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Sanborns


Sanborns (Est. 1930 – ) Originally established in Mexico City as a pharmacy in 1903 by Californians Walter and Frank Sanborn. In 1919, Walter Sanborn, tired of Mexico’s political turmoil, returned to America and left management of the company to his brother Frank.

The store subsequently grew its inventory to become a department store that began selling and producing jewelry beginning around 1923. In 1919, Sanborns opened its most famous location, in the 16th century House of Tiles, La Casa de los Azulejos, a major Mexico City tourist attraction and national monument. It may be the world’s only pharmacy decorated with a mural by José Clemente Orozco.

Sanborns became known for its silver items after Frederick “Fred” Davis partnered with Frank Sanborn in 1930. Davis was an American designer who came to Mexico City in 1910, years before William Spratling (“The Father of Mexican Silver.”)

With a keen interest in silver jewelry, Davis began creating his own designs and works. He managed the antiques and fine crafts department for Sanborns for more than twenty years and marked his designs, ‘FD’.

His silver items were produced in a European style inspired by pre-Columbian art, ancient symbols, and designs with indigenous motifs. His work inspired artisans like Valentin Vidaurreta, who was later part of what became known as, “The Taxco School.” Vidaurreta also produced jewelry for Sanborns.

Sanborns trademark, three owls, represents Frank Sanborn and his sons, Francis and Jonathan. For some time, the official name of the company was Sanborns Hermanos (Sanborn Brothers). In 1946, Frank Sanborn sold his interest in Sanborns to fellow pharmacist Charles Walgreen Jr. of Chicago.

Walgreens sold its interest in Sanborns in 1985. Sanborns is now part of the Mexican based company, Grupo Sanborns SAB de CV that operates many department stores selling a wide variety of consumer goods and products including jewelry and watches.

Like Walgreens, Sanborns does not use an apostrophe in its name. In all likelihood, this is due to the Spanish language not using apostrophes to indicate possession. There is another company called, Sanborn’s MI, located in Muskegon Heights, Michigan, that should not be confused with the original Sanborns.

Grupo Sanborns has retail outlets in Mexico, El Salvador, and Panama. In addition to its stores and restaurants, Grupo Sanborns offers an online shopping service, a store card, and credit card services.

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