Almanac of Games for September 14th: Gibson Girls on Tractors Singing the Star-Spangled Banner

(Almanac of Games is a weekly feature, published every Sunday–or at least it will be, now that summer is over!)

IT HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 14th 1814, that Francis Scott Key writes the words to what we now call “The Star-Spangled Banner,”which makes this the Bi-Centennial of the National Anthem!

Key’s poem was originally titled “Defence of Fort McHenry” but after it was attached to a popular tune of the day it was soon give the title we know today. (FYI: The Star-Spangled Banner wasn’t named the country’s official anthem until 1931.)

Some 30 years after the attack on Baltimore, a game was produced under that name, subtitled a “Geographical and Historical Tourist Through the United States and Canada.

Photo by BGG user Clay Blankenship
Photo by BGG user Clay Blankenship

It appears to be one of the earliest games every published in the U.S. As attribution in the photo notes, “Few American games are older than this hand-colored one, though copied from a British educational game of a few years before. “

The game, including a 20” x 16” bi-fold board, came with a 15-page booklet, but I couldn’t find a photos or text from it. A copy of the game was recently sold at auction for over $4100.


OBSERVED ON SEPTEMBER 14th is National Farm Safety & Health Week (the 2nd full week in Sept.)

We’re in the middle of harvest season, and farmers are rushing like mad to get the crop in and to market before the weather turns bad. Under this time pressure, farm workers are more likely to have accidents during harvest than any other time of the year.

In 1995, the Northeast Center for Agricultural and Occupational Health, headquartered in the historic farming town of Cooperstown, New York, created an educational game to be used by teachers and 4-H educators to make young people aware of dangerous farming practices. It’s called, simply, Play It Safe: The Farm Safety Challenge Game.

Photo by Board Game Geek user Andy Van Zandt
Photo by Board Game Geek user Andy Van Zandt

Yeah, it’s pretty dry game, heavy on trivia and ‘spot the error in the picture’ but Farm Safety is a serious enough subject to have been given its own awareness week in 1944 and by Presidential Proclamation ever since.

The game tasks have basic point values, but there are occasional Daily Double cards which work exactly as in Jeopardy, adding an attention-holding twist to the proceedings.


BORN ON SEPTEMBER 14th 1867, Charles Dana Gibson became an illustrator famous for creating the iconic ‘Gibson Girl.’

Witch Trial 2
Photo by Board Game Geek user Douglas Ortiz.

No, Gibson never created art for any board games. But because he worked so long ago his drawings are now in the public domain. Which makes them ripe for repurposing, like in Cheap Ass Games cheaply-made mini games.

Jacob Marley
Photo by Board Game Geek user Ro Sato.

Designer James Ernest used Gibson’s art prominently in his 2001 Games 100 card game Witch Trial, “A fun game in which the lawyer with the most money wins.”

Three years later, Ernest went back to the same well for his period game, Jacob Marley Esq.

Did I miss any special observances or birthdays for today? Let me know in the Comments!

You can contact Drew Davidson at

  • Drew is a contributor to the Board Gamers Anonymous podcast. He's a curator by nature, compulsively reading and obsessively organizing what he's read. He's also been a gamer since the age of 3, which means he's been playing board games for... let's just say more than 40 years, and leave it at that...

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