Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Ration coupons

A magazine cover encouraging people to ration food in the US during the war is the theme at Sepia Saturday this week.

Rationing was introduced to Australia in May 1942 but was never as stringent as that imposed on the people of the United Kingdom. Clothing, tea, sugar, butter and meat were rationed and a coupon system established.

This table shows the initial ration amounts and the date rationing was abolished.

ItemDate gazettedDate abolishedQuantity per adult
Clothing12 June 194224 June 1948112 coupons per year
Tea3 July 1942July 19501/2 lb per 5 weeks
Sugar29 August 19423 July 19472 lb per fortnight
Butter7 June 1943June 19501 lb per fortnight
Meat14 January 194424 June 19482 1/4 lbs per week
Source: Australian war Memorial

Petrol was also rationed (the logistics if this was a very tricky problem for the government) and, among other things, car owners were encouraged to use gas producers. Many private cars were put up on blocks in garages for the duration because it was so difficult to obtain petrol. The rationing scheme was very complicated and the paperwork horrendous. I've recently researched a soldier's record that revealed he was court martialled for stealing a gallon of petrol and he was confined for six weeks.

Aunt Lena has some rationing coupons in her photo album. She was a single lady at the time, and a teacher in central Victoria.

The newspapers and magazines at the time helped the war effort by providing articles about rationing and photos of food and clothing made with rations in mind. The Australian Womens Weekly was a popular magazine and I found theses two articles in digitised form on Trove at the National Library.

Australian Womens Weekly 21 Nov 1942
Australian Womens Weekly 11 July 1942
You can see what other bloggers have written on the theme over on the Sepia Saturday webpage.


  1. I was a child during WWII and remember rationing well. Our dogs enabled us to supplement the meat ration keeping us supplied with rabbits. I still have some petrol coupons issued during the later fuel crisis when rationing was threatened (but never actually happened)

  2. I found the list of rationed items interesting.
    Here is a list of U.S. rationed items from

    Tires January 1942 to December 1945
    Cars February 1942 to October 1945
    Bicycles July 1942 to September 1945
    Gasoline May 1942 to August 1945
    Fuel Oil & Kerosene October 1942 to August 1945
    Solid Fuels September 1943 to August 1945
    Stoves December 1942 to August 1945
    Rubber Footwear October 1942 to September 1945
    Shoes February 1943 to October 1945
    Sugar May 1942 to 1947
    Coffee November 1942 to July 1943
    Processed Foods March 1943 to August 1945
    Meats, canned fish March 1943 to November 1945
    Cheese, canned milk, fats March 1943 to November 1945
    Typewriters March 1942 to April 1944

    December 1942 to August 1945

  3. I still have one or two of my parents' rationing books from WWII -- most of the gas coupons are gone, but there are a few for milk...

  4. My mother cut the butter up into 4 portions and we were each responsible for using and conserving our own. It was probably my first exercise in self-restraint. I didn't know fabric was so scarce, but of course it was necessary for uniforms and I'm sure countless things. Very interesting post.

  5. When I was older, I remember seeing unused WWII rationing coupons in an envelope in the top tray of my Mom's cedar chest - including meat rationing coupons, & asking her what they were for as I'd been a baby at the time of the actual rationing. I can imagine, by necessity, mothers must have been quite inventive to keep their families well-nourished & properly clothed in those challenging times!

  6. I remember it well. Particularly rock cakes made with dripping instead of butter.

  7. Thanks for sharng this. I've learnt more about how war aaffected our ancestors' lives.

  8. I've still got some ration books etc from my grandfather. You've reminded me to scan them too.

  9. It’s amazing how resourceful people could be in the face of rationing. My Mother’s friends pooled their coupons she that she could marry in white instead of her army uniform. Sweets were still rationed when I was a child in the 50s. A very interesting take on the prompt.

  10. I was really interested to see some of the ration tokens. My parents-in-law married during the war and because of clothing rationing she shared a wedding dress with her friend.

  11. Excellent post as usual Lorraine, and thanks for the prompt on ration books!

  12. i wonder if those rationing tickets were per individual, per family, or per household? If the later it must have been tough living on that. Thanks, great post! :)

  13. Interesting take on this week's theme. An older lady told me about her life during the Depression here in the US. Her family reused coffee grounds by drying them after each use, roughly 3 times before the coffee was just too weak to drink. I don't know whether the coffee was rationed or if this was just their way of saving money.

  14. How wonderful to have that memorabilia. I've never asked my mother about's time I did..thanks for the nudge.

  15. Thanks for those fascinating images as I've not seen them before. I've heard lots about rationing in the UK from family but nothing from those living here. My mother was married in a white dress made by her aunt during the war but no one ever mentioned coupons, so very interesting post

  16. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post.!


I love to read your comments. Thankyou for your interest.



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