No gem could be better chosen than this to give a soul to the titlepage
of a book treating upon the special materials of the Glyptic Art ;
bearing as it does the most ancient as well as the most complete of the
few genuine artists' signatures known; for it proclaims itself
" Engraved by Dexamenus the Chian." Its high antiquity is demonstrated
by the fact of the letters reading from right to left in the impression
(the way in which they were intended to meet the public eye), which
proves the work prior at least to the date of Herodotus (b.c. 450), for he speaks (II. 36) of the present mode of writing Greek as the regular one in his times.
In the choice of the type—the flying Stork—it is more than probable the engraver intended to express by a rebus his
own nationality ; his belonging to that ancient race, the Pelasgi,
whose name (" Storks ") their Hellenic rivals deduced from their
frequent, though enforced, migrations. Of this same race, Mnesarchus,
the earliest gem-engraver on record, is known to have been, for he was
a native of one of the isles in the AEgean out of which the Athenians
expelled the Tyrrheni, whereupon he sought an asylum in Samos.
Engraved on the base of a sard scarabeus of exquisite workmanship found at Kertch; and now in the Eussian Cabinet.