Green Shield stamps

More stamps you had to lick.

Green Shield stamps were a promotional scheme. When you bought something at a participating store, you were rewarded with a certain number of the green stamps. You stuck the stamps in little books. Each book contained 1,280 stamps. That’s a lot of licking.

When you had licked and stuck enough stamps and had enough full books, you could mooch over their glossy catalogue then march off to a Green Shield Stamps store and exchange the stamps for products.

You had to shell out a fair amount to have enough books to exchange them for anything worthwhile. You got one stamp for each sixpence spent. (That’s pennies as in the old money.)

My mother had her eye on the Kenwood Chef (33 books) so I remember my father driving to various petrol stations on weekends when they had offers of double or triple stamps for the same outlay. Eventually, though, like everyone else, my parents realised that it was quicker, simpler and less time-consuming just to buy the thing you wanted. Probably cheaper, too, once you didn’t do all that driving about.

Green Shield finally folded in 1991. Even today, though, you still get stamps with your shopping: loyalty stamps, printed onto a little card or, for the more adventurous amongst us, logged in an app.

The trouble is, you know with these schemes what your loyalty will be buying. A free cup of coffee. A book. A nice treat, perhaps, but certainly not life-changing.

The thing about Green Shield stamps is that they allowed you to dream. You could flick through your catalogue and harbour thoughts of a luxurious lifestyle involving candles and G-plan furniture. You would doggedly purchase your baked beans and teabags and Findus frozen pancakes day after day, then suddenly come home, lick your stamps, and discover that you had enough for a microwave. A colour television. A boat! All the baked beans and the drudgery would instantly evaporate and you’d somehow be ritzing it on the Med.

Dreams.

They never die. We have the National Lottery for dreams, these days, not green stamps.

3 thoughts on “Green Shield stamps

  1. The man who brought the green stamps to the UK went on to found Argos, which still has catalogs and is still with us. Littlewoods, though — their catalogs are gone the way of all print.

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