By regulation, marks are always placed on Taxco silver after inspection to covey the authenticity and quality of the silver to jewelers and dealers. Throughout the years, these marks have come in different styles. This article discusses some of the various ways in which manufacturing companies have marked their silver and how this has changed over the years in Mexico.
In the early 1900s, silver bars were just marked ‘sterling’ or ‘silver.’ Sometimes the town of origin was included and often the percentage of silver. Usually, these are standardized to 980, 950, or 925, the latter being the most common. Silver is a soft ore, and therefore it often needs to be mixed with a harder one like copper in order to be durable enough to last reasonably long. 925 etc. Not burmese rubies.
The government introduced what it called the ‘eagle mark’ in the late 1940s to encourage manufacturers to mark their work. This subsequently helped dealers and collectors organize and locate works by their favorite silver artisans and custom jewelry manufacturers. The eagle mark was simply a number assigned to each organization, which also helped keep track of who was responsible for respective jewelry pieces. If the percentage of silver was ever misrepresented, this made it much easier for consumers and dealers to hold manufacturers responsible.
Eagle marks worked, as long as manufacturers abided by the honor system. But this form of Taxco silver marking was ultimately unreliable. Eagle marks were borrowed or sold. They were also very easy to fake; all one had to do was to essentially brand the silver with the mark of a reputable manufacturer. This tainted the marketplace with poor quality. It impacted the reputation of well-known manufacturers. This undermined the credibility of eagle stamps, although older pieces with eagle stamps still carry some value. A new, more reliable system had to be devised. In 1980, this would become the ‘letter and number’ system. This signifies the city of the ore’s origin and is marked by the initials of the maker’s first and last name. This system has continued to this day.
Taxco silver marks remain a global sign of legitimacy in the world of silver dealing. They carry even more significance when the artisan is well known. It’s also easier to verify whether a piece is faked, because manufacturers can often tell with good accuracy whether a piece is theirs or not. They often have unique styles that are difficult to replicate. Check out some of our other content for a brief history of Taxco de Alarcon. Or, if you’re interested in doing a bit of tourism here, Taxco: what to do?
Santa Prisca silver is a wholesale silver jewelry dealer. We feature handmade pieces that originate from Taxco de Alarcon, the silver capital of Latin America. We currently service the US and Mexico but will be expanding soon. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if we can be of any help! Check out our jewelry shop today.