Jump to content

Secret Saturnalia 2023


Recommended Posts


It’s that time of year again everyone. Saturnalia! Due to some issues with international shipping that we’ve had the last few years I figured I would start a little earlier than usual. I’ll try to get the first set of pairings done around Halloween. If you live outside the US or are willing to ship internationally I encourage you to enter as soon as you can so you’ll have more time to allow for international shipping.

Also, please help me keep this thread relevant with a periodic "bump" so that everyone who might want to participate will get a chance to.


  • You must post your gift to NumisForums (preferably to this thread). I really don’t want to be a grinch, but not acknowledging your gift really hurts the enjoyment of the giver so please only enter if you can take the time to follow this rule. I keep note of the folks who fail to post their gifts from previous years and I’ll decide on a case by case basis if those members will be able to participate this year.

Guidelines and Instructions

  • Send me a private message with your name and address
  • After a number of people have sent PMs I will begin pairing everyone up and I will respond to your message with the name and address of the person you will be sending a gift to.
  • The pairings will be random and anonymous.
  • The cutoff date for entry will be 9:00 PM Central Time, Nov. 28, 2023.
  • Saturnalia officially starts on Dec. 17 so try to get your gift out in a timely manner, especially if you are shipping internationally.
  • If you are willing to ship internationally please let me know in your PM.
  • In the past the typical gift has been less than $100. Great gifts come at all price points. Generally speaking, choosing something that you would be happy to receive as a gift is a good guide.
  • Everyone who enters will get a gift.  If you haven't received a gift by Christmas please send me a message.

Io Saturnalia everyone!

Edited by Curtisimo
  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1
  • Yes 4
  • Clap 2
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Io! Saturnalia!!!


Thank you so much Curtis🤩


A few of the gifts from Saturnalia past.

A coin that everyone has had:

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 where @TIF picked it up and then gifted it to my greedy little grubbers:


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

A coin that no one has:


TIFFILY, Tiphonia
c. 5th century BCE

AR 17, 7.4 gm
Obv: Forepart of winged iguana left
Rev: Monogram within dotted square, incuse
Ref: SNG 2,
Note: Metallurgic analysis shows this unusual coin to be 99.9% pure silver yet oddly porous.
Ex @TIF collection

Ancient treasures!


And a real dick head *though, probably not:


ELAGABALUS" (16/05 / 218-12 / 03/222)

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Denarius 222 CE, Mint Rome 19mm, 12h.

2.76 gr. Degree of rarity: R1

RCV.7518 - RIC.88 var. - Th.258 - RSC.61 b - RCV.7518

Obverse: IMP ANTONINVS - PIVS AVG. Bearded bust, laureate and draped Elagabal right, seen three quarters forward, horned *Elke Kringel hypothesised the "horn" is actually a bulls phallus!

Reverse: INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG / * | -. (The Invincible Priest of the Emperor).

Elagabal laureate and draper standing upright turned left, holding a cypress branch turned upwards with the left hand and a peg with his right hand, sacrificing above an altar lit; Behind the altar, the remains of the ox.

Three months of Saturnalia!? I'm in! Time to...

PM, incoming...

Edited by Ryro
  • Like 11
  • Clap 2
  • Heart Eyes 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would like to be part of it this year, for the first time. I have been collecting ancients now for over 1.5 years, and feel I now have enough variety to satisfy whomever I am paired with. I am looking forward to it, and international is fine with me also. Thank you for organising such an event @Curtisimo . PM on the way.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in again!

Secret Saturnalia is a lovely little tradition: an annual reminder of how generous and thoughtful even a mostly anonymous online forum can be. It's good to see that amongst all the vitriol that is flooding social media (not to mention the world in general), people from all over the globe can still use the internet to politely discuss a shared hobby, crack some harmless jokes, and send each other small gifts...

In the past four years, I have received a number of wonderful coins from my Secret Saturns. I treasure all of them:


Septimius Severus, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 202–210 AD, Rome mint. Obv: SEVERVS PIVS AVG; head of Septimius Severus, laureate, r. Rev: INDVLGENTIA AVGG IN CARTH; Dea Caelestis, draped, riding r. on lion, holding thunderbolt in r. hand and sceptre in l. hand; below, water gushing from rock. 19mm, 3.32g. Ref: RIC IV Septimius Severus 266. Ex Marc Breitsprecher; Secret Saturnalia 2019.


Kingdom of France, under Henry II, AR douzain aux croissants, 1550 AD, Lyons mint. Obv: + HENRICVS 2 · DEI · G · FRANCORV · REX · F · (lis); crowned French coat of arms; to l. and r., crown above crescent. Rev: + SIT · NOMEN DNI · BENEDICTVM · 1550 · (lis); pellet below 12th letter; cross fleurée with H and crown alternating in quarters; D below. 27mm 2.46g. Ref: Duplessy 997. Ex @Qcumbor, Secret Saturnalia 2020.


Megaris, Megara, AE dichalkon, ca. 275–259 BC. Obv: Prow of galley l. Rev: Tripod flanked by two dolphins. 12mm, 2.09g. Ref: BCD Peloponnesos 17; HGC 4, 1798. Ex BCD collection; ex CNG; Secret Saturnalia 2021.


Anonymous, Roman Empire, ca. 81–161 AD, AE quadrans, Rome mint (?). Obv: head of Minerva r. Rev: owl standing r. 14 mm, 2.86 g. RIC II Anonymous 7. Secret Saturnalia 2021.


Faustina II, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 145–161 AD, Rome mint. Obv: FAVSTINAE AVG PII AVG FIL; bust of Faustina the Younger, band of pearls round head, with hair waived and coiled on back of head, draped, r. Rev: VENUS; Venus, draped, standing l., holding apple in r. hand and rudder set on dolphin, which coils round it, in l. 18mm, 3.06g. Ref: RIC III Antoninus Pius 517C (denarius). Secret Saturnalia 2021.


Low Countries, Diocese Utrecht, under Wilbrand of Oldenburg, AR denier/pening, 1227-1233 AD. Obv: bishop facing with mitre, holding crosier and book; legend (WIL - BRAND) off flan. Rev: cross with three pellets at the end of each limb, one small pellet in each angle near the centre; legend (TRAIECTVM) mostly off flan.10mm, 0.42g. Ref: van der Chijs 8.1–2. Secret Saturnalia 2022; ex Heritage Europe, November Auction 2022, lot 2894.

  • Like 11
  • Clap 1
  • Heart Eyes 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I finally decided to participate.  I might as do like we do at work and home, and leave a likes/dislikes list:

Edit: 231102; making the like/dislike list cleaarer and easier.

The list is make it easier and more budget-friendly for the gift-giver.  With the holiday season upon us there's not a whole lot of time to pore over someone's posts and guess what they want.  A likes/dislikes list also makes it easier to please.

I'll narrow my interests down, as to make it easier and budget-friendly.  I enjoy RR denarii, imperatorial, coins of the 12 Caesars, Hadrian (esp. the 'big head' style), Alexandrian drachms, Antiochene tetradrachms (or the similar ones from other cities which honored Caracalla). Or coins with really rich (non-BD) patinas, especially blue or aqua.

Roman republican denarii are budget-friendly and I like them.  One can often find a decent one for not a lot of money.  I actually don't have any Roma head RR denarii.

I enjoy most portrait issues of the 12 Caesars, especially Nero.  However, with the coin market it is no longer really budget-friendly for a non-decrepit issue of many of these.  One can hardly find a non-terrible Nero as for under $100 anymore.  I also like the idealized portraits of Domitian.

Likes; other than the ones listed above, big coins.  I also like the 'big head' Hadrian denarii, and I don't have a lot of those.  I think I only have one, and it has spalling issues.

Oh, and I do like the as-sized early 3rd century Balkan Severan provincials (Marcianopolis, that kind of area), especially the ones with nice green patinas.  Those are fairly inexpensive.

Dislikes; small AE's, LRB's, Judean (not for any religious or political reasons, they're just small and usually lack portraits) or super crude issues, U.S. coins, modern coins (well, I actually loved the 40 mm. medallion of King Louis XIV? (the 1600's guy) which I purchased for my mom, but that's probably on the high edge of a reasonable budget).  Byzantines are more of a specialty and I have a personal way of picking out the Byzantines I like, so I'd prefer a non-Byzantine.  I certainly wouldn't cry over a facing bust Justinian I (and would certainly wouldn't cry over a Justinian II) 40 Nummia, but I'm slightly Byzantined-out.

I don't greatly collect Ants.  However, I like the larger module Philip ones or the Cologne mint Gallienus  and Cologne Valerian II Caesar.  Of that period I also like Sestertii of Trebonianus Gallus, Valerian, Gallienus, and Postumus.

I left my more complicated or expensive likes off the list.  For example, I like Seleucid/Hellenistic silver, but that's probably over the SS budget.

Please, no priority mail.  Those just get destroyed by the post office. The postman is somewhat careless, so I'd prefer something that'd fit unfolded into a typical suburban mailbox.  Flat mailers just get folded and stuffed in.

That gives a pretty good range of stuff which is budget-friendly and easy to find.


Wow, qcumbor, you really scored with that Nemausus dupondius! What an exquisite patina!


Edited by Nerosmyfavorite68
to make it easier on giftee
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

Here's one of my Secret Saturnalia gifts from last year!


Heraclea 286-310 CE
Silvered Follis 29mm 9.8g
RIC VI 19b
Ex Iberico Collection


If my Secret Saturnalia happens to read this, here are a few ideas.

  • My main focus is 3rd-4th century BCE coins from the areas previously controlled by Alexander the Great, but - being honest - finding something on my target list is not worth your efforts. Most of those coins are extremely rare.
  • You're better off going for any Greek city from the 1st-2nd centuries BCE, especially those that didn't issue coins earlier. Many of those cities are inexpensive and I have zero of them.
  • I actually do collect Roman coins, but my budget is usually blown by the time they come up in auctions so I rarely purchase them. Late Roman coins are pretty cheap and my collection there is sparse.
  • But, in truth I'm happy to receive any ancient coin!
  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, it might be useful if people post if they have any special postal needs, such as my no priority mail/large mailer plea.

The dealer whom I was originally thinking of is a bit slow and to top it off, they're out of the office for a week, and they usually take about a week to mail (unless I chose the very expensive  DHL Express option).  That'd be cutting the deadline awfully close.  That's a pickle, as that dealer has a lot of nice and affordable coins of one particular genre.  I'd like to perhaps go to one of my other favorite European dealers, but I'm unsure if the person (not chosen yet) can accept FedEx.

I can't find the post, but the person who received the potpourri package with the Alexandrian Drachm really got lucky.

I don't think I can spring for a Seleucid tet this year, but I try to pick out something halfway decent.  This was the gift I had originally picked out.  It sold before I could do anything, which was most disappointing, as I had really fallen in love with this one.  I then picked another decent one, but the dealer screwed up and I had to have Forum save Saturnalia.  It ended up better for my giftee.

Funny enough, I don't have any Roma head denarii in my collection.



  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Giving this another bump. 🙂

Hope everyone had a great Halloween. 💀Overall I would say we are slightly behind last year in participation but I honestly expected that considering we started early. Folks don’t really start getting into the Saturnalia spirit until after the Halloween sugar rush wears off.

I was planning to send out the first round of pairings tomorrow but I’ve had a family emergency come up so I won’t be able to do so until this weekend. My apologies. It might turn out for the best though if we can get a few more international participants to round out that group.

Io Saturnalia!

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just letting everyone know that I will be sending out the first round of pair ups Monday afternoon so if you want to participate and get your name in for the first round you only have a few hours left.

Io Saturnalia!

Edited by Curtisimo
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

It appears as though the Saturnalia season is off to a good start.

I’m still on the fence and may have to sit this one out. My wife and I are considering a move, only about 3 miles, and whatever I decide, I want to thank @Curtisimo for heading up S.S.S. 23 🎄!


Here are are some of the awesome gifts I’ve received in the past.



Edited by LONGINUS
  • Like 6
  • Smile 1
  • Laugh 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello all,

I am happy to announce that the first round of pairings is complete. If you sent me a message but didn’t get a follow up with your giftee’s information please let me know.

If you missed this round… not to worry! We will have one more pairing at the end of the month.

Io Saturnalia!!!

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
  • Cool Think 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...