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Explore The History Of Scrabble: From Wooden Tiles To Worldwide Phenomenon

Scrabble is a word game that has been enjoyed by millions of players worldwide for over seven decades. With its sleek board, letter tiles, and scoring system, Scrabble has become a beloved pastime for people of all ages, with over 150 million copies sold in more than 29 languages. But the history of Scrabble is much more than just a game – it's a story of innovation, determination, and the power of language.

In this blog post, we'll examine the interesting evolution of Scrabble from its early days to its current status as a widely-played game around the world. We'll also discuss some of the most valuable and rare editions of Scrabble, its impressive sales figures, and its cultural significance. Whether you're an experienced Scrabble player or just starting out, there is always more to discover about the rich history and enduring appeal of this classic word game.

The history of Scrabble

The Early Days The history of Scrabble can be traced back to 1938, when an out-of-work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts created a game called "Lexico." Butts was fascinated by language and wanted to create a game that would challenge players to use their vocabulary and word-building skills. He spent years developing and refining the game, and in 1948, he released it under the new name "Scrabble."

Scrabble quickly gained popularity among friends and family, but it struggled to find a wider audience. Butts spent years trying to sell the game to various manufacturers, but most were not interested. Finally, in 1952, a small toy company called Selchow & Righter agreed to produce Scrabble, and the game was released to the public.

The First Scrabble Board

The first Scrabble board featured a wooden frame and letter tiles made of wood or Bakelite. The tiles were placed on the board using small wooden racks, and players had to use their vocabulary and strategy skills to create words and score points. The game was a hit, and Selchow & Righter soon began mass-producing it for a wider audience.

The Growth of Scrabble

As Scrabble gained popularity, it began to spread to other countries. In 1953, the game was introduced to Canada, and in 1955, it was released in Britain. In the 1960's, Scrabble was translated into French, Spanish, and other languages, and the game began to be played in countries all over the world. Scrabble also gained popularity in the United States, where it became a household staple. In 1972, Selchow & Righter was purchased by the toy company Milton Bradley, which helped to further increase the game's reach and popularity.

The Modern Scrabble Board

In the decades since its release, Scrabble has undergone many changes and updates. The original wooden board and tiles have been replaced with a sleek, plastic design, and the game has been translated into dozens of different languages.

Today, Scrabble is enjoyed by millions of people around the world, and it remains one of the most popular word games of all time. It has also inspired countless spin-offs and variations, including Scrabble Junior, Scrabble Deluxe, and Scrabble Slam.

The Cultural Impact of Scrabble

Scrabble has had a significant cultural impact over the years, and it has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and books. It has also spawned numerous tournaments and competitions, with top players from around the world competing for prizes and bragging rights.

In addition to its entertainment value, Scrabble has also been used for educational purposes, with many schools and libraries incorporating the game into their language arts curricula. It is a great way for students to improve their vocabulary, spelling, and critical thinking skills.

The Most Valuable and Rare Versions of Scrabble

As with any popular game, there are certain versions of Scrabble that are more valuable and rare than others. Here are a few examples:

  • Scrabble Deluxe: This version of Scrabble, released in the 1950s, featured a deluxe wooden board with a rotating center that made it easier to shuffle and draw tiles. It also came with a velvet bag to hold the tiles, making it a luxurious upgrade from the standard version.

  • Scrabble Crossword Game: In 1961, Selchow & Righter released a version of Scrabble called "Scrabble Crossword Game," which featured a slightly different scoring system and a new way of drawing tiles. It is considered a rare and valuable version of the game.

  • Scrabble Italian Edition: In the 1970s, Scrabble was released in Italy with a unique set of tiles and a board featuring Italian cities and landmarks. This version of the game is rare and highly sought after by collectors.

  • Scrabble Dictionary: In the 1980s, Selchow & Righter released a version of Scrabble called the "Scrabble Dictionary," which included a small dictionary with over 100,000 words that were allowed in the game. This version of Scrabble is considered rare and valuable by collectors.

Scrabble Sales - Statistics and Accomplishments

Over the years, Scrabble has become a worldwide phenomenon, with millions of copies sold in over 29 languages. Here are a few impressive sales statistics and accomplishments:

  • 150 million copies sold: Scrabble has sold over 150 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling board games of all time.

  • 29 languages: Scrabble has been translated into 29 different languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese, making it a truly global game.

  • Guinness World Record: In 2014, Scrabble set a Guinness World Record for the largest Scrabble tournament in history, with over 2,000 players participating.

  • Scrabble World Championship: Every year, the World English-Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) holds a Scrabble World Championship, with top players from around the world competing for the title. The current champion is Nigel Richards of New Zealand.


The history of Scrabble is a fascinating tale of innovation, determination, and the power of language. From its humble beginnings as a homemade game to its current status as a worldwide phenomenon, Scrabble has captivated and challenged players of all ages. With its impressive sales statistics, cultural impact, and valuable and rare versions, it's no wonder that Scrabble is one of the most beloved board games of all time.

If you enjoyed learning about the history of Scrabble, you may also be interested in exploring the origins and evolution of monopoly. Our guide to ancient board games offers a fascinating look at the history of these beloved pastimes.

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