Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If you Don't Need It - DON'T BUY IT

1943 Government Issued Ration Book Number 3

The year was 1943 and my father was 17 years old. There was a war on. World War II. You wouldn't think that a big country like the USA with vast resources would need to ration anything. Life was a little different back then. While we were rich in resources, our ally, Great Britain was an island nation and under siege. In an effort to help we loaded merchant ships with goods and sailed them across the ocean. It was civilians doing their bit for the war effort. While we were shipping goods to our friends across the pond, German U-boats were aggressively torpedoing these merchant ships as well as ships importing goods to the US. As supplies became more scarce, the US Government issued Ration Books to every citizen. I found the ration books my grandmother saved from her entire family. It's curious to see which stamps were used and which were not. They were a poor family with 8 children, and though the stamps allowed you to purchase goods, if you didn't have the money they weren't of much use.

1944 Younkers Women's Shoe Ad for Ration Book 3

1944 Buster Brown Shoe Ad for Ration Book 3

These ads for shoes instruct you to bring your Number 3 Ration Book when you shop. I don't know which of these stamps was applied to your purchase but they are beautiful symbols of a difficult time in world history. 

The 1941 Ration Book Number 1

1942 Ration Book Number 2

1943 Ration Book 3 Stamps

1943 and 1944 Ration Book Stamps

1944 Ration Book Stamps

To read more about rationing and how citizens and businesses helped in the war effort please visit Wikipedia for an excellent overview of the program.

To learn more about how artists helped the Navy and merchant ships evade torpedoes visit Camoupedia and read about Dazzle Camouflage painted ships.


  1. Fascinating! I'd forgotten the US handed out ration books, and didn't know that Merchant Ships were torpedoed.

    I can't imagine buying those high heels in the middle of a war, personally. ;-)

  2. Mary, wonderful post! I have some of my dad's ration books, he was just a little kiddo, but Gma saved them wrapped in tissue, along with a few report cards!

    I have never seen advertizements promoting the use of ration stamps before, but I do have some war time recipe books promoting the use of your Victory Garden to stretch your rations.