ITEM: 16 pieces of homeland propaganda from the War Production Board, printed 1942. All 8x3 inches. Good condition. $200
The War Production Board (WPB)--the entity responsible for printing the leaflets below--was instituted 16 January 1942 as a federal effort to direct U.S. wartime production and allocation of essential commodities. And time. The WPB centralized the effort to convert some peacetime industry to wartime production, as well as direct the production of existing wartime industries in the manufacture of critical goods, and rationed or prohibited the manufacture of other material that could possibly hinder the war effort. Thus the WPB rationed things like sugar, heating oil, plastic, gasoline, paper, rubber, nylon and metals of all descriptions; it also controlled large swaths of the workforce, restricting wages and benefits as well as prices. It was an essential element of fighting the war, and brought necessary control to an economy and industrial base that needed organization for what would become a total war.
Instituting a war-production base for American industry allowed production to ratchet way up, producing (for example) multiples more aircraft more in 1943 than in 1941: 1940, 6k aircraft; 1941, 19k; 1942, 47k; 1943 85k; 1944, 56k; 1945, 46k. Also there were enormous production advancements for total shipping tonnage (reaching a wartime production total of 33 million tons), across-the-board huge increases in coal and iron ore (and especially in crude oil), and on and on. The U.S. was able to mobilize itself and take advantage of its enormous natural resources, industrial base and civilian workforce in what was essentially an unreachable island economy, forming what was actually an unbeatable combination of war goods production. (Plus of course there was the atomic bomb, which is another story, but which also only could have been produced in the U.S., given the enormous quantities of energy and material needed to begin its production.)
The WPB also was responsible for hearts-and-minds campaigns at home, too, because so many people, such a huge proportion of the population, needed to be involved in the war effort, not only from the production standpoint but also for strategic conservation. For example, in one massive effort to collect the very necessary scrap metal (that would be collected and reformed into war materiel) the WPB organized a nation-wide drive that in one day collected 82 pounds for every person in the country. Singular efforts like this, or seemingly singular, needed to happen at regular and short intervals for the war economy to be successful. And so pamphlets like the story of Joe, below, needed to be told:
The "it" that Joe needed to have was ammunition, and grenades, and anything else that would kill the enemy. With it, Joe was successful; without it, and thereby without the "it" being produced by the folks at home to whom this flyer was being distributed, was helping to kill Joe by not giving him enough of the deadly stuff.
"Don't let Joe down" says the flyer, "its our job to give him everything he needs and wants". It turns out that Joe had 26 notches in the comb of his rifle, "from the Japs (who would never) get back to report after they met Joe". Joe "spread the lead around with a free and easy hand and alot of Japs wished he hadn't been so generous. Trouble was, he never had quite enough of it..."
And so went the rest of it, and them--resonant pleas, demands, for people at home to be vigilant in whatever it was they were doing to push the war effort forward. Slacking meant death and possible destruction, and the hosts of these flyers that I have here gave very little pre-text for this not to be the case.