Ration Books wallet

Object Number: 
ca. 1942-1945
Paper, cotton [?] thread
Open: 4 1/4 × 11 1/4 in. (10.8 × 28.6 cm) Closed: 4 1/4 × 5 5/8 in. (10.8 × 14.3 cm)

Brown board printed on recto with gold embossed decorative design on viewer’s upper left and viewer’s lower right corner. Printed in gold in center: Ration / Books. Stitched along right edge.

Gallery Label: 

This paper wallet is an example of a World War II ration book wallet. Government programs of food rationing went into effect in the United States during the First and Second World Wars. World War II rationing began on January 30, 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During this time conserving goods for soldiers overseas was of paramount importance. Within weeks after rationing was introduced, 91 percent of Americans had registered to receive ration books that contained coupons exchangable for sugar, coffee, and other processed foods.

Every American was entitled to the coupons, including infants and children. With the introduction of ration books came a range of accessories, including purses and coats that specifically sized pockets for the books. Ration book wallets, such as this example, were common and could store an entire family’s ration books in one place for safekeeping. The wallets came in a variety of simple designs, and were usually made from leather or sturdy paper. Many wallets also had gold-gilt lettering and could be customized with a family's name through mail-order. This wallet is a less expensive version and was not customized. Its size indicates that it held up to four ration books.

Credit Line: 
Gift of Vivian Awner
Place Made: 
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group