WW2 Ration Book

This photograph of a Ww2 ration book was published by the Brighton and Hove Herald newspaper in late 1939. Food rationing came into force in the UK on 8 January 1940.

Why so arty?

The photograph was taken as part of a public information campaign. As food purchases would be limited to the number of coupons in the book, it was essential that people understood how ration books worked before they became a legal necessity.

Yet this carefully lit, almost moody photograph seems more suitable for an art gallery than a newspaper. Why would such an everyday object deserve to be treated like a work of art?

This is probably because the government needed to persuade people that rationing was a worthwhile action. Introduced during the ‘phony war’ — the early period of the Second World War in which Britain and France were involved in little combat — many people thought rationing was unnecessary. Some national newspapers campaigned against it, considering it an infringement of civil liberties.

Author: Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager

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