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Krazy Ikes box insert and advertisement. Image credit: eBay

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In its first incarnation, Krazy Ikes were cleverly fashioned wooden pieces that children could snap together to make a variety of strange creatures. Wooden connector pieces proved to be somewhat fragile and the pieces were later wrought from plastic. Image credit: eBay 

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The Knapp Electric and Novelty Company was not a utility, but rather a toy and game manufacturer founded in 1895 in New York City by inventor David W. Knapp. The company moved to 3029 E. Washington Street, Indianapolis in the 1930s. Knapp specialized in electric motors, electric toy automobiles, board games, shocking coils, dynamos, toy trains, and magic kits. The company’s most popular game was probably The Knapp Questioner, manufactured from the 1890s through the late 1940s. This battery-operated quiz game advertised that it supplied “Answers by Electricity” (a great novelty in toys of the early 20th century). A correct answer to a question would elicit a buzz when contact was made with probes between question-and-answer studs on heavy paper over-lays. The game usually came with a number of question and answer sheets that Knapp also sold separately with subjects covering literature, nature, history, science, religion, current events and more.

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Arguably Knapp’s most popular and enduring game. Image credit: eBay

The Knapps, in association with P.R. Mallory, also manufactured a range of electric items other than games while in Indianapolis including automobile fans, electric popcorn poppers, irons, coffee pots, small electric motors, toy motors, vaporizers, blenders, mixers and electric blankets.

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Knapp advertisements found on eBay

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An interesting side-story connects the Knapp Company with the birth of well-known game, Monopoly. In 1935 the makers of Monopoly, learned that Knapp Electric was selling a game that bore a remarkable resemblance to, and predated theirs. Knapp called the board game Finance. In order to reduce competition in the upcoming gift-giving season, the Monopoly makers offered Knapp enough money for them to relinquish not only the rights to the game but also their entire inventory. (The amount is rumored to be $10,000 — a tidy sum for the time.)

Finance, a Knapp board game predating the well-know Monopoly game, is a rare find. Image credit: The World of Monopoly

Finance, a Knapp board game predating the well-know Monopoly game, is a rare find. Image credit: The World of Monopoly

Not much remains of the block where the Knapp Electric and Novelty Company resided in the 1930s

Not much remains of the Washington Street block where the Knapp Electric and Novelty Company resided in the 1930s.

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