A Journey Through Time: Determining the Age of Taxco Jewelry

by Dani Chavez

Taxco is a small town located in the mountains of Mexico with a rich history in the jewelry-making industry. The city is renowned for its beautiful silver creations, which have captivated collectors and enthusiasts for many years. One of the most fascinating aspects of Taxco jewelry is its age, which can be determined through various markings and symbols. This blog post will explore the fascinating world of Taxco jewelry and explain how to identify its age.

A Brief History of Taxco Jewelry

The history of Taxco jewelry dates back to the early 20th century when an American artist, William Spratling, arrived in the town. Recognizing the exceptional craftsmanship of the local artisans and the abundance of silver in the region, Spratling played a pivotal role in reviving the silver industry in Taxco. He established workshops and trained local artisans in the art of silversmithing, laying the foundation for what would become a thriving industry.

Throughout the mid-20th century, Taxco jewelry experienced a golden age, attracting attention from around the world for its unique designs and superior craftsmanship. Today, Taxco remains synonymous with quality silver jewelry, with artisans continuing to produce exquisite pieces inspired by traditional techniques and modern aesthetics.

For a deeper dive into the History of Taxco Jewelry, read our blog post Here.

Early Years (1900-1950)

During the early years of Taxco jewelry making, which spanned from 1900 to 1950, artisans often stamped their work with marks such as SILVER or STERLING. These marks would sometimes include the location of the piece, such as MEXICO or TAXCO, as well as the silver content, such as 925 (92.5% silver or sterling) and 980 (98% silver).

To give you an idea of what these early marks looked like, here are a few examples:

Eagle Marks (1948-1980)

One of the most important indicators of the age and authenticity of Taxco jewelry is the eagle mark. Introduced in 1948 by the Mexican government, the eagle mark guaranteed quality and authenticity for silver jewelry produced in Taxco. Each mark features a number corresponding to a specific silversmith or workshop, providing valuable insight into the piece’s origin.

The eagle stamp also includes other markings, such as the initials “T” and “M,” representing Taxco and Mexico, respectively. Additionally, the mark may feature a number indicating the silver content, with higher numbers corresponding to a higher purity of silver (940, 950, 970, 980).

The eagle mark, once a hallmark of authenticity for Taxco jewelry, met its demise by the 1980s due to widespread forgeries that undermined its credibility. Consequently, it was abandoned as a standard marking. However, even in the absence of the official eagle stamp, a few modern artists continue to incorporate variations of the eagle motif in their designs.

Here are a few examples of the eagle stamp:

Registration Numbers (1980 – )

In addition to eagle stamps, Taxco jewelry often includes a letter and number government registration system that further helps determine its age. This system, introduced in the late 1970s, consists of two letters followed by a number, with the first letter denoting the workshop’s location (T for Taxco, M for Mexico City).

The second letter letter usually denotes the artist’s first or last initial. The number tells us how many people have registered with that letter combination. So TH-89 represents the 89th person to register the letter combination of TH in Taxco. This letter/number system also helps with dating the jewelry; the higher the number, the newer the piece.

By understanding this system, collectors can narrow the age of Taxco jewelry to a small time range.

Taxco jewelry stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and exceptional craftsmanship of the artisans who call this picturesque town their home. By examining eagle stamps and decoding the letter and number system, enthusiasts can unravel the mysteries surrounding the age of Taxco jewelry, gaining a deeper appreciation for these timeless treasures. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a novice admirer, exploring the history and craftsmanship behind Taxco jewelry is sure to inspire awe and admiration.