Green Shield Stamps

Green Shield Stamps saver books, 1970s

Green Shield Stamps were almost everywhere in the Britain of the 60s and 70s. If you bought your groceries at certain shops the retailer gave you stamps to stick in a book. Once you had collected enough you exchanged the books for gifts. Most people can remember Green Shield Stamps, but there were other schemes. Does anyone remember Blue Star, Gift Coupon, Happy Clubs, Thrift Stamp, Uneedus Bonus, Universal Sales Promotions or Yellow Stamps?

What do you get for living in a climate like this, Green Stamps? (American guest at Fawlty Towers)

Green Shield Stamps and other trading stamps, as they were known, were more often found in smaller shops in the early sixties. Local grocers, butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, chemists, bakers, tobacconists, confectioners, drapers, ironmongers and petrol stations all gave stamps. Later in the sixties, big stores such as Tesco signed up the scheme. For the retailer it was a way of encouraging customer loyalty. For the customer it meant free gifts. The gifts though, had to be paid for. It was the retailer who paid the stamp company. He may have passed on those costs to the customer, but Which? in 1965 found prices no higher in stores that gave away stamps.

Stamp War

A "Stamp War" broke out in 1963/4. Fine Fare starting giving away the American S & H Pink Stamps. Green Shield Stamps were being given away by Tesco and Priceright and other stamp companies competed aggressively for outlets.

Lord Sainsbury opposed trading stamps. He formed the Distributive Trades Alliance comprising Boots, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, W H Smith and other leading retailers. This challenge lead to an Act of Parliament to regulate the stamp companies. Fine Fare dropped stamps, but Green Shield Stamps remained popular for many years after this.

Green Shield Stamps: the gifts

The best things in life are free, with Green Shield Stamps

So what could you get with Green Shield Stamps? Answer: almost anything. The Green Shield Stamp Company produced a glossy catalogue that left consumers drooling over the latest gadgets to enhance their homes. The Green Shield Stamp Catalogue offered every luxury imaginable for nothing. Or so it seemed.

In the 60s the emphasis was on glamour and style. The illustration, left, is from the 1965 catalogue. In this catalogue some of the top gifts were:

  • Regentone 19" television - 88 books
  • Longines 9ct Gold watch - 39 books
  • Kodak Brownie 8 Movie Camera - 13 books
  • Kenwood Chef - 33 books
  • Silver Cloud motor boat (outboard motor not included!) - 170 books

You could fly with Green Shield Stamps; they could be used as whole or part payment for a flight with BOAC.

You could dream with Green Shield Stamps, but how much did you have to spend? Each book contained 1,280 stamps. You got 1 stamp for each 6d spent. For the motor boat you would need 217,600 stamps; meaning an outlay of 5440, or the price of a large detached house, on groceries and petrol.

So most people had to settle for something more modest. You would need to spend 2,816 to get the television; 1064 for the Kenwood Chef and 424 for the movie camera. For these sums you would have got a modest house, a large family car or a mini respectively. So you would have to have spent a lot at your local grocers or garage. The average person had to go for something even more modest. You would have to spend 32 to get just one book. In 1965 that would give you:

  • A set of six mugs in pastel colours
  • Finlandia imported stainless steel tableware (8 pieces)
  • A record rack
  • A mouth organ
  • A set of six lager glasses with gold rims
  • A set of three pictures
  • A cigarette box with a paisley pattern lid
  • Stainless steel salad servers
  • A gent's brush and comb set

Green Shield Stamps in the 70s

Green Shield Stamps in the 70s - relaxed family living

In the 70s the Green Shield Stamp Catalogue sold a dream of a more relaxed, informal lifestyle. Gone was the glitz and glamour of the 60s. In 1976 top gifts were:

  • Philips Colour TV - 375 books
  • Lec Chest Freezer - 140 books
  • Creda Starlight cooker - 115 books
  • Hotpoint Automatic washing machine - 185 books
  • Car - any British make or model - ask for a quotation

Richard Tompkins, who brought Green Shield Stamps to the UK, launched the Argos Catalogue Showroom as a spin-off in 1973.

Green Shield Stamps were less popular in the later 70s. Competition from the new supermarket, Kwik Save, made Tesco stop giving away stamps and concentrate on value. Customers realised that they were ultimately paying for the gifts and chose cheaper prices.

More on Green Shield Stamps

If you fancy reliving your memories of Green Shield Stamps in the 60s and 70s you can buy them on eBay. Look for and


Add your comments on Green Shield Stamps

"Is it true that someone saved enough for a car bur was refused it because they suspected fraud?" Simon 17/07/2011
"Do I remember correctly that there were Green Shield Stamp stores where you could redeem your stamp books? If I recall correctly I we used to go to one in Gloucester." Angus 10/03/2012
"Yes there were Green Shield Stamp showrooms throughout the country. Best regards" Steven 11/03/2012
"Does anyone know where the store was near Tottenham, London. At the time we lived in Sheffield and my dad convinced my mother to redeem stamps in London. This gave him the chance to take us all to the Tottenham vrs Sheff wed game in 1971. Would love to have it confirmed that the store was near White Hart Lane." robert smalley 15/05/2012
"i worked for green shield for 6 years great company ,love to look up a few old work mates" jack lord 03/07/2012
"To Robert Smalley - The Green Shield Stamp shop was not in Tottenham, but further north past Angel Road in Fore Street, Edmonton. The building is used by Argos today, as what also happened to the Green Shield Stamp shop in Harlow's Harvey Centre." David Andrew 16/09/2012
"I think a number of Green Shield Stamp shops were taken over by Argos. That's what happened to the Coventry one in the 70s." Steven 17/09/2012
"I still have some Green Shield Stamps books and a catalogue.
I wonder what happened to the models in it?" Jean 20/10/2012
"if I hadn't fallen over nikki suddens wonderful song about the theme, I'd never have heard of gss, but now, it's an icon to me, something very emotional, do not ask why, it's nikkis trade, I suppose ..." Laurent 31/10/2012
"You could also get GSS when you bought petrol and a lot of the garages gave doulbe stamps on the week end." Frank Young 27/11/2012
"you are correct , my dad used to get them from the petrol station, and the shop in leeds was taken over by argos" banner41 21/12/2012
"I remember the Green shield stamp shop in Dalston becoming an Argos and the one in Seven Sisters Road, between Finsbury park and Holloway did the same. Anyone remember the Wembley Trophy Football on sale for one book of stamps ??? If you do, i'm looking for a pic of one." Enfive Gooner 15/01/2013
"I worked at the Swansea branch for 3 years, and one person saved enough Books for the FORD ESCOURT, he walked in with 2 suitcases and he did get the car. Big excitement in our store, took nearly all the staff to check the books." Lynne 14/04/2014
"My dad used to deliver for Greenfield and was actually used as a model in one if their photoshoots helping a lady with her luggage and also my mum's blue budgie was used to model a budget cage, if anyone knows how to find a copy of the catalogue they both appeared in please let me know, we're talking mid 70s??? Thanks" Denise burgin 05/05/2014
"Hi Denise,

I've got 1973 and 1978 an neither of those seem to match what you describe. There is a green budgie in the 1973 one.
Best regards" Steven 05/05/2014
"Green Shield Stamps were available around 1950 in Southend on Sea. Although everyone says they weren't founded until 1958 they were around then, certainly before 1953.
The books were a very dark green a cheap type of thick paper and the glue on the stamps was poor. Whether this was an initial trial in the area I do not know but I do remember collecting them from a small grocery shop." Tel 13/09/2014
"Do you know what number in Palmerston Road, Southsea, Portsmouth that the Green Shield stamp shop was, or can you find out to settle arguments, when did it open and when did it shut" Jane Hewitt 27/09/2014
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