Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Happy Halloween From South Coast Antiques and Fluffy the Cat

Fluffy the Cat Wishes everyone an exceptionally creepy Halloween!

Our shop South Coast Antiques in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, has been closed for well over two years now.  It seem like it was just yesterday.  

The town of Ocean Springs closes the main roads in the center of the old part of town and has all the trick or treater's go around in shopping area. It was a great "safe zone."  The shops all give out candy and there are usually some type of a zombie street show.  It is  always a lot of fun for both the children and the adults

I loved setting up with a bunch of our friends giving out the candy in front of the shop.  On a number of occasions, I would dress up in a costume and sit beside the candy that we were giving out to the kids and I would be oh, so very still and not move a muscle until the right kid came up and needed a good Halloween scare!  I wouldn't just jump and yell, because usually I would just move the slightest bit and the young treater would scream and run.  They thought I was a mannequin, but they thought wrong!

It was always so funny, the little children would look at me and smile and not be frightened usually, it was mainly the older kids and adults that would actually scream and run. Halloween at South Coast Antiques... it's one of the things that I truly miss from the shop -- community interaction.

I hope that you and yours have a really good Halloween this year!

Michael W. Moses
South Coast Antiques
Ocean Springs, MS

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Louis F. Ragot, Bronze Sculptor, Medallist, Aviator, Author, and Inventor


What initially got my attention with this Louis Ragot bronze was the portrait of a wild haired hermit, which put me to mind of our own George Ohr, (1857 to 1918) the Mad Potter of Biloxi who was a temporal contemporary of Ragot.  Ohr’s wild hair and mustache is iconic here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we have had our share of hermits and flamboyant artists.  Another Gulf Coast personality that comes to my mind is Walter Anderson  (Shearwater Pottery), whose extended sojourns on the Gulf islands painting and drawing was rather hermit-like.

Louis F. Ragot is best known today for his bronze plaques, sundials, and his medals, but there is a lot more to him than his art.  There is not much biographical information available about Ragot, but I did find that he was born in Paris and exhibited at the Salon of 1882 of the Académie des Beau-Arts, Paris.  He “exhibited a very beautiful Portrait-medallion of a Child” there.[1]   I understand that Louis Ragot was part of the famous Ragot line of French sculptors, painters and bronze workers whose works have graced France for many years.  Louis Ragot was the pupil of Louis Auguste Hiolin, a French bronze sculptor who lived from 1846 to 1910.  Ragot had two sons, Henri[2] and Charles, [3] but I have no information about his wife at this time. 

The Ragot family emigrated from France in 1894 to the United State and set up shop in the resort town of Milford in Pike County, Pennsylvania, in what was then known as Hermitage Glen.  He possibly also had an inn (or bed and breakfast as we call them now) on the property called The Hermitage.  Certainly he set up his studio there and worked at least part of the year in Milford.  His property had a number of buildings with sculptures of the Hermit on buildings and trees, as well as a grotesque downspout for a spring there at the Hermitage.  I don’t know if any of these things still survive, but the two Hermitage postcards I have used to illustrate this article show some of Ragot’s work at Hermitage Glen.   

I understand that Ragot also had a residence on Long Island (NYC), on Lexington Avenue, although I haven’t found the years of his occupation there.  He wasn’t inactive in the New York area, as Ragot was supposed to have designed and cast a number of decorations and embellishments for a Harlem church.  Although the year of this work is unknown, but probably around the time of the Harlem real estate building boom 1899-1905 and certainly before the Panic of 1907, which destroyed the real estate market in Harlem.  He made bronze fittings and light fixtures for the church there.  Alas, I don’t have the name of the church, the demonination or even  know if it’s still standing.  Hopefully some reader will send in the information.

 Hermitage Glen takes its name from the colorful story of Amos Wilson (born 1774), known as the Pennsylvania Hermit who took to a cave and lived in isolation for 19 sorrowful years, dying in 1831, and from the later popular book about Wilson, The Pennsylvania Hermit, published 1839 about the remorseful hermit.  Hermitage Glen was apparently a popular location and was mentioned as a beautiful stop near Milford, PA in the Jan 1912 edition of the Automobile Blue Book, Vol 3, pg 69, which was an early automobile tourist guide “… Milford, with many nearby beauties of nature, among which are the Saw Kill Cascade, Raymondskill Falls, Vandermart Creek and Hermitage Glen.”
 
Louis Ragot and his son Charles, were inventors and they patented a new design rotary internal combustion engine (patent 1302709, May 6, 1919, see image) as well as an early airplane (see image), which he and his sons Henri and Charles built around the end of 1910 in Milford and exhibited in NYC.[4] [5] [6]

With that introduction as to the versatility and genius of Louis Ragot, I have featured here a gold washed bronze plaque of the Pennsylvania Hermit that I acquired a few years back.  I was intrigued by the wild-haired man, but also the fine casting of the work.  I was completely unfamiliar with the art of Louis Ragot and so I began doing research and this article is the product of inquiry. 


 This Hermit bronze is 5 ¾ inches across at the widest point and 5 ¼ inches tall.  It is a cast in the shape of a scallop shell with the wild-haired hermit on the obverse with “Hermitage” and a presentation text on the rim, “Mr Mme H. Juventy. 17  Fev = 1906 Milford P.A.”  On the reverse, which has a shell-like texture, is the rim inscription, “Copyright 1903 by L. Ragot”.  The weight of the piece is 263 grams and the plaque is pierced for hanging.  I have not been able to discover the identity of Mr & Mme Juventy and why they would rate a custom-made presentation plaque with their names and the date of visit. 

Interestingly, scallop shells[7] have a long history as the badge of a pilgrim who had been to the Holy Land.  I’m sure this point wasn’t missed by Ragot since the area featured resorts and tourists traveled through the area, on pilgrimage so to speak, for a number of years.  Milford was quite small, but featured a good number of different post cards for tourists to buy and mail.  Some of which I show in this article. 

I have seen only one other bronze Ragot Hermit Plaque for sale and it was substantially the same as this one, but varied with the text and it did not have a hole for hanging.  On that example, there was no gold wash present, although it may never have had a gold washed finish.  The pictured hermit in this example has below it, “The Hermitage’s Hermit,” making clear that this is a portrait of the hermit and not Ragot himself.  The rim has text also, “L. F. Ragot, Sculptor Milford, P.A.  Clearly, these Hermit plaques were limited edition and some had dedicatory text.  These Hermit plaques are large and double-sided, a typical Ragot touch that appears in his medallist works as well.
 Among other surviving Ragot art works are a number of large bronze cast sundials with various finishes, ranging from 12 to 16 inches square, which appear at auction occasionally.  Many of them have classical motifs and figures although one is a commemoration of Halley’s Comet in 1910.   His sundials were not only works of art, they were fully functional.  They were custom made and some even had the latitude and longitude engraved.  That would mean that the gnomen was individually calibrated to correctly tell time when the sundial was installed in its proper place.  I have also heard of a bronze turtle made by Ragot, but I have yet to have turned up a photo or full description.  This is an ongoing investigation and hopefully folks will comment and give us more information to add to this article.  See also footnote [8]  and the Other Works section below.

Louis Ragot is a well-known medallist among numismatic collecting circles, see below for Other Works by Ragot.  His medals and plaques are among some of the best produced in the US in the first quarter of the 20th century and are avidly sought  by advanced medal collectors.  See Other Works below. 

I had to cobble together this bio from a variety of sources, many of which are fragmentary, some are substantiated and few well documented.  There are still a lot of holes.  I have tried to filter the sources, weigh the evidence and put together a coherent article despite these limitations.  If there is a verifiable error or omission, I hope people will post a response here and add to the limited information available about the diverse talents of Louis Ragot.  At this time I don’t even have a birth or death date for Louis Ragot but his art is not forgotten.  I really need a photo of Louis Ragot for this article.  I am sure time will only add to our store of knowledge and this will be an on-going biography. 

Other Works by Ragot

Ragot designed several classically inspired bronze sundials, as well as a Haley’s Comet sundial [0] many of which still come up for auction from time to time.  He continued to produce medals, including a tribute to Russian author Tolstoi, an official inaugural medal of President Woodrow Wilson from 1917.  He also produced WWI medals such as his General Pershing medal, “Lafayette we are here,” commemorating the arrival of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe.  The name Louis Ragot is quite well known primarily in the metallic collectors circles, but not as well know as a sculptor outside of medals, plaques, and sundials.   

Ragot also wrote a booklet.  According to the 1909 Catalogue of Copyright Entries: Pamphlets, leaflets contributions … Volume 6, Books, Group II, Ragot wrote a book called Hermit’s Book in 1909 and it was 23 pages with illustrations:  A 239973, May 21. 1900: 2 c June 1 1909.  But I don’t know if the book was about himself, Hermitage Glen, the hermit Amos Wilson or all of the above.  Hopefully somebody will bring this pamphlet to light.

I found this entry in 1918 Catalog of Copyright Entries: “Musical compositions, Part 4, Volume 13:  Ragot (Louis F.) Milford Pa. [9257  They Shall Not Pass.  Sculptured figure of France silhouetted against Rock of Gibraltar, with French fighting cock forming her helmet, fighting off German eagle C 1 c. Oct 4, 1918; g 56840”.   This was perhaps an illustration for sheet music made from a photo of one of his works, which would explain its inclusion in the music section.

Exonunia Auction June 22, 2013 Baltimore   Catalogue auction 83:  “Lot 141.   Stunning Wilson – Liberty plaque by Louis Ragot, 1919.  7 ¼ bronze.  Louis F. Ragot, Sc. Extremely fine with a suspension hole above Wilson’s head.  On the reverse a light dent on the nose and some scuffing disturbs the otherwise dark patina.  Obverse with Woodrow Wilson founder of the League of Peace  around a profile bust of Wilson to the left.  Signed on the truncation, “Jan 25, 1919 Louis F. Ragot.”  The reverse portrays a spiked head of Liberty superimposed over a world globe.  A raised band around is inscribed:  Justice Peace Liberty 1919”.

 


FOOTNOTES (because I talk too much and run out of room)
[1]  From Biographical Dictionary of Medallists   Coin Gem and Seal Engravers Mint Masters with References to their Works B.C. 500-A.D. 1900 by L. Forrer (pub 1912 Spink & Son Ltd, London),   Vol V,  P 19  “Ragot, Louis (French).  Contemporary Sculptor, born at Paris:  pupil of Hiolin.  At the Salon of 1882 he exhibited a very beautiful Portrait-medallion of a Child.”   

[2] Henri Ragot helped to build a model of the aeroplane and did photographic studies of birds in order to help design the craft.  Louis and Henri Ragot later built a pusher canard monoplane, which was based on a George D. White design, the White Canard Monoplane.

[3] Charles Ragot was born in 1888, died 1973 and buried in the Milford Cemetery.  Charles L. Ragot went on to be a mathematician. He and his brother-in-law wrote,  A Graphic Table Combining Logarithms And Anti-Logarithms, Adrien Lacroix & Charles L Ragot, 1 Sep 25.  Ragot was later a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ.  Charles’ brother-in-law was Adrien Lacroix (1888-1961) who was also a mathematician and helped with the design of the airplane.  They also formed the Ragot Motor Corporation.  http://www.google.com/patents/US1475509   and    http://www.mocavo.com/Index-of-Patents-Issued-From-the-United-States-Patent-Office-1923-Volume-1923/898200/448

[4] Pike County Press (Milford, Pennsylvania), Friday, July 29, 1910, Page 1. ... ‘The Ragot boys are building an aeroplane at the Hermitage) which they expect ..    

[5] Henri & Louis Ragot, Adrien Lacroix, New York NY. 1911 = 1pOhwM; pusher engine; Louis Ragot. Canard design with framework fuselage, based on the White design.  See 1910 Ragot Canard Monoplane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_%28pre-1914%29  and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_%28R%29#Ragot  (Henri & Louis Ragot, Adrien Lacroix, New York, NY)  Charles L. Ragot went on to become a mathematician with Lacroix.

[6] The New York Times article Dec 28, 1910:  BOY BUILDS AEROPLANE FROM BIRD MODELS; Boy of 17 Uses Snapshots of Them on the Wing to Work Out a New Principle.  “There is a new aeroplane at the Garden City Aviation Field, built on a principle representing what aeroplane constructors have hitherto sought to avoid, and manned by a crew that has never yet been in the air. It made its first appearance on the field yesterday morning, and the few veteran aviators who are making Winter quarters at Garden City, saw several things in it to marvel at”.

[7] The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 says, “One species (Vola Jacobaeus) occurs on the coast of Palestine [now Israel], and its shell was formerly worn by pilgrims as a mark that they had been to the Holy Land.

[8]  http://issuu.com/freemansauction/docs/1477   page 52, 548A  Four bronze sundials  Louis F. Ragot, sculptor, Milford PA  1910-1920   The first of Square form with gladiator riding in horse drawn chariot in front of radiant sun; the second and third, of circular form with signs of the zodiac, one titled “Know Thyself” and the other with phrase “Ye are born under a good star if ye know ye self” and the forth, of rectangular form entitled “Halley’s Comment Sundial” with shooting star gnomon, all signed by the artist  16 ½ X 16 ½  in

LINKS OF INTEREST ON RAGOT, MILFORD AND THE HERMIT
A copy of the book, The Pennsylvania Hermit, pub  1839

Just Because I Can:  Michael W. Moses Pottery, another Gulf Coast Potter

 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Photographic Veterans Day Memorial from South Coast Antiques, Ocean Springs, MS


My last post was about the great time that I had a couple of weeks back at the Fall Muster at Beauvoir, over in Biloxi.  I took a lot of images and did some nice art photography.  One of the images I did was basically a put together from four different images that I took at Beauvoir.  The image shows a soldier kneeling before the body of his fallen comrade. I did two versions of this image one in full color  and it is called "The ultimate Sorrow"

and one that is Black and white sepia toned and using a hand colored look muted filter to give it an antique look. I call it "The Ultimate Price"


 These two images basically say it all for me when it comes to all wars past present and future.  I just can not imagine the unbearable sorrow of seeing your best friend cut down in the prime of their life in front of you and not being able to prevent it. The total sorrow of it overwhelms my mind.  Loosing ones life is sad, yes indeed, but having your best buddy taken out in front of you....now that would be truly the ultimate pain for a soldier.

This veterans day take the time to think about your loved ones that served and some of the things they have had to go through.  Not everyone in the military experiences hurt to the level of having lost there best friend in battle, but many loose so much in so many other ways. So take the time and tell a Veteran or his family that you care. It is not important whether or not one is pro or con towards war and the military. You must always remember that a lot of what we as Americans cherish the most about our country was given to us by none other than the most humble of soldiers, because they were willing to go out and pay that ultimate price for love of our country

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beauvoir, the Home of Jefferson Davis and the Fall Muster

Click here to view all my images of the 2013 Fall Muster at Photobucket




To begin with, reenacting is not about politics.  It is about American history and portraying the average person from that period.


Two weekends back, on the 19th and 20th of October, the 27th annual Fall Muster was held over in near by Biloxi, Mississippi.  The Fall Muster was as usual at "Beauvoir" The last home of Jefferson Davis, located at 2244 Beach Blvd (highway 90).

The Fall Muster is a historical reenactment that allows the people of today a chance to see and experience a bit of what it was like in the mid Victorian period.  Specifically the period 1861-1865 during the great War Between the States or the Civil War as it is mostly commonly referred to now.  One may look at the Fall Muster (or any other reenactment) as an educational opportunity to surround one's self with a lavishly rich cavalcade of living history.


People come from all over the United States to participate in these events.  Contrary to what I think is a popular belief, These reenactments are not an affectation of the "Deep South", but were originally conceived and produced in the more northern states.  Specifically in the New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia areas.  The earliest of these groups that I know of was the North. South Skirmish Association. This group was founded around 1950.




The people involved in doing these events today are from every walk of life imaginable. They are doctors, lawyers, educators, construction workers, store clerks, students, and even greeters at your local Wally World.  They are men,women,youths,and children of all ages.  It does not matter who you are or where one is from, everyone can play an historical part in the fall muster if they have a desire.

Most of the participants come to these reenactments as well trained and researched historical actors.  There are of course the newbies that are unseasoned and still a bit stage shy about what to do, of course, but this is a learn as one goes type of thing.  These people have spent many years working and studying the history of this time period as well as learning the now archaic military standards of dress, order and movement as practiced during this era.



Besides the massive amount of time learning and studying every aspect of life during these turbulent years of American history, these people spend considerable amounts of cold hard cash.  It is not an inexpensive affair assembling a circa 1860's impression for either a correctly dressed man or woman.  Almost all clothing has to be custom created. Some items may be bought off the rack either at an event, as sold by sutlers or ordered offline, take a look at some of the prices at online historical reenactors sites, for the most part they can tend to be a bit pricey in my opinion.  If one is lucky they can find items that are being sold by other reenactors that are pre owned.  However you goes about it, once one starts to buy the basic clothing necessary for ones impression, it starts getting expensive very rapidly.  Also many reenactors have  two full outfits ready to do an impression of either a Northern soldier or a Southern soldier.  Yes, that is correct two full sets of clothing one for the Union soldier and one for the Confederate!  Because they may end up at an event where there are to many of one side and they will be needed to do an impression on the other side to keep things balance out so to speak.  The average person ends up spending a fairly considerable sum of money in the end, so this activity is really not for those that are faint of spending the moola



I myself have always had a love of costuming or as many to day refer to it as Cosplay.  Some younger people may think that cosplay is only dressing up as your current favorite anime character, but in fact historical reenacting is truly cosplay also, just think about it. It is all the same thing, dressing up in a costume and giving an impression of a character from a different world than the one that you are currently dwelling.


Many of the people that one sees that are participating in these events are with their families and spend the weekend dressing and living as many did with their families back during the Civil War era.  For many of these people there is just nothing to match the fun and just flat out camaraderie that can be encountered during these encampments.  This is such a wonderful, wholesome, truly American family activity.

Well, on with the story.

Due to one thing and another, I have not been able to attend the Fall Muster for the last couple of years.  This year I was able to have a free day and go on Sunday.  It had rained on Saturday so a number of the reenactors had left.  So, on Sunday when I went there were fewer people involved than during the previous times I attended.



After the wet Saturday the reenactors that remained were in very good form and were ready for getting on with the show!

All I can say is that Sunday the 20th was a beautiful day. Warm with a light cool breeze and oh, so, very sunny.  This all added together to create one of the most perfect of Gulf Coast days!

Upon arrival at Beauvoir,  I went all around the camp doing some basic photography. I was looking for those perfect little vignettes that can so easily appear to be moments stolen from time.  I was lucky and was able to capture a few images that I thought were especially worthwhile.  I took a few of the more compelling images and did digital photo manipulation on them until I was able to artistically render to them into what I saw in my mind.

 I love doing my ceramic art pottery, but I also love doing digital art!




I then took a break for a quick and yummy Beauvoir burger and some chips.

Then I went on to capture some pre skirmish moments and then the actual battle reenactment.  The over all conflict was very well staged, especially considering that there were not a great number of soldiers on the field, due to the ones that had been forced to leave because of the poor weather.  They created a fairly realistic impression of what it would have been like during such a  military encounter.

I have to say that at the end of the military engagement there is one thing that happens that effects me so very much.  A specified person comes out and yells loudly, "resurrect"!  After which all the fallen soldier arise from the field and join there fellow soldiers!  If only this could happen after the real wars were fought!



I would like to thank all the people that helped make the 27th Fall Muster at Beauvoir come together.

The people of Beauvoir

The Chairman
Richard V. Forte, Sr.

The good people on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.

All the vendors and assorted sutlers.

And most of all.  Every single person that came and did their Civil War impressions!

You all did a wonderful job and I hope to see you next time!

Plus a special thanks and a tip of the hat to the people that ended up in my photographs.

If you see an image of yourself or your unit and you would like to be identified please let me know and I will gladly add name, unit, or web info to the images!  One may also leave the information in the comments section and I will add it upon seeing it there.

Also, if for any reason you do not want an image that I have taken of you displayed on the internet,  please feel free to contact me and I will have it removed post haste!

Please contact me if you have any further questions.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

William Spratling: A Southern Artist and an Arts and Crafts Revival in Mexican Jewelry


When I say south, I mean waaaay south:  Alabama, Georgia, New Orleans, and finally Mexico City & Taxco.  Most people think of a svelte, urbane jewelry designer with powerful connections to the northeast art and jewelery markets when they look at Spratling jewelry and his designs, but nothing could be farther from the truth. 

classic early jewelry of the jewelry renaissance in Taxco
William Spratling was born in New York State but moved to Alabama to be with his grandfather and later to Atlanta.  Eventually he became an architect and associate professor at Auburn and later at Tulane University in New Orleans.  While in New Orleans he became involved with the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans.  He also published a folio of New Orleans architecture in 1923, printed by Tulane University.He also shared a house with William Faulkner in the French Quarter and collaborated with him, writing a book about famous Creoles.  You just can't get more deep south than that.

Spratling was invited to teach some course at the Mexico State National University in 1927-1928 on Spanish Colonial architecture.  He liked Mexico so well, he remained there with the intellectual and artistic community that had also gravitated to Mexico City.  He later moved to Taxco and began to design his unique jewelry starting in 1931.  As an architect and artist, he brought new life to Mexican jewelry, producing not only silver items but those in copper an other materials as well as overseeing production of tinware, furniture, textiles, weavings, and other things of interest at his workshop. 

Other artists of note in Mexico City were Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Diego Rivera, Manuel Alvarez Bravo just to name a few.  Terrible things were afoot in the countryside with the massacre of clerics by the government of strongman Plutarco CallesLeon Trotsky lived and was assisinated in Mexico City – a kind of Casablanca of refugees, artists and desperate people with a cruel government still smoldering from revolution.  All you needed was Rick's Café Américain  and the strains of “As Time Goes By” to set the mood.  Between 1933 and 1945, Mexico accepted Jewish refugees from Europe as well as Spanish refugees from the Spanish Civil War, even Armenians came as well as many others.  Mexico City had become a boiling caldron rather than a melting pot.  Along with the overcrowding and misery, an artistic explosion came from that ancient capital of the Aztecs, who were no strangers to war and strife themselves.  

All that stage setting being said, the subject at hand is a William Spratling necklace in the arts and crafts tradition of early Spratling jewelry with Artemio Navarrete's mark.  On early jewelry, Spratling purposely left some of the file work showing, soldering not ground away smoothly, and a tool marks to appear on the piece such as hammer blows on the inside.  Later Spratling workshop in the late 30s and through the 40s, pieces were more highly polished and the beautiful irregularities of hand-work was smoothed away for a more mass-production look consistent with demand of post-war silver smiths.  Not so with this work, all the labor and care is to be seen by the perceptive collector’s eye.  Later in the 1940s he began to receive contracts for jewelry and it had to be consistent, shiny, and less arts and crafts for the "smart set" buyers in the United States.


This piece is made up of dapped hemispheres, soldered with wire rinks and flat backers.  The two turkey vultures are made free form and with individualistic stamping.  It is finished up with a hand-made chain with a wire hook fastener.   This piece shows variations consistent with individually crafted jewelry   This early period of Spratling jewelry shows traditional Mexican silver making techniques as Spratling employed Mexican silver smiths early on, starting with Artemio Navarrete as his first worker in 1931 who made the first pieces for on Spratling's dining room table with the tools and expertise that he brought from Iguala.  Later Spratling opened a workship added more masters (I will make a later post about them), who then had their apprentices who learning the craft, and perpetuating the art at Taller de Delicias.  Eventually, his workshops employed hundreds of silversmiths, masters, and apprentices all under the watchful eye of William Spratling the designer and architect of his realm.

Of interest on this piece, are the bells which are the traditional casabeles used in early Mexican silverwork with hand sawed openings, typically seen on Spratling pieces.  File and saw marks can be clearly seen on this work, the backers on the hemispheres are clearly made of fine nearly pure platero sheet silver, rolled in-house from ingots purchased directly from Taxco silver mines.  He also probably made his own silver wire at with the same shop.  This is a quite early piece and interestingly with the stamp of maestro Artemio Navarrete, who had been a master gold and silver jeweler in nearby Iguala, about 10 miles down the road who joined Spratling and started the workshop in June of 1931. 

There is a story in circulation that this necklace was inspired by a piece of Aztec descended Náhuatl Indian pottery owned by the American ambassador, Dwight Morrow (1927-1930) in Mexico City.  I have not seen the piece mentioned, but if that is true then the two turkey buzzards (Cozcacuauhtli), which figure into the Aztec religion and calendar, are tearing out the heart of the sun as per Aztec myth but this is just conjecture on my part.  Spratling was to exposed to as well as collected and sold, pre-conquest art as well as colonial and indigenous Indian contemporary art. Spratling was a keen observer of art and architecture throughout Mexico and spanning the whole history of the region so it was not a surprise that he turned to traditional regional designs. 

note Armenio Navarrete mark
I’ve had this piece for about 35 years and every time I take it out, I see new, nuanced things about the Arts and Crafts movement, Mexican craftsmanship, and jeweler's techniques in the early phase of Spratling Jewelry.  I had amassed this information and just wanted to share it with the blogging public, so you can enjoy the mélange of art, history, and craftsmanship of a by-gone period of history and know a bit more about the inspiration, genius and drive of William Spratling.

For reference on a similar piece, see Spratling Silver: A Field Guide by Phyllis Goddard, figure 2-32, page 35.  See also figure 2-162, page 57 and the associated website  http://www.spratlingsilver.com

Additional links of interest on Mexico and Mexican art and politics of the 20-30s
 
Arts and Crafts in New Orleans Video http://knowla.org/video/28/