'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 102
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum, Vol 1, Part 1, 'the Collection of Capt. E. G. Spencer-Churchill, M.C., of Northwick Park' and 'The Salting Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum', London, published for the British Academy by Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, London and Spink and Son, London, S.N.G. 49
Obverse: Greek inscription.Busts jugate right of Ptolemy II, with whisker, wearing diadem and chlamys, and of his wife Arsinoe II, diademed and draped.
Reverse: Greek inscription. Busts jugate right of Ptolemy I and his wife Berenice I, both diademed and draped.
This coin is a octadrachm depicting four busts, two on each side. One side shows Ptolemy II, Philadelphus, King of Egypt and his wife and the other side Ptolemy I, Soter, King of Egypt and his wife. A drachm is the basic monetary unit in ancient Greece (and still today), originating from the word 'dragma', which means 'handful'. A drachm is a medium sized coin, weighing around 4 grams and with a diameter of about 1.6 to 1.9 cm. An octadrachm, as here, is an eight-drachm, which has roughly eight times the value of a drachm.
Greek coins were made by a crude form of striking, the rough blank of metal being placed between two dies engraved with the required image and the whole assemblage being hit with a hammer. Thus obverse and reverse were impressed simultaneously, sometimes with uneven results.
The coins bequeathed to the V&A by Salting include examples of silver coins from Syracuse of the 4th century BC, a set of gold imperial coins of Rome, and some fine specimens of bronze denarii of the Roman Empire.