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Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu,
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HISTORY AND MARKS
William Spratling (1900-1967) was an architect, artist, author and instructor in the School of Architecture at Tulane University, New Orleans.
In 1929 he decided to stay in Mexico and purchased a house in the silver mining town of Taxco where he opened a small silver workshop to produce items of his own design.
Spratling based his designs on Pre-Columbian Mexican art objects and jewelry unearthed in archaeological excavations obtaining great commercial success.
By the 1940s he was employing 300 artisans to produce silver jewelry, flatware and holloware, frequently working with locally found materials. He began to decorate his production with azur-malachite, tortoiseshell, rosewood and ebony using a technique that required great cutting skill to render them flush with the object's surface.
Spratling's success in Taxco helped revive interest in Mesoamerican design motifs and launched in Mexico an industry that attracted a number of talented designer and craftsmen (Hector Aguilar was Sprating's workshop manager prior to leaving and establishing his own workshop).
In 1940 Spratling entered into partnership with Victor Silson of New York. Spratling supplied designs and original pieces from which dies could be made. Silson manufactured the jewelry out of pot metal and then silverplated it. The partnership continued until the late 1940s.
Spratling silver was sold through the Montgomery Ward catalog and at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. With the cost of moving the workshop to an ancient silver hacienda, La Florida, Spratling incorporated to provide cash flow for his company. On June 30, 1945, a majority of the shares was sold to North American investor Russell Maguire, whose business practices ultimately took the company into bankruptcy.
In 1944 Spratling was sent to Alaska by the US Department of Interior where he trained Alaskan in the art of silversmithing.
In 1946 Spratling y Artesanos ceased operations.
From 1949 to early 1951 Conquistador factory of Mexico City was allowed to produce a special group of pieces designed by Spratling. The pieces were punched with Spratling mark in addition of Conquistador factory own symbol (a shield enclosing a horse and rider).
In 1952, after cancellation of contract with Conquistador factory, Spratling re-established the workshop at his ranch in Taxco el Viejo and began production of silver jewelry and decorative objects that clearly were influenced by his Alaskan experience.
William Spratling died in 1967 in an automobile accident but production continues under the auspices of William Spratling S.A. de C.V. (Sucesores de William Spratling). All items that have been produced since 1979 under the auspices of the Sucesores de William Spratling are marked with the current Mexican registry mark TS-24 along with a replica of an older Spratling hallmark.
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This is a page of 'The What is? Silver Dictionary' of A Small Collection of
Antique Silver and Objects of vertu, a 1500 pages richly illustrated website offering all you need to know about
antique silver, sterling silver, silverplate, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver,
silverware, flatware, tea services and tea complements, marks and hallmarks, articles,
books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths (Tiffany, Gorham, Jensen, Elkington),
history, oddities ...|
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