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Author Topic:   Uruguay

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-26-2006 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am going to Montevideo next week. I understand that there is a great out-door market in the city known for, among other things, silver. Does anyone know about the silver from this region, its quality, marks, etc.? I have had no luck finding a source of information on the subject.


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iconnumber posted 01-27-2006 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your question is a bit vague, so here is my brain-dump on kinds of silver available in Uruguay and good places to look. My information dates to the late 1990's when I was traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina for business and was able to make several trips to Montevideo to enjoy the fabulous beaches.
  1. European 19th and early 20th C silver imported by the immigrants who settled Uruguay and/or silver retailed in Argentina by the major European makers during the time when wealthy Uruguayans traveled to Buenos Aires to shop. For example, Christofle had its largest retail shop outside France in Buenos Aires where they sold only first standard silver as there was no local market for plated silver. Thirty years of political turmoil in Uruguay coupled with severe economic hardship has depleted the availability of antique silver, but you still can find pleasant surprises in antiques shops. Unless you have particular expertise, be wary of items purported to be Spanish colonial antique silver. These items can best be described as handicrafts (see below).
  2. Manufactured silver by the large South American makers such as Camusso of Peru, available in standard retail outlets. Quality is decent, but the designs are ho-hum in my opinion and probably not worth suitcase space.
  3. Beef cattle production is a major industry in Uruguay. There is a lot of silver related to the gaucho (cowboy) and his horse. There are silver-embellished saddles, bridles and other tack, mostly custom-made with quality on a par with the best Mexican work, but perhaps not equal to the work of the late American, Bohlin. These items are available by custom order in specialized shops, so probably are not accessible to the passing tourist. More readily available are silver accessories for the gaucho such as spurs, belts, poncho fasteners, etc.
  4. Uruguay does not have a strong tradition of indigenous silversmithing, like Mexico or Peru, but artisan silver is available, often incorporating Spanish colonial design motifs. Quality is highly variable ranging from the airport art type to sophisticated, well-made studio art. Most commonly available is silver jewelry of all kinds, some set with semi-precious stones imported from neighboring Brazil, and mat� cups, either silver-mounted gourds or all silver cups, with silver sipping straws.

The two outdoor crafts and antiques markets I know are the Trist�n Narvaja market in the Old Town and the Villa Biarritz market. Each is open one day on weekends, but I can't remember which day for what market. There are also antique shops in the Old Town.
Enjoy your trip!

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iconnumber posted 01-27-2006 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Thanks for taking the time to compose such a detailed and helpful answer. The market you mention is open Sunday. My question was vague because I had not idea where to start. Your answer is perfect.

As for watching for forgeries, I will apply Tom's rule of silver purchase: never spend more than you would mind loosing if things turns out to be tin!


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