William Spratling, azurmalachite brooch, by Conquistador, Mexico City, circa 1951, stamped ‘Spratling’ over ‘De Mexico’, Conquistador trade mark encircled with ‘Sterling Mexico’, and No.13 eagle mark, of abstract bird like form, set to the ‘wings’ and ‘tail’ with panels of azurmalachite, 10.5 cm long
William Spratling (1900-1967) was an American architect who went south of the border to Taxco in 1931. His aim was to set up a workshop producing silver items and jewellery. He set about training locals, using locally sourced silver. Ancient Mexican symbols and motifs were the inspiration for William Spratlings designs. This atelier ceased trading in 1945 due to financial difficulties. Spratling had been in talks with the US Department of the Interior for a number of years about a plan for training young Alaskans in producing silver objects, jewels and sculptures based on native designs and indigenous materials. In 1949 it was decide to implement William Spratling’s ideas. To that end seven Alaskan students were flown to his ranch for training over a number of months. However due to lacking of governmental support and funding the students went back and it withered on the vine. William Spratling did spend some time in Alaska and came back invigorated with new design ideas. In 1949 Spratling entered into an agreement with Conquistador, based in Mexico City. They were to produce and market these 200 new designs, alongside output from his own ranch workshop. This arrangement was only to last a couple of years, when in 1950 his attorney filed against Conquistador for failing to pay Spratling in full and also falling short on production. This however did not prevent Conquistador from continuing with some of these designs into 1951. The brooch here is an example of that unauthorised late run of Spratling designs.
William Spratling died in a car accident on the the 7th August 1967.