Coupons thumbnail 1
Coupons thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Coupons

Dress Fabric
1941-1942 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

As in the First World War (1914-18), during the Second World War (1939-45) the textile industry in Britain had to focus on the production of goods essential to the war effort. Because of the shortage of manpower and raw materials, non-essential items were restricted and clothes rationing was introduced in June 1941. A year's allowance of clothing coupons was sixty-six and this screen-printed textile, designed to add colour and fun to life during war, was inspired by the rationing scheme.
Screen-printing, using a mesh on which parts of the pattern have been masked out and through which the pigment is forced, had been developed in the late 1920s and greatly increased the freedom of the designer. It also enabled enterprising manufacturers to try out experimental designs without incurring the heavy costs of engraving metal rollers. The wartime shortage of copper further encouraged the use and development of screen-printing.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Screen-printed rayon crêpe
Brief description
Dress fabric 'Coupons' of screen-printed rayon crêpe, made by Calico Printers' Association, Great Britain, 1941-1942
Physical description
Dress fabric of screen-printed rayon crêpe. Decorated with a variety of women's garments and with the number of coupons required for each item under the war-time rationing scheme (WWII). The ground is covered with the numerals '66', which was the total number of coupons allocated to each person per year under the rationing scheme introduced in June 1941.
Dimensions
  • Length: 49.5cm
  • Width: 82.5cm
Subject depicted
Summary
As in the First World War (1914-18), during the Second World War (1939-45) the textile industry in Britain had to focus on the production of goods essential to the war effort. Because of the shortage of manpower and raw materials, non-essential items were restricted and clothes rationing was introduced in June 1941. A year's allowance of clothing coupons was sixty-six and this screen-printed textile, designed to add colour and fun to life during war, was inspired by the rationing scheme.

Screen-printing, using a mesh on which parts of the pattern have been masked out and through which the pigment is forced, had been developed in the late 1920s and greatly increased the freedom of the designer. It also enabled enterprising manufacturers to try out experimental designs without incurring the heavy costs of engraving metal rollers. The wartime shortage of copper further encouraged the use and development of screen-printing.
Bibliographic references
  • Ngozi Ikoku The Victoria & Albert Museum's Textile Collection: British Textile Design from 1940 to the Present (London, 2001) p. 39
  • Colin McDowell Forties Fashion and The New Look (London, 1997) p. 106
Collection
Accession number
CIRC.509-1974

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Record createdDecember 15, 1999
Record URL
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