Monday, November 1, 2010

1 November 1956 “Green Stamps, Where Did You Go?”

shgreenstamps2 Glancing through a magazine the other day, this double page ad caught my eye.shgreenstamps1I slightly recall talk of green stamps, but personally have had no real recognition of them. They were available well into the 1980’s so there is not reason I should not recall them. Perhaps I have simply forgot. Yet, here in 1956, I would be familiar with them. Their having been in circulation since the 1930’s and really having started as early as 1896.
greenstamps You would collect them up from your various retailers, grocery, gas station that sort of thing, and then place them in these booklets. There was then a place to redeem them for various items from small kitchen dishes to bikes and furniture.
It seems the original rewards were given to those who spent cash, as my advertisement says. I am not sure if this remained the incentive as the 60’s and 70’s came on or not.
S & H still exits HERE, but I don’t really understand the benefit. You may check it out and let me know, but the original use of stamps was promoting the use of cash for the small business, at least in the 1950’s. Obviously the company that owned and operated S & H made money, but it was sort of a fun system. I like the idea of collecting up the stamps and saving. It really helps to reinforce that aspect of savings that is almost completely gone in our digital/plastic money society.
If that promotion of spending cash could be brought back in some way for small business, what a boon it would be. There is much talk of ‘hurting small business’ today, but I can tell you, as a former owner of a small business, one of the most frustrating aspects was credit/debit. You have to pay a percentage of everything you sell to a customer when they use either of those cards. So, you sell something and you have to pay the company for the privilege of having their service. It is the bane and part of the destruction of the small business. Yet one rarely hears of it. We are simply told how ‘easy’ it is to use plastic. It is easy and easier to put money into already big pockets, but I digress.
The 1962 Pat Boone hit, “Speedy Gonzales” Mentions green stamps. If you listen to the song at the very end, when Speedy is talking, he mentions that they are ‘giving away green stamps with the purchase of Tequila’. Green stamps, it seems, was a part of the popular culture of the time.
greenstampcartoonIn some states, however, they were seen as gambling. In these states stores who wanted to give them away would need to file for specific licensing and it was pricey. Therefore, some states simply had few places that offered them and so they would not have been a part of that states popular culture and vernacular. I wonder if many who lived in such a state but on the border of another more permissive state crossed the border to fill their Green Stamp books?
I heard that here in Massachusetts we had a plaid stamp, but not sure about that. As I said, I have no recollection of them. I don’t recall my mother having them, though she was a young wife in the 1950’s, but alas I cannot ask her what with her Alzheimer's.
So, who remembers them? What do you recall about them? Do any of you use the modern online version? I am curious to know.


  1. Oh Donna, I love that "Speedy Gonzales" song. I always loved the part about the green stamps. It felt like sort of an in-joke when I was 12. We did have greenstamps here in Washington state. I remember the books well and would look through and dream about the things we could get. Of course it was up to my mother and I think we probably got a blender or some other appliance which we otherwise would never have been able to afford. I didn't know that green stamps were still available. I'll have to check that out. I seems like very recently by sisters and I were wondering, " Whatever happened to Green Stamps?"
    Julie In Wa

  2. I loved the green stamps. Most often, my parents used it to get things for me. Id help her paste them in the books, and wait for each to be filled.

    I remember seeing plaid stamps at my grandparents, but I'm not sure if they were for the same company or not.

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  4. In Spain there stamp cards to fill up a few years ago. I remember filling out any of it when I had recently married (at the time of the dinosaurs), he,he.

  5. Hi, wow, this sure brings back memories! We got married in 1971 and our very first item we got with green stamps was an ironing board. I am still using it. Over the years we got much, much more. Some of the things I recall: floor lamp, bookcase, dishes, flatware, glasses, baby changing table, potty chair, electric knife, hand mixer,, vanity lamps, bedspread, sheets, curtains...

    Most of our green stamps came from shopping at the grocery store where they quickly accumulated.

    Tax had to be paid on the items and if I recall correctly, it was based on the number of books that were redeemed.

    I recall that if one didn't want to redeem the stamps for an item, a book of stamps could be redeemed for cash. I think it was something like three dollars a book.

    Once I chose to do that and the clerk asked for my social security number. "Why?" I asked. She replied, "Because sometimes teenagers come in here and try to redeem their parents' green stamp books for cash."

    Somewhere I still have tucked away my last few books of green stamps...just for the memories.

    Great memories! Judy

  6. Yes, I remember Plaid Stamps -- we had them on Long Island, too, and the nuns at the Catholic school I went to asked us to save them up for them so that each classroom could have a tv set. It worked, and we all saved up enough Plaid Stamps to buy all the tv sets!

    We also collected S & H Green Stamps. Everybody collected them. They were very popular. It was kind of like a game.

    Our family also collected Raleigh coupons from the Raleigh and Pall Mall cigarettes. My father smoked A LOT, so we were always buying things from the Raleigh coupon catalog!

    Then my father quit smoking cold turkey and that was the end of that. His decision was not a popular one in our family, lol. But, pretty soon, they stopped putting those coupons in the cigarette packs anyway.

  7. I remember my mom and my aunt filling out the books for S&H Green stamps back in the 1960's. It was always a treat to sit at the kitchen table and help lick the stamps. The amount of books determined what you could purchase or maybe how many pages of one book was filled. The bigger the item the more stamps you needed. Those are fond memories.
    It's funny. We have been going through alot of my grandmother's belongings that were packed away in the attic and I found a half book of S&H Green stamps just recently.

  8. If I'm remembering correctly, we got an encyclopaedia set with green stamps. Funk and Wagnels. That made two sets of those in the house (the older one being the set my mom had growing up) so I could cross reference things and see what changed in 20 years. I was a nerd back then too.

  9. I’m 3 weeks behind with your blog and today I’ve borrowed son’s tiny notebook, so I can sit in the sofa and read. My almost vintage laptop cannot find the internet anymore. I’m feeling good today, I’m having good days and bad days – most bad days. But yesterday and today have been good. And while I’ve been away from your blog you’ve reached over 600 readers – congratulations! That’s marvellous!

  10. I remember going to the grocery store with my mom as a young girl in the late seventies, she would buy groceries that were put into paper bags (environmentally friendly :) ) by a young lady or man, who then put the bags in the cart for her.

    She would also receive her green stamps, the S and H store was close to the grocery store and I remember her filling out the book and then bringing it in to get plates, glasses etc. :)

    I did not realize that they had this in the states, that's hilarious!

    I collect air miles points where I shop, and use them for gift certificates in the store, although I could use them to various other items, I like the idea of free food ;)

    But to be honest the idea of a stamp book with green stamps would even be more fun to get the kids into as well :)

    Mom in Canada

  11. I kind of remember them from when i was a kid...Quality Farm & Fleet used to be an S&H and we had green stamps. Maybe my mom could shed a little instight if you wanted to ask her?

  12. our stamps were orange and came from a store called Gold Circle. my sister and i were in charge of stamp pasting, but i can't for the life of me remember what we got as our prize! i do remember the different sizes of the stamps~big ones worth more points, would only need one to a page, then the little one point stamps would have to fill the entire page, and make the book very stiff and thick. the stamps tasted horrible too, but we persevered :)

  13. Oh, I remember S&H green stamps very well. It was a great way, when you were poor, to want something that you had to work for. We got a blender and a toaster, if I remember correctly. 'Course, it took a long time to get those things for our home. No such thing as instant gratification back then.

  14. The more things change, the more things stay the same:

  15. Our local grocery store in the UK had a stamp system up until the early 90s. There were small orange stamps and larger blue stamps if I recall correctly. The number of stamps you got was based on the amount you spent, the large stamps were for larger amounts of money. I believe the books just translated to cash, each full book was worth a certain amount basically as a gift certificate. My mother saved them up for xmas every year.

    Later they had another stamp system where you could get things like plates or glasses for a small amount of cash with stamps, maybe 5 stamps and about a dollar for a dinner plate say. If you couldn't get enough stamps before the promotion ended you could pay cash for the other items you needed in the collection. I think my mother got two sets of dishes and a set of silverware that way.

  16. We had both S&H and Gold Value stamps here in Middle Georgia. Mama collected S&H at Piggly Wiggly and the Gold Value from Winn Dixie stores(?not sure of this last). Mama saved stamps all year long and used the stamps to provide Christmas gifts for our large extended family. She shopped on Wednesday because she had the advantage of a new sales week AND DOUBLE stamps on that day.

    I was very excited to begin shopping on Wednesday when I married because I too got double stamps. I still have a set of cookie cutters I 'bought' with the stamps. The premise was that the stamps plus tax were all that were required for most gifts. Some had a small monetary value plus redeemed stamps.

    Terri aka PennyAnnPoundwise

  17. I remember green stamps. We would go to a local grocery store that let you turn in glass bottles for change, that store also gave out green stamps so we shopped there for both those reasons. We would throw the stamps in the junk drawer and forget about them. While cleaning during the summer, usually, we would discover them and it was like a child's payday and we would be all gung ho on saving them for awhile. My brother, sister, and I had to share them but we would study the catalog to decide on something, then go to the S&H Store and spend forEVER walking around the store trying to decide on something. If we were all getting along, we might pull our stamps and get something BIG to share.

    I came across a few books at an antique mall the other day. They had some plaid stamps, too. I almost bought them just for the memoirs that it brought back but decided I had enough paper kind of stuff in my home. I am sure if we looked real hard we would find some still at my mom's house.

  18. hi i found a green stamp book tucked away with other goodies aer they worth anything?

  19. what did they do with stamps


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