S and H Green Stamps were once known as Americas Most Valuable Stamps, at one time printing three times as many stamps as the U.S. Post Office. Printed by the Sperry and Hutchinson Company, they had been around since 1896, but did not reach their zenith until the 1950s.
The concept was quite simple. When you purchased food by cash from a participating store, the business would dole out one small green stamp for each ten cents spent. I would always try to see how many stamps we would get when we went to the store. Patrons meticulously licked the stamps and placed them into small books, each containing spaces for 1200 serial numbered stamps. I was so happy when my mother let me do that. I didn't even mind the foul taste of the glue. I learned from being around mom that it was worth it the slight annoyance in order to select a prize from the attractive catalog. After accumulating several full books, you could take the books to the S & H Green Stamp Store and exchange them for pre-determined merchandise; Pair of bookends (1 book), Baldwin piano (380 books), Singer sewing machine (35 books), a weeks vacation in Hawaii (190 books). I mean, come on baby, this is real stuff here!!!
One Sunday evening as I was preparing to leave for college, mom came up to me and handed me $12.50 and a book-and-a-half of S and H Green Stamps. I was instructed to stop by the S & H Green Stamp Store and bring home the toaster she had circled in the Ideabook. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. This was my big chance to do something VERY important! "Can I do this?" "I dunno, can I?" I'm ONLY 17 for pete's sake!! I was nervous. I was excited.
It was a defining moment in my life. I remember it well, going to that store, my palms sweaty, my knees shaking as I stood there waiting in line. I could barely speak. My voice cracked as I tried to say something. "HERE, was I could get out," as I forked over the one-and-a-half books of S and H Green Stamps and the $12.50 and pointed....yes I POINTED to the toaster. I WANTED THAT TOASTER!! When the clerk went to retrieve MY toaster, I looked at the woman standing line waiting to be waited on. "What are you getting, I asked, I pointed to my catalog and said, "I'm getting THIS toaster!" She just kinda stared at me for some reason.
Well, I brought that baby, the toaster, back home and handed it to my mom. "Did you have any trouble?" "No ma'am, no trouble at all!" I was SO happy!! I can't explain it, but yanno from that point on, and for many years that followed, my mom served up the 'best-tasting toast' I had ever eaten. After that, why, I just knew that I could almost do anything. If you needed something done, I was the guy. ME! And, I owe it all to S and H Green Stamps.
Sperry and Hutchinson Company is still in business but with a new marketing strategy. Today, the only remnants of this unique rewards program are musty smelling books, stamps and catalogs found at flea markets, auctions and antique stores.
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