Monday, December 15, 2014

Soviet Estonia Rations

Anu Ernits Neipp
The first time I met Anu, she brought over papers and articles that her mother had saved from the last years of Soviet ruled Estonia.

The papers seem so primitive from today's perspective, and were primitive for first world countries even in the late 1980s.

The food coupons look like simple photocopies that were inked over with a green marker.

Even in 1983, I could finagle the Xerox machines of that time to copy a few shades light to eliminate the green and then copy the copy on dark to get the printing right, then get my own green marker and swipe away. Can you imagine if that was your official job for the Communist party? To be the paper colorer on all those vouchers issued to millions of people?

The lines look like they were originally pen and ruler. The letters looked to be from a typewriter, but were probably set up on a printing machine because of the miniature font in the middle.

After the first printing of the paper, I wonder if they were loaded again to get the red numbers. Can you imagine changing a number with each paper? And doing that all day?

I don't understand the number system, from bottom up, except that maybe it was easier to cut the coupons in order that way.

Does anyone know if the A and B vouchers denoted different values or different supplies?

Anu said something about, if the stores didn't have what the vouchers allowed you to have, you still didn't get it.
I think there were rules on how much you can buy at one time when the stores had the items.

So, some vouchers went unused.

After giving birth, mother's were given vouchers to allow them to pick up rectangular cloths to be used for diapers.

This is the back of the voucher. If you had received any supplies prior, you couldn't get more.
Any thing other than what the government gave you, you had to sew yourself. There must have been rules on fabric, too.

I attempted to translate the words. (Printed in green.)
I wonder why there were three kinds of diapers given? Gauze, cotton and flannel. Maybe the translation is off and the flannel and linen are used for burp cloths or bathing. You're only allowed 2 of the flannel and linen. At least a baby started with 40 diapers. If those are the same 40 rationed until they were potty-trained, I'm sure potty-training started much earlier than now.

Back of baby supply voucher.
It looks as though she carried this in a purse, folded up, for a long time.

I wonder how many counterfeit vouchers were made.
This system relied on the people's honesty. Punishments were severe enough that the system stayed in control.
No one would feel like a whole person under this system.

No comments:

Post a Comment