Exhibit Supply Co. : King Feature Comics


The King Feature Comics series of collectible coloring cards were first released in 1949 by the Exhibit Supply Company (ESCO) in Chicago, Illinois. Commonly referred to as "Exhibits," the cards were randomly dispensed from arcade vending machines for one penny each. Each King Feature Comics card is printed with a copyright year of 1949 and the series was being distributed to arcades as late as 1955.

1949 The Exhibit Supply Co - King Feature Comics

The 32-card series depicts popular newspaper strip characters published by King Features Syndicate, Inc. An additional series of 8 characters were released that include properties licensed to other companies. The black-and-white Exhibits are lithographed on thick cardstock suitable for watercolor painting. Each card measures approximately 3.375 x 5.625 inches, smaller than a standard postcard. The King Feature Comics cards are unnumbered and the back of each card is blank.

Superman is featured in the second series. The promotional image was penciled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. The Superman card is copyrighted 1949 National Periodicals.
1949 The Exhibit Supply Co - Comic Strip Exhibits - Superman
Most of the King Feature Comics cards contain a facsimile signature of their creators. Casper, Superman, and later printings of Felix the Cat do not contain any credits. Due to the legal battle over Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were removed from the byline after Superman #51 (March/April 1948). Siegel and Shuster were restored to the credits after 28 years in Superman #302 (August 1976).

The Autographed TV and Radio Stars Exhibit Cards series features a card for Clayton "Bud" Collyer, the first actor to voice Superman and Clark Kent. Bud Collyer starred as Superman in The Adventures of Superman radio serial and the animated shorts produced by Fleischer and Famous Studios. The American Card Catalog reference is W409. The card series was distributed to arcades throughout the 1940s. A cropped variant was printed circa 1946 that includes "Superman" under the facsimile autograph.
Exhibit Supply Co - TV and Radio Stars Exhibit Cards (W409) B - Bud CollyerExhibit Supply Co - TV and Radio Stars Exhibit Cards (W409) A - Bud Collyer

John Frank Meyer founded the Meyer Printing Company in Chicago in 1901. The company was re-established as the Exhibit Supply Co. in 1907 as a supplier of vending cards and arcade machine parts. The 1907 rate was advertised at $1.75 per thousand cards. By 1917, ESCO was producing various amusements and vending machines designed for official Exhibit cards. The first Exhibit cards to feature boxing and baseball stars were released in 1921.
Exhibit Supply Co - Show World, August 10, 1907
ESCO produced about 390 different arcade amusements and games. ESCO was the largest manufacturer of card vending machines during the early twentieth century. The company printed over 14,000 different cards for a wide variety of subjects that included celebrities, horoscopes, musicians, and pin-up models. Penny arcades faded from popularity and card companies such as Fleer and Topps began acquiring exclusive rights for athletes. The last ESCO card vending machines were produced in 1966.

Exhibit Cards - The Billboard, August 13, 1949

1949 Exhibit Supply Company : King Feature Comics
King Features Syndicate, Inc. (32 cards)
Blondie
Brick Bradford
Bringing Up Father
Buz Sawyer
Cuties
Dick of Dick’s Adventures
Etta Kett
Felix the Cat
Flash Gordon
Glamor Girls
Henry
Hubert
Johnny Hazard
Jungle Jim
King of the Royal Mounted
Little Annie Rooney
Mandrake the Magician
Mister Breger
Ozark Ike
Popeye
Prince Valiant
Rip Kirby
Rusty Riley
Secret Agent X 9
Snuffy Smith
Teena
The Katzenjammer Kids
The Phantom
Tillie the Toiler
Tim Tyler
Tippie
Toots and Casper
Second Series (8 cards)
Betty Boop
Casper
Dick Tracy
Lil’ Abner
Little Orphan Annie
Nancy
Superman
The Yellow Kid: The First Comic Character



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