S&H Green Stamps

Last week, I featured Raleigh Cigarettes, with their coupons that could be saved to purchase special items.

An even more popular way to save toward something special was to collect Eagle Stamps and Green Stamps. Retailers – such as grocery stores and department stores – would give these stamps out at the checkout counter, basing the number of stamps given on the size of the customer’s purchase. Gas stations were also a popular place to get stamps, as my family can attest!

Customers would paste the stamps into trading books, and if you collected just the right amount of books, you could trade the stamps in for the item of your choice. “Remembering Trading Stamps” focuses on the phenomenon in Chattanooga – but the piece will make you remember trading stamps in St. Louis.

S&H Green Stamps were a nationally distributed trading stamp, in existence from the 1930s until the 1980s. Green Stamps were so popular, in fact, that during the 1960s “the rewards catalog printed by the company was the largest publication in the United States and the company issued three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service”!

Some U.S. cities – including St. Louis – also had Eagle Stamps. From what I can gather, Eagle Stamps started as a stamp for the May Company (whose stores included, of course, Famous-Barr, the grand St. Louis department store) and then expanded to other outlets.

There are a number of great pieces about Eagle Stamps – full of wonderful memories and stories about the beloved trading stamp. The St. Louis Explorer blog investigated the Eagle Stamp craze in St. Louis – and the blog post is followed by great reader comments, including one which recounts the story of redeeming stamps at the Eagle Stamp store in North County’s Grandview Plaza – precisely where my mom would take us when it was time to trade in our books. The comments section on this page also features a 2003 article from the Webster-Kirkwood Times: it tells the story of one family’s Christmas experience with Eagle Stamps. Definitely worth reading!

On another website, an oral history interview with a Dogtown resident says: “One of the things that nearly every kid did was to cadge eagle stamps from the adults, easier to get out of them than money. The Eagle Stamp Company knew this and had lots of kids’ goods in their catalog.” For more on Eagle Stamps, read “The Great Eagle Stamp Expedition” (it takes place in Cleveland, but the experience was the same in St. Louis).

Cap off this trip down trading stamp memory lane by watching a commercial for S&H Green Stamps. The Green Stamps commercial is the last in this bunch – starting around 6:40. Enjoy! (And if you want: post a comment about what you “bought” with your trading stamps!) 


1 Comment on Trading Stamps

  1. Michael Austin says:

    Wonderful memory, Linda. When my family first moved to Enid, OK, we had a Green Stamp redemption Center right down the road. I remember saving up for months to buy a Napoleon and Josephine chess set, where all of the characters were figures from the Napoleonic Wars. Then, not long afterwords, the center became a Subway and Green Stamps quietly disappeared from the stores.