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Looking for Hector Aguilar jewelry? Learn about the history, materials used, jewelry marks, and collectible pieces in this guide.
Hector Aguilar is one of Taxco, Mexico's most renowned silversmiths. His creations were bold and simple in design and known for exceptional craftsmanship and purity of silver. Aguilar incorporated semi-precious stones into many of his pieces, and today, his works are some of the most collectible and sought-after Mexican jewelry art available.
Hector Aguilar Jewelry History
Hector Aguilar was born in 1905 in Mexico City, and little is known about his early years. However, he went on to become a renowned silversmith and jewelry maker. He was He was one of the first people to graduate from William Spratling's famous apprenticeships in Taxco, Mexico. Aguilar met Spratling almost by chance when he brought a group of tourists from Mexico City to Taxco in the 1930s. He was one of Spratling's best pupils and worked with close-to-pure rated silver (940 or 980 as opposed to 925 on the silver scale).
During one of his visits to Taxco, he met his future wife, Louis Cartwright, and they settled in Taxco in 1937. Aguilar became Spratling's shop manager, and two years later, with the financial backing of friends and at Louis' urging, he purchased Casa Borda, an imposing 18th-century Colonial residence in the town center that was previously owned by Don José de la Borda, who made his fortune through the local silver mining industry. Aguilar established his taller at La Borda in 1939, creating new economic opportunities for the residents of Taxco through the silver industry.
Due to metal restrictions during World War II, the availability of sterling silver was limited. Aguilar collaborated with Gerald Rosenberger of Coro during this period to secure a manufacturing contract. In 1943, Aguilar started a successful venture, and his influence can be seen in pieces marked Coro, which were made of sterling silver in Taxco. This collaboration continued until 1950, by which time Aguilar had become financially and artistically well-established. He became one of the leading silver outlets in Taxco, Mexico, known for producing quality jewelry, flatware, and other silver creations. Additionally, Aguilar had a similar agreement with a company called Conquistador.
Hundreds of silversmiths and other artisans trained at the Taller Borda, and the shop rapidly established itself as one of Mexico's leading silver retail merchants. At its peak, the shop had over 300 employees. It was from here that Aguilar's jewelry designs emerged, blending pre-Columbian motifs with simple compositions, stylized animals, and geometric forms. In addition to the silver workshop, Aguilar also had carpentry, copper, and tin workshops where he created a variety of products such as flatware, tea sets, trays, chess sets, bowls, light fixtures, sconces, cabinets, and mirrors.
Hector Aguilar ran Taller Borda until he decided to shut down the business and enjoy his retirement. After a long and prosperous career as a silversmith and business owner, he closed Taller Borda sometime in the early to mid-1960s. (Sources differ on the exact year, with some citing 1962 and others saying 1966.) Aguilar enjoyed several years of retirement in Zihuatanejo before passing away in 1986.
Works bearing one of the many marks associated with Aguilar and Taller Borda are considered some of the finest examples of Mexican silver jewelry. Many accomplished silver artisans, including Valentín Vidaurreta, Pedro Castillo, and Reveriano Castillo, refined their craft in Aguilar's workshop. Pieces originating from Taller Border are on display in museums worldwide and have been showcased in numerous exhibits featuring Mexican silver art.
Hector Aguilar Jewelry - Identification & Value
Hector Aguilar followed in the footsteps of William Spratling, utilizing pre-Columbian forms as the inspiration for his silver jewelry. Although pre-Columbian motifs heavily influenced his initial works, he soon expanded his designs to include bolder and more sophisticated combinations of semi-precious stones and silver. Aguilar was noted for his strong, energetic designs with attention to thoughtful construction.
Héctor Aguilar had a unique way of interpreting natural motifs. His Maguey pieces, for example, are works of art that may not appear plant-like at first glance. Despite this, they remain very popular with collectors, and finding a complete suite of Maguey pieces is considered a notable achievement. Some of his other plant-inspired designs are more obvious, and some pieces are reminiscent of his time working with William Spratling.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the pieces made by Aguilar's workshop for the retailer, Coro, were crucial in popularizing Mexican silver. Aguilar's most important work was produced during this time.
In the following decades, Aguilar's work continued to evolve and innovate. His pieces were superior to his competitors due to his use of pure silver. Today, Aguilar's jewelry is sought after for his mastery of silversmithing and the extremely high silver rating of his pieces.
Crafted with Modernist flair, some of his more unique works included items made from suede and sterling silver. The X motif bracelet, composed of these materials, is commonly called the "Georgia O'Keeffe bracelet" due to a photograph of the famous artist wearing the design. Additionally, an eye-catching belt was produced in this style.
Some jewelry pieces incorporate copper or brass with sterling silver for an exciting contrast. Some of the necklaces with dangling elements can be particularly attractive.
Hector Aguilar's silver jewelry pieces can fetch high prices, with bracelets ranging from $1000 to $2000, necklaces upwards of $1500, earrings ranging from $100 to $300, and brooches worth about $400. Pieces that include semi-precious stones can fetch an even higher price.
Hector Aguilar Jewelry Marks
- 9 940 HA TAXCO
- HA 940
- MADE IN MEXICO HA STERLING
- TALLER BORDER STERLING HA TAXCO MEXICO 9
- TALLER BORDER STERLING MEXICO 31
- TAXCO HA 940
- TAXCO HA 990
- TAXCO HA STERLING 9
- STERLING HA TAXCO MEXICO 9
Jewelry pieces produced by Taller Borda have been identified using different marks, but they typically feature the letters H and A in one of two ways. One version combines the letters, while the other presents a more stylized form where the letters are superimposed. The markings 940 and 990, which appear alongside the HA marks, indicate the purity of the sterling silver used in the jewelry items.
It's also important to check for eagle marks with numbers on Aguilar pieces. These marks were introduced by the Mexican government in 1948 to identify different silver workshops in the country. However, they are sometimes confused with a bell shape since the stampings are often very small.
The stylized HA marks were used with the eagle mark number 31 until around 1955 and the eagle mark number 9 until 1962. Taller Borda marks from 1948 can also include these eagle marks.
See more examples of Hector Aguilar marks here.
Materials Used in Hector Aguilar Jewelry
- 940 or 980 Silver
- Semi-Precious Stones
Where to Buy Hector Aguilar Jewelry
If you want to add Hector Aguilar jewelry to your collection, Etsy and eBay are great places to start your search! Just be thoughtful about your purchases and only buy from shops with good customer reviews and clear pictures of the jewelry marks. This way, you can shop confidently and find the perfect piece to add to your collection.
I came across some fantastic vintage collectibles made by Hector Aguilar that you might like. I've handpicked these items from trustworthy Etsy and eBay shops with excellent reviews and clear pictures of the maker's marks.
Taxco Hector Aguilar Obsidian Panel Bracelet
This is a unique obsidian bracelet made by Hector Aguilar. The bracelet has seven large cut obsidian panels mounted between chunky hinges with a pin latch. Made of 940 sterling silver, this fully signed Aguilar bracelet was likely made between 1940 and 1945, based on the marks. It is 7 1/4" long, 1" wide, and weighs 83.1 grams. It is in very good vintage condition.
Hector Aguilar Sterling Silver Necklace
This necklace is made from 940 silver, which is more pure than sterling. It consists of a series of elongated shields with dimpled tops that are connected by wide links. The clasp is a simple hook and it is marked with Taxco, 940, and conjoined HA hallmark. The necklace measures a comfortable 18 inches long and 13/16 inches tall, and has a weight of 111 grams. It is in excellent vintage condition.
1940s Hector Aguilar Bracelet
Hector Aguilar Modernist panel bracelet with five unique panels featuring Modernist circle designs, signed/impressed with HA Hector Aguilar mark TAXCO 940 HA. Authenticity guaranteed! Hinged on one side with pin and barrel closure and safety chain. In great condition, safely packed in a hard case and shipped fully insured.
Hector Aguilar Twisted Link Choker Necklace
This choker necklace is made of high-quality sterling silver by renowned designer Hector Aguilar. The uniquely twisted link design adds elegance. It's in excellent condition and has a comfortable 15" length. This exquisite piece weighs 97.9 grams and is a must-have for anyone who appreciates fine craftsmanship and timeless style.
Hector Aguilar Sterling Silver Amethyst Sun Flower Brooch
This Hector Aguilar-designed Pin/Brooch is made of high-quality Sterling Silver and features engraved Taxco/HA/940 marks and an Amethyst stone. It weighs 27.4 grams, has a 2-inch diameter, and was manufactured in Mexico in the early 1940s. It has some tarnish and scratches consistent with age and use, but the Amethyst stone is secure and undamaged. A beautiful vintage piece perfect for any jewelry collection.
After a successful career spanning more than three decades, Hector Aguilar established himself as one of the most influential figures in the world of Mexican silver. Today, his works continue to be celebrated and admired by collectors and enthusiasts around the world.
We hope you enjoyed this article about Hector Aguilar jewelry. Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.
Happy Vintage Hunting!