Forged in Silver

William Spratling in Mexico

William Spratling and employees, Taxco, Mexico. Photo courtesy of the Sutherland-Taxco Collection, Latin American Library, Tulane University.

William Spratling (1900–1967) was an adventurer at heart. He was a pilot, yachtsman, writer, artist, explorer, and, as he is best known, an exceptional silver designer. In fact, Spratling is credited with transforming Taxco, Mexico from a Pre-Colombian and 18th century silver mining center into a silverwork and craft epicenter.

At the age of 15, Spratling was already on his own. He moved from the state of New York to Alabama where his father, a noted American neurologist, had grown up. Spratling studied architecture at Auburn University and went on to lecture at his alma mater as well as at Tulane University in New Orleans where he became an Associate Professor of Architecture.

Spratling’s creative spirit flourished in New Orleans as he integrated with bohemian writers and artists of the French Quarter, including his friend and housemate, William Faulkner. During the summers, he travelled to lecture at the National University in Mexico and he immersed himself in the artistic community there. Spratling was enamored with the culture and people, and soon settled in Taxco to design silver jewelry and objects. His designs pay homage to the cultural heritage of Mexico, while exploring shape and form from an architect’s perspective.