliasing feature. Fortunately, the common purchaser of this game won’t notice such artifacts, unless they put the artwork under extreme magnification as I did.

Game play

This simple game took approximately 10 minutes to play. There’s a big runaway leader problem, as it’s easy to fall behind in the race. Once behind, it’s difficult to catch up to your opponents.

What others say:

I consulted with a moderately well informed antique buyer and seller on the internet. This person specializes in material from the early years of black Americana. She asked to not be named in any of the essays I wrote about DitMP. Let’s call the antique dealer "Sheila." Sheila has been buying and selling antiques for decades: it’s a passion she picked up from her parents. She makes a fairly good living at what she does. After a few e-mails, Sheila agreed to speak with me on the phone about DitMP, and black Americana in general. She was a warm and funny person, and our time on the phone went by quickly. She asked me several questions about the game, and was encouraging about my interest in determining its origin. The examination she suggested involved a magnifying glass, and taking a closer look as to how the game was put together. Some of this was moderately destructive. In person, she could have told me the truth within minutes. On the phone, and by e-mail, this was more difficult. While the physical examination of the game raised interesting questions, the most tell tale indicator was the art used on the board. Sheila indicated that one particular image post dated the supposed printing of the board. The game was allegedly created in 1910, but the image in question wasn’t commissioned until the 1930s. Her evaluation, and my own research, confirmed my initial suspicions. Darkies in the Melon Patch is a product of modern construction, printed on demand, within the last several years. The copy in my hands is probably no more than two years old. Apparently there is a huge market for counterfeit black Americana. People are buying the stuff by the bushel. Currently, I know of three places offering this product, and one auctioneer has sold 75 copies in the last 3-4 years. One of these companies is actually printed this thing up on a regular basis.

Final conclusions
DitMP is a fraud, and a hate filled example of how low people will stoop to make money. Alternately, I suppose it’s possible that the creator merely wanted to create shock and outrage, or demonstrate his contempt for minorities.

Unfortunately, it is beyond my meager abilities to prove who started the recent printings of this game. Based on my research, I have been able to identify three companies who have profited, and continue to make money from DitMP.

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/

http://curiosityemporium.com/

http://www.worthpoint.com/

Each of these firms, based on my research, make a sizable income from the gray market antiques business. When I use the term gray, I mean that there’s a lot of fraudulent junk in there that is commanding a high price from the unsuspecting public.

So why did you buy this game?

To end the ambiguity about its origin. My gut told me that the history of this game wasn’t legit. Turns out I was right. If it had been a true piece of black Americana, I would have hated it, but wouldn't deny its continued legacy on BGG.

This game has made some money for its creators thus far, but I’d like to that stop. I would like to see the creator of this game stripped of their anonymity, taking the richly deserved credit for perpetuating racist stereotypes. I want to see them properly attributed as the designer on BGG. If this person is going to conduct themselves in such a manner, they should stand up and take their slings and arrows. Lastly, I’d like to see the BGG entry for this game edited, to correctly attribute its modern origin, and the true intent of its marketing and production.

What do I hope to accomplish by this review?

Well, I want people to come to BGG for the truth. This review will show up in Google hits, so some people will see it. Someone, somewhere, can identify the creator of the game. I'm hoping someone does that.

Oh, and I promised to provide a final assessment of the game itself, to make this a proper review. Here you go: a picture is worth a thousand words.



Don’t forget to flush.

Falloutfan





  • [+] Dice rolls
Rob Rob
United States
La Mesa
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
Apparently there is a huge market for counterfeit black Americana.

Yes and apparently the more egregious, the higher the price.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dan
Australia
Melbourne
flag msg tools
mb
A very interesting review indeed. Even if the subject of the game wasn't so willfully offensive, the fact that the game is a forgery intended to inflate the price is intriguing enough.

Couple the two together, and you have a mystery worthy of far greater attention. Good work! I'm definitely interested in seeing if anythign comes of this.
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nyarlathotep
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent effort and work, very interesting to know the true origins; thank you for the time and money you put into this.
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Chapman
United Kingdom
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
falloutfan wrote:
.Lastly, the cover, upon closer examination, displayed some graphical anomalies consistent with desktop publishing software. Regrettably, whoever rendered the text over the central image, forgot to turn on the anti-aliasing feature.


You mention all these historical anomalies, and yet you overlook that DTP software back in 1910 didn't have AA? Packages with that feature weren't released until 1936. A shameful error in an otherwise excellent review.
39 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Manning
Australia
Adelaide
South Australia
flag msg tools
designer
err... I like boardgames!?!
badge
D'oh! I bought overtext even though I have nothing interesting to say.
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review, and I think you should be commended for turning up some hard evidence on this hoax.

If you haven't already done so, can I suggest you submit changes to the database entry for this game, including a change of publication date and a description that mentions the game is a contemporary hoax rather than an authentic artefact of more ignorant times?
38 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
mbmbmbmbmb
Black Americana from the 1880s through WW II is an collectible area that gained momentum with the coming of the Internet age in the mid 90s. It's very popular in the African American community ranging from classic advertising posters featuring names like Jack Johnson, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong to what is often called Jim Crow collectibles (this game being an example of that). Unfortunately with anything that is collectible you have fakes. My specialty is English Porcelain and the market for antique porcelain collectibles is flooded with fakes. I take great pride in my ability to spot these.

The basic rule is if someone will pay money to collect something then someone else will make fake copies of it. The key always is to be an educated collector.
33 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil Walker-Harding
Australia
Summer Hill
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Fascinating stuff, thanks for your research!

I'm a bit confused about something though.
Was this ever a 'real' game? Was it actually ever produced in the 1930s,
and then more recently fake copies have emerged?
Or, is this entirely a recent creation made to look old?

33 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eugene van der Pijll
Netherlands
Den Haag
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
falloutfan wrote:
Lastly, the cover, upon closer examination, displayed some graphical anomalies consistent with desktop publishing software. Regrettably, whoever rendered the text over the central image, forgot to turn on the anti-aliasing feature.

In addition to that, according to identifont.com, the fonts used for the front cover are (a variant of) Mistral, designed in 1953, and Arial, designed in 1982.

Is it possible that the board is authentic, and only the box is modern? Or did you find these graphical anomalies on the board as well?
25 
 Thumb up
6.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Dodd
New Zealand
Martinborough
flag msg tools
designer
July 5th Miramar -Be There!
mbmbmbmbmb
Good work sir. I hadn't even considered these might be forgeries. I am also interested to know - was this ever a real game at the time?
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M. Shanmugasundaram
United States
Sunnyvale
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Yup. The real question is whether there was actually ever an "original" game. What are all the forgeries based on? Was time travel involved?

Incidentally, a wonderful bit of research and posting. Assuming you're not offering another bit of disinformation.

What?!?whistleshake
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eugene van der Pijll
Netherlands
Den Haag
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
falloutfan wrote:
Lastly, I’d like to see the BGG entry for this game edited, to correctly attribute its modern origin, and the true intent of its marketing and production.

I added a few sentences to the description on this game's page. Changes or additions are welcome.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Henshaw
United States
East Bridgewater
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
So, we now know, pretty convincingly, that your copy is a fake. Do we know if this game ever existed in the 1930's or even 1940's?
It seems like a lot of work to create a game from scratch to sell occasional copies for some money. Are the fake copies based on something real? That is still an unanswered question, but one it seems many of us would like to know the answer to.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dave Lartigue
United States
Springfield
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for your review and fact-finding. Americans like to pretend that racism such as this happened long ago and is all over now and we all need to just get over it. Things like this show that it is alive and well and still a part of our society we have to address.
15 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Young
United States
Sterling
Virginia
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Certainly someone could do actual research into the "The Hudson Brothers Publishing Company" and discover if they ever published such a game in the 1930s?

Regardless, thank you for doing this service to the boardgaming and antiquing communities and I am sorry you had to experience such an awful thing in order to do your research.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
William Crispin
United States
Wilmington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting research. I have been suspicious this was a fraud since this first showed up on BGG. I have no doubt that something like this could have been published in the 30s but the information always seemed a bit staged. I think it is fairly unlikely that an authentic version from any time before the advent of DTP will be discovered.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drew
United States
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Die, human scum!
badge
Resistance is useless!
mb
Fascinating bit of sleuthing, Joseph! I had no idea there was a question about the game's authenticity. You've cracked open a mystery here, and nearly solved it at once.

Just hearing how many copies are sold regularly would have been enough to get my antennas up about its origins. How could a 100-year-old board game be so (relatively) common . . . ?

This "review" deserves a wider audience than BGG. You've done a great service. Keep sleuthing!

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacob Russell
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Bullshit!
badge
mbmbmbmbmb

Why did you buy it again?.. I still don't totally understand.

When people stop being offended by this stuff then it will stop selling. It's only bought because of it's offenseiveness.

I am not offended by the term "darkies" nor am I offended by the assumption that many people of African descent enjoy the occasional slice of watermelon (who doesn't?!).

I may admit to being offended by the notion that we live in a society where the idea that something might be illegal or hatefull increases it's value though. But today is not that day.

Interesting review though, not of the "game" but of the buying process and the surprising availability of the "game".
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zé Mário
Portugal
Porto
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't understand why the author has be racist at all. It looks like he found out about a theme that interest people and focused his fraudulent work on it.
8 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drew
United States
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Die, human scum!
badge
Resistance is useless!
mb
I don't pretend to know the motives of those who collect antiques that highlight this ugly side of American history, but there's a huge market. And I seem to recall that African-Americans themselves are one of the prime consumers of this sort of memorabilia. (Wasn't there something a few years back about Oprah's collection? Or maybe it wasn't Oprah.) Anyway, the notion of creating (within the last decade) fake memorabilia that highlighted some of the worst stereotypes and then selling back to the very people who are depicted . . . it's racism wrapped in cynicism dipped in a sauce of profiteering.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zé Mário
Portugal
Porto
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Drew1365 wrote:
Anyway, the notion of creating (within the last decade) fake memorabilia that highlighted some of the worst stereotypes and then selling back to the very people who are depicted . . . it's racism wrapped in cynicism dipped in a sauce of profiteering.


And are those people forced to buy this game? Why is it different than any other fake memorabilia being sold to suckers?

(I'm obviously not defending the maker of this game, I just found your statement weird)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drew
United States
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Die, human scum!
badge
Resistance is useless!
mb
Asur wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
Anyway, the notion of creating (within the last decade) fake memorabilia that highlighted some of the worst stereotypes and then selling back to the very people who are depicted . . . it's racism wrapped in cynicism dipped in a sauce of profiteering.


And are those people forced to buy this game? Why is it different than any other fake memorabilia being sold to suckers?

(I'm obviously not defending the maker of this game, I just found your statement weird)


I'm just having a hard time getting my thoughts down on this. I find the interest in Jim Crow era antiques a bit troubling, but the authentic stuff can safely be placed in the box that says "upsetting historic artifact" and accepted on that level.

As I say, I'm pretty sure that African-Americans themselves are a big market for this sort of thing, but I want to research that a bit more and cannot at the moment.

"Darkies in the Melon Patch" can be accepted as an honest depiction of the ugly past, but to learn that it's got a 21st-Century origin raises all sorts of issues.

Dig up a 100-year-old "Aunt Jemima" and people can nod knowingly at its history -- maybe even congratulate themselves on leaving that past behind. Create the same stereotypical figure today and try to sell it to collectors as being 100 years old . . . far more troubling.

Not sure I'm making any sense. I'll try later.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacob Russell
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
Bullshit!
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
Asur wrote:
I don't understand why the author has be racist at all. It looks like he found out about a theme that interest people and focused his fraudulent work on it.


It seems to me that your responding to my post. I don't think he's racist (or maybe I think everyone is, including me)... I do question why he would buy it... when it's obvious to everyone that's it's a shitty snakes and ladders game.

I would question the motives of anyone buying a game called Darkies in the Melon Patch knowing it's not going to be played.

But I don't think it's racist, not at all. Just like I don't think that Carole Ann Boone was a killer herself, but the interest in the topic is... odd.

Is the game racist.. nonsense. I don't believe that an inanimate object can do things. It's all in our minds.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zé Mário
Portugal
Porto
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
JonJacob wrote:
It seems to me that your responding to my post. I don't think he's racist (or maybe I think everyone is, including me)... I do question why he would buy it... when it's obvious to everyone that's it's a shitty snakes and ladders game.


Not at all, I actually agree with what you said. Now and then.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Drew
United States
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Die, human scum!
badge
Resistance is useless!
mb
JonJacob wrote:
I would question the motives of anyone buying a game called Darkies in the Melon Patch knowing it's not going to be played.


Pfft! People on BGG buy games all the time and never play them!
16 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.