Penny Cards were produced in USA, in the 1940’s and are believed to be the first set of cards to contain images of the Phantom. The cards feature art drawn by Ray Moore, which were used in the ‘Better Little Books‘ series released by the Whitman Publishing Company.
Penny Cards didn’t only contain images of the Phantom, but other comic book characters such as Mickey Mouse, Dick Tracey, Popeye and more. It’s believed that 26 cards were dedicated to the Phantom.
The cards were sold at gas stations in USA, with the gas stations logo commonly found on the back of the card, as a form of brand marketing. The gas stations that carried these cards were Amoco Gas, Esso Gas, Sinclair Gasoline, Texaco Gas, Calex Mfg and Tydol HIDE. The Phantom cards are known to only carry the Amoco logo on the back.
The Penny Cards were dispensed from a Criss Cross Card vending machine which was produced by Calex MFG. Inc. A poster was placed in the machine to advertise the characters available at the gas station. Actual Penny Cards were glued to the posters to entice the general public to make a purchase.
A sample of a Criss Cross Card vending machine can be seen below.
At least three different versions of the Penny Cards Poster’s advertising the Phantom are known to exist.
At the base of each poster, the following text is present.
A few of the Penny Cards featuring the Phantom can be seen below, with the back of the cards containing the gas station they were sold from, plus a card number.
The Wrapper #79 fanzine published in 1989 contains an interesting article in relation to Penny Cards, the pages can be viewed below.
More Penny Cards poster’s containing various comic book characters can be seen below.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.