Antediluvian or Xanthosis?

(top row l) Scrabble really is a fun casual game. (top row r) One of a many many package designs; A tournament in progress. (row two l to r) A more serious side of the game, 2013 National SCRABBLE Champion Nigel Richards (New Zealand) receives a winning check of $10,000; In September of 2016, British man, Brett Smitheram, 37, from Chingford in east London, wins the World Scrabble Championship with an obscure word for a parasitic wasp, Braconid. (rows three, four & five) People all over the world use Scrabble tiles to express their feelings. (bottom row l to r) People love Scrabble so much, there’s an industry making products out of the tiles or inspired by them; The game’s inventor, Alfred Mosher Butts, sitting in hundreds of tiles. Thanks, Al!


Isn’t it funny how we’ve learned to write, word after word, sentence after sentence and then, all of a sudden, stop, wondering if we are spelling a word correctly (sorry Sister Mary. I do, and often use my computer or cell phone to check my best guess attempts. (recieve / receive!) It got me to thinking about an old board game I loved as a kid, named Scrabble. Jackie and my daughters and son in law play this often! – Unfortunately for me, Colleen almost never loses! So, I went online to get a little history on the game, and found that the game was patented in June nearly 80 years ago. I found the history info intriguing and worth sharing. Enjoy, and special thanks to for the details.

  1. Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect from Poughkeepsie, New York, decided to invent a board game. Analyzing games, he found they fell into three categories: number games, such as dice and bingo; move games, such as chess and checkers and word games, such as anagrams.
  2. – Attempting to create a game that would use both chance and skill, Butts combined features of anagrams and the crossword puzzle to create Scrabble, a real word which means “to grope frantically (first called LEXIKO and CRISS CROSS WORDS).
  3. To decide on letter distribution, Butts studied the front page of The New York Times and did painstaking calculations of letter frequency. His basic cryptographic analysis of our language and his original tile distribution have remained valid for almost three generations and billions of games played.
  4. Established game manufacturers were unanimous in rejecting Butts’ invention for commercial development. When Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, he became enamored of the concept. Together, they made some refinements on rules and design and, most importantly, came up with the name “SCRABBLE”, and trademarked the game in 1948.
  5. For production the Brunots rented an abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut, where with friends they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters on wooden tiles one at a time. Later, boards, boxes and tiles were made elsewhere and sent to the factory for assembly and shipping.
  6. The first four years were a struggle. In 1949 the Brunots made 2,400 sets and lost $450. As so often happens in the game business, the SCRABBLE game gained slow but steady popularity among a comparative handful of consumers.
  7. In the early 1950s, as legend has it, the president of MACY’S discovered the game on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year, everyone “had to have one” to the point that SCRABBLE games were being rationed to stores around the country.
  8. In 1952, the Brunots realized they could no longer make the games fast enough to meet the growing interest. They licensed Long Island-based Selchow & Righter Company, a well-known game manufacturer founded in 1867, to market and distribute the games in the United States and Canada.
  9. Even Selchow & Righter had to step up production to meet the overwhelming demand for the game. As stories about it appeared in national newspapers, magazines and on television, it seemed that everybody had to have a set immediately.
  10. In 1972, Selchow & Righter purchased the trademark from Brunot, thereby giving the company the exclusive rights to all SCRABBLE® Brand products and entertainment services in the United States and Canada.
  11. In 1986, Selchow & Righter was sold to COLECO Industries, who had become famous as the manufacturers of the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Three years later, COLECO declared bankruptcy, and its primary assets — most notably the SCRABBLE game and ParchesiTM — were purchased by Hasbro, Inc., owner of Milton Bradley Company, the nation’s leading game company.
  12. Today the game is found in one of every three American homes, ranging from a Junior edition to a CD-ROM with many versions in between including: Standard, Deluxe with turntable, Deluxe Travel, Spanish and French. I have the turntable edition – and yes you can spin too fast!
  13. Competitive SCRABBLE game play is widely popular much in the manner of chess and bridge. Every year, a National SCRABBLE® Championship is held in a major US city, and on alternate years the World SCRABBLE® Championship is hosted between Hasbro and Mattel.
  14. In addition, the National SCRABBLE® Association sanctions over 180 tournaments and more than 200 clubs in the US and Canada. The next generation of SCRABBLE players is steadily growing with over a half million kids playing the game in more than 18,000 schools nationwide through the School SCRABBLE Program.
  15. Hundreds of these students currently compete in state and regional championships across the country. The first annual National School SCRABBLE® Championship was held in Boston on April 26, 2003.
  16. Classrooms can also subscribe to the School SCRABBLE® News which includes a teacher edition complete with tested ideas and a lesson plan designed to meet nationally mandated educational goals, and a student issue chock full of feature stories and puzzles.
  17. Alfred Mosher Butts enjoyed playing the SCRABBLE game with family and friends to the end of his life. He passed away in April 1993 at the age of 93.
  18. Even though it’s a word game, the real story behind SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game is numbers. One hundred million sets sold world-wide. Between one and two million sold each year in North America.
  19. Experts estimate over 120,000 words that may be used in your scoring arsenal.
  20. Antediluvian (an-ti-də-ˈlü-vē-ən) means “of or relating to the period before the flood described in the Bible” and Xanthosis (zānthō’sĭs) is “a yellowish discoloration JUNE 23 2017of degenerating tissues, especially seen in malignant neoplasms.” (now you know)





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