• Spill and Spell game from Parker Brothers

Spill and Spell from Parker Brothers (1956)

Company: Parker Brothers | Release date: 1956 | Ages: 8+ | # of players: 1+ | Where to buy: eBay

In 1956, Parker Brothers released Spill and Spell, a multi-player spelling game where players put their vocabulary skills to the test to score points.


To start, a player placed all 15 letter cubes into the plastic cup and “spilled” them onto the playing surface. Once the sand timer was flipped, the letters visible on the top surfaces of each cube were used to form words. After forming an initial word, subsequent words were added using the remaining letters in a crossword-puzzle fashion. Proper nouns, foreign (non-English), and abbreviations were not allowed.

Once the timer expired, scores were calculated by squaring the number of letters in each word formed and subtracting the square of the number of cubes remaining. For example, if a player formed a 7-letter word and a 4-letter word, their score would be (7 x 7 = 49) + (4 x 4 = 16) = 65 minus the 4 cubes left (4 x 4 = 16), for a total score for the round of 49.

Play continued until a player had the highest score over 300 after all players had taken an equal number of turns.

Since its initial release, many versions of Spill and Spell have been produced. In later versions, the number of letter cubes changed and the rules for winning varied slightly.


A complete Spill and Spell game included 15 letter cubes, a plastic cup, and a sand timer. Printed instructions were included in the box.


Finding a 1950s edition of Spill and Spell on the secondary sales market is easy. Board game completists will face a greater challenge if they wish to acquire all of the packaging variants that Parker Brothers released over the following three or four decades.

Note: If you buy something using the eBay link in this story, we may earn a small commission.