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Set of vest buttons and their original box

1930.160 (RS260778)


Each button in this set of twelve is composed of a micromosaic view of an ancient Roman architectural site. Each micromosaic is set in black glass and mounted in gold with an applied rope border. Each button attaches with a hook on the reverse. The set of twelve buttons are in their original black leather case with white silk and red velvet lining.


"Cherished Possessions": Robert Means Mason and his wife made a protracted stay in Europe between 1859 and 1865. This set of vest buttons, purchased in Rome, was a souvenir of the trip. The scenes of classical monuments made the buttons fitting reminders of travel in the days before postcards and snapshots. In fact, forced to travel for his wife's health, Mason was less than enamored. As one contemporary noted: “[Mason] had exhausted the delight of foreign travel, and though his tastes were cultivated, he had no engrossing love for music or for art; still less had he that thirst for aristocratic society which often afflicts his countrymen in Europe.
Location of origin
Rome, Italy, Europe
glass (material)
gold (metal)
Object type
Clothing -- Accessory
Rome (Roma province, Latium, Italy)
Descriptive terms
Classical Revival (European revival style)
glass (material)
gold (metal)
studs (buttons)
9/16 x 9/16 x 1/2 (HxWxD) (inches)
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Miss Ellen F. Mason
Exhibition Notes
"Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, July 2003 to October 2005; and "Jewelry at Historic New England," Online exhibit presented by Historic New England launched September 30, 2007 at
Reference Notes
Pictured in Carlisle, Nancy, "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," (2003): 76. For information on micromosaics see Bennett, David and Daniela Mascetti, "Understanding Jewellery," (1989): 103-187; Bury, Shirley, "Jewellery, 1789-1910," v. 1 (1991): 235-237; Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America, 1600-1900," (1995): 239-246. For history of the Mason family see Winthrop, Robert C., Jr. "Memoir of Robert Means Mason," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. XVIII, 1881, 302-317.
Related Items
Title Set of vest buttons Accession number 1930.160 Notes Jewelry and related items donated by Miss Ellen F. Mason:
Title Hair bracelet Accession number 1930.161
Title Gold brooch Accession number 1930.162
Title Mother of pearl locket Accession number 1930.163
Title Hair bracelet Accession number 1930.165
Title Pair of ivory brooches Accession number 1930.168
Title Coral pendant Accession number 1930.169
Title Coral bracelet Accession number 1930.170
Title Hair brooch Accession number 1930.171
Title Cross brooch Accession number 1930.172
Title Gold ring Accession number 1930.173
Title Gold ring Accession number 1930.174
Title Gold ring Accession number 1930.175
Title Silver pendant Accession number 1930.176
Title Cameo bracelet Accession number 1930.177
Title Cameo pin Accession number 1930.178
Title Cameo earrings Accession number 1930.179
Title Photograph of Mrs. Robert Means Mason (donated by Miss Clara B. Winthrop) Accession number 1930.1188