Paper Rationing During World War II

Rationing didn’t suddenly start at the beginning of the war since it took time for the war to bite, nor did rationing suddenly stop at the end of the war since it took many years to recover.

In terms of the Daily Mirror/Sunday Pictorial at the start of the war in September 1939, the normal number of pages was between 16-20 for the Daily Mirror and 20-28 for the Sunday Pictorial. Rationing was first introduced on 1 July 1940, when the Daily Mirror went down to 12 pages (3 sheets) and the Sunday Pictorial went down to 16 pages (4 sheets). A further reduction was introduced on 10 April 1941 when the Daily Mirror went down to 8 pages (2 sheets), but the Sunday Pictorial stayed the same at 16 pages (4 sheets).

Rationing in many forms did not officially end until around the time of the Queen’s coronation in June 1953. Thus in 1949 the Daily Mirror was normally between 8-12 pages, creeping up to 12 pages by 1950 with the Sunday Pictorial sticking to 16 pages. By June 1953 newspapers finally reached the minimum number of pages that were printed at the start of the Second World War- 16 pages for the Daily Mirror and 20 for the Sunday Pictorial. It took even longer for newspapers to exceed the pre-war maximum number of pages.

As these are original newspapers, and not reprints, it is amazing to think that they survived at all given the fact that they were designed to be around for only one day - read then thrown away. In addition it is surprising to think that anything survived at all given the intensity of the air raids on Britain during the Second World War. Thus they are priceless historical documents with their own story to tell, despite the number of pages.

For a comprehensive recap of this period with full newspaper coverage from major events during the war years visit our Newspaper Books category.

Newspapers were smaller during the Second World War due to the rationing of paper. Despite their intended use being no more than a day we've managed to preserve them so they can still be purchased all these years later.