Vest Chain

Maker: Unger Brothers (1872–1919)

Date: ca. 1900

Geography: Made in Newark, New Jersey, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Silver

Dimensions: L. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Purchase, Susan and Jon Rotenstreich Gift, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.335


Founded in 1872, the Newark, New Jersey, firm of Unger Brothers first established a trade in gold jewelry. It soon became better known for its silver production—which included hollowware—and jewelry. By 1892, Unger Brothers was listed in Newark city directories as manufacturing jewelers and silversmiths. Its specialty line of die-stamped silver jewelry in imitation of ancient coins was especially popular and was far less expensive than jewelry made from authentic ancient coins. This silver vest chain is characteristic of their Art Nouveau production. The coinlike lower disk is surmounted by four trapezoidal plaques incorporating female heads with flowing hair as well as lilting flowers. Each die-stamped element was soldered onto another piece of silver to provide additional substance, and the whole was suspended from a short link chain with attached watch clasp.