Pemember, Pemember the 5th of November

5th November 2015 — 12 Comments

Not everybody knows that my ancestors, Bob and Tom Winter were members of the Gunpowder Plot, a failed conspiracy to assassinate King James I. They had a half brother, John Winter, who was also involved. This is a flight of fancy of course, but makes a great start to my blog post.

Winter Bros

Robert and Thomas Winter – Wikipedia CC

What Exactly was the Gunpowder Plot?

The Gunpowder Plot is the name given to the conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November 1605, the day the King was to open Parliament. The origins of the plot remain unclear and it is doubtful that the truth will ever be known, but it’s probably because the men were angry because James had treated them badly and they didn’t like it.

Guy Fawkes was caught red-handed with the gunpowder and arrested, but most of the other conspirators fled. Guy Fawkes Night is held annually in the UK on November 5. It’s also known as Bonfire Night and marks the anniversary of the discovery of the plot. Alas, it isn’t a public holiday!

Traditional Death for Traitors

The traditional death for traitors in 17th-century England was to be hanged from the gallows, then drawn and quartered in public. But, despite his role in the Gunpowder Plot this proved not to be the 35-year-old Fawkes’s fate.

As he awaited his punishment on the gallows, Fawkes leapt off the platform to avoid having his testicles cut off, his stomach opened and his guts spilled out before his eyes. Mercifully for him, he died from a broken neck. His body was subsequently quartered, and his remains were sent to “the four corners of the kingdom” as a warning to others. The Telegraph


A contemporary engraving of eight of the thirteen conspirators, by Crispijn van de Passe. Fawkes is third from the right. WIKIPEDIA COMMONS LICENCE

Many people light bonfires and set off fireworks, burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes, but now it can also be an unpopular politician (for example). In my town of Aylesbury the Rugby Club organise a bonfire and a professional firework display is held.

 An Urban Legend – a Coin marking the 400th Anniversary of the Plot

Some of my UK readers may recall the urban legend circulating about the £2 coins where the Queen was wearing a necklace? At the time the coin was said to be very rare, but this turned out to be false. The 1997 dated coins (the one with the necklace) proved to be normal circulating issues and over 13 million were minted.

I was reminded of this when reading a news story of the £2 coin with a spelling mistake on it. The sub-heading screeched, “Red-faced bosses at the Royal Mint today admitted producing a £2 – with a SPELLING MISTAKE!” Remarkably, the coin was produced in 2005 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot and the so-called ‘mistake’ had gone un-noticed for over five years.

Moreover, the misprinted currency had become hot property among coin collectors and selling for silly prices on eBay. The letter ‘P’ is substituted for the ‘R’, reading Pemember instead of Remember in the phrase ‘Remember Remember the Fifth of November’ which is stamped into the milling on the edge of the coin.


© John Winter

I had amassed several £2 coins and checked if I had one from 2005. Over 19 million were minted, so I had a good chance. I did have ONE and YES, when I looked with the naked eye it appeared to have the fault. It was my lucky day…or so I thought!

The newspaper report had implied that the dies that imprint the letters had been used wrongly. Alas, a closer inspection of the supposed faulty coins suggested it was open to question.

The magnification shows clearly that the letter is an ‘R’ not a ‘P’, but because the diagonal of the ‘R’ coincides with a groove in the milling, the indentation is weak and badly defined. I suggest that these Pemember coins are minor imperfections rather than errors and there are none where a die for a letter ‘P’ has been used in place of an ‘R’. It is indistinct, especially to the naked eye, but it is definitely there, indicating that these ‘Pemember’ coins are minor imperfections rather than errors.

So, what is the coin worth? Well, the value – financially – of anything is measured by what someone is prepared to pay for it. Stories in the press said that the coins were selling for as much as £40 but it quickly settled to less than half of this.

The value will probably drop much further when it is realised that this is not a mint error, just a very minor fault and when everyone who wants one, already has one. The coins are not really rare no matter what the vendors on eBay might say. I understand that this error was mentioned in Coin News when the coins were still quite new. At the time it was considered the result of a filled die.


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12 responses to Pemember, Pemember the 5th of November

  1. And I always thought you never liked error coins…..

    I don’t understand the fascination either, but I guess it has to do with scarcity, and being one of a few who own the coin. I will admit to going through thousands of wheat cents looking for recently announced errors, and I still have a lot more to look through. Funny what money does to the mind….

  2. Thanks John all interesting stuff.
    Now I see where the JW chin fuzz originates from as the Winter members and the rest of the Gun Powder Plot gang have the hairy chin growth.
    Keep up the good work.

  3. Great information as always John

  4. I knew you had a rogue gene in you John!!
    Very interesting storey.
    And as for the faulted £2 coins I’m now raking through my pockets to find one!
    Thank you.

  5. thanks for the information John, nice reading as always.


  6. Is it time to resurrect the plot?

    • Did you have someone in particular in your sights, Ian?
      I’ll organise the Lads! 🙂

      • Some people, for reasons I cannot understand, take everything I say quite literally. When I say that I was related to the Wintour Brothers (or Winter), this is just speculation on my part. Who knows? The name’s the same, but that’s all.

        • Careful John, I’m sure you don’t want the King of the Trolls getting to know too much…or it won’t be long before the Gunpowder Plot is blamed on detectorists.

          But detectors weren’t invented then, you might say, indeed that true, but then again he’s never let the truth stand in the way of a good smear.

          Hey Ho!

  7. Ahh the famous Winter brothers, Mike and Bernie wasn’t it!?…and who can forget Schnorbitz the dog.

    Great big lovable hairy bundle of fun, come to think of it John…there’s the family resemblance

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