Old Board Game: 1911 Pirate and Traveler by Milton Bradley
Pirate and Traveler was a popular board game by Milton Bradley. It was fist copyrighted in 1911, but multiple versions were produced all the way up until 1970. Kids loved looking for treasures and collecting enough ‘Pirate Booty’ to win the game.
Parents loved the game, for not only was it fun, but it was quite educational. On the game box of implements this was promoted way back in 1911! The tagline includes it is a game of instruction and bottom center are seen the remarks:
Indorsed by educators and Indispensable in the Home Circle. (see right)
You might be wondering how can a Fun Game about Pirates and treasures offer such educational value. The answer is the way it was played. And remember this is before TV and the Internet, so games were very crucial in teaching children.
One of the first ways was the game board was a map of the world. It was upon this board that players moved across and tried to acquire the most points in Pirate Booty – which was the object of the game.
The game also comprised of two part play. First as a Traveler. Then as a Pirate.
Travelers would move along the board via well known railroad or steamship routes of the time. Players would also stop at key cities and ports, and if this wasn’t enough, the cards obtained at these destinations would list major products of those cities. The instructions state, “the players would acquire knowledge of these” : of all these details while playing.
Play begins with all players starting on Home Port (South Africa) as Travelers. They each would pick a ‘Score-Card’ which would list their destination. Upon arrival at this destination, via spinning the spinner to move, the Score-Card is set in front of player, and a new Score-Card listing another destination is chosen. A Traveler’s goal was to obtain 10 score cards as quick as possible.
As soon as one Traveler completes 10 journeys (or acquires 10 Score Cards), he YELLS:
On this cry, all Travelers become Pirates and the collecting of Score-Cards as Travelers ends (these are now the Pirate Booty’). The objective for players from this point of the game is to successfully move and land on the space of the board called “Pirate Goal” with the most ‘booty’.
HOWEVER, Pirates passing other Pirates can steal Score-Cards from those Pirates as a Ransom. These Pirates will also be placed back at Home Port to attempt again, from there now, to reach the Pirate Goal.
Since the Score-Cards list the products of port/city, it is this ‘booty’ the Pirates captures when stealing a card. The Score-Cards consist of various products and point values.
A traveler’s destination could have been to the Greenland Coast, which offered 20 points and products of Walrus Tusk, Whale Bones, and Whale Oil.
Other examples are as follows:
Berlin, Germany: 30 points with Copper, Hops, and Grapes.
Hong Kong, China: 20 points with Silk, Rice, and Jade
Colombo, Ceylon, India: 70 points with Sapphire, Pearls, Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa
Lima, South America: 40 points with Silver and Copper
And the big one:
Pretoria, South Africa: 100 points with Kimberly Diamonds, Ostrich Feathers, Gold, Copper, and Wool
And while this is exciting and interesting, there are a few spots on the board that are more so.
While moving, either as Traveler to Destinations, or as Pirates to reach the Goal, players come across a few dreadful obstacles. Such as:
Starved, Frozen, Caught in Ice (go to home), Eaten by Wolves, Eaten by Cannibals, Disabled go to Hammerfest, or other such things.
Spinning the wheel, first as Traveler and journeying across unknown lands, and then later in the game as Pirates in effort to steal treasures and arrive safety on base with as much Loot as you can get, would still be fun to do today.
That might be why, on a Pirate themed Family Game Night, we would take this down and play.
No matter the age (of game or person)….games are to be played. And I love doing so.
So play a game today! Any Game and Treasure the Adventure!