Spanish Coins of the 1930s

Written by brian kadigan
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Spanish Coins of the 1930s
A Spanish peseta bearing the likeness of Francisco Franco, who came to power in the Spanish Civil War. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

Before Spain adopted the euro in 2002, its currency was the peseta (meaning "small piece"). The peseta was introduced in 1869 and was originally divided into 100 céntimos ("hundredths"). The 1930s was a tumultuous period in Spanish history, marked by several government upheavals and the Spanish Civil War. Like currency everywhere, Spanish coins of this era reflect aspects of the country's government and history.

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Spanish History in the 1930s

In January 1930, the leader of Spain, Miguel Primo de Rivera, stepped down after seven years of dictatorship. After a year of political unrest, King Alfonso XIII and his government were deposed, and his opponents established the Second Spanish Republic. A weak democratic government was created in 1933. Further unrest led to a right-wing military revolt in 1936, sparking the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, the war ended with the Nationalist general Francisco Franco in control of the country.

Royal Holdovers

Until 1934, the Spanish used coins from the reign of Alfonso XIII, who ruled from his birth in 1886 until he was deposed in 1931. Céntimos coins of bronze and cupro-nickel had been issued from 1877 to 1927, bearing portraits of Alfonso XII and XIII, along with one 25-céntimos coin bearing a sailing ship and a 50-céntimos coin with an idealised female figure. Silver 1-, 2-, and 5-pesetas coins also circulated, with portraits of the Alfonsos and the Spanish coat of arms.

Coins Of The Republic

After the Republican government began operations in 1933, it began to issue new currency. The first new coins appeared in 1934, consisting of a cupro-nickel 25-céntimos, a copper 50-céntimos, and a silver 1-peseta. These coins all bore idealised female figures. An iron 5-céntimos coin and a brass 1-peseta appeared in 1937, followed by a copper 25-céntimos in 1938. These were the last coins issued by the government before its overthrow in 1939. Meanwhile, the Nationalists began issuing their own coins in 1937, with a holed cupro-nickel 25-céntimos bearing the yoke-and-arrow symbol of the Falangist movement.

Other Currencies

In addition to these national coins, forces in a number of local jurisdictions issued their own coins during the Spanish Civil War. On the Nationalist side, the districts of Arahal, Cazalla de Sierra, La Puebla de Cazalla, Lora del Rio, and Marchena issued coins of various denominations up to 2 pesetas, with a range of designs. For the Republicans, districts including Arenys de Mar, Euskadi, L'Ametlla del Vallès, Menorca, and Santander, Palencia and Burgos released a similar variety of coins.

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