Dumfries Museum recently had an enquiry about this particular gem. At first glance, there may seem to be no clear association with Robert Burns, but the story behind it reveals all!
Whilst clearing a house, the enquirer found a circular mosaic approximately two inches in diameter in a small, thin square box lined with velvet. As you can see from the images, the mosaic depicts what looks to be some sort of Italian scene.
The text of the inscription reads:
This Mosaic is said to have been owned by Burns the Poet, who gave it to Dr Curry of Chester – author of the Life & Writings of Burns. Dr Curry presented it with this History to Mrs Hughes of Toxeth Park, Liverpool City. That Lady presented to the undersigned her Grateful & affectionate nephew Sam: Vernon Stade, August 12th 1824.
It appears that Burns and Currie only met once. The inscription suggests that Currie presented the mosaic to Mrs Hughes along with a “History” – this was perhaps one of the editions of his writings on Burns? It does feel like Mrs Hughes of Toxteth Park was an acquaintance of Currie, or a person he wished to impress. She has then passed the mosaic to her nephew.
The story stops there I’m afraid. Although information is available on Dr Curry, the other two protagonists largely remain a mystery. Staff at Dumfries Museum would love to reveal more about not just the object, but the people mentioned in the inscription. Please do get in touch (either through the Museum or via my contact info on this blog) if you can provide any further information.