Sep 24, 2009

Ration Warning

Another image produced for the US government. Its caption reads: "The United States is at war and the law will show no mercy to anyone who sells - or buys - black market food."

As this series of images from World War II demonstrates, rationing isn't fun. Putting such a system in place consumes enormous amounts of human energy, is difficult for consumers to understand, is unpleasant for sellers as well as buyers, and requires enforcement mechanisms that threaten dire consequences for cheating.

Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, 1943. [American Memory link]

Sep 22, 2009

Rations Bureaucracy (3)

Am I the only one who's confused - and thanking my lucky stars I was born in a peaceful era in which resources are plentiful? As the caption accompanying this photo explains:

"When the weight of a rationed product does not come out to even pounds, the point fraction table at the bottom of the official consumer table show point values for ounces. If the odd weight comes out to a fraction of a point, a retailer can collect an extra point if it is a half point or more. But if it is less, the customer does not need to give up an additional point."

(See posts immediately previous to this for additional info.) Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, 1943. [American Memory link]

Sep 20, 2009

Rations Bureaucracy (2)

Like the previous image, this photograph appears to have been produced by the US government in order to explain ration procedures to the general public. The caption reads:

Point values on butter, lard, margarine, and other edible fats and oils are set by kind and weight. Points on rationed cheese are set the same way. Points on canned meat and canned fish are also set by kind and weight.

Photo by Alfred T. Palmer, 1943. [American Memory link]

Sep 18, 2009

Rations Bureaucracy (1)

Taken in 1943 by US government photographer Alfred T. Palmer, this image was apparently used to explain the rationing system to consumers. Its caption reads:

On the day rationing begins, the row of "A" stamps becomes valid. And a new row of stamps becomes good every week on Sunday: "B" the second week, "C" the third, and so on. Stamps will continue to be good after the week is over. But they will expire at the end of the month. At that time "A," "B," "C," and "D" stamps will all expire together.

[American Memory link]

Sep 16, 2009

Scarce Meat

Taken by Alfred T. Palmer in 1943, this photo was meant to demonstrate the concept of meat rationing in the United States during World War II. Its long caption is worth reproducing in full:

"[E]very single farmer, butcher, or local slaughterer who slaughters and sells meat, is required by law to get a permit from the nearest county War Board of the Department of Agriculture. This permit must be obtained by all who want to slaughter meat after March 31. It can be revoked and taken away from any permit holder who slaughters and sells more meat than the law allows him to under his quota. Every one of these permits will have a number. And the number of every permit holder must be plainly marked on all the primal cuts of the meat he sells. This provides one more way you can spot illegal meat. Permit number (or establishment number) missing? A phony price? An offer to sell without ration points? Watch for any of these signs. They point straight to black market meat." [bold added]

The caption on a related photo reads: "Meat is rationed by the kind and cut as well as by the pound. Every kind and cut has its own point value."

[American Memory link]

Sep 14, 2009

Children Only

The sign reads: Oranges for children only. Described as an official British photo, this image highlights the grim measures that may become necessary during wartime.

The photo caption explains: "In the distribution of certain foods, such as oranges, British children and invalids receive priority. Through this plan various foods are allocated to those who need them most to maintain good health."

Image is dated April, 1943. [American Memory link]

Sep 12, 2009

Controlled Consumption

"A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife's ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. Most foods in Britain are rationed..."

[American Memory link]

Sep 10, 2009

Waiting for Shoes

In June 1943 in Washington D.C., these folks were part of a larger crowd waiting their turn to purchase shoes "on the last day on which war ration shoe coupon seventeen" could be used.

Photo by Esther Bubley. [American Memory link]

Sep 8, 2009

Gasoline Ration Card

Taken by an unidentified photographer during the early 1940s, the fine print on this document emphasizes that successful rationing depends on faith and trust. There is "an agreement that the holder will observe the rules and regulations governing gasoline rationing as issued by the Office of Price Administration."

Meanwhile, the caption that accompanies this photo underlines the bureaucratic nature of such endeavors: "Gasoline ration card B3. Registrars are empowered to issue B3 cards to persons whose applications show that their vocational requirements are greater than those which the basic allotment card A provides and cannot be met by B1 or B2 cards."

[American Memory link]

Sep 6, 2009

Gas Rationing

During World War II, gasoline was vital to the military campaign. As a result, the amount available for domestic US consumption was rationed. The caption accompanying this photo reads: "Gas station attendant checking ration coupons against license plate of Washington, D.C. Dodge automobile. Sign on sidewalk reads 'Today's quota sold'."

Photo by Albert Freeman, July 1942. [American Memory link]

Sep 1, 2009

Coal Mountain

A coal loader in Minneapolis, 1939. (Click image for larger view.)

Photo by John Vachon. [American Memory link]

Aug 30, 2009

Train in the Mist

A West Virginia trainyard, September 1942.

Photo by John Collier. [American Memory link]