The History of Steal

The History of STEAL


STEAL – in essence – is not a new game!

Are not all games variants of others”?

As Pablo Picasso famously said “bad artists copy. Good artists steal”.

And it was Steve Jobs who said “we have always been shameless about stealing good ideas”.

The gang behind STEAL is no different…..refining what has always been a good game, using good design and artistry, to transform it in into a great game!

It has been a good game for an unusually long period of time, confirming its place as one of the most enduring board games ever.

The game has its origins as a Victorian parlour game, and was first commercialised in 1877, when Charles Hammet released “Word Making and Taking”.

Thomas de la Rue, who moved from Guernsey to London in 1821 and set up in business as a 'Leghorn' straw hat maker, then as a stationer and printer. In 1831 he was awarded a Royal Warrant to produce playing cards. He too published “Word Making and Taking” (which used cards not tiles).

In the late nineteenth century it was the game to play!

It was not long before many alternative versions were produced, by a number of publishers and using a number of names…many of whom simply used “Anagrams” as a somewhat underwhelming title. Parker Brothers (of Monopoly, Cluedo and Risk fame) published The Game of Letters and Anagrams on Wooden Blocks,around 1890.

A notable example of Anagrams was produced by Selchow and Righter in 1934, just 18 years before they picked up the US manufacturing rights of Scrabble in 1952 (the original volume producer of Scrabble), which emerged in 1934.

More recently, variants have included Swipe, published by Leslie Scott (the creator of Jenga) in the early 1980’s, and since 1990 Scott’s company Oxford Games has published ‘Anagram’.

In addition Tyco published “Up for Grabs” in 1995, Prodijeux  has been marketing “WordXchange” since 2000, and in 2001 Portobello Games produced Snatch, later changing the name to “Snatch-It” (possibly not the best name for a family game!)

Fast forwards to 2020 when the family team at Batty Concepts  - thanks to Covid 19 - had the time to refine their version of the 19th century game…. and are delighted in 2021 to join an illustrious list of game-makers who shared our view that this is simply one of the best, one of the fastest and most hilarious games ever.