I have such strong memories of S&H Green Stamps – the look, the feel, and even the taste of the glue. We got them at the gas station across the street from our house (Shell) and also at the grocery store down the block (Acme). We would wait until we had a big pile of stamps and then sit around the kitchen table pasting them into the books that were distributed for that purpose. If we were putting in one or two individual stamps on a page we would lick them (the glue tasted terrible!), but more often we had a whole sheet, just the right size to fill a page in the booklet, and then we would use a sponge to wet the back. Most commonly I thnk we were putting in whole sheets.
I have such strong memories of S&H Green Stamps - the look, the feel, and even the taste of the glue.
Here is what Wikipedia says about them (I made the font green just for fun):
The stamps were issued in denominations of one, ten, and fifty points, perforated with a gummed reverse. As shoppers accumulated the stamps, they moistened the reverse and mounted them in collector’s books, which were provided free by S&H. The books contained 24 pages and filling a page required 50 points, so each book contained 1,200 points. Shoppers could then exchange filled books for premiums, including housewares and other items, from the local Green Stamps store or catalog. Each premium was assigned a value expressed by the number of filled stamp books required to obtain it.
This is what a page in the book looked like, with explicit directions about how many stamps to put on the page and where to put them.
I don’t remember ever going to a Green Stamps redemption center, but I do remember poring over the catalog to see what we could get for the amount of stamps we had. Then we would be inspired to collect more stamps, since the items we wanted generally cost more than the value of the stamps we had pasted in the book. The only thing I am certain that we got with green stamps was a General Electric toaster-oven. As a replacement for our old toaster, this was a big improvement! Bagels, in particular, always used to get burned in the toaster, but came out perfectly in the toaster-oven. On the oven setting, you could cook a TV dinner without having to wait for the regular oven to heat up. I’m certain we got many other things, I just don’t recall what they were.
An interesting discovery I made while writing this story is that Andy Warhol did a painting in 1962 called S&H Green Stamps, which is at the Museum of Modern Art. Apparently he thought green stamps were as much of a cultural symbol as Campbell Soup cans.
In recent years, I have gotten free flights from airline frequent flyer programs, free groceries from supermarket loyalty programs, and occasionally even a free 11th smoothie after getting my card stamped for ten (although usually I lose the card, or the place goes out of business, before I get to ten). But none of these can match the excitement I remember from collecting and redeeming green stamps!