Taxco Silver and William Spratling
Taxco is famous for its silver, with visitors spoilt for choice of delicate crafted items that are a fraction of the price sold back in the home country. But why did a relatively small town located high within rugged mountains of Mexico become an international centre for the production of beautify crafted silver pieces?
Why Silver In Taxco - Early Reason
The early colonial history of Taxco gives clues to the answer but not the true answer. During the colonial era Taxco’s main industry revolved around the operations of extracting the silver from the veins below the city. These silver deposits helped to fund the extravagant architecture of the town but no silversmithery took place in Taxco during this age. The peak of the mining operations occurred during the mid 18th century under the guidance of the town’s hero José de la Borda.
The silver deposits of Taxco were small in comparison to the vast reserves of Guanajuato and Taxco experienced a series of booms and busts as new small reserved were found and then later depleted. The number of profitable silver veins has steady reduced, so that today there is only one viable silver mining operation in Taxco managed by Industrial Minera México located just outside of the town. So what caused a town that was destined to slide into obscurity to be transformed into the country’s main centre for Silversmithing exporting the world over?
Why Silver In Taxco and William Spratling
The cause for the change of focus of Taxco from mining to crafting was down to a single man, William Spratling. Spratling moved to Mexico during the 1920’s and quickly established himself among the artisans of the country. One of his close friends was Diego Rivera for which he organised an art exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Spratling took a commission for the Diego’s work as his art reached new audiences and became more popular; with this money he purchased a grand house in Taxco.
This one house purchase set Taxco to become the silver capital of Mexico as here Spratling, who was a keen artist, became fascinated by Aztec motifs formed from silver. Dwight Morrow, the US Ambassador to Mexico, confirmed to Spratling that Taxco would be a suitable town to start his business of silver jewellery production. Spratling employed a master goldsmith to create his first range of items and by the early 1940 Taxco had become a centre for silver jewellery. The legacy of William Spratling continues to this day as one of his strong beliefs was in apprenticeships and his students were encourage to open their own small businesses.
Taxco Mexico Holiday Guide
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