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Gold navette-shaped mourning ring with foliate bright work engraving on band and reverse, center set with a miniature painting on ivory of two women standing on either side of an urn on a plinth, gold bead border surrounds miniature.
ivory (tooth component)
A wealthy merchant, Thomas Roberts of Newburyport, Massachusetts, left a substantial sum to his sisters and nephew when he died at age twenty-five. The ring most likely belonged to one of his two sisters. The artist mixed Thomas's chopped hair with sepia-colored paint, reinforcing the personal connection between the dead and the living.
"Thomas / Roberts / obiit / 24 Maii / 1782 / Aetatis / 25" (Engraved)
Title Cameo Silhouette Accession Number 1977.10
Title Silhouette pendant Accession Number 1977.19
Title Watch fob seal Accession Number 1977.20
Title Mourning ring Accession Number 1977.21
Title Ring Accession Number 1977.22.1
Title Ring Accession Number 1977.22.2
1 1/8 x 5/8 (HxW), 3/4 (diameter) (inches)
Gift of Helen Howe Allen
"Hidden Treasures from Elegant Eras," Historic Jewelry from the Collections of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities presented by Shreve, Crump & Low, September 15 - November 30, 1995. "Jewelry at Historic New England," Online exhibit presented by Historic New England launched September 30, 2007 at www.historicnewengland.org/jewelryhistory/.
For an overview of miniature paintings in New England, see Shusan, Elle, "Tokens of Sorrow: New England Portrait Miniatures and Mourning Jewelry," in The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England, ed. D. Brenton Simons and Peter Benes (2002): 127-143; and Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900," (1995): 83-97.