Did your family collect trading stamps?


Mine did. I spent many youthful hours filling collector books for both my mother and my grandmother. I’d eagerly lick the stamps until my tongue would get dry and my mouth had an awful taste. When finished licking, I’d spend countless hours looking at rewards catalogs to see what we could get right now. Then, I’d review what might be available if we only had more stamps. Just when I had it figured out, a new catalogue would arrive in the mail. Somehow, the merchandise we could get with the stamps was much more interesting and appealing than getting it in a store. I never considered that the store-bought items were probably less expensive in the long run.

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Sperry and Hutchison a/k/a S&H was the largest trading stamp company and started its practice in the late 1800s, becoming one of the first such companies. During the 1960s, S&H printed its own rewards catalog that became America’s largest publication. At the same time, S&H allegedly issued three times more stamps than the U.S. Post Office.

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S&H had competitors, including, Plaid Stamps, Gold Bell Gift Stamps, Gold Bond Stamps, Blue Chip Stamps, and a few others. The stamps were distributed when customers bought products, primarily at grocery stores, gasoline stations and department and other retail stores. I’m going to speak about the S&H stamps since I licked more of them than other brands.

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S&H’s stamps came in one, ten and fifty point denominations and were awarded in ten-cent increments … a one denomination stamp was equal to ten-cents and so forth. Their collector books were free; twenty-four pages long; and needed fifty stamps to fill a page. That meant each book held twelve hundred stamps, equivalent to spending $120. The completed books were exchangeable for merchandise at an S&H redemption center or via mail.

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The retailer that planned to offer trading stamps would purchase their stamps from whichever company it chose, and then award the stamps at a rate determined by the merchant. Customers would frequently choose one store over another because that store gave out more stamps than another for each dollar spent.

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Trading stamps were most popular during the mid-‘60s. In 1965, supermarkets stopped issuing stamps and started lowering prices instead. They also started to use “preferred customer” programs. Later, the recessions of the ‘70s diminished the value of trading stamps, and consumers began to stop collecting them.

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If you still have any trading stamps, they might have some “value.” The Internet is your best source to find out what you need to do to redeem them for something.

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14 thoughts on “Did your family collect trading stamps?

  1. S&H were handy to get Christmas presents. I can still find a few things around my house purchased with the stamps. Thanks Fred.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, the absolute JOY of collecting Green Stamps, counting and recounting the number of completed books we had, pouring over the catalog and then—off to the Green Stamp store in Sunbury. Many wedding or birthday or special household items were found and purchased by handing over—however reluctantly—our valuable books—always hoping we would still have part of a book of stamps left for the next purchase.

    I confess that I still have one stamp in a special hiding place—just in case—


  3. I used to LOVE it when my dad bought a new car. He would come home with a pile of Green stamps and the fun of filling the stamp books would commence. And then the shopping . . .


  4. Oh, my goodness, we collected S&H Green stamps for years and had more games, picnic baskets and all sorts of summer stuff from them!   My mother lived for them!  If her stamps were missing from our weekly food “order,” there was trouble!  Don’t lose the stamps or you lose your allowance!  The first time I ever saw Gold Bond stamps was when I moved to Tennessee and Texas.  Quite a memory!  


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