Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Gold Bell Gift Stamps

Submitted by Allee Willis June 29th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

Were it not for Gold Bell Gift Stamps I never would’ve had a new blanket or clock radio to go off to college with. I’m not sure where these stamps were given out in Detroit, where I grew up, but it had to have been an A&P or Kroger’s as that’s where my mom always did her shopping. I loved licking and pasting in all the stamps she brought home and I collected those books like they were diamonds knowing that I could cash them in on the items of my choice.


It was definitely looking through the Gold Bell Gift Stamps catalog that my love of catalogs blossomed. It was absolutely mind boggling to me that you could actually get something for free and all it required was licking little stamps and gluing them onto the pages as the book got lumpy and lumpier, looking almost as if a pitcher of water had been poured on it the fuller it got. For someone who’s a paper freak like me it was just as thrilling to fill the book as it was to get the items the books were cashed in to get. In fact, sometimes I got so attached to the books as they warped as more and more stamps were pasted in that the book itself became more precious than the gift it could procure.


I’m not sure if this hand-painted wooden counter sign was for Gold Bell Gift Stamps or whether there was an entirely different brand called, simply, Gold Stamps:


Whatever the case, my tattered book of Gold Bell Gift Stamps, ready to be redeemed for a hood hairdryer, mohair argyle sweater or automatic hand mixer, looks very nice sitting next to it.


I used to pour over this page making sure I had done everything right. I could smell the new pogo stick or 45 player as I filled in my name and address.


I shall always love Gold Bell Gift Stamps for being a big part of my childhood. Past a certain point I just couldn’t give the books away anymore. I must’ve known somewhere in the back of my head I was going to have the world’s most gigantic memorabilia collection. So I have this book and a few spare stamps and that’s just as good as the portable TV I always wanted which took hundreds and hundreds of books that I never managed to amass before falling for a turtle bowl, dictionary or any of the other smaller gifts that made me feel rich as a Queen.


11 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Gold Bell Gift Stamps”

  1. MyFunCloset

    We only knew green S&H stamps. Stamps, catalog, empty & filled books were stored in shoe boxes just waiting to be organized, licked and lined up on each page. Many times, pasted up side down and crooked. I can remember Mom trading some books for 2 metal roller skate carrying cases for my sister and I. Growing up in the 50’s roller skating was the big event each Saturday, but that’s a whole other story. Allee, can you remember a rink around the 7 Mile Rd area? When we visited family, we would all go there.

    • Allee Willis

      I lived just off 7 Mile but I don’t remember a rink. Which so doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there. I never went to a rollerskating rink as the pavement in my neighborhood was so flat I just rolled around the neighborhood every day. Also, 7 Mile is a really long street and I only knew what was in my immediate area.

      • MyFunCloset

        Appreciate the feedback. I was only 9 or so & didn’t really have a concept of distance. I just knew they were on 7 Mile it was nearby. Perhaps not. I thought I could put some pieces of my younger years together.

        • Allee Willis

          30 years after we went to high school together, Lynn Goldsmith, a really famous rock ‘n roll photographer, met at a party and became fast friends after never talking to each other in school. One of the first things we did was to sit down and try and figure out every single store on 7 Mile Road in our neighborhood. We couldn’t agree on any of the stores and finally figured out that we lived on opposite sides of 7 Mile, a huge and busy street, and neither one of us was allowed to cross the street. So each of our worlds only consisted of one side of the street. That’s how easy it is to have something right under your nose and not even know it’s there.

        • k2dtw

          I’m still thinking about your visits to Detroit….smile
          Just like Allee described, 7 Mile Road starts at Lake St. Clair and goes west forever… Do you remember what city/suburb??… 7 Mile Rd starts in Grosse Pointe, and runs west thru Harper Woods, Detroit, Redford, Livonia??? I’m thinking there had to be a skating rink along the way???… Wish I could remember…

    • k2dtw

      I can’t remember a skating rink on 7 Mile???… Unless Edgewater Park had a rink, that was 7 Mile and Telegraph Rd???
      There was/is a huge rink on 8 Mile Rd…Northland Roller Rink??… that wasn’t built in the late 1970’s-1980’s??…

      • MyFunCloset

        Thank you for joining in the search. My Aunt and Uncle lived in a modern style low rise apartment building on 7 mile Rd, at or near Livernois & I think on the North side of the street. about ’55 to ’57. I don’t think they would have driven too far to take us skating. Recalling kid memories are fun, just not always accurate.
        Allee, you don’t happen to have a Detroit phone book from the mid 50’s do you?

  2. k2dtw

    Once again you have touched my heart….just reading about the excitement and joy from those trading stamps…
    If you haven’t been yet, you could probably have a really good time at a all vintage paper show??.. I love them…great stuff..
    Found this one…Maybe call the promoter to see how many postcard dealers they have vs. vintage paper dealers… Or..go anyway and make friends w/the vintage paper dealers…and find out what other BIG antique paper shows they attend???

    • Allee Willis

      I stay away from all big shows. My policy from when I started collecting in the early 70s was that I would only buy things if I came upon them ultra cheap and I’ve never seen any of those big shows have prices like that. My attitude about collecting – and almost everything for that matter – is that whatever just falls into my path is meant for me. How I respond to it or how I arrange it is where I really take over. Other than when in 1976 I started avidly collecting Atomic 50s with my first apartment in LA everything else that I acquired just stumbled into my path and I picked it up if it was vintage and of the time periods I was interested in. When I designed ‚ÄúJust Say Julie”, MTV’s first music clip show which ran from 1989-91, that’s when I really stepped over the line and went into hard-core Kitsch. I have a few pieces that I did pay hefty coin for but they’re few and far between and very specific things I was looking for. It takes the fun out of it for me if I pay a ton as I look at it more as the spirit of adventure than putting together a fantastic collection. I like life as it falls naturally. With this said, I’d be out of control at a big antique paper show and seeing as I would never have the heart to part with the paper the last thing I need around here is more paper!! Despite the fact that it sounds very tempting….