This poster, which depicts
a highly prolific rooster and hen, was published in Valencia by
the Confederación Nacional de Trabajo and the Unión
General de Trabajadores through their jointly-controlled Economic
Council of Agriculture and Livestock. It was released in the winter
of 1937, during a campaign called the Batalla del Huevo (the Battle
of the Egg) that was designed to increase egg production within
the Republican zone. In this image the rooster and hen hold their
heads high and stick out their chests, manifesting their pride.
They act as if they realize that producing so many chicks will directly
contribute to the sustenance of the Republic, and thereby feed the
revolution. By making each one of the chicks a carbon copy of the
other, the artist subtly reaffirms the importance of reproduction.
The artist's use of reds, blues, and yellows ensured that the poster
would be eye-catching and draw attention to the campaign.
On January 25, 1937,
the Consell d'Economía de Cataluyna (Catalan Economic
Council) launched a campaign called the Batalla de l'Ou (Battle
of the Egg), designed to alleviate the scarcity of eggs in the region.
The fact that this poster was published in Valencia suggests that
the Catalan Council's counterpart in Valencia, the Economic Council
of Agriculture and Livestock, ran a concurrent campaign in that
area. As the Spanish Civil War progressed, the campaigns proved
foolhardy. A paradoxical situation developed as families that had
the money to pay for hens (at highly elevated prices) found that
the grain shortage prevented them from providing for their animals,
and ultimately, forced them to eat their chickens.
Four days after the war
began, the Republican zone consisted of just over sixty per- cent
of the total surface of Spain, including the highly developed industrial
areas of the north, northwest, and east. However, the Republican
zone included few grain-growing regions or grazing land. In addition,
constant hostilities disrupted the distribution of food and created
higher densities of people due to refugees. The regular lines of
distribution were disrupted in the summer of 1936 and important
foodstuffs like meat and eggs were not available unless obtained
through the black market. Much of the problem stemmed from price-gouging
and hoarding. For example, though prices were set at 17.50 pesetas
for a dozen eggs in 1937, the actual street value was 110.00 pesetas.
In addition, many farmers did not turn over their products to rationing
agencies. People were forced to eat orange peels, peanut shells,
beet roots, and burrs to survive. The continued constriction of
the Republic zone forced people to eat not only their livestock,
but also their pets. As the war progressed it was not uncommon for
people to lose 35-45 pounds and risk serious avitaminosis, dehydration,
and even death.