Gumball Charms

The Phantom Gumball Machine Charms were produced by The Penny King Company in Pittsburgh, USA in the 1958.

Charms first appeared in vending machines in the 1930’s in the US, and were generally imported from Japan. The charms were generally sold in penny vending machines, with the target market being young children. As a result, charms were usually small toys which could be played with or displayed, sometimes accompanying a piece of candy, all coming in a plastic ball shaped container.

The Penny King Company, based in Pittsburgh, USA started making charms in 1949 for the growing local vending machine market. The charms they produced were available in a number of finishes, including plastic, copper and silver or gold plated plastic. In 1953 the company became the national sales agent for Acorn Charm Vendor parts and accessories, and from 1955 it became the sales agent for the Penny-Nickel Atlas Master vending machines.

A variety of comic book characters licensed to King Features Syndicate appear on Gumball Machine Charms, including The Phantom, Diana and Devil. Below we see 2 examples of cards that were placed in the Gumball Machine to advertise the available characters and product within the machine.

3 products were produced featuring the Phantom, Charms, Buttons and Rings which are all wearable.


The various characters are printed on paper and glued within a see-through housing. The housing came in a variety of colors and finishes, including metallic (silver, gold or bronze), yellow, blue, red, green and white. In addition, another distinct feature of the charms was double sided with a clear frame, with different characters on each side.

Images of the Phantom, Diana and Devil were the only characters used relating to the Phantom story line. A sample of the Charms can be seen below.