Part of the paraphernalia I have relating to WWII are ration books and ration tokens. I was very interested to learn about the American ration system.
Rationing began in early 1942. Sugar, coffee, and gasoline were the first things affected by rationing. Meats, packaged food (aka. canned and other prepared foods), fats, and certain dairy products were all eventually rationed.
Food wasn't the only thing rationed. Shoes, metals, tires, women's stockings, and building materials were among the items listed as rationed. You could buy new tires only if you absolutely needed them for something like commuting to work at a crucial war industry.
To help implement the rationing, the government issued ration books. These books contained stamps that had to be surrendered to purchase rationed items. Certain stamps were validated to be used each week. If you didn't use your stamps by the end of the period, they became invalid. The number of ration books you received, which affected the number of stamps that could be used each week, depended on how many were in your family and their various ages.
There were different stamps to be used to purchase different types of items. Some were for general categories of items. For example, there was a type of stamp for certain meats, dairy products, and fats. Other stamps were more specific, such as for sugar, coffee, and gasoline. Each category of stamps also had stamps of different values. Some stamps were worth 8 ration points while others were worth 1.
The reason for ration stamps of different values was that different items cost differing amounts of ration points. Having stamps of both smaller and larger denominations made it easier to purchase items of high or low point value without losing points. However, for most of the war, if you didn't have the exact value in ration stamps for the item or items you wanted to buy, you either went without or lost some ration points. It would be like using a $5 bill to buy an item worth $4 and not receiving change from your purchase. In 1944, ration tokens were introduced to enable the giving of change for ration stamps.
Celluloid ration tokens were introduced in 1944. These tokens were used to make change for ration stamps. If a woman bought an item worth seven ration points with an eight point stamp, the shopkeeper would give her one ration token as change for the unused point. Unlike ration stamps, the ration tokens never expired. The red tokens were used as change for meat, fats, and certain dairy products. The blue ones were used for processed foods such as canned fruits and vegetables.
I hope you enjoyed this look into the history of rationing in the United States during WWII.
Sarah loves to sew, learn more about sewing, and create items with a vintage flair. Her arch enemy is clipping curves, and she has a tolerable relationship with the seam ripper.
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