This website, www.SpratlingSilver.com
became a reality rather than merely a dream in late May, 1999.
Its purpose then, as now, was to reach out to others who may
have information on William Spratling…his life, his silver
designs, his writings, his drawings, and more. I believed
that if I shared the information I had gathered perhaps others
would share their stories, experiences, and knowledge with
I began to collect Spratling
material in early 1971. (I am not, and have never been a dealer.
I couldn’t bear to part with any of these treasures or the
story that goes along with each!) My parents had
sent me a $50. check that January for my birthday, and as
I browsed among some lovely silver items in a small local
antique shop, I saw a tall silver cigarette box (Catalog ID
CJ-3 in the website database) marked only with a WS Print
Circle and a Spratling Silver hallmark. I asked the owner
if it was sterling, and she replied "Of course!
It is Spratling Silver! EVERYONE knows Spratling silver!"
I thought the hand crafted design was truly handsome!
Even though there was no "sterling" designation
on the box, I paid $35. for it and took it home - committed
about Spratling Silver since EVERYONE else knew all about
it – and I didn’t!. (The following day, I went back for five
individual ashtrays (Catalog ID CN-11 in the website database)
– the only remaining Spratling items the shop owner had.)
In the subsequent thirty plus
years, I have collected (and continue to collect) not only
Spratling's silver designs, but also other Spratling materials
- copper, tin, books, furniture, drawings, etc. As well,
I have amassed boxes of material from my research. Our entire
family became immersed in learning about Spratling’s experiences.
They even joined with me in the search for examples of his
designs. Our older daughter, when she was a student at the
University of Delaware, discovered what quickly became one
of my very favorite Spratling pieces (Catalog ID SDMBox-1
in the website database). It is truly a wonderful – and special
– part of our collection!
In 1989 I was asked to collaborate
with Ed Forcum in creating a Spratling Hallmark research page
for the Sandy Cederwall and Hal Riney book Spratling Silver,
originally published by Chronicle Books in 1990 – and since
updated and expanded in 2000..
During the mid 1990s I finally
decided it was time to begin organizing my wealth of Spratling
information. While I sorted through and tried to make sense
out of my data, even more questions surfaced. None of us who
had pooled our information and shared theories in the past
had answers. It was obviously time to widen the search for
more information, and so I decided to create a website: www.SpratlingSilver.com.
So many people have responded…people
who knew Spratling well, people who visited his talleres and
purchased silver there, Spratling’s relatives, collectors,
the families of some of the silversmiths who worked in Spratling’s
taller, dealers, people who lived in Mexico during Spratling’s
time, retailers here in the U.S. who carried Spratling Silver,
pre-Columbian collectors, some of Spratling’s colleagues and
more! Because this website can be updated so easily (at least
once a week) I can share new information constantly.
On October 6, 2002, The
San Antonio Museum of Art opened their exhibit entitled Maestros
de Plata: William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance.
This exhibit is now traveling from San Antonio, Texas to a
number of other U.S. cities during 2003 and 2004. An expanded
exhibit catalogue has been published by Harry C. Abrams, Inc.
and that catalogue includes much new information in addition
to data about the items on loan for the exhibit. It will certainly
be an important reference source for anyone interested in
20th century Mexican silver. My research on Spratling’s
hallmarks and the development of his style has been published
as a part of that catalogue. Read more about the Exhibit
and the Catalogue in Current News
and our Book Store.
My most recent project was to
finally publishSpratling Silver: A Field Guide - Recognizing
a William Spratling Treasure. I'm not sure what my next
"Spratling project" will be. If there are ideas
you have about how to make the learning about - and collecting
of - Spratling materials more helpful, I welcome your thoughts.
Your comments and suggestions
– as well as your stories, experiences, and observations are
what help to make this website better! Thank you for your
Phyllis passed away January 2, 2004 from a virulent
Some friends recall her generosity and spirit on the