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50 Years Ago: Big Stamp Wrangle

The biggest battle for a long time is now being fought in the retail trade in this country—and all, on the surface, over a little piece of green, or pink, or gold, sticky paper called a Trading Stamp. Yes, on the surface. The real cause of the battle is to be found much deeper than any newspaper cares to dig.

Trading Stamps have been going in this country for a long time with Green Shield, a British company, having the big hold. But the stamps were mainly confined to small shops; they had no really big retail organisation to issue them. What started the present fuss was the decision of millionaire Garfield Weston (ABC, Fine Fare Supermarkets) to issue the American Sperry and Hutchinson pink stamps in his supermarkets.

This started a flood of stamps, among them another American concern—King Korn—and another British—Super Yellow, owned by the same John Bloom who has made a lot of money out of direct selling washing machines. One gimmick followed another—Mr. Weston, for example, had glamorous pink-coated hostesses outside his supermarkets dishing out the S.H. gift catalogue. (…)

As long as the working class are deluded by the gimmicks of capitalism in all their many shapes and sorts—there will be no end to them. Perhaps some enterprising firm will try white balloons next. For saving so many white balloons you can get so many black stamps which you can exchange for so many pink discs which you can swap for ... and so on, and so on, until they get wise to it, and it dawns on them that a better, saner way of making and distributing humanity's wealth is so that it is strictly for use instead of for sale and letting all human beings have free access to it.

(Socialist Standard, March 1964)