Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Trading Stamps


Josiah Baker

First Page



It is as hard to define the trading stamp as it is to count the points on the circumference of a circle, for a trading stamp is what it appears to be and that, of course, depends upon point of view. To the housewife,it is a coupon--in some instances free, in others expensive--for which a redemption value may be claimed. To the stamp-issuing merchant,it is a method of advertising taking the form of a promotional device or operating as a discount to cash customers. To the nonissuing merchant, it is an instrumentality of unfair competition. To the trading stamp company, it is the heart of a legitimate business entitled to all of the constitutional protections. But in law--it is just what the courts view it to be, neither more nor less. And the courts are not always in agreement. This judicial disagreement is cogently illustrated by contrasting two definitions delivered by two distinguished courts, the Massachusetts Court, in 1915 and the Supreme Court of the United States, in 1916.