Maria Theresa was Holy Roman Empress, Queen consort of Germany, Queen of Hungary and Croatia and Bohemia, and Archduchess of Austria in the mid-eighteenth century, and was also the last of the house of Hapsburg. I'm not going to talk too much about her, but rather about her currency. Suffice it to say, she was a big deal.
The Maria Theresa thaler (generally just called the Maria Theresa) was a silver bullion coin first minted in 1741. It looked like this:
Not long after its first minting, this coin became a standard form of currency around the world, especially for traders. While this eventually fell out of practice in Europe, the coin long remained the favorite of Muslims traders, especially in Africa, throughout the whole Victorian period and into the 20th century.
According to Flashman on the March, page 297, footnote 1, "It is not entirely clear why the Maria Theresa dollar was so popular . . . [Some have suggested] that its silver was of unusual purity, but Samuel Baker, the hunter and explorer, noted that the effigy of the Empress 'with a very low dress and a profusion of bust, is, I believe, the charm that suits the Arab taste.' (The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia, 1867)".
She looks like George Washington in drag. I'm sorry, guys, but that chick is not hot. Certainly not enough to base your entire international merchant economy on her currency. Put Christina Hendricks on a coin and, okay, sign me up. Also, it figures that the Flashman books would report on every boob-related piece of trivia in the entire Victorian era.