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William Spratling Silver and Brass Cuff Bracelet Predates All His Iconic Work
In 1921 the young American architect William Spratling moved from his home state of Alabama to New Orleans for a professorship at Tulane University. He found an apartment in the then-dilapidated French Quarter at 624 Orleans Alley. A young unknown writer named William Faulkner would soon be his roommate. He went to Mexico in 1926 as a visiting professor and was told he should see the town of Taxco, for he might appreciate its architecture. Silver had been discovered in Taxco, Mexico in the 1500s and it had been a mining town for decades. But by the time Spratling visited it, Taxco was a veritable ghost town. Spratling returned to the United States after his teaching duties at the Mexican university ended but he did not forget about Taxco. In fact, he became obsessed. William Spratling had a vision that Taxco should once again be a silver town; a community of artists and craftspeople, all working with the native silver. Spratling had a special fascination with pre-Columbian art and architecture and he imagined making items in silver that featured design motifs from this period. Spratling returned to Mexico in the late 1920s and the Taxco Mexican Modernist Movement was born. In very little time, Taxco became *the* place for celebrities to visit and be in the company of other creative explorers, plus shop for jewelry. The simple silver and brass cuff bracelet you see on this page was created during William Spratling's first design period, which spanned the years 1931 - 1946. This early cuff rarely enters the market. I have never seen another for sale. It was created in his first space where he worked with silver, tin, copper, brass, wood and textiles. This humble silver and brass cuff bracelet is a precursor to all of William Spratling's most iconic designs, which makes it of exceptional importance. The cuff can be dated to 1940 due to what is known as the WS "primary" mark (a logo or maker's mark), a secondary mark "MADE IN MEXICO" and a tertiary mark of 925 in his distinctive Art Deco font. 1940 was the last year Spratling used the "925" tertiary mark and the first he used the circle logo. While he did not typically use 925 silver for jewelry he did here either because of its strength or, more likely, because of the brass design elements. These had to be soldered to the silver, and 925 silver has a lower melting point than the finer 980 silver he normally used for jewelry, so the elements could more readily fuse. Like the early sketches of Georgia O'Keefe, the earliest work of a genius is often the most fascinating. The bracelet is 5 ½" with a 1 ½" gap. It fits my 7" wrist. This is the missing piece in any serious Spratling collection. Or a phenomenal place to start.
- In the Style Of
- Place of OriginMexico
- Date of Manufacture1940
- Condition DetailsExcellent condition. Properly hallmarked. Hallmarks worn but legible.
- WearWear consistent with age and use.
- DimensionsD 5.5 in.D 139.7 mm
- Length5.5 in. (139.7 mm)
- Seller LocationSouthbury, CT
- Reference NumberLU158918089382
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About the Seller
5 / 5
1stdibs seller since 2019
Typical response time: <1 hour
Located in Southbury, CT
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