WW II Ration Stamps

Imagine someone handing you a booklet of stamps and saying, “Each time you buy something, you’ll have to tear out a stamp and hand it in. When they’re gone you’ll have to fill out a form to get more stamps before you can buy anything.”

Among the papers and photos I inherited from my Dad’s family, I found a collection of Ration Stamps, used by my Dad and his family during the war. There were books for my Dad who was 6 years old in 1941, for his Mom and other relatives. Many of them bear the name of my Grandpa, Ralph C. Perrine who during the war continued to work in the US Post Office’s Railway Mail Service.

The sale of everything from gasoline and tires to coffee was regulated in order to direct the maximum set of resources to the war effort.

Ration stamps for coffee.
Mileage Ration Coupon – note the reference to the Office of Price Administration.

This early infographic presents a mind boggling set of statistics about military fuel needs during the war.

I am still amazed to think about the strict coordination of consumption that occurred during that time. Frugality was imposed, with the requirement for careful record keeping, and submission of records in order to obtain the next round of goods or supplies.

Application form for mileage rations.

Above is an example of the applications for rations which had to be filled out and presented to a board for approval. On this application, a warning in the lower right corner alludes to a black market which apparently existed.

The multiple booklets my ancestors were issued contained ration stamps with a variety of different art styles. Perhaps having continually refreshed designs helped deter counterfeit operations.

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