Sperry & Hutchinson began offering stamps to U.S. retailers in 1896 was sold in 1981 (but still continues to this day). By 1968 S&H was printing three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service per year; more than $900 million worth of stamps were sold. (S&H green stamps had an actual cash value; they would pay you $1.67 per 1,000 stamps if desired.)
Trading stamp companies would redeem their stamps for almost anything such as;
- An eight-passenger Cessna airplane (paid for with Gold Bond stamps by a church congregation).
- A pair of gorillas (paid for with 5.4 million Green Stamps by an Erie, Pennsylvania, school who wanted to supply their local zoo).
- A donkey for an overseas church missionary.
- An elephant (also intended for a local zoo).
- School buses, ambulances, and fire trucks
In 1969 more than 80% of U.S. households were collecting trading stamps and there were more than 100,000 S&H stores nationwide. The S&H redemption catalog had the largest print run of ANY publication in the United States during these peak years. In 1981 when S&H company was sold, it had $1 billion in annual revenue. The company continued in business, still issuing stamps, until 1999. With less than 100 stores, the great-grandson of founder Thomas Sperry bought back S&H and he switched the company from stamps to digital 'Greenpoints'. Interestingly, they still will redeem any old S&H stamps anyone might still have around. https://www.greenpoints.com/
But I have not been able to find any references which give firm 'number printed' for S&H stamps. Has anyone ever seen these numbers?