Friday, July 18, 2014

Taxco Treasure

A sterling silver Taxco footed cup with lapis & malachite inlay, stamped "Los Castillo Taxco  Hecho a Mano Mexico. This small beauty, at 4 inches tall, dates to the late 1940s/early 50s.

The history of silver in Taxco is a fascinating combination of legend and fact. Located in the hills between Acapulco and about 100 miles Southwest of Mexico City, Taxco in the state of Guerrero is one of Photo of taxco hills with churchthe oldest mining sites located in the Americas. It's natural wealth of silver attracted early Conquistadors.

 Before the Spanish arrived the native Indians called it Tlacho meaning the place of the ballgame. According to local legend the Aztecs had the locals pay tribute to them with gold bars. Hernan Cortes arrived and the Spanish conquered the Aztecs in 1521. A year afterwards Cortes staked his mining claim in Taxco. By the end of the century, silver from Taxco had spread across Europe, and remote Taxco was famous for its wealth of silver. It had become Spain's primary source in the New World of precious metals and had become a busy mining area.  Mining gradually decreased in the Taxco area as other richer and more accessible mining areas were discovered and developed, and eventually faded out for almost 200 years.

In the late 1920's the highway from Mexico City finally reached Taxco and in 1926, William Spratling, a U.S. citizen  and associate architecture professor from Tulane University arrived in Taxco to study Mexico and its culture. In1929 he moved to Mexico and was welcomed into the influential artistic circles of Mexico. In 1931 U.S. Ambassor Dwight Morrow commented to Mr. Spratling that Taxco had been the site of silver mines for centuries, but unfortunately had never been considered a location where jewelry and objects of silver were designed and made. This seemingly insignificant comment changed the course of Taxco's artistic and economic history. 

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