Sunday, March 25, 2012

S&H Green Stamps

For those of a certain age (as in, anyone alive in the 1960s), you probably remember S&H Green Stamps. S&H Green Stamps were distributed by the Sperry and Hutchinson company, founded by Thomas Sperry and Shelly Hutchinson in 1896. During the '60s, the S&H catalog distribution was the largest in the United States and there were three times as many Green Stamps in circulation as U.S. postage stamps. To be sure, there were other trading stamp companies, but none were ever as popular or successful as S&H. This is the way it worked: shoppers would get stamps from retail outlets for purchases, and then the stamps could be traded for items in the S&H catalog. Retailers, most often grocery stores and gas stations, purchased the stamps from S&H and then decided how many to give away per dollar spent. Those stores giving away more stamps generally got more customers. The stamps themselves were issued in various denominations, just like money, and were pasted into 24-page stamp books provided by S&H. Each book was worth 1,200 points. Stamp books could be traded for all sorts of things, most often small appliances. For those lucky enough to live in a place with an actual S&H Green Stamps store (called "Redemption Centers"), they were places of pure wonder (well, that's the way I remember it at least). The Green Stamps store in Meridian was located somewhere downtown. I distinctly remember the interior, filled with all sorts of nifty things like shiny new toasters, vacuum cleaners, glasses, and the like. Mainly, I remember it being a very bright store.

1971 S&H Catalog
The height of the Green Stamps phenomenon was during the mid-1960s and was part of the American cultural scene. For example, a whole Brady Bunch episode was devoted to trading stamps in the first season (1970). In the episode entitled "54-40 and Fight," the kids fight over 94 books of stamps that have to be traded in. Greg and the boys want to get a rowboat while Marsha and the girls want a sewing machine. To decide, Mike and Carol let them compete by building a house of cards. The girls win, but then they feel bad and decide to compromise on a portable color television set instead. The urgency of having to trade in the stamps was due to the fact that the stamp store was about to close, requiring that all the stamps had to be redeemed.

The threat of store closures by the time the Brady Bunch episode aired was a very real thing for many consumers. By the early 1970s, stamps sales declined due to inflation. In other words, it simply took too many stamps to get worthwhile items and stores were closed across the country. Also, S&H was hauled before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 by the Federal Trade Commission for unfair trading practices. Sperry and Hutchinson lost. Despite these setbacks, they are still around, although only online. Today, the almost irresistible notion of getting lots of things we may or may not need in exchange for spending actual money on things we may or may not need is alive and well in the form of coupons.

The American dream lives on...

Photo and Image Sources:
(1) Store:  Located in Tallahassee, Florida. From Florida Memory, administered by the Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services.
(2) Stamp book:  Image from e-Bay: 
(3) Catalog:


  1. The redemption store in south Jackson was still there in the late 70s. I used stamps to purchase something when i was first married.

  2. Here are some other responses (with names removed) from FB posts:

    As everyone knows, I am a coupon person. I remember the excitement of filling up a "green stamp book" I could usually con my kids into pasting the stamps in. We had a method of using a wet sponge sitting in a dish. Off hand I can't remember exactly what we got with our filled books but I do remember it was a hard decision to make.

  3. My mom collected them and sometimes we'd help her affix them to the books. I remember going with her to the S&H store (which I think was near Westland Plaza) to redeem them. All she had to pay was sales tax. Yeah, I remember them. Also remember there was another competing stamp. It was yellow, I think. But it wasn't as popular as S&H.

    1. The yellow stamps were called Gold Bond

  4. I remember my mother collecting them, and I recall helping stick them into the books. I also remember going to the S&H store in Jackson. I don't remember what my mother got in the way of merchandise, but they had lots of stuff and it was always tough making a decision. We looked at their merchandise catalog a lot at home, too.

  5. My mother used to sit me down at the den table with a paper sack FULL of green stamps. I would sit there and paste them in the books for hours. Some stamps were worth more than others. Then we would load up in the car and go to Greenville (or was it Greenwood?) to redeem them. I don't really remember what she got, maybe an iron or something, but we were avid g.s. collectors.

  6. My grandmother collected them. She got a sewing machine once with them and us grandkids weren't allowed to touch them...we just got to sit and watch Mamaw put them in the books. She loved those stamps.

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  8. As I was the oldest, so I got the privilege of putting the stamps in the book. We, too, used the wet sponge and saucer technique. I really didn't like the smallest stamps which required so many to fill up the page (was it about 100 or so of the little ones?). Our Green Stamp store was in Tupelo. I got my first set of hot rollers AND curling iron from there. We would get our stamps from the grocery store which was Horn's Big Star. I also remember Quality Stamps which were similar to S & H.

  9. Seems like they are still around...Chase Rewards Points!

  10. I was raised in a children's home, Miracle Hill in Pickens SC. We needed a new bus mainly for the choir to go and sing in churches and events that could get donations. The school bought a new bus using S & H green stamps donated from people. I remember going to the main office in Greenvile to put stamps in books, sorting and counting. Don't know how many books it took but I know it was a lot.

  11. I seen the oldie movie June Bride. There was a scene where an old bust of I believe Mozart was shown. It was said it was from some type of redemption system such as stamps. I believe a soap product???Would anyone have a clue on this type of item. cynthia at