American Game Bantams have been around as far back as the 1890s, although at that time they were bred mainly for pitting and were usually referred to as Pit Game Bantams. They also became very popular as an exhibition breed in the 1930s, and although they were remarkably consistent in type, size and plumage colors, there was no breed standard for them at that time. They were shown with a variety of different leg colors and with both red and white earlobes. Frank Gary, of New Jersey, made the assessment that the breed was lacking too much in length of hackle, saddle and sickles to make a truly attractive show bird. He decided to work on improving the breed in this respect and in getting it listed in the Standard. He purchased a Red Jungle Fowl male in South Carolina in 1940 that was well furnished in these areas and crossed the bird with a BB Red Pit Game Bantam female. The introduction of this male's bloodline increased feather length in these sections. By selection, the desired characteristics continued to be enhanced. Approximately 5-6 years were required to bring the fowl to the state of perfection required.
Gary approached the Standard Committee of the APA in the late 1940s to see if this new bantam could be admitted to the Standard of Perfection. A mandate was made that neither yellow, willow or pinkish white legs would be acceptable because these colors would conflict with Brown Leghorn, Modern Game and Old English Game. Eventually bluish slate was developed and became predominant. After coordination with other breeders, qualifying shows were held in New York City. Shape and color descriptions were listed in the 1950 ABA Yearbook. First varieties were Black and Black Breasted Red, but other varieties have become listed in the Bantam Standard since then.
The American Game Bantam never gained the popularity of the other Game Bantam breeds during the mid 1900s, and eventually became very rare. It is not known just how many individuals were still raising American Game Bantams during the last few decades of the 1900s, but there were a few dedicated breeders who kept the breed from extinction. In 2001, the American Game Bantam Club was formed to unite breeders and promote the breed. Since that time more breeders have taken a serious interest in them, and the breed has grown in popularity, with stock being supplied to numerous Game Bantam fanciers around the country.