Remember, Remember the fifth of November? It’s often called Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Day. Strangely enough it celebrates what we would today call an act of terrorism.
Back in 1605 there was a failed assassination attempt to kill the King and members of Parliament. The plot was to use gunpowder to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening. It is often referred to as the Gunpowder plot.
The plot was by a group of provincial English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, in an attempt to kill King James I of England (who was King James VI of Scotland) and members of the predominantly Protestant government. Catesby had many fellow plotters, but in charge of the explosives was an experienced military man called Guy Fawkes.
There was an anonymous letter sent to the authorities telling of the plan and when the House of Lords was searched on 5th November 1605 they found Guy Fawkes and 36 barrels of gunpowder – enough to flatten the entire building. The plotters who didn’t escape were convicted and then subjected to horrible deaths.
King James was so happy to survive he told his subjects to light large bonfires to celebrate. Many of us still celebrate the date with bonfires and gunpowder – as fireworks on Bonfire Night.
In 2005 it was the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot and the Royal Mint commemorated the event with a two pound coin.
It was cleverly designed by artist Peter Forster. The reverse design shows symbols of State, represented by the crossiers, maces and swords surrounded by stars alluding to the survival under threat of the British establishment. The circular arrangement is like a Catherine Wheel and the surrounding stars are more fireworks.
The coin shows the dates 1605 and 2005 with denomination TWO POUNDS below ‘REMEMBER REMEMBER THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER’. The font used is of early seventeenth-century style. The edge is milled with incuse lettering.
The obverse is the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.
The coin is bi-metallic, circular with a diameter of 28.4 mm, thickness of 2.5 mm and weight of 12 g. The composition of the Outer ring is Nickel-brass (76% Cu, 20% Zn and 4% Ni) and the centre centre is Cupro-nickel (75% Cu , 25% Ni).
Mintage was 5,140,500 and were issued for general circulation.
Variants of the 2005 2 Pound Coin
Besides the business strikes, the 2005 2 Pound Coin has been minted as BU, Proof and Silver Proof (issue limited to 10,000).
The two pounds piece was also made of solid 22 carat gold (Gold Fineness of 0.916) with a weight of 15.98 grams. Technically, the gold £2 is a Double Sovereign.
The outer disc is made of ‘red’ gold, with the inner disc being ‘yellow’ gold.
Only 914 of the gold version were produced and some of those went into sets.
The individual coin was originally housed in a Royal Mint acrylic screw top capsule and presented in a Royal Mint green leatherette case, accompanied with an individually numbered certificate of authenticity (COA).
Images by permission of M J Hughes Coins, who are buyers and sellers of gold coins.
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