Set of vest buttons and their original box

Collection Type

  • Jewelry






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.


Descriptive Terms

studs (buttons)
gold (metal)
glass (material)
Classical Revival (European revival style)


"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.

Additional Identification Number




Location of Origin

Rome, Italy, Europe


9/16 x 9/16 x 1/2 (HxWxD) (inches)

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Ellen F. Mason

Accession Number


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.


Rome (Roma province, Latium, Italy)

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