If you've ever riffled through your grandparents' junk drawers looking for scissors or tape, you might've found errant S&H green stamps that've probably been there since the 70s. These stamps weren't meant for your mail; rather, they were better than any rewards program we have today. Launched in 1896, Sperry & Hutchinson's green stamp program is still around. Discover the story behind your grandparents' favorite rewards system and why you shouldn't ever throw away these vintage green stamps when you find them.
What Are Sperry & Hutchinson's Green Stamps?
If you've never time traveled or had a passion for coupon history, chances are you've never even heard of Sperry & Hutchinson, let alone seen their infamous green stamps in person. Sperry & Hutchinson was a unique late-19th century business that sold green stamps to retailers who gave them to their customers as rewards for spending money. Much like raffle tickets or rewards points, people could use their green stamps to get cool products from the S&H Catalog and redemption centers around the country.
Green stamps were so popular that musicians and screenwriters paid homage to them in many songs throughout the 1970s. Famed folk group, the Kingston Trio sings "lickin' them green stamps, lickin' them blue," in their 1964 song Them Poems.
By the 1960s, these stamps were insanely popular. According to S&H's website, it's "estimated that 80 percent of American households collected Green Stamps during their heyday." Because of how ridiculously popular they were, there are tons of these unused books around middle America just waiting to be sold to collectors or redeemed through their website.
What Do Green Stamps and Booklets Look Like?
Green stamp booklets came with a variety of covers, but each one had the iconic S&H red and white logo on the front. The pages were full of spit-activated adhesive, so when you got new stamps, you'd lick the back and stick it into the pages of your gift saver book. The stamps themselves had the same logo and were printed on iconic mint green paper.
Are S&H Green Stamps Worth Collecting?
S&H green stamps are so representative of the 1960s and 1970s that if you're infatuated with that period, it'd make for a cool and unusual collectible. They also sell pretty quickly online, especially if you price them fairly. You don't often find people selling just a few stamps here and there. Rather, they do best when they're combined into a lot of a few booklets or sets of stamps.
For example, this lot of 33 quick saver books with some stamps sold for $35.99 on eBay. A separate lot of 44 quick saver books only sold for $20. So, if you want to make a pretty quick (albeit small) buck, you can list your grandparents' or great-grandparents' old green stamps online. Expect to sell them for about $15-$30, depending on how many you have.
Why Keep S&H Green Stamps if They're Not That Valuable?
Today, the S&H Company has completely digitized their entire redemption catalog. You can redeem green points through their ideabook system online. Yet, that leaves the millions of unused stamps in limbo. For a time, there was a third party company that brokered stamps-for-cash transactions but it shut down in 2001.
However, there's hope on the horizon. On their website, S&H states that they have future plans for how people are going to be able to redeem their old stamps and to hold onto them, and you can sign up for an account on their website to get any updates on the matter.
Rewards Programs Were Cooler Back in the Day
Sperry and Hutchinson perfected the rewards game back in the 1960s and 1970s. Their green stamps marketing system was unparalleled, and the little books you find today are testaments to their massive success. Best part is you can always make some fast cash on your family's old booklets, or you can let them marinate a little while longer and see what S&H has in store for them.