The Mexican Silver Renaissance

As the Mexican Revolution brought social upheaval to the country from 1910 to 1921, Mexicans were struggling not only to bring economic justice to the poor, but to cast off a European cultural identity in favor of an indigenous one. They began to study pre-Columbian folk art, looking to treasures found in archeological ruins for inspiration.

A Tulane University architecture professor named William Spratling went to a sleepy silver-mining town called Taxco and wondered if he could bring it back to life by producing silver jewelry designed with a pre-Columbian aesthetic. His vision worked.

By 1940, he employed over 300 craftsmen, and mentored great silversmith-artists. Hundreds of tallers and artisans opened shops in Taxco to create beautiful silver jewelry. Like every other arts-and-crafts movement in the world, there were also hair combs. :-)

This extremely rare pair of Hubert Harmon Atomic Bomb hair ornaments, in brass, c. 1945, might have been made as a reaction to Hiroshima. They are on sale on Trocadero for $2800.

Matilde Poulat, whose designs are distinctly native, opened her shop in 1934. This comb has Aztec motifs, and is also listed on Trocadero, but you have to inquire for a price.

On May 20, this beautiful pair of sterling silver combs by Ana Brilanti went for $224.50 on ebay. She opened her shop, Victoria, in the 1940s and was one of Spratling’s proteges. She even designed a piece for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

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