Grand Tour, Portrait of Arethusa
This cameo portrait of Arethusa closely resembles the famous Sicilian Decadrachm of Syracuse which was a celebrated image at the time, the workmanship being of such quality. The British Museum produced electrotype copies from their collection for collectors often made by Robert Ready.
The British Museum entry for this coin staes that,"Among the finest of all Sicilian coins are those of the city of Syracuse. The people of Syracuse were Greek, and they followed the East Greek coinage tradition. Some of the artists of Syracuse took great pride in the dies that they cut.
These coins have often been interpreted as presentation pieces struck in commemoration of the Syracusan victory over the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War in 413 BC."
The Wyon portrait of Victoria used for the Great Exhibition prize medal is derived from the same image. Such was the regard for these coins of Syracuse that they even feature in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventures of the Three Garridebs," although the academic aura is slightly dented by the reference to them polishing the coins with a chamois leather.
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