First published on 17 February 1936, The Phantom adventure comic strip tells the story of a fictional costumed crime-fighter who operates from the fictional African country of Bengalla. The series started out as a daily newspaper strip before expanding to a color Sunday strip on May 28, 1939. They are both still running today, although not at levels of popularity enjoyed in the past. The publisher, King Features, claimed in 1966 that the strip was appearing in 583 newspapers worldwide and that at its peak, the strip was read by over 100 million people every day.
The Phantom relies completely on his strength, intelligence and reputed immortality to best his enemies, having no actual superpowers of his own. He has a trained wolf, Devil, and a horse named Hero. Like the previous Phantoms, he lives in the ancient Skull Cave.
The coin, struck by the Perth Mint, also lives in the ancient Skull Cave, or at least a plastic representation of one. When the coin tray is pulled from the mouth of the skull, it’s eyes light up. Not the most subtle of coin displays, we’re sure it will appeal to fans of this old superhero to whom this release is almost certainly aimed, rather than at the more traditional coin collector. The shipper it all sits in is also fully themed. The coin itself isn’t actually a coin but a medallion. The ‘denomination’ is in Bengallan Dollars, completely fictional of course, and the obverse, where the usual effigy of Queen Elizabeth sits (ironically 10 years older…), has been replaced with some pretty decent cleanly struck artwork.
The reverse face of the coin looks typical Perth Mint fare, a well struck proof design with selective colouring. Wisely choosing to stick with the classic artwork rather than a more modern interpretation, (or the awful Billy Zane movie), the design is aimed front and square at Phantom fans and looks pretty cool, if a little unambitious. The whole thing looks the work of someone with a love for the character, so if you like the strip, you’ll likely love the coin. Just 3,000 will be minted at $135.00 AUD each – it’s available to order now from the Perth Mint or from dealers around the world.