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Iconic Arethusa of Ancient Syracuse on New Coins From CIT

CIT's new collection of coins bearing the likeness of Arethusa. Image: CoinWeek/ CIT.
CIT’s new collection of coins bearing the likeness of Arethusa. Image: CoinWeek/ CIT.

Numismatic Icons – Arethusa

Cook Islands. 5 Dollars. 2023. Silver .999. 1 oz. Approx. 33 mm. Antique finish. Mintage: 1,500 pieces. Special technology: smartminting® (Ultra High Relief). B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt, Munich.

Cook Islands. 250 Dollars. 2023. Gold .9999. 1 oz. Approx. 30 mm. Antique finish. Mintage: 199 pieces. Special technology: smartminting (Ultra High Relief). B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt, Munich.

Cook Islands. 5 Dollars 2023. Gold .9999. 0.5 g. Ca. 12 mm. Industrial Proof. Mintage: 5,000 pieces. Minted by B. H. Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt, Munich.

Description of the Arethusa Coin


Inspired by the coins of ancient Syracuse, one side features the head of the nymph Arethusa facing left, around her two small dolphins; below C-I for Cook Islands.

The other sided present the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley (initials: IRB); around it the name of the ruler, the issuing nation and the denomination. The 250 Dollar gold coin also features weight and precious metal content.


CIT has been issuing its successful Numismatic Icons series since 2020, re-inventing ancient coin motifs in a modern style. The fourth issue is dedicated to the spring nymph Arethusa. She illustrates the Greek belief that the wonders of nature were divine gifts.

When the Corinthian settlers were looking for a site for their new city of Syracuse, they chose the peninsula of Ortygia, which had a fresh water spring. This meant that the water supply was guaranteed even in the event of a siege. The Syracusans considered the fact that there was fresh water on a peninsula surrounded by the sea a divine miracle, a gift from the spring’s nymph Arethusa. They ritually worshipped the spring and offered rich sacrifices. It was only later that poets developed a complex myth linking the spring of Arethusa to the forefather of all fresh waters, the river god Alpheus.

For several centuries, the image of Arethusa adorned the coins of the city of Syracuse. Her head, with ever-changing hairstyles, was designed by the greatest artists. The most beautiful coins of all time were produced with these dies, which were, for example, created by Kimon.

CIT has set a numismatic monument to this icon of Greek coinage. The modern descendants of Kimon made use of state-of-the-art smartminting® technology and elaborate Antique Finish patina treatment. Three versions of this issue will be released: the classic silver coin, an extremely beautiful gold version and a small gold coin, as has been part of the series since 2022.

Further Information

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CoinWeek Podcast #155: Ultra-Modern Coins Take Over

Mobile phone users. Stream this podcast for free by downloading the podomatic app or subscribe to the CoinWeek Podcast on iTunes.


In this episode of the CoinWeek Podcast, Charles Morgan and Chris Bulfinch have a lively, interesting, and provocative conversation with Chang Bullock and Orlando Lorenzana of CIT, where we talk about how ultra-modern coins (or postmodern coins, as we call them) have taken over the contemporary coin market and how CIT’s innovations in color and coin minting technology are changing the game for private and sovereign mints.

You cannot walk away from this podcast without learning something about the way minting has changed–and has always been changing throughout the course of monetary history–and we hope it will give you a clearer picture of where we are heading.

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