Trading stamps originated in the United States and were sold to retailers who then issued them to their customers. The stamps were stuck in savings books and exchanged for merchandise. Retailers built customer loyalty and customers acquired free gifts.
They began to feature in the UK in the early 1960s when Fine Fare supermarkets began to issue S and H Pink Stamps. In 1963, Tesco responded by giving away Green Shield stamps.
Established in 1958 by Richard Tompkins, Green Shield became the leading brand in the UK. Lots of shops and most supermarkets and petrol stations signed up to the scheme and gave away stamps with every purchase.
The books could later be exchanged for a range of household goods such as toasters, garden furniture and toys at the Green Shield stamp shop.
High inflation in the 1970s was a body blow. Instead of offering stamps, retailers used the savings to discount their prices.
Green Shield rebranded its redemption centres as Argos warehouses and the stamps were finally withdrawn in 1991.