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                Hector Aguilar

Hector Aguilar, another  Mexican silver designer and one of Spratling's disciples.

Hector Aguilar, born in 1905, was one of Taxco’s great jewelry designers.  In 1935 he began working for William Spratling as a shop manager at Taller de Las Delicias in Taxco.  In 1937, he began his apprenticeship under Spratling.  The American’s designs, featuring traditional Mexican motifs, influenced Aguilar greatly.  Unlike many of his peers, however, he chose to work with nearly pure silver (980 or 990 millesimal fineness, compared to the more common 925 sterling silver alloys typically used).

Aguilar was not only a gifted artist and silver designer and talented silversmith, he also had good business sense.  In a very short time he left Spratling’s tutelage and began his own venture.

In 1939, with the financial aid of Valentin Vidaurrreta, Aguilar opened his own signature workshop (with encouragement from his former employer).  Artists that joined him included Pedro Castillo, Reveriano Castillo, and Valentin Vidaurrreta; some of his early artisans followed him from Taller de Las Delicias.  Aguilar found inspiration in Aztec and Mixtec art and architecture, and his work quickly became very popular.

About four years later, metal shortages in the United States during World War II put Aguilar in a good position to secure a lucrative deal with the American costume jewelry company Coro.  His artisans provided their excellent pieces to Coro until 1950.

Fine work and good business strategy enabled Aguilar to open Taller Borda in 1948.  Hundreds of silversmiths and other artisans trained there, and the shop quickly became one of Mexico’s leading silver retail merchants.  Aguilar’s shop offered a wide line of products, including high-quality sterling silver jewelry, hollowware, dinnerware, décor, and novelties.

For over a decade Taller Borda was a premier workshop and retailer.  Aguilar’s designs and the skill of his workers created works of art that were highly desirable at the time and gained value as time went on and the fame of Aguilar and Taller Borda spread.

However, according to some of his former workers, Aguilar’s business shrewdness could be seen as coming at the cost of his employees.  In the early 1960’s, the workers of Taller Borda intended to unionize and strike.  Aguilar preempted this move by transferring all of his properties into other people’s names, claiming bankruptcy, and closing the doors of the workshop on the morning of Christmas Eve.  Many workers, some of whom had been with Aguilar for decades, received little or no compensation for their years of loyalty and effort.

Hector Aguilar enjoyed retirement for a couple of decades before his death in 1986.

Aguilar’s work is considered some of the most valuable and collectible Taxco sterling silver in the world today.  Mexican silver enthusiasts prize it and his work is highly sought after.  Authentic Aguilar pieces feature his mark, a conjoined “HA” and an eagle motif, with either a 3, 9, or 31 on the chest.

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