Doves of Pliny
  • Material : Sardonyx Shell, 9 gold marked..
  • Size: over 1 7/8" by 1 5/8".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1860, Italy, frame could be English, added later.
  • Conditions: Mint.
This is an excellent cameo depicting The Doves of Pliny. The subject became popular  after a mosaic discovered in 1737 at Hadrian's Villa near Rome, dating back at 117/158 AC. (See pictures below) This is a copy of a Greek mosaic at Pergamus Palace  of which Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History, an encyclopedia of 37 books. Pliny writes:  Mirabilis ibi columba bibens et aquam umbra capitis infuscans; apricantur aliae scabentes sese in canthari labro. This is the latin text, in english it means: There is a dove also, greatly admired, in the act of drinking, and throwing the shadow of its head upon the water; while other birds are to be seen sunning and pluming themselves, on the margin of a drinking-bowl. Rare cameo very desirable collectors' piece.