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Spanish Civil War – Solidarity Stamps

A collection of approximately 600 viñetas or “solidarity stamps” produced during the Spanish Civil war.

Two albums containing over six hundred solidarity stamps, ranging in size from 2.5 × 2 to 5 × 5 cm. Album one: cloth covered boards, measures 26 × 24.5 cm, with 66 partially numbered leaves containing ca. 480 stamps in tipped-in annotated glassine envelopes. Album two: quarter-cloth over string-bound marbled boards 21.5 × 17 cm. with 10 leaves loosely inserted and additional loose inserts with altogether ca. 120 stamps. Most stamps uncancelled and in mint condition, with some complete sets (block sheets).

A collection of approximately 600 viñetas or “solidarity stamps” in two albums, issued by various political parties and social organizations during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). The viñetas in this collection were gathered by a collector and present the full political spectrum of the war, from Anarchist, Communist and pro-Soviet to the Monarchist (Carlist) and Fascist (Falangist) forces. The larger album is organized geographically by region and provides a political geography of the war from Alcazar, an early victory of Nationalists in 1936, and Alicante, which housed the Communist Republican recruitment center of Milicias Populares, to Sevilla which was a Monarchist stronghold; Villacarlos, a seat of Comite Antifascista; and the strongly Nationalist Zaragoza. The second album is dedicated almost entirely to the Republican viñetas for political organizations such as the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist Labor Unions), AIT (International Worker’s Association), UGT (General Union of Workers), FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation), SRI (International Red Aid), PSU (United Socialist Party), JSU (United Socialist Youth), Comite Antifascista and the communist Milicias Populares (Fifth Regiment). International aid to Republican forces is emphasized with the viñetas issued by the “Forum for French Antifascists” containing images of the Republican leaders such as Indalecio Prieto, Juan Negrin, Manuel Azaña as well as by “Congreso Nacional de la Solidaridad” with images of international communist figures such as Elena Stasova. Soviet support is also evident from the “Pro-Komsomol,” “Federation Nacional de Pioners,” and the Catalan viñetas “Tribute to the USSR”. Viñetas of the anti-Soviet, Trotskyite communists POUM (Worker’s Party of Marxist Unification), made famous by the writings of George Orwell are also present in this collection.

Solidarity stamps, also known as charity stamps, did not replace the official postage stamps but were used alongside official postage to raise money for specific partisan causes. By some estimates, General Franco’s forces issued more than 2.000 such stamps and the Republican side put nearly 12.500 into circulation. Historian Jack Child writes: “In the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), for example, both sides resorted to the use of slogans and national icons on postage stamps to support their cause. In its appeal to supporters in the United States the Republican side used a stamp linking the U.S. Statue of Liberty to the Republican cause by surrounding the statue with flags of the United States and Republican Spain. The Nationalist side countered with stamps featuring historical icons of Spain’s glorious past ranging from El Cid to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella” (See Miniature Messages: The Semiotics and Politics of Latin American Postage Stamps, p. 24). Similarly, in this collection both the Nationalist and Republican side use the mother and child imagery, with the Republican side emphasizing destitution of the figures while the Nationalist side emphasized protective gestures. Some of the viñetas in this collection were based on poster designs such as “La Cruz Roja llama al corazon del ueblo, !Ayudadla!” [The Red Cross Appeals to the People’s Heart, Help it!], with the original poster design by the pro-Republican artist Henry Enrique Ballesteros (1907–1984). The collection also includes some complete sets, such as one Republican set dedicated to the destruction of Belchite by the Nationalist forces, a town whose ruins stand vacant to this day as a memorial to the destruction. One Nationalist set contains the lyrics of Cara al Sol, the anthem of the fascist political party FE de las JONS (Spanish Phalanx of the Councils of the National Syndicalist Offensive). The quality of the designs but also of the printing process, given the background of the war, is often quite impressive. Altogether, the collection presents an unusually large and rich case study in the Republican and Nationalist visual strategies.

Book ID: 50956

Price: $7,500.00