Friday, March 20, 2020

Dwight Fuhro, Collector of THE SHADOW

Goodrich Advertisements of The Shadow radio show.
Among our friendly neighbors of the North is Dwight Fuhro, a collector of all things related to the pulp magazine and radio program, The Shadow. To refer to Dwight as a serious collector is an understatement. His collection focusing on rare Shadow items have become an obsession (in a good way) and his passion allows for the highest grade of quality in any private collection I can think of. His passion takes him all over North America (including the pulp conventions I have described in the past) to acquire the rare finds.

"I was first introduced to The Shadow through the pulps in 2002," Dwight explained. "I quickly determined that I was going to embark in not only putting together a complete Shadow pulp run, but the highest grade one in existence. Today I have completed this and need only a handful of upgrades including still needing a sharp issue number one. Well, collecting the pulps then led to wanting to acquire other rare Shadow radio, pulp and movie related collectibles. I have been very fortunate in acquiring many rare Shadow items from: Street & Smith, Blue Coal (the product of the D.L.&W and Glen Alden Coal Company), Carey Salt, Goodrich Silvertown Tires and others."

A few pieces of Dwight's archival collection.
A few of his favorite Shadow collectibles include two original Shadow pulp paintings of "The Creeping Death" and "The Third Skull," both used for the covers of The Shadow magazine. Dwight is the proud possessor of Walter Gibson's personal Shadow Salesman Book (promoting the Shadow pulps, radio, films etc.). The book was given as a birthday present to Arthur Emerson, a close personal friend of Water Gibson back in the 1940’s. It contains 48 pages of rare, original Shadow promotional contacts and promotional information, original newspaper ads, Shadow promotional deals & correspondence with various companies (Macy's, the Police Department), etc.

Interesting Trivia
The 1939 Christmas season opened the doors for promotion in New York City when R.H. Macy’s in New York made The Shadow a feature of its Christmas Toyland. A man dressed in cloak and mask awed and delighted thousands of children and parents in Macy’s “Radio Televisionland” (titled appropriately since the parade was first televised in 1939). Macy’s even planned to make a huge “Shadow” balloon for the 1939 Thanksgiving Day parade, but verification with department store records verifies that plans for it fell through.

Dwight's collectible piece, along with department store records courtesy of Macy's, helped verify the correct calendar year of 1939. For a short while, there was some debate as to what calendar year this event was done because one booklet in a Radio Spirits Shadow collection inaccurately claimed The Shadow was featured in the 1941 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Dwight helped pinpoint the correct year and records at Macy's substantiated that fact. (There could have been two years, but nothing has been found to verify 1941.) 

A few pieces of Dwight's archival collection.
The same book also contains four original and rare Shadow signs: “The Weird Avenger of Crime” cardboard sign from 1933, the huge “Shadow’s Justice”  fold-out poster from 1933, the only known example of “The Shadow Goodrich Silvertown Tire” advertising cardboard sign from 1938-39, and another Shadow pulp advertising cardboard sign from 1933.

"I have acquired a total of 12 Shadow advertising signs from the 1930's and 40's," Dwight explains with pride. "My favorites are my Blue Coal Shadow silkscreen advertising sign (18” x 24”) which is pictured on the back of Martin’s fabulous Shadow radio book. I also enjoy have two 18" x 34" Shadow trolley signs from 1932 and 1934."

Trolley Car sign and vintage ad with same image.
Dwight recently just picked up Blue Coal promotional manuals from 1932 and 1934 that correspond directly with the two Trolley Car display ads/signs. It is believed the promotional manuals are the only ones known to exist in collector hands.

"I also recently acquired the only known Blue Coal Shadow Gum," Dwight continued. "I have a near mint example of the Shadow board game from 1940, a near mint example of The Shadow Blue Coal cape and the 1940 Street & Smith Shadow children’s costume complete with the only known original box. I also have the only known example of The Shadow stationery in the original cellophane from 1940."

Shadow collector rings

The proud possessor of complete sets of the Blue Coal and Carey Salt rings, Shadow Lapel Pin, and Shadow Glow in the Dark button; all with the original card and mailers, Dwight has arranged for most of his treasures to be professionally framed.

Other treasures in his collection include the 1934 Shadow wooden stamper, two rare Shadow postcards from 1931, a number of rare Shadow buttons some with the original cards, all of the known stickers from the 30's, and dozens of mint matchbooks used to promote The Shadow radio program.

In the summer of 1945, The Shadow graced the inside and outside of matchbooks. Matches were an obvious giveaway and always accepted by customers when offered free with deliveries of their coal orders. The matchbooks were velvet smooth and sold to Blue Coal dealers in multiples of 500. The price was $3.00 per thousand if the dealer wanted his name, address and phone number printed on them.

Dwight purchased this from Hake's. A vintage advertisement for Doc Savage on radio.

To promote the matchbooks, a marketing tie-in was featured in the broadcast of September 9, 1945, titled “The Shadow in Danger.” The story concerned the theft of $8,000 from the police fund and jeopardized Commissioner Weston’s reputation in an apparent ghost yarn. Cardona was held on suspicion of larceny when the funds for poor kids he withdrew from the bank vanished before he arrived at the police station. Lamont and Margot, victims of a similar robbery, suspect a stranger on the streets asking for a light is hypnotizing people so he can pick their pockets. When the Commissioner’s assistant, Muriel, is found dead in a hotel room with Cardona’s gun, and a matchbook bearing an image of The Shadow (shown cloaked and from behind) is found on the scene, Weston blames the series of crimes on The Shadow.

LAMONT: That’s the angle I can’t figure.
MARGOT: Will chewing on that package of matches help you? Want to get sulfur poisoning?
LAMONT: Huh? I didn’t realize I was doing it, Margot. By the way, how do you like the design on the inside cover? I just had them printed.
MARGOT: The figure of a man almost hidden by shadows. Are you anxious to let people know who the Shadow is?
LAMONT: You know I’m not.
MARGOT: Then, why advertise yourself on the inside of match covers? Suppose somebody looks like a shadow to me. I think it’s dangerous.

Discovering Weston is blaming The Shadow, Lamont realizes the newly-printed matchbooks may cause similar problems in the future so he tosses them all into a fire. He places an editorial in the newspaper to rout out the pickpocket and then makes arrangements for Margot to bring the police to an abandoned warehouse on River Street where the confrontation gets ugly. Cardona has been beaten horribly, and the pickpocket, Paul, attempts to eliminate The Shadow by turning out the lights and finding the outline of the invisible avenger. Moments after learning Cardona and The Shadow were not involved and now forced to defend himself, Commissioner Weston fires two shots in rapid succession, and Paul drops dead. 

Blue Coal Salesman Book and green Trolly Car sign.
Dwight also owns original tickets for the general public to redeem at the Mutual Longacre Theater in New York, where many of The Shadow radio broadcasts originated. Attendees also received a theater program guide promoting the sponsor's product and a cast list for that day's broadcasts.

"I am still on the hunt and will pay record prices for other original Shadow pulp paintings, rare Shadow posters/signs, any of the signs that are in the Shadow Salesman book as I do not want to take them out of the book," Dwight explained. "Rare items such as The Shadow gun and holster, The Shadow disguise kit, The Shadow Tect-o-lite, The Shadow flashlight, The Shadow sheet music, Displays promoting The Shadow character (Street & Smith, Powerhouse Candy, Blue Coal, Goodrich Silvertown, etc.), a sharp copy of The Shadow issue #1, or a complete high grade Shadow pulp run and other rare items, even some that I already have."

Original radio scripts for The Shadow.

Just recently Dwight came across a rare advertisement (I think it is a trolley car sign) that features The Shadow, but is really promoting Boston Blackie. Various artists reusing signs from one radio program for another is not common... but have been found before. But this one is unusual and worth a peak.

I have often gone by the adage that how much money someone has is never impressive but what they did to make that money, can be impressive. Folks with super large collections are not always impressive but the quality of the displays... in this case, Dwight's collection... is impressive. If you ever come across any rare Shadow merchandise, especially high quality originals, give Dwight a call or drop him an e-mail. He's always on the lookout for additional items to add to his collection. His info is listed below.

Dwight Fuhro