Remember Licking and Sticking S&H Green Stamps at Grandma’s House?

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Tony Maples Photography


“Kids, lickety-lick all those green stamps, and then we’ll redeem ’em for a new set of dishes!” If you’re a baby-boomer, you may have heard words such as those during your childhood. Most kids did. During the post-WWII days, the little green stamps with the red SH lettered across the middle grew popular. You could find them in almost every home. Most young’uns wanted the chore of licking the stamps and attaching them to the pages in the small booklets. The glue was supposed to taste like tapioca. According to many lickers, it didn’t, but after the lickety-lick and stick-stick-stick, you might discover a green tongue in your mouth, and that was fun.

green stamps

Photo: flickr/Florida Memory

Sperry & Hutchinson introduced the buying incentive S&H Green Stamps in 1896. These two clever men, Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchison, came up with a resourceful idea—sell stamps to retailers. The retailers would then offer the free, tiny green goddesses to customers—hence motivating patrons to shop with them in their places of business. Merchants competed for the buyer, and many shop owners initiated double “green stamp days.” In other words, you might get twice the licking on those days. Instead of ten stamps for each dollar spent, you could get twenty!

Now get this: when the customers filled the books, they would redeem, or cash them in, at an S&H store.  Ingenious, right? The stores featured eye-candy displays. Regulars might visit the shop just to dream about how to spend their “money.”  Deciding what to “buy” could be a major decision. Those green stamps were pure gold. Each book had 24 pages, and each page was worth 50 points. The more points, the bigger the merchandise.

stamps 3

Photo: Facebook/S&H Green Stamps

The green imprints inspired artist Andy Warhol to paint them. Even Stephen King’s imagination took off because of them. In one of King’s short stories, the characters traded stamps for a house!

The tiny green giants were quite the rage several decades ago. But alas! They are no more. The stamps were around until the 1980s, but are gone today. However, if you accidentally find a few books of them, you’ll also be sure to discover a nostalgic buyer out there somewhere.