Rationing

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    During World War II, rationing became a necessity. One of the difficulties facing the U.S. was a two front war. Imperialists to the west and Fascists to the east threatened the free world. To wage a war of such a large magnitude half a world away in opposite directions required an absolutely phenomenal amount of personnel and materiel. Production was increased as much as was possible. To augment production, consumption was curtailed via rationing. Materials needed for the war effort were given overseas priority. These things included sugar, meat, coffee, liquor, silk stockings and products such as tires and gasoline. Each civilian received ration books that contained stamps that allowed a fixed amount of certain rationed items to be dispensed.

    It is not surprising that where there is a shortage, black markets emerge. Afterall, it follows the basic laws of supply and demand. As supply dwindles, cost increases. The rich can afford to pay the black market prices and the poor cannot. Thus the distribution of supplies takes on an uneven distribution. It is not surprising that the U.S. Government was very concerned about the emergence of black markets and produced many items discouraging participation in such schemes. Many of the posters were directed at showing uneven distribution of supplies between rich and poor in a black market economy.

    When rationing began, many people did not understand how to use the system. The Office of Price Administration (OPA) had to supply teaching devices such as posters and flyers telling civilians how to use tokens and stamps. These were posted in prominent public places and in areas of vending. A nice selection of these items are becoming available.

    Many rationing items were so common they remain readily available. Examples include ration books and tokens. Ration book holders of many different varieties exist and make for an interesting collection in and of themselves. Yet many of the rationing items are very plain and were thrown out in previous years because they lacked the magnetic appeal that for example the anti-axis items have. Because of this, many of these items that were once so common are now hard to find and supplies are drying up. A good rationing collection is essential in any homefront collection as it was such a major part of homefront America.

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