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Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

Used to be that when anyone asked me about favorite silver patterns or whether I would like to have a silver coffee or tea service, I’d say “No.”

So much of what I had seen was traditional and totally expected in a blah sort of way.

And then – Whoa! What’s this? – I saw a piece of silver designed by William Spratling.

Sterling silver and amethyst bowl with pre-Columbian motifs by William Spratling. (Courtesy of

The design was lively with bold lines reminiscent of Mexico’s cultural past, as are so many of Spratling’s pieces; and since I like purple and lavender, I thought the amethysts were pretty cool, too.

William Spratling was an American-born architect and visionary whose work spearheaded the revival of the city of Taxco as a world-renowned center for silver design and manufacturing during the mid-20th century.


The centuries old Mexican mining town of Taxco, Mexico.

Get your hands on a copy of Penny C. Morrill’s William Spratling and the Mexican Renaissance here to learn more; or maybe you can find one at the library, like I did.

Great book – I ate it up, renewing it multiple times.

After reading, I hit the streets to locate the shops where I could examine these beauties up close. I encourage you to do the same and to establish relationships with reputable dealers.The best ones are great teachers, very willing to share their knowledge with those who show a sincere interest, and sometimes, if time allows, a pot of tea as well – as Leah Gordon was thoughtful enough to do the afternoon I dropped by her shop.

Sterling and rosewood water pitcher by William Spratling. (Photo courtesy of