The Mansion of Happiness

The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement

I discovered this early board game from watching a TikTok by the Lincsmuseums.

It fit perfectly with the new Pride and Prejudice variation I am working on, Versus, which has Darcy and Elizabeth constantly battling in various ways, including playing games. My trouble lay in discovering its rules. While dozens of websites quote one or two, I couldn’t find a source for the entire game’s official rules. But as I am a librarian by training, my information-hunting skills came through, and I discovered both the complete rules and a high-resolution copy of the board.

Brief History

The Mansion of Happiness: An Instructive Moral and Entertaining Amusement is an early board game inspired by Christian morality with themes of the heavenly virtues and deadly sins. George Fox designed the game in 1800, and Laurie and Whittle in England issued three editions that year.

In the United States, the first edition was published by W. & S.B. Ives in 1843. In 1888, Parker Brothers purchased the rights to the game and reprinted it from 1894 until 1926.

Game Play

The game consists of sixty-seven spaces set in a spiraling track. Some spaces have pictures; some are blank, merely colored spaces. The last space, No. 67, is THE MANSION OF HAPPINESS. Players race around the board, attempting to navigate the labeled spaces with pictures without encountering any mishaps. Some depict a virtue, like No. 1 JUSTICE, others a vice, like No. 61 INGRATITUDE, still others are a location, like No. 36 THE PILLORY.

Instead of using dice (because of the association with gambling), the game used a teetotum, which is like a spinning top. A teetotum can have any number of sides, four, like a dreidel (which is derived from it), or six, eight, or twelve.

The rules don’t mention how many sides the teetotum has, but I assume it has six, like the standard six-sided die of the era.

Jean Simeon Chardin, A Child with a Teetotum.

The Rules


At this amusement each will find
A moral fit t’ improve the mind:
It gives to those their proper due,
Who various paths of vice pursue,

And shows (while vice destruction brings)
That good from every virtue springs.
Be virtuous then and forward press,
To gain the seat of happiness.


This game can be played by any number of persons who can conveniently sit around the table on which the sheet is placed.

Each individual should be furnished with ten counters, and, in addition, an extra counter, with the initial of his or her name, (or any other letter or number judged most proper for distinction).

Anyone many commence the game by spinning the TETOTUM, and placing his or her initial counter over the number obtained, and moving agreeably to the following rules.

N.B.—Paying a fine of 1, 2, 3 is meant so many counters, and by 1 or 2 months is meant the person must wait till the TETOTUM has passed round so many times.


1. Whoever comes to THE WATER, No. 6, must pay one for being ferried over, and go to No. 10.

2. Whoever arrives at THE INN, No. 9, must pay one for taking refreshment, and go to No. 12.

3. Whoever possesses PIETY (2), HONESTY (4), TEMPERANCE (13), GRATITUDE (15), PRUDENCE (18), TRUTH (23), CHASTITY (31), SINCERITY (33), HUMILITY (38), INDUSTRY (42), CHARITY (45), HUMANITY (52), or GENEROSITY (55), is called to advanced six towards the MANSION OF HAPPINESS.

4. Whoever possesses AUDACITY (7), CRUELTY (20), IMMODESTY (25), or INGRATITUDE (61), must return to their former situation till his turn comes to spin again, and even think of Happiness, much less partake of it.

5. POVERTY (11), the WHIPPING POST (22), HOUSE OF CORRECTION (30), the PILLORY (36), THE STOCKS (40), PRISON (50), and RUIN (55), are to be considered as blanks in your progress to the Mansion; for it would be cruel to punish a person for merely passing such a place; therefore, till one is found guilty of a crime, he cannot be fine nor sent to either.

6. Whoever gets in a PASSION (14) must be taken to THE WATER (6), have a ducking to cool him, and pay a fine of one.

7. Whoever gets into IDLENESS (17) must come to POVERTY (11).

8. Whoever gets into the ROAD TO FOLLY (26) must return to PRUDENCE (18).

9. Whoever becomes a SABBATH BREAKER (28) must be taken to the WHIPPING POST (22) and whipt, and pay a fine of one.

10. Whoever becomes a CHEAT (34) must be sent to the HOUSE OF CORRECTIONS (30) for one month, pay a fine of one, and when at liberty, begin the game again.

11. Whoever becomes a PERJURER (43) must be put in the PILLORY (36), and pay a fine of one.

12. Whoever becomes a DRUNKARD (47) must be put in the STOCKS (40), and pay a fine of one.

13. Whoever becomes a ROBBER (57) must be sent to PRISON (50) for two months, pay a fine of two, and when at liberty, begin the game again.

14. Whoever arrives at the SUMMIT OF DISSIPATION (63) must go to RUIN (55), and pay a fine of three.

15. Whoever is confined in the HOUSE OF CORRECTIONS (30), or the PRISON (50), cannot be relieved till his allotted time expires, or some person guilty of the same crime is sent there.

16. When two persons come together, the last player must take possession of the place he comes to, and pay one for so doing; the other person must return to the place from whence he came, and not pay one; except, first, when two come together and the last person is found guilty of an offense. He, after having paid his fine, must take the place of the former, without paying more; the other person must advance or return (if not a CHEAT (34) or ROBBER (57), see rule 10 and 13) to the original place of the last play, and not pay any. Secondly, when two come together at the HOUSE OF CORRECTION (30) or the PRISON (50), and one is confined for a crime, in that case, as the last player cannot relieve the person confined, he must return to the place from whence he came, and spin again. Should he spin as before, he must remain as he was.

17. Whoever arrives at (67) the MANSION OF HAPPINESS, wins the game; but if he throws over he may go back to the SEAT OF EXPECTATION, AT 60, and spin again in turn, but if he again throws over he must begin the game.

(Rules from the game published by W. & S.B. Ives, Salem, Mass.)

Note: I added space numbers in the text to help identify the space mentioned in the rule with the numbered space on the board.

Labeled Spaces

1           JUSTICE

2          PIETY

4          HONESTY

6          THE WATER

7          AUDACITY

9          THE INN

11          POVERTY

13         TEMPERANCE

14         PASSION

15         GRATITUDE

17         IDLENESS

18         PRUDENCE

20        CRUELTY


23        TRUTH

25        IMMODESTY

26        ROAD TO FOLLY



31         CHASTITY

33        SINCERITY

34        A CHEAT

36        THE PILLORY

38        HUMILITY

40        THE STOCKS

42        INDUSTRY       

43        A PERJURER

45        CHARITY

47        A DRUNKARD

50        PRISON

52        HUMANITY

54        GENEROSITY

55        RUIN

57        A ROBBER


61         INGRATITUDE




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