Fake censor marks of the Spanish Civil War

Some time ago we got a postcard apparently written in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 6, 1938, with Chile stamps and a not very clear postmark, perhaps reading «JIRO POSTAL». The card also has three other supposedly Spanish Republican marks of the civil war: a «POR AVIÓN» mark, a seal with the coat of arms of the Second Republic, and a censor mark:

Figure 1

Figure 1

The first incongruence comes from this fact: a Brazilian postcard with Chile franking. That wouldn’t be strange if the text wasn’t dated in Rio de Janeiro. This implies that the postcard was supposedly circulated by the Brazilian mail with foreign stamps. Not impossible, but not common at all. The «POR AVIÓN» mark (56mm x 6mm) raises other doubts: if it was stamped in Brazil, it would be in Portuguese instead of Spanish. The blurred postmark neither helps: it is apparently Brazilian, but no date is visible. By the way, it would be very strange that an air mail mark was stamped upon arrival to Spain. These marks were used for outcoming mail, not for incoming.

The second oddity is a circular strike showing the coat of arms of the Spanish Second Republic, stamped on the text. It has a diameter or 33mm and, sincerely, it makes no sense, and neither we have seen it anywhere else. There is no reason for such mark to be stamped on the card, making the text difficult to read.

And the third suspicious mark is a censor similar to Barcelona’s Heller RB3.15 or RB3.16. Same design as those marks, but different sizes: while Heller RB3.15 measures 90x15mm and RB3.16 is 87x15mm, the mark on this postcard is 54x10mm. Clearly smaller than those listed by Heller.

It is not common (but very difficult) to find unlisted civilian censor marks of the Spanish civil war, and from time to time totally unknown marks can appear. We discovered several unlisted Republican censor marks from Vidiago, Llanes and Azpeita in June 2020. This was the first time we did such a finding. Let’s note that it is more common to find ulisted military Republican censor marks (those used on field post mail) than civilian marks (those used on general mail).

So, was this red censor mark on this postcard an unlisted size variety of Heller RB3.15 and RB3.16? Definitely not. We found the proof while surfing the net. Let’s see it:

Figure 2

Figure 2

We’ve seen the same mark on this postcard, and it is simply impossible to be anything else than a fantasy. See why: we have a blurred postmark again with unreadable date, but the text says it was written in Sevilla on August 2, 1939, four monthes after the end of the war. Then, it is impossible to have a legitimate Republican censor mark on it. The card also bears a Sevilla censor, again supposedly unlisted, but probably fake. Despite some interlines mail examples do exist (see Nacho Enea service, for example) bearing censor marks of both sides, it is ridiculous to think a Republican censor could be used on the mail after the war.

The incoherence of both pieces has made clear that all marks on them are fantasies. The piece is figure 1 is probably totally fake, and the card on figure 2 may be a piece legitimately circulated in 1939 but with fake marks stamped on it in recent days or, at least, long after the war, with the only aim to deceive collectors.

Whoever did this had a very poor knowledge of the postal history of the Spanish civil war, and of postal history in general. Pretending that a card sent from Brazil could have used Chilean stamps is a big mistake tha switches on a red ligh alert on the pieces and any marks on it (fig. 1), but striking a Republican censor mark on a post war piece (fig. 2) is just showing the smoking gun for lack of knowledge.

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