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S & R Games

S & R Games BookletInside the game box for What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls I found the original pamphlet from S & R Games. Super bonus points!

Most collectors are excited to find such booklets (even if they aren’t ephemera nuts, like I am), for such paper propaganda still encourages product sales. Such finds are little shopping lists — only you take them to thrift stores and flea markets, enter the game names in Google, or otherwise purchase on the secondary market instead of walking into the local toy store to buy a brand new game.

Even though I’m not always such an organized collector shopping off a list, I can’t resist the discoveries lurking within such booklets. For example, until I saw this booklet, I never knew that games such as Cattlemen, Barbapapa, and Sweet Pickles, an “A to Z Pickle-Picking Game”. Yet here they were, sitting amid the uber-familiar versions of Scrabble and Parcheesi.

While each of those newly discovered games has it’s own intoxicating powers, the discovery of each of them makes my fascination about the game company itself grow. What kind of company is this S & R Games?

Vintage Parcheesi Game BoardS & R Games is Selchow & Righter Co., founded in 1867 by Elisha Selchow, who originally called his game wholesale company E.G. Selchow & Co. Early on Selsho obtained the rights to sell Parcheesi, The Royal Game of India. While just who invented the game of Parcheesi & when is unclear, it’s certain that Selchow purchased the game’s trademark in 1874, making it one of the oldest American game trademarks.

In 1880 Selchow partnered with John Righter and the name of the company changed to Selchow and Righter Co.. The company remained in the wholesale business, as ‘jobbers’ selling other the games from other companies, until sometime after the death of both Selchow and Righter in the early 1900′s. The company remained a family owned game company and by the 1920′s Selchow and Righter Co. had stopped jobbing the games of others and put more efforts into manufacturing Parcheesi, and by the 30′s they were making other games such as Anagrams.

Selchow and Righter became a steady producer of games, but didn’t develop another game so popular that it could really be called a classic like Parcheesi — until Scrabble.

Vintage Scrabble For  Juniors GameSelchow & Righter were first presented with the game, first called Lexiko then Criss Cross Words, by its creator Alfred Mosher Butts, an unemployed architect, in 1949. When Selchow & Righter passed, Butts sold the rights to entrepreneur and game-lover James Brunot instead. But when Brunot and his wife couldn’t keep up with the demand for the game, Selchow & Righter took over production of the game in 1952.

Scrabble eventually grew to eclipse Parcheesi, and strong customer demand for the game forced the company to cut back on the development of other products. SelRight, continued to make other games, but the focus was on Scrabble and variations of Scrabble.

Then, in 1983, S & R Games acquired Trivial Pursuit.

That game became one of the best selling games of the century, and in the second half of ’83, S & R sold 1.5 million Trivial Pursuit games — increasing the company’s previous revenues threefold. And demand showed no signs of slowing. Citywide shipments sold out quickly, resulting not only in stores keeping waiting lists but a thriving black market for the game. (Oh, what online auctions could have done!) In August of 1984 the back orders for Trivial Pursuit reached 11 million and it seemed that Selchow & Right would not be able fulfill those orders, let alone keep up with demand. Then, as it happens, just as S & R got production really rolling, the Trivial Pursuit fad died and the company was left with 20 million games it couldn’t move.

Dick Selchow, who was then running the company, found himself not only stuck with a bunch of inventory but no family willing to run the company. So in May 1986, assured that S & R’s current management and employees would be retained, Selchow sold the 119 year old family compay to Coleco. Just seven months later, with Dick Selchow watching as a consultant, Coleco went bankrupt and was taken over by Hasbro. (Which is how Trivial Pursuit ended up under the Parker Brothers name in 1988.) Dick Selchow, heart-broken with what Coleco had done, died less than three years later.

OK, so that’s not exactly the happy ending I like to get to at the end of an ephemera trail; but that’s how things played out in the game board world.

Selchow leaves a wonderful legacy. In 1978 S & R, headed by Dick Selchow, created Scrabble Crossword Game Players Inc. Now known as The National Scrabble Association, the organization works with schools and campaigns for literacy as well as connects the corporate owners of Scrabble with those who play the game competitively.

One imagines that among the die-hard Scrabble competitors, there are equally fierce game collectors.


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eddweed I have an S&R hand held game called "LEXOR". It's an electronic version of Scrabble. These were manufactured by Selchow & Righter In 1980 when they began to market Lexor, a $125 hand-held electronic game that had Scrabble-like features for 2 players. But, In 1981, as competition for hand-held electronic games was growing Lexor was withdrawn from the market. They were made in limited numbers and manufactured for less than a year So I guess there are not very many of these around anymore. This elliptical die cast white plastic case is 20.7cm long x 3.8cm to 11.5cm high and 17.4cm at its widest point. It has a slanted oval top and a flat bottom. The indented keyboard on the top has embossed letters and command words. In addition to an on/off switch on the base, there is a built in 6cm x 2cm display window toward the top. The game could be played using 4 C-cell batteries or with an electric current adapter. However, It is also functional as a score keeper for the regular Scrabble board game. This is a really nice specimen, As it has not been used very much. It is in like new condition. All the buttons are tight and graphics are are fresh and it is over all clean!The LED display is nice and shiny. This is a real find and the only thing that would make this any nicer would be,If I had the original box. But I don't Any Ideas on what something like this would be worth? January 14th, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Charlotte I have a sentence cube game like brand new 1971 was wondering how many may be in exsistence. how much in value. is it considered antique January 22nd, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Donna Van Parcheesi game 1968 purchased recently. To my surprise one of the die I used is missing a ONE and a Four. It also has two Fives on it. It also has a blank on one side of the die. I thought that was pretty neat. Don't know if this increases the games value since the die has four errors on one die. The game appears almost brand new! Any views on this?? Thanks Donna February 3rd, 2013 at 6:56 PM

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