Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent entrance of the United States into World War II, many factories began the process of converting to military production. With the fear of food shortages and potential for civilian unrest looming, the U.S. government’s Office of Price Administration (OPA) established a system of rationing intended to control supply and demand by regulating the amount of consumer goods available to Americans. Each American citizen was issued a series of ration books which contained removable stamps specific to particular items or types of items, with a designated quantity and time limit for purchase.
As early as January 1942, the government had imposed restrictions on the sale of cars and tires. The first War Ration Book was the “Sugar Book,” issued in May 1942. By the close of the War, ration books had been issued for bicycles, gasoline, fuel oil and kerosene, solid fuels, stoves, rubber footwear, shoes, sugar, coffee, processed foods, meats, canned fish, cheese, canned milk, fats, and typewriters. In addition to ration books, OPA coins were issued to retailers in order to give change back for food bought with ration stamps. Blue tokens were used for processed foods and red tokens for meats and fats.
This assembled collection consists of War Ration Books 1, 2, and 4 issued in the states of Maine and Massachusetts, an application for War Ration Book 3, a gasoline puchase permit, a Maine state driver's license, a War Ration Book holder, OPA coins, and newspaper clippings regarding ration information.