One of my newest areas of interest is in the emergency notes that
were issued by the towns and villages of Spain during the Spanish
The Spanish Civil War, which raged from mid-1936 until April 1939 on
the eve of World War II, was a military revolt led by conservative
elements known as the Nationalists against the legally elected central
government whose supporters were known as the Republicans.
The Nationalists were generally conservatives composed of the
military, Catholic clergy, monarchists, businessmen and landowners.
The Republicans tended to be from the more liberal elements of Spanish
society including landless peasants, intellectuals, urban workers, and
a mixed bag of political entities including anarchists and various
socialist and communist groups.
Simmering opposition to the Republican government erupted into open
revolt in July 1936, first in Spanish Morocco and eventually in Spain
itself. Because of the political views of the two sides, the
Nationalists were supported by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while
the Republicans were supported by the Soviet Union and a number of
international brigade “foreign volunteers.”
Over the course of the next three years, the Nationalists, under
Gen. Francisco Franco, slowly gained control of more of the country
until Republican forces finally surrendered following the fall of
Madrid in March 1939. Franco would remain in power until his death in 1975.
One of the natural outgrowths of such a conflict was the
disappearance of all types of coins from circulation. When the civil
war began, the Republican government had been in the process of
withdrawing silver coins of the monarchy from circulation and
replacing them primarily with base metal versions.
Facing the uncertainties of war, the general population also started
hoarding coins and withdrawing them from circulation. As a result,
many municipalities and other issuers issued small notes as a means of
making change, needed to continue normal commerce.
Literally thousands of different notes are known that were issued
during the conflict. Most were valued at 1 peseta or its common
fractional denominations. I personally like to collect circulated
notes, as they have a story to tell.
These notes are usually budget friendly and are fun to research. The
standard reference is Local Paper Money Issued During the Spanish
Civil War by Kenneth Graeber. It is available from the
International Bank Note Society.
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