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Collecting Spanish Civil War memorabilia

A Spanish antique dealer recently told me that in the 1980’s Spanish civil war items had no value – in particular anything Falange was seen as embarrassing, so out it went into the rubbish bins.


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Unusual wooden mould for creating Spanish ‘German style’ helmets.

In my opinion Spain does not have a tradition of preserving its history. Putting it another way Franco was responsible for trying to eradicate the existence of the Second Republic and replace it with his own version of Spanish history. From 1939 onwards into the 1960’s there are countless examples of propaganda aimed at destroying or altering the memory of the ‘red’ years. The Falange & Franco created a whole post war educational philosophy based around promoting Franco’s victorious ‘crusade’ and savaging the ‘perversions’ of the Popular Front and in particular the communists. Coupled with this Franco was a vindictive man – post war those who could show they were part of the rebellion were amply rewarded whether it be with jobs, wealth or education.

Those who had fought for the Republic suffered – death or imprisonment common place but also their families would certainly to have to survive in a devastated Spain as second class citizens especially if you were from one of the rebellious zone like Valencia – others of course escaped to France, Mexico. Argentina or the USA. In practical terms this meant that Republican families commonly destroyed any incriminating evidence they had – photos, trade union membership, uniforms,military documents or whatever may have pointed to being on the losing side

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Republican soldier 1938


It is only nowadays that many people are taking a closer look at Spanish history and filtering out the Franco propaganda (drummed into them at school until the 1980’s) in an attempt to understand what really happened and why. Suddenly there is great interest in the memorabilia of the Republican years.

With the introduction of the Internet and auction sites like Ebay it is far easier to source documents and collectables than ever before.
What’s worth collecting? As a general rule Republican items are far more popular than Nationalist. Republican memorabilia is far rarer whereas Nationalist is fairly plentiful.

My Top Ten Collectables;-

  1. International Brigade – documents, identity cards, identifiable photos, personal history. American & British highly sort after.
  2. Durruti Column – anything, most is now very rare.
  3. Anarchist – CNT & FAI especially but also UGT – identity cards, documents, propaganda, period books, photos. Barcelona uprising POUM and Catalan independents.
  4. Republican - militia, regular army – documents, photographs, cultural literature.
  5. Falange – Identity cards, original uniforms, flags, posters, selected books, pamphlets.
  6. Foreign interventionists - Condor Legion, Italian fascists, Irish Catholics.
  7. Division Azul – personal documents, propaganda.
  8. Republican artists and intellectuals – Luis Quintanilla, Sim (Rey Vila), Lorca etc
  9. Local Republican history – i.e. items from Valencia or Madrid very popular with Spanish buyers
  10.  Nationalist – personal & regimental documents. Privately printed books. Some mass production books. Franco years – personal histories, some documents.

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Unidentified officers – possibly International Brigade – original photo. Comments welcome


Take care with;-

  1. Posters – virtually all reproductions – original Republican (or Nationalist) very expensive
  2. Propaganda Post cards – again reproductions although some originals but difficult to tell the difference. Don’t be fooled.
  3. Falange – bearing in mind the Falange started around 1934 and continued to around the 1980’s (it actually still exists as a fringe party) it is very difficult to date items.
  4. Uniforms etc – bear in mind the only rule is - there is no rule! Certainly in the early years uniforms were random – the Republicans wore whatever was to hand.

9.JPG Spanish Language history book from the 1960’s ‘España en Llamas 1936’ – massive book with 620 pages and with many photos you will not find elsewhere. Includes 2 LP’s of military songs

 

 

 

 

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Postcard from 1943 with a military theme

 

 

See Books On SCW  & See Diaries & See Campaign Orders