Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sticker Collections

Note: Sorry for the sporadic posts as of late, I've been in the process of moving and have had limited time for reminiscing. Fresh material is on the way, it might just pop up a little more slowly. Check back often for new posts!

In the 80s and 90s, no single possession could rocket a child to the top of the elementary school social stratosphere quite like a thoughtful, well-balanced sticker collection. Whether kept on their original backings or stuck carefully within the pages of an attractive sticker book, these collections were some of the most coveted items one could own during our grade school years. A new sticker afforded its owner not only the thrill of a new belonging but also recess bragging rights to the latest in sticker trends and technology. An image of two kittens playfully wrapped up in a high top sneaker or a three dimensional googly eyed dinosaur was usually more than enough to earn you a spot at the cool table in the cafeteria.

If ever there was anything to which to trace the overabundance of perfectionism and type A behavior amongst children of the 90s, sticker collections have got to be one of the major culprits. Like other forms of collecting, forming sticker collections required patience, self-restraint, and the ability to enjoy something that both serves no use.

In order to maintain the pristine condition of our most prized stickers, it was critical to not touch or handle your collection too roughly; in short, it was necessary to treat them llike a signed first edition being brought to appraisal on Antiques Roadshow. Doing anything to compromise the alleged inherent value of the following items was the equivalent of social sticker suicide.

Lisa Frank

Lisa Frank were among the most coveted designs in school supplies during the 80s and 90s, so it’s no surprise her stickers were considered fairly high-end in the classroom trading market. The bright colors, whimsical designs, and schmaltzy characters turned Lisa Frank stickers into virtual currency for elementary school girls. Innumerable hours were lost to swooning over the cuteness of a panda wielding a paint-laden brush or unicorn leaping majestically across a rainbow. For the record, the current Lisa Frank designs are generally considered to be subpar and inferior to our colorful cuddly originals.

Scratch n' Sniff

I’ve been told technology yields progress, and I can imagine no greater example than the leap from ordinary, smell-free stickers to the odoriferous sensory explosion of a scented sticker. The patented technology gave us a simple two-step process to nasal bliss, executed as follows:
1. Scratch
2. Sniff
It was that simple. You saw a strawberry, you scratched a strawberry, you smelled a strawberry. Sticker technology at its most useful.


Textured stickers were also a popular addition to any collection, though their fuzziness often made it difficult to keep them in their original condition. Repeated rubbing wore down the fuzz, leaving us with bald puppies and hairless kittens. Tough break.

Puffy/Googly Eyes

Also a major contender in the textured category were the puffy and/or googly eyed stickers, giving us a decidedly creepy three dimensional experience that would not stop staring. I don’t care how functional it may seem to infuse a triceratops image with its very own googling eyeballs--no one wants that much shaky eye contact with a prehistoric sticker.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that children love shiny things and the existence of multiple dimensions, so it’s a no-brainer that we all went crazy over a shimmery combination of the two. These mysteriously three-dimensional holographic stickers sold in science museum stores and other such vaguely educational shops, ensuring that each trip there with our parents would inevitably end with an ear-plugging, breath holding, foot-stomping tantrum over these stickers.

Mrs. Grossman's

Andrea Grossman’s infinite wisdom and business savvy saw fit to sell her rolls of stickers by the yard, hence exponentially expanding their welcome additions to any child’s sticker collection in a single shopping trip. Featuring designs like cleverly posed animals and background scenery elements, Mrs. Grossman’s stickers could be arranged into scenes complete with storylines and characters. Posable stickers made for exciting Storybook Weaver-esque sticker book pages, shaping turtles, picnic baskets, and other assorted items into a coherent scene.


Fuzzy koala bears and sparkly rainbow fish? Where do I sign up? Glitter or texture made Sandylion an attractive addition to any well-rounded collection. With the right combination of shimmery dolphins and fuzzy ghosts, you could easily corner the market of your local underground sticker trade.

Sticker Books/Boxes

Of course, the most important element in any worthwhile sticker collection was a specially created (re: unnecessarily expensive) book or receptacle by which to transport it. After all, what good is a sticker collection if you can’t carry it around and show it off? You could choose to stick yours in a book with special non-stick pages or cut each sticker individually with its backing to ensure easy trading.

That said, actual sticking of the stickers onto surfaces such as notebooks and Trapper Keepers was generally frowned upon. Such behavior was the equivalent of supergluing a dollar bill to the front of your Yikes pencil case. Stickers were veritable elementary school currency, so improper usage was akin to destruction of of US-minted money--it may not have been illegal, but it certainly wasn’t acceptable usage.


Kristie said...

I have a huge 80s sticker collection. Great post!!

coulrophobic agnostic said...

1. New Lisa Frank sucks. While moving my childhood bed out of my bedroom, I discovered several intact old-school Lisa Frank stickers still on their backing. No idea what they were doing there, but it made my day.

2. I never cared for the puffy stickers because they kept the books from lying flat.

3. No mention of oilies? Those were the BEST stickers, even superior to the holographic ones.

4. OMG my fourth grade teacher used those exact same scratch and sniff stickers on our homework. I still have most of them (as the in thing was to peel them off your homework and stick them all together on the last page in your notebook), but they no longer smell. The weirdest one? Smelled like HAM. What the hell?

Lauren said...

Seriously, I had every Lisa Frank sticker EVER made, haha!! :)

Van said...

I followed in my twin brother's footsteps and made a "Sticker Book" out of an old Flintstones puzzle book. Stickers were posted on the front and back cover and every page until there was no white space. I used the dole stickers from fruits, snagged free stickers, the stickers placed on homework, everything.

I no longer have these because at 5 I donated them to "orphans" around Christmas time when the school had a Christmas-donate-to-the-orphans thing.

It probably wound up in the trash and is decomposed in a dumpster in Italy (where my elementary school was). At least I still remember it!

Alyssa said...

scratch and sniff stickers were the best!!

i still have some of my stickers covering the mirror in my bathroom. it drives my dad insane but i just cannot part with them yet :)

Alison said...

I might still have a lot of my Lisa Frank stickers. I had a special Lisa Frank sticker collection box. Definitely had a backpack, too. And a pencil bag. And probably other paraphernalia.

The fuzzy stickers creeped me out. Maybe it was that juvenile Alison had some sensory issues so the feel of the fuzziness made her want to rip her skin off.

Deathycat said...

I had so many sticker books. I never had enough money for a fancy sticker book so it was plain old notebooks for me. I still have my fifth grade one.

Hannah said...

I thought my three friends and I were the only ones to collect stickers, because we were certainly the only ones at my elementary school. We were considered "uncool" because of it...well, that and other reasons. It's good to know we weren't the only ones.

I still have my old sticker books and two baggies labeled "Stuff to trade" and "Stuff not to trade ever" in my room...yes.

Don said...

Transformers stickers were a hot commodity at my school.

Loved this post.

coulrophobic agnostic said...

Hannah, that's all kinds of awesome. I totally want to come over and trade with you...I have two sticker books that I use now...cute ones I don't want to use, and ones to use on mail and such.

Selah said...


Amaris in Wonderland said...

Great post!

I had several sticker books, as well. I used photo albums, and covered them with funky wallpaper to give them even more class.

I ran across one several years ago, and passed it on to my sister, for my nieces & nephews to check out. I asked her if kids still do that kind of thing [to which she laughed] ...but of course, kids these days have other interests.

Lauralee said...

Yeah I totally had a sticker collection. My friends and I called it "The Sticker Club"

heidenkind said...

I still have my grade school sticker collection. I put it in a cute, specially-designed notebook just for stickers. I can't believe I never threw it out.

This has made me realize I might be a packrat. Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

I was totally lame, and put my "sticker collection" on the inside of my closet door. Removal of said "collection" was less than fun. The pickle scratch-n-sniff stickers were it at my school. If you got one of those babies on your homework, you were the envy of the entire 2nd grade.

Iris said...

Really enjoying this blog! It brings back happy, carefree, childhood days. I loved stickers when I was younger, and I still have a pretty decent collection now. :)

That "image of two kittens playfully wrapped up in a high top sneaker" that you wrote about....I had a pencil box with that design on it in kindergarten!! I still have the box, lid missing. I loved Lisa Frank!

Lauri said...

I know I don't have my '80s sticker collection anymore. However, this post brought back the smell of the sticker books.

Anonymous said...

Yes! I had two sticker books (Just found them the other day!) filled with my large sticker collection. I loved the fuzzy ones, and the Lisa Frank and Sandy lion ones were very popular at my school.

ali said...

Nice post but now I wonder what happened to my sticker collection. Especially the Lisa Franks. Those were awesome.

KT said...

The wishy-washies (aka "oilies") were the height of awesome in the mid-80's in NJ (I am 34 now). They were rare commodities, eclipsed only by Outliner pens (they were marker pens with a color outlined by silver - so amazing when you are 8!)

Kristen said...

While my friends and I collected all kinds of stickers, Lisa Frank stickers were the absolute epitome of coolness. We had matching plastic organizers that we used to keep our stickers sorted. Even my younger brother, who was around 6 at the time, got his own stickers and organizer just so he could fit in with my friends. Although he preferred dinosaur and car stickers to unicorns and butterflies! We actually still have our stickers in their organizers in storage.

Vani B. said...

Lisa Frank ruled when I was in elementary school. Also, my sticker collection lined the roof of my Little Tykes house until I moved away at eleven. My mom gave away my house.

Meghan said...

Just discovered this blog after I shamelessly google image searched "lisa frank."

This post is so spot-on. I had a Lisa Frank sticker collection. I kept them in a Lisa Frank box and would trade with other girls - we had formed a Lisa Frank club - on the playground during recess.

Ah, gooooood times. This blog is amazing. Keep it up!

Míriam Bergo said...

Hey, really nice post!

I come from Brazil, and the sticker fever was just the same over there. Well, it was even crazier because many Sandylion stickers (like most of the fuzzy or disney ones, which were certainly the most popular) could only be purchased abroad, so only few lucky kids (who had got parents with enough money) had them to show off everywhere at school. It was really a sign of social prestige on the 90s...

Jennifer M. said...

Oh man, I really miss my sticker collection! I had the best one. So fun. :)

Sandeep Kumar said...

When I was a child, I would collect the stickers and now I have a huge collection of that, whom some stickers I have sold out. And, few stickers which I have mislaid somewhere. Hence I was in a dilemma that how would I reunite all of mine
school label stickers. Though, over here I got huge collections of stickers, now I became very happy to see all that.

buyket said...

في ركن الاوائل نوفر لعملائنا الكرام افضل خدمات التنظيف والتلميع للارضيات وايضا خدمات تنظيف البيوت التي بها اثاث كتلميع الاثاث وتنظيف الفرشات والمجالس وايضا تنظيف كل ما هو متعلق بالمنزل
شركة تنظيف منازل بالرياض
كالخزانات والواجهات اذا فانت سوف تحصل علي منزل نظيف بمجرد التعامل معنا
كما اننا وفرنا قسم خاص باحدي مشاكل المنزل الغير مشهوره
شركة تنظيف بيارات بالرياض
والتي تسبب الكثير من المشاكل الصعبه والتي تحتاج الي محترفين للقضاء عليها

anmol jindal said...

Oh man, I really miss my sticker collection! I had the best one. So fun

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