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Back when Stamps were Green....I Don't Mean Eco-Friendly! Collecting S&H Green Stamps

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, especially those honoring Veterans.

Familiar Sign of S&H Green Stamps

Logo of Sperry & Hutchinson S&H Green Stamps

Logo of Sperry & Hutchinson S&H Green Stamps

S&H Green Stamps ... One of the Earliest Customer Loyalty Programs

Customer loyalty programs got their start back in 1896 when Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson started what would become a pop culture icon in the United States....S&H Green Stamps.

Many of us grew up licking the green stamps and putting them in collector books until our tongues turned green. For some reason, most of us never got around to putting them in the books until the day we wanted to go to the redemption center and pick out a wonderful gift. It was amazing that you could get almost anything with your stamp books. There is a story of a school in Erie, Pennsylvania saving 5.4 million stamps to buy a pair of gorillas for a zoo!

S&H Green Stamps Were Extremely Popular and Successful Marketing Ploy

By the mid 1960s, 80% of the US households were participating in the extremely successful bonus stamp programs. Shoppers were collecting not just the S&H green stamps which were the most popular, but also Triple S stamps from Grand Union stores, Gold Bond, Blue Chip, Plaid stamps from A&P supermarkets and several others.

Retailers bought the stamps from companies like S&H then gave them to customers based on the dollar amount of their purchases. Customers would choose one merchant over another because they gave more stamps per dollar spent. In addition to grocery stores, gas stations and department stores used the bonus stamps to attract customers.

Stamp Collecting or Gambling?

It is amazing but some states equated the stamp programs to gambling! The programs were regulated by the government in those states and the merchants had to get a special permit to participate. Due to the high cost of the licenses, few stores were able to give out the bonus stamps in those areas of the US. But that didn't stop the green stamp craze and by the 1960s the S&H company was issuing 3 times as many stamps as the US Postal service and collecting the little green stamps had become a national pastime.

With a strong economy and busy lifestyles, interest in the stamps declined in the 1990s and by 1999 only 100 stores were giving out green stamps. Then along came the Internet and S&H green stamps went virtual. Today they are called "Green Points" and you collect them by making purchases from virtual stores that offer them and ordering items from an online rewards catalog. More information is available at their website, www.greenpoints.com.

If you still have some of the old stamps, don't worry. You can contact the S&H company at 800-435-5674 for instructions on how to redeem them.

Somehow cashing in points online just isn't the same as getting a green tongue then jumping in the Studebaker to rush down to the redemption center!

Green Stamps, Prostitution and Tequila!

Green Stamps have been mentioned in movies, tv shows and songs. A particularly funny episode of the TV show "Night Court" featured an elderly prostitute who admits to the court that she "did it" for Green Stamps. Bailiff Bull Shannon, played by Richard Moll, asks Bailiff Roz Russell, portrayed by Marsha Warfield, "Can you imagine degrading yourself for Green Stamps?" Roz replied, "Sure. By now I would've had enough stamps for a sailboat."

Charles Addams, the cartoonist that inspired the tv series Addams Family, drew a cartoon that featured a mortician that gave out Green Stamps. Novelist Stephen King talks about his first short story idea called "Happy Stamps". The unpublished story is about counterfeiting the stamps in order to get a new home and was supposedly inspired by King's mother who loved to collect S&H green stamps.

In 1962, singer Pat Boone had a hit song called "Speedy Gonzales". The final line of the song is "Hey Rosita, come quick, down at the cantina they're giving green stamps with tequila!"

Pat Boone hit "Speedy Gonzales" Mentions Green Stamps

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please Leave Your Comments About Collecting S&H Green Stamps!

Janice on August 13, 2014:

I am looking for the song about S and H green stamps...It went something like this: My wife said honey, the next door neighbors are saving up stamps and going to get them a son, so lets save stamps so we can get us a son.... keep smiling.. Janice

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 26, 2014:

Heidi thanks for reading my hub and your nice comments. I love writing about nostalgia. I look forward to following your work here.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 26, 2014:

Oh dear! I also remember collecting both Green and Plaid Stamps. (Remember the Brady Bunch episode where they were fighting over who would get to cash in the stamps?) It was an incentive that worked for a very long time. It actually still works... we just call them points now. Great nostalgic hub!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on July 22, 2013:

SandyH I'm glad you found this interesting. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

SandyH on July 13, 2013:

Interesting article about S&H green stamps. My mother collected them when I was a child. Wondered if they were still around.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 22, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by pstraubie48 . Good memories for many of us!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 22, 2012:

When I was a little girl, my Mother collected green stamps. I was the lucky one who got to paste them in the little booklet. It was a booklet, right? I haven't thought of them in years. Oh, my, deja vu...thanks for the memories.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on May 16, 2012:

Thank you LostInRevery for reading my hub and for your comments. I love to write about things from the "olden" days!

Welcome to Hubpages and I look forward to following your hubs.

Thelma

LostInRevery from Maine on May 16, 2012:

Wow! I remember those green stamps when I was a kid! My mom used to collect them. Haha...so many memories :)

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 30, 2012:

Wow Kathy...that is so cool. I am thrilled that you remembered my S&H Green Stamp hub.

Thanks!!!!

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on April 30, 2012:

OMG, Thelma, you want to know something funny? I thought about you this weekend! Ha!!! We were at the LVH Hotel here in Las Vegas, it used to be known as the Las Vegas Hilton, but now is called LVH... anyway, they have S & H Green Stamp SLOT machines there! I thought that was so neat! :) I remembered that you had written a hub about Green Stamps! :)

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 30, 2012:

Tillsontitan thanks for the nice comments. I always thought the A&P seemed like a nicer store than others in our town. We no longer have them here in Georgia. I remember you could grind the coffee beans right there in the store and it always smelled so good! Funny little things you remember from childhood.

Mary Craig from New York on April 30, 2012:

What a great hub for us baby boomers! Of course we collected green stamps, or rather our parents did. We got to lick them and put them in the book and if we were real good we could go help pick out the merchandise. We collected plaid stamps too 'cause my Dad worked for the A&P and we did a lot of shopping there.

This is a nice nostalgic hub with some good information. Voted up and interesting.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 20, 2012:

TheLastBabyBoomer thanks for taking the time to read my article and for sharing your memories with us!

Thelma

Deborah Turner from Surprise Arizona on April 19, 2012:

I loved going to the showroom with my mom to cash in her greenstamp books. And all that licking ... yuk! Thanks for the memory!

Bonny OBrien from Troy, N.Y. on December 16, 2011:

Gee I remember my mom and dad collecting these stamps when I was growing up, and the books to. What a great memory!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 18, 2011:

Thanks for your nice comments and for following me! I think you and I both like nostalgia!

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on August 17, 2011:

Wow, this DOES bring back memories, I had NO idea there are still "green points" online, though! I learned something new today! Great writing, not only interesting and informative, but a really FUN read!!

Laura Ross on August 13, 2011:

This article brought back fond memories for me as well. My Mom went shopping at the Kroger grocery store where she loaded up on green stamps. They came out of the register like a ticker tape machine. Like many of you I counted, licked and pasted stamps into books too. Fun times and memories ThelmaC. Thanks great hub!

wirewoman on July 13, 2011:

Well, this article is good fun. Embarrased to say that at the ripe old age of 5, I had my first serious crush on Pat Boone, ha! I also clearly remember my brother, sisters and I helping past all those stamps into the green stamp books...we all sat around the dining room table together, licking and pasting to get whatever new item my mother set her sights on. Thanks for bringing up those fun memories.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on July 13, 2011:

Wirewoman thanks for your comments. I never realized how much I missed green stamps until a few days ago someone asked if they were still around and that gave me the idea for the hub. I just stumbled on to the gambling reference and thought it was really funny. My mother would not have liked the fact that she was gambling!

wirewoman on July 12, 2011:

Yikes, I had a friend when I was young with the most gorgeous house.........all furnished with now I guess, the gambling green stamps. Great hub!

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on July 11, 2011:

Many of us have those same memories of getting some really good stuff with them. Wish you could get something extra like that at the gas station today!

Movie Master from United Kingdom on July 11, 2011:

Hi Thelma, that takes me back, collecting green shield stamps, we use to get some really good stuff with them! green stamps gambling? that's so funny! many thanks for sharing.

Thelma Raker Coffone (author) from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on July 11, 2011:

It is so funny that anyone could think collecting green stamps was gambling! Thanks for taking the time to comment on my article!!

dbacklund on July 11, 2011:

Half of my parents house hold items was purchased with GREEN STAMPS from the toaster to the ironing board. I did not know that is was gambling.