Thomas Sperry

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Thomas A. Sperry (c. 1864 September 2, 1913) was the co-founder and the "S" of S&H Green Stamps, together with Shelley Byron Hutchinson of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

S&H Green Stamps shopping premium program

S&H Green Stamps were a line of trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson. During the 1960s, the company promoted its rewards catalog as being the largest publication in the United States and boasted that it issued three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service. Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, which could be redeemed for products in the catalog.. Top Value Stamps, acquired by Tom Ficara in 1990 and now a division of TVS Television Network, and S&H are the only two surviving legacy stamp programs.

Ypsilanti, Michigan City in Michigan, United States

Ypsilanti, commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, perhaps best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 21,018. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township. Ypsilanti is located 6 miles (10 km) east of Ann Arbor and about 18 miles (29 km) west of the Detroit city limits.



Sperry's son, also named Thomas, was born in Cranford in 1898. He was involved with real estate business and died in Palm Beach, Florida in 1973. [1]

Real estate is "property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, buildings or housing in general. Also: the business of real estate; the profession of buying, selling, or renting land, buildings, or housing." It is a legal term used in jurisdictions whose legal system is derived from English common law, such as India, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, United States, Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Palm Beach, Florida Town in Florida, United States

The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. As of 2010, Palm Beach had a year-round population of 8,348. In 2018, Bloomberg ranked Palm Beach as the 27th-wealthiest place in the United States.

Sperry's home in Cranford, New Jersey was destroyed by a fire in 1912, with the fire causing an estimated $150,000 in damages, including the loss of a number of paintings—many from the Charles W. Morse gallery. Sperry's horse trainer and chauffeur were able to rescue several paintings from the house's music room before they were stopped by flames, including an oil painting of Sperry's son on the horse on which he had won a ribbon the previous day at the Plainfield Horse Show. After a firefighter threw down a painting of Sperry's wife in her wedding gown, Mrs. Sperry was quoted as calling out "Don't save that! Save something worth while". [2]

Cranford, New Jersey Township in Union County, New Jersey, U.S.

Cranford is a township in Union County, New Jersey, United States. In 2018, The Star-Ledger named Cranford the best downtown in New Jersey, calling it "adorable [and] snowglobe-like." New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Cranford as its 34th best place to live in its 2010 rankings of the "Best Places To Live".

Charles W. Morse American banker

Charles Wyman Morse was an American businessman and speculator who committed frauds and engaged in corrupt business practices. At one time he controlled 13 banks. Known as the "Ice King" early in his career out of New York City, through Tammany Hall corruption he established a monopoly in New York's ice business, before buying several shipping companies and moving into high finance. His attempt to manipulate the price of copper-shares set off a wave of selling that developed into the Panic of 1907. Jailed for violating federal banking laws, he faked serious illness and was released. Later he was indicted for war profiteering and fraud.

Sperry died at the age of 49 years on September 2, 1913 of ptomaine poison contracted during the return voyage after a two-month trip to Europe. Sperry was brought ashore in a stretcher and his condition was too bad to travel to his home in Cranford. [3]

His daughter, Katherine Sperry, married Walter Beinecke in 1917. His niece, Carrie Sperry, married Walter's brother, Frederick Beinecke, in 1912. Their son is William Sperry Beinecke. The family donated land in Cranford to the Rahway River Parkway along the Rahway River. [4]

William Sperry Beinecke was an American philanthropist and businessman.

Rahway River Parkway Greenway of parkland along the banks the main stem Rahway River

The Rahway River Parkway is a greenway of parkland along the banks the main stem Rahway River and its tributaries in Union County, New Jersey, United States. Created in the 1920s, it was one of the inaugural projects of the newly-created Union County Parks Commission. It was designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm, sons of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The Rahway River Greenway plan expands on the original design. Many of the crossings of the river are late 19th century or early 20th century bridges. The East Coast Greenway uses paths and roads along the parkway.


Together with Hutchinson, Sperry founded the Sperry and Hutchinson Company in 1896. [1] Sperry and Hutchinson started their business in Michigan and became what The New York Times described as "the first independent trading stamp company to distribute stamps and books to merchants". The stamps gained popularity during the early 1900s as the S&H program offered incentives to shoppers rewarding them for making timely payments in cash, and helping maintain customer loyalty to merchants that participated in the program. [5]

Michigan State of the United States of America

Michigan is a state in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. The state's name, Michigan, originates from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake". With a population of about 10 million, Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation's most populous and largest metropolitan economies.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S..

The S&H Green Stamps had their greatest popularity during the 1960s, with a significant percentage of supermarkets and gasoline stations offering the stamps to customers with their purchases. The firm had 800 redemption centers nationwide to allow stamps to be traded in for products. For a period of time in the 1960s, the firm was printing more stamps each year than the United States Postal Service. [5]


In 1921, Hutchinson sued the estate of Thomas A. Sperry in court in Trenton, New Jersey, alleging that Sperry had defrauded Hutchinson of part of his shares in the company, allowing William Miller Sperry, the brother of the founder, to gain control of the firm. Hutchinson alleged that he had been cheated out of $5 million as a result of secret dividends that had diverted company funds to Sperry. [6]

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Union County, New Jersey County in the United States

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Rahway, New Jersey City in Union County, New Jersey, U.S.

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Trading stamp small paper coupons given to customers by merchants in loyalty marketing programs

Trading stamps are small paper stamps given to customers by merchants in loyalty programs that predate the modern loyalty card. Like the similarly-issued retailer coupons, these stamps only had a minimal cash value of a few mils individually, but when a customer accumulated a number of them, they could be exchanged with the trading stamp company for premiums, such as toys, personal items, housewares, furniture and appliances.

Sperry may refer to:

Union County College college in New Jersey

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The Rahway Valley Railroad (RVRR) was a short-line railroad in the Northeastern United States which connected the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Roselle Park and the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Cranford with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in Summit. Operating over a span of 95 years (1897–1992) in Union County, New Jersey, in its prime it was one of the most successful shortline railroads in U.S. history, turning a profit during the Great Depression. During its lifetime, the RVRR was instrumental in the development of Kenilworth as well as Union Township, Springfield and other towns along its route. Later years saw traffic decline; by the mid-1980s the line could no longer afford to purchase liability insurance. The RVRR was foreclosed on and sold to the Delaware Otsego Corporation which did little to revitalize the nearly 90-year-old line. Traffic continued to decline until service ended in 1992, with a single customer remaining.

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William Miller Sperry (1839–1927) is the namesake of the William Miller Sperry Observatory in Cranford, New Jersey. He moved to Cranford in 1898 and succeeded his brother Thomas Sperry as president of S&H Green Stamps. Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Sperry was the donor behind Sperry Park bordering the Rahway River in Cranford. The site is also part of the Rahway River Parkway, a greenway of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation Sperry's great-granddaughter, Frances Beinecke, is an environmentalist and the former president of Natural Resources Defense Council, and his grandson is William Sperry Beinecke.

Frederick W. Beinecke (1887–1971) was an American philanthropist who was the founder of Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


  1. 1 2 Staff. "Thomas Sperry, 75, Dead; Real Estate Operator Here", The New York Times , April 22, 1973. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  2. Staff. "SPERRYS FLEE FROM FLAMES BY LADDER; Their Country Home at Cranford, N.J., with Its Valuable Paintings, Destroyed.", The New York Times , June 8, 1912. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  3. Staff. "THOMAS A. SPERRY DIES. Originator of Trading Stamp System a Victim of Ptomaine Poisoning.", The New York Times , September 3, 1913. Accessed November 4, 2008.
  4. Paul Wesley Prindle, Ancestry of William Sperry Beinecke (1974) (Katherine Sperry, daughter of Thomas Sperry, married Walter Beinecke on February 17, 1917); The Yale Alumni Weekly Vol XXVI No 1 (noting marriage at Cranford's First Presbyterian Church); (marriage of Fritz Beinecke to Carrie Sperry in 1912)
  5. 1 2 Slatalla, Michelle. "ONLINE SHOPPER; Clicks, Not Licks, as Green Stamps Go Digital", The New York Times , March 9, 2000. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  6. Staff. "SUES FOR $5,000,000.; Hutchinson Renews Litigation for Trading Stamp Profits.", The New York Times , July 22, 1921. Accessed October 29, 2008.