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A Fun Gift Exchange Between Friends (Very Late Saturnalia!)


Curtisimo

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I am fortunate to have made some wonderful friends through a shared interest in ancient coins.  One such friend I speak with often is @Severus Alexander.

While the board was preparing for the annual Saturnalia gift exchange last year, he and I got to talking and decided that it would be really fun to do an exchange with just the two of us. We agreed to a set a maximum limit on the cost but otherwise we were free to get anything we thought the other would enjoy. This was particularly fun because we know each others collecting interests so well from our many conversations.

Sev and I shared our thanks and appreciation in private over the holidays. For various reasons that boil down to being very busy he and I never got around to making a post about our exchange. Hopefully the board will not begrudge us a very late Saturnalia thread.

For this post I will list the gifts I received and give a little commentary as to why they are special and why I think Sev chose them for me. He will follow up on the next comment with the gifts that I sent to him.

Amazing Severus Alexander Portrait

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Roman Empire
Severus Alexander 
AR Denarius, Rome Mint, struck ca. AD 228-231
Obv: IMP SEV ALEXAND AVG, laureate head right. 
Rev: PERPETVITATI AVG, Perpetuitas (or Securitas) standing left, globe in right and scepter in left, leaning on column.
Ref: RIC IV Severus Alexander 208

On many occasions I have complimented Sev on his eye for quality portraits in his collection. He has a particular talent for spotting dies with realistic portrait style. As his username suggests, he also specializes in coins of Severus Alexander.

This gift is perfect on a number of levels:

  • It comes from Sev’s core collection
  • The portrait is amazing! Definitely a Sev collection worthy example
  • The denarius is my favorite Roman denomination 
  • It is of the emperor Severus Alexander (you’ll see why that is extra neat when Sev posts his gifts)

All the above makes this a special coin for me and I am happy to have it as my “representative example” for the emperor Severus Alexander.

Struck by the Usurper Domitius Domitianus

Maximianus_Dom_Domitianus.jpeg.6a275211618e21deb99e49aecce30822.jpeg.9737220e372d00f117f46bd120689660.jpeg

Roman Empire
Struck by the Usurper Domitius Domitianus in the name of Maximianus
AE follis/nummus, Alexandria mint, struck ca. AD 296/7
Obv: IMP C M A MAXIMIANVS P F AVG; Laureate bust right.
Rev: GENIO POPV-L-I ROMANI; Genius standing left, holding patera and cornucopia; eagle at feet to left
Ref: RIC 18b

Sev knows I like coins of the tetrarchy period. Getting a coin related to the usurper Domitius Domitianus was definitely on my want list. Coins of DD struck in his own name and likeness are extremely rare. Last year, Sev gave me a lead on a coin struck by DD that came up at auction and was not attributed as such. I happily put in a bid on it… and was soundly smacked down by another bidder who had recognized it as well.

Partly due to this disappointment I was very excited when I opened my gift from Sev and found this wonderful Follis of Maximianus that was struck under Domitius Domitianus. For those of you that don’t know the background, DD struck coins in the name of the tetrarchs in the hope that they would eventually recognize him as a peer. Of course, we know that didn’t happen. Instead, Domitianus died under uncertain circumstances during Diocletian’s reconquest of Egypt. At the time, the Roman army was in a serious conflict with the Persians. Dealing with the revolt required Diocletian to split his forces and leave Galerius in charge of the bulk of the army fighting in the east. Diocletian was so infuriated by the rebellion under Domitianus that he allowed a harsh sack of Alexandria when he took the city. The 5th century chronicler John Malala relates the (probably untrue) story that Diocletian ordered that the slaughter would continue until the blood reached his horses knee. When his horse slipped on a corpse and got blood on its knee Diocletian took this as an omen and ordered a halt to the sack.

The Reluctant Usurper - Saturninus

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Roman Empire
Probus (276-282)
AE Antoninianus, uncertain Asian mint, 3rd emission, 6th officina, struck ca. AD 280-81
Obv: IMP C M AVR PROBVS P F AVG; Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: CLEMENTIA TEMP; Emperor (on I.) receiving Victory on globe from Jupiter; ζ• between, XXI in ex.

Sev knows how much I love to research coins in my collection and learning new details from their history. As such he provided me this amazing example that was misattributed in RIC. It was struck in a temporary mint that was set up under Probus to quell the rebellion of Saturninus who was based in Antioch at the time. I don’t know very much about Saturninus other than he supposedly ran away from Alexandria after being proclaimed emperor (very sensible) but then later changed his mind and set himself up as emperor at Antioch (not so sensible). In his notes, Sev provides me with additional reading to learn more about this coin and the circumstances under which it was minted. A truly wonderful and thoughtful gift.

This exchange was such a joy to be a part of. Thank you to Severus Alexander for the gifts and the friendship. Thank you to all on the forum for reading.  Please feel free to post anything you think is relevant.

Edited by Curtisimo
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My Saturnalia exchange with Curtis was definitely one of the highlights of my holiday, both the giving and the receiving.  Curtis and I message a lot here on NumisForums, both about coins and life, and I especially enjoy following live auctions with him.  He has become not just a great coin-friend but a great friend, period. Thanks, man.

Our collecting motivations are pretty similar.  So similar, in fact, that (confession time!) I certainly felt the pull of "oh, but I really would like to keep that!" when picking out his coins. 😝 The good side of that, of course, is that it made it easier to know what he was going to like.  One thing I was sure of was that that I really wanted him to have an ex Severus Alexander collection Severus Alexander coin, something that would especially remind him of me.  What a happy coincidence that he had just given away his favourite Sev Alex... to me!  (Shades of Gifts of the Magi, by O. Henry, but where the accident is a good one!)  The historical significance (and difficulty obtaining) the other two completed the picture.  An extra nostalgic tidbit about the Domitius Domitianus Maximian: it was just such a coin (though Constantius I) that was my first entry in Curtis's fantastic Imperator contest from a few years ago, a contest that I remember very fondly.  Fun times!

Enough about Curtis, though.  You wanna see the goodies I got, right?! 😋😁

Here's what first came out of the package:

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Holy crow, how cool is that!!  And I know you're dying to see more of that inside box, as I was...

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He had actually carved my collection logo into the box!!!  OMG, this was already the coolest thing ever!!!  (My logo is a Byzantine style monogram... can you find the SEV ALEX?)  I can't imagine how many hours this talented man put into making this amazing coin box, made of beautiful mahogany I might add.  Just WOW.  Flabbergasted.  I probably shouldn't be posting it, because he'll be inundated with requests!

OK, now let's open the box:

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Holy cow!!! There's a Larissa taurokathapsia in there!!! and that ex Helbing Sev Alex Antioch that I coveted too!!! Just unbelievable. But you need to see these coins up close and personal:

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Curtis totally nailed it with this drachm (as he knew he would).  Such beautiful dies, with both sides conveying a great sense of action and movement.  Very attractive toning, and please do enlarge the photo to see the mesmerizing crystallization pattern (I love that stuff, as Curtis knows).  Along with the coin was a spiral-bound pair of articles by Lorber and Hermann on the coinage of Larissa. As Curtis explained in the letter accompanying my gift, the implication of the two papers is that my new drachm (in Hermann Group III F) was most probably issued near the beginning of the Second Peloponnesian War in 431.  Larissa was an important ally of Athens, and the horse on the reverse is has a symbolic relevance, because their main contribution to the war effort came as a supplier of cavalry (Thessaly was of course well known for its superb horses).  I also wonder if the bull-wrestling motif was symbolic of the struggle that engulfed Greece.  Beautiful artistry and great history, a fabulous coin for me!  Plus I had been wanting a taurokathapsia (bull-wrestler) coin ever since @zumbly posted one.  How perfect, then, that the coin came from zumbly's store (minotaurcoins.com)!

Next one:

image.jpeg.807d436d50e26912763f6f8a4127ef0f.jpeg

Just as I intended for Curtis to have a coin provenanced from my collection, so he did for me as well, from his collection.  This was his choice, and it's perfect.  First, I have a strong interest in the eastern coinage of Sev Alex.  Second, it's actually from an AMCC auction, and I had coveted it ever since then, it being from an old Otto Helbing auction way back in 1942, held in Munich just after the first allied bombing of the city. (You can see the cool old ticket in the photo of the box interior, above.) This is a coin that has many stories to tell, not all of them good!  But I like to think this most recent chapter has made it happy.  It certainly has done so for me! 😊

Thanks again, Curtis, for everything.  For everyone reading, please join me in a toast to coins and the friendships they inspire!

Edited by Severus Alexander
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We should've suggested follow-up posts!  Please post your...

• coins from other NumisForums members' collections

• coins from Larissa

• coins related to the Peloponnesian War

• beautiful coin cases

• Roman revolt coins (e.g. Domitianus and Saturninus-related)

• Severus Alexander denarii

and whatever else you think is relevant! 🙂 like maybe cool old tags...

image.jpeg.c03bc77bfd306693351e331a33a64f63.jpeg

Edited by Severus Alexander
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17 minutes ago, Severus Alexander said:

maybe cool old tags...

I was able to grab two of the Helbing coins in the AMCC sale (those auctions were so much fun!). I still have one and now you have the other. 🙂  I kick myself now for not going after the others more strongly. If I remember correctly I think there were 4 of them? We didn’t even know how good we had it pre-2020…

Here is the Caracalla I still have.

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I think other posters on NF may have picked up the others.  Let’s see em!!

Edited by Curtisimo
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Wow guys, @Curtisimo and @Severus Alexander, you never cease to enchant and amaze me with all your friendship, generosity and knowledge.

16 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Please post your...

• coins from other NumisForums members' collections

• coins from Larissa

• coins related to the Peloponnesian War

• beautiful coin cases

• Roman revolt coins (e.g. Domitianus and Saturninus-related)

• Severus Alexander denarii

I will spare you my DD octadrachm you've seen so many times, thus here are a nice Severus Alexander denarius and a Larissa bronze (from the BCD collection)

0f159995ee1148f48ebe979c1eea7b03.jpg

4e1dc5b7fd43440d8c17b3a8627fe6d1.jpg

 

Plus a cool Septimius Severus denarius featuring a most rare headless eagle on the reverse that I got as a gift from @Curtisimo the great himself som time ago

0180-220.jpg.6c4d4d9fba9b1855b6d3c9350a124a03.jpg

Thank you both for sharing your invaluable friendship through this topic

Q

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On 8/11/2023 at 3:11 PM, Qcumbor said:

Plus a cool Septimius Severus denarius featuring a most rare headless eagle on the reverse that I got as a gift from @Curtisimo the great himself som time ago

0180-220.jpg.6c4d4d9fba9b1855b6d3c9350a124a03.jpg

Thank you both for sharing your invaluable friendship through this topic

Lovely coins all Q and thank you for the kind words.  That one was also special as being from the first AMCC auction!

I am honored to have a few coins from the wonder Q collection as well.

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Please forgive the sub-par photo of the Hercules 50 Francs. I desperately need to take a new photo of it.  It’s a beautiful coin.

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What an AWESOME gift exchange between two fellas that I've never met, but still consider pals of mine! Man, you guys spoiled each other rotten!... just as you both deserve😁

Here are 2 coins that I've been fortunate enough to be gifted from these two

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This beautifully struck and patinated coin was from a Saturnalia exchange @Curtisimo and I did a few years back:

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Constans AD 337-350. 20mm., 5,3 g. 6h; Antioch Follis Æ D N CONSTANS P F AVG, diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust left, holding globe in right hand / FEL TEMP REPARATIO, helmeted soldier, spear in left hand, advancing right, head turned to left. With his right hand he is leading a small bare-headed figure from a hut beneath a tree with single figs at the end of the branches. The spear points downwards, between the soldier's legs. ANΓ in exergue. good very fine RIC VIII Antioch 126; Sear 18700. Ex: JAZ Numismatics. Saturnalia 2020 gift from @Curtisimo 

 

@Severus Alexanderwas kind enough to give me this oober rarity if Hadrian featuring Mount Argaeus:

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CAPPADOCIA, Caesarea: Hadrian (117-138) AR Drachm, issued 128-138. 2.94g, 17mm. Obv: Laureate head right Rev: ΥΠATOC Γ Π-ATHΡ ΠAT, Mount Argaeus surmounted by a statue of Helios, holding globe and sceptre. RPC III, 3119, S 263a, Metcalf Conspectus 106, Ganschow 184b Rare! (only 2 specimens in RPC)

I think I may just have the record for most CT/NF hands passed through on a single, inconspicuous, coin:

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Thessaly, Thessalian League circa 196-27 BCE AE 16 mm, 6.3 gm Obv: Helmeted head of Athena Itonia right, magistrate name above Rev: Horse trotting right Ref: SNG Cop 324-328 Sold by Joseph J Copeland (anyone recognize the name?) In 1993(!), when I was twelve, ex @BCD, ex @zumbly (my first from his collection) who sold it at AMCC 1, meaning technically I get to call it ex @Severus Alexander and given to me by the one the only @TIF for Saturnalia !!! And masterfully documented in the 2021 Saturnalia thread So, not counting Copeland, that means this coin has passed through at least 5 CT/NFers hands.

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