A fine example of Edward McCandish's rarest map, his 1944 pictorial 'Bill Whiffletree' Ration Map of the United States. The map offers a humorous satirical perspective on the hotly contested and controversial government rationing program then in effect. Stylistically, the map is similar to McCandish's earlier Bootlegger's Map
. As part of the World War II OPA Rationing Program, coupon books were issued for many common household goods including sugar, meat, cheese, fish and milk. Purchases of such items could only be completed with a corresponding coupon. For some, rationing was a patriotic duty, while others were frustrated by want. Some of the humorous commentary drives the conflict home: 'Pappy Don't Even Know What He's A-Layin' Fer - A German, A Revenooer, Er A Japanee'; 'On Exhibition Today Only The Last Idaho Potato'; and 'How About a Light, Pal? Matches is Rationed Over Here.'
Mirroring our Current Struggle
The map remains pertinent today. The coronavirus epidemic means we once again must pull together as a nation and make great personal sacrifices for the good of all. Then, as now, these sacrifices became highly politicized. Here Wiffletree rails on 'some Punkin-headed son-of-a-Democrat' standing in the way of him, and the thing he wants - be it a potato or a match. The map also underscores class distinctions, and the notion that the rich, those in 'Dunn and Bradstreet, mentioned in Burke's 'Peerage,' and [members] in good standing in the Ancient Order of the Pork Barrel' have plenty.
Rationing During World War II
Rationing was formally introduced into the United States following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which forced U.S. entry into World War II (1939 - 1945). President Roosevelt issued an Executive Order creating the Office of Price Administration (OPA). The OPA’s main responsibility was to implement price controls and to limit consumption of critical goods through ration coupons. Federal restrictions on the consumption of ordinary household products, ranging from foodstuffs, to gasoline and tin, was highly controversial. Some saw it as a patriotic duty to ensure both sufficient war supplies and a 'fair share for all.' Others saw it as a restriction on their personal liberty, leading to rampant hoarding and a robust black market. With the exception of sugar rationing, which lasted until 1947, most rationing in the United States ended in August 1945.
When Hagstrom acquired the rights for McCandish's two pictorial maps, they introduced the 'Bill Whiffletree' element. Whiffletree is a long-winded hillbilly, or possibly hobo, who describes day-to-day experiences in humorous run-ons. The 'Bill Whiffletree' character appears as early as 1856, when he was introduced in Jonathan F. Kelly's Humors of Falconbridge: A Collection of Humorous and Every Day Scenes
. In that work, Whiffletree visits the dentist and humorous antics ensue. The character subsequently reappears regularly in journalism as a by-word for an honest, bumbling, and uneducated 'American Everyman'. The Hagstrom company resurrected the 'Bill Whiffletree' character in 1944, filing a trademark on the name. Bill Whiffletree text appears at the bottom of the Hagstrom editions of both McCandish maps. We cannot resist quoting it in full,
Some people seem to lose their heads completely when they get on the subject of this 'rationing' business. But I always tell them - I say 'keep cool' - 'keep calm' - and 'Keep your shirts on' - there's a war on just now - or perhaps you hav'nt Heard about it, maybe. But they go raving and caving right along just the same - until it almost makes you ashamed of the human race.
Of course, now, I admit that it Is annoying sometimes when you need something right bad - to have some Punkin-headed son-of-a-Democrat look you straight in the eye and tell you-you can't have it - unless you have a good rating in Dunn and Bradstreet, are mentioned in Burke's 'Peerage,' and a member in good standing in the Ancient Order of the Pork Barrel.
Yes, I admit all of that, because when a man really Wants a thing - or a woman either, for that matter - they really Want it - not next week, you understand - or next month - or next year - but Right Now - in a hurry, perhaps - or sometimes he - or she - wants a thing the day-before-yesterday I was talking to a lady I know - and she Is a lady - or Was one - until this Rationing business came up - and ever since that - I'm telling you honestly - she has gone plain loco - or ga-ga - or something. You get her started on the rationing subject and the only thing a wise man can do after that is to crawl into a culvert - or a man-hole - or something - and it might be a good idea to pull the hole in after him - and cover-up. I am not exaggerating - or at least - not much.
Take the case, now, of that fellow out in Hackensack, Nebraska. Hackensack Is in Nebraska, I think. In fact, I am quite sure about it. Yes, I remember now, Hackensack Is located in Peoria. Well, anyhow … Where was I?
Oh, yes. Regarding the case of that guy out in Cedar Falls, Arkansas, who wanted a pair of leather shoes. Just an ordinary pair of leather brogans to cover up his pedal extremities - that is all he wanted. So he goes into a shoe store - or so the story has it - and, mind, I'm not vouching for the truth of the story - it may be true - or it may be false - I wouldn't know. But anyway - this man goes into the shoe store in Tampa, Florida, and asks for a plain, inexpensive pair of shoes. And - why Shouldn't he, I'd like to know! Answer me That, please! What's wrong with Anyone wanting a pair of kickers? I wear them - You wear them - or used to - Everybody wears shoes except the Hottentots, maybe - and - who the hotel-blinkety-blank Wants to Be A Hottentot?
And another thing. How about gas for the car? …. And I mean Real gas - and not the kind of gas we read about in the Lower House and the Senate!
Gas and oil! Oil and gas! Fetch me my gas mask quick, Montgomery!
Secretary Ickes says we ain't got it - Harry Hopkins says we gotta have it - we read about Cabinet members riding to work on bicycles, tricycles, rolly-coasters, and kiddie cars. Why - the only man I Know that's got any sense left is my old uncle, and he is out there right now - plowing his wet bottomlands with an old mule and a cow! …. And butter? Butter! Who brought That up?
Why - out at our place these days the family is glad - Glad, mind you - to get a quarter of a short pound of rancid butter that looks like axle grease and tastes like the water in a decaying swamp log.
One man - whose name I do not care to divulge - writes me that in His neighborhood the cellars are so jam-packed with canned goods and groceries that the gas man can't get in to read the meter.
Already the threat to ration cigarettes and chewing gum has resulted in Society ladies in Bridgeport practicing up on chewing tobacco and taking snuff!
Yesterday a man strolls into my place. He says - (I quote) - 'I am from the Inter-State Commerce Commission. 'I want the first, last, and middle names of yourself, your wife, and your great-grandfather on the paternal side, together with a resume' of your own life's history, where you were born, and when, and why - '
I said 'Just a minute, Mister. Have a cigar.'
He struck a match, lit the cigar, said 'Well - I'll be going', and he climbed into his rolly-coaster, stepped on the rationed gas, and disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust and tobacco smoke.
I sometimes wonder.
But my heart really goes out to the chap in Ohio - a friend of mine - who went into a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and ordered one of those deep, rich, well-browned steaks some folks like them that way…..well done, with a garnish of mushrooms or celery onions…..not the thick, Rare kind, such as the English seem to prefer - but 'done to a turn' as the saying goes, with some good soup, nice, crisp, hot biscuit, with golden-rich, creamy butter, and steaming-hot chicken gravy, and a hot pot of good coffee with two slices of blueberry pie. Well, folks …. this friend of mine Didn't Have The Price! 'Brother - you can eat if you have a priority rating.'
Why they even say that to me. Me!- mind you! a grown-up, red-blooded, full-fledged citizen of this, our glorious Republic! Me - a law-abiding, tax-paying owner of the property - or who used to own property - or at least Could own property - or even if I Don't own any property - so what? Who said that? I beg your pardon!
I used to be completely rational. Or else, I used to be completely irrational. I forget which. It doesn't matter. Today - thanks to this see-sawing, triple-dealing, overlapping, bureaucratic system of hedgehopping Politics - I am as completely irrational as any human caring to be - and Proud Of It!
Publication History and Census
McCandish drew the Ration Map in 1943. The Library of Congress notes an example published by the 'Le Baron-Bonney Co.' with a 1943 copyright. The Le Baron-Bonney edition is likely the first state, but we have been unable to source any examples of that edition. The rights to both the Bootlegger Map
and the Ration Map
were acquired by Hagstrom in 1944, at which time Hagstrom revised the maps extensively, also adding the 'Bill Whiffletree' trademark and commentary. They filed new August 10, 1944 copyrights for both maps. All examples are rare. The OCLC notes examples at the Library of Congress and the Pennsylvania State University. We are further aware of an example in the David Rumsey Collection.
Edward Gerstell McCandlish (March 10, 1887 - December 4, 1946) was an American artist, craftsman, toy-maker, and jack-of-all-trades. Born in Piedmont, West Virginia to Upton Beall McCandlish (1848 - 1915) and Margaret Lindsay Landstreet McCandlish (1855 - 1919), not much is known about McCandlish's childhood. He attended Maryland Agricultural College, the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and another professional art school in Baltimore. It is said that, early in his life, McCandlish worked as a sailor, lumberjack, and highway laborer. He established himself as a toy-maker in Piedmont and Hancock, West Virginia in the years leading up to World War I. By June 1917, when he was drafted into the 116th Engineers in the U.S. Army, he had moved to Baltimore, Maryland and was working as a painter at a local steel works. McCandlish spent most of his time with the Allied Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.) in France working on camouflage (which was hand-painted at the time) and in painting sets for A.E.F. theatre productions. After returning to the U.S., he began teaching art to wounded and disabled veterans at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., and was active in the American Legion Veterans' Organization. After a move to Staten Island, New York, McCandlish and his wife Maybelle Bowen (1899 - 1973), whom he married in July 1919, moved to Stonington, Connecticut, where McCandlish established a new toy company, the Character Toy Guild of Stonington. He received copyrights on several of his new toys in June 1920. During the 1920s and 1930s, McCandlish worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, and children's columnist for the Detroit Free Press and the Washington Post, during which time he and his family lived in Northville and Ann Arbor, Michigan. By 1940, the McCandlish family (which now included seven children) had moved to Van Wert, Ohio, and would soon move to Geneva, New York. While in Geneva, in April 1941, McCandlish received a patent for a new roller skate design. By October 1942, McCandlish had elected to forego life as a commercial artist and instead took a job working at one of Curtiss-Wright's aircraft factories in Buffalo, New York. By early 1945, McCandlish had again moved on, after accepting the position of promotion director of the radio station WHEB in Portsmouth New Hampshire, a position he held until August 1945, when he resigned to form a new company, Allied Arts Inc. He is known for two important pictorial maps, the 'Bootlegger's Map of the U.S.' which went through several editions from about 1920 to 1944, and the exceedingly rare 'Ration Map of the U.S.' published in 1944. He died suddenly on December 4, 1946 near North Brookfield, Massachusetts, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Andrew Gunnar Hagstrom (1890 - September 24, 1977) was a map publisher based in Maspeth, Queens. Hagstrom was a Swedish immigrant who came to new York in 1909 where took work milking cows at a farm near Coney Island, Brooklyn. He then worked in the meat packing industry while taking a degree in commercial art at the New York Mechanics Institute. Afterwords he founded a drafting business in Manhattan, creating a map to illustrate his drafting skill help customers locate his shop. His map proved popular and he expanded operations, founding the Hagstrom Map Company (1916 - 1968) and issuing additional maps of various parts of New York City and the surrounding regions. By 1949 Hagstrom had issued more than 150 maps, guides, and atlases, most of which focused on New York. Hagstrom pioneered a cartographic style that exaggerated street size to increase clarity and create additional room for large print readable labeling. Even the New York Subway system hired Hagstrom to produce its map, which was in use from the 1940s to 1958. Hagstrom died in 1977, at the age of 81. Hagstrom was knighted by the King of Sweden. His company flourished until 1968 when it was acquired by Macmillan. The brand has since passed through multiple corporate portfolios and is currently the property by Kappa Publishing Group.
Library of Congress, G3701.A6 1944 .M3. Rumsey 13136.000. OCLC 13473635.