The Phantom Exhibit Card was produced by The Exhibit Supply Co. Chicago in USA in 1949. The King Features Syndicate licensed Exhibit Cards contain 32 cards in a full set, with the intention of the cards being colored in by the owner.
The Exhibit Supply Co. Chicago (or simply ESCO), was established in Chicago, USA in 1901. John Meyer joined the company in 1907 and by 1910 controlled a small partnership. Meyer combined his previous printing knowledge to the newly popular arcade business. Within a few years, The Exhibit Supply Co. Chicago was producing a range of vending machines that would dispense postcards, horoscopes, photos and a variety of novelty cards.
The unnumbered Exhibit Cards were printed in Black and White on heavy stock paper, measuring 4” x 6”, with print only found on the one side. They were dispensed from Penny Arcade Vending Machines strategically located at various seaside boardwalks throughout North America, with a random card dispensed once a coin is inserted. Below we see the Exhibit Card featuring the Phantom, an illustration by Ray Moore.
The other comic book characters found in the 32 Exhibit Card set are, Mandrake the Magician, Prince Valiant, Flash Gordon, Blondie, Brick Bradford, Bringing Up Father, Glamor Girls, Buz Sawyer, Dick of Dick’s Adventures, Tillie the Toiler, Etta Ket, Henry, Hubert, Johnny Hazard, Tippie, Rip Kirby, Jungle Jim, The Katzenjamer Kids, King of the Royal Mounted, Ozark Ike, Mister Breger, Popeye, Rusty Riley, Secret Agent X9, Snuffy Smith, Teena, Tim Tyler, Toots and Casper, Little Orphan Annie Rooney, Felix the Cat and Cuties.
An Exhibit Card Arcade Machine Display Board was also produced by The Exhibit Supply Co. Chicago, advertising the Exhibit Cards, measuring 12.5″ x 8″. As can be seen below, the Display Board clearly indicates that the Exhibit Cards are designed to be colored by the owner.
A second series of 8 Exhibit Cards were produced by The Exhibit Supply Co. Chicago featuring comic book characters not licensed to King Features Syndicate at the time, which included Superman, the Yellow Kid, Betty Boop, Dick Tracy, Lil’ Abner, Casper the Ghost, Suffy Smith and Nancy.
Thank you Christopher Smith for assisting with images and information.