World Coins

Bronze jeton marks disruption of 1605 Gunpowder Plot

A bronze jeton or medal marks the successful discovery and disruption of the Gunpowder Plot in England. It realized a hammer price of $525 in an online auction that closed April 12.

Medal images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

The course of history would have veered into a totally new direction had the conspirators of England’s Gunpowder Plot not been ratted out the day before Parliament met in 1605.

The discovery and disruption of the plot is celebrated even today, and not surprisingly has been commemorated in numismatic form.

A contemporary bronze jeton issued to commemorate the failed plot sold in Classical Numismatic Group’s e-auction No. 395, which closed April 12. The Good Very Fine jeton, as graded by the auction firm, realized a hammer price of $525, more than five times its estimate of $100. 

The plot was revealed in an anonymous letter sent to William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, on Oct. 26, 1605. 

Plotters upset with a ban on priests in 1604 planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England’s Parliament, killing King James I of England and VI of Scotland. Around midnight before the Parliament opening, conspirator Guy Fawkes was found guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath the House of Commons, and arrested. 

The gunpowder would have also killed everyone within 330 feet of the blast, according to modern researchers.

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Plotters planned to initiate a revolt in the Midlands and install James’s 9-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, as the Catholic head of state. Instead, the plotters fled, but most were captured and executed (one was shot and killed during escape). 

The bronze jeton in the CNG auction is of “uncertain Dutch manufacture.” 

It features Latin inscriptions on both sides.

The obverse inscription DETECTVS · QVI · LATVIT · S · C · translates to “the concealed one is discovered.”

A snake (representing the Jesuits) is coiled rightward, surrounded by roses (indicating England) and a lis (for France).

The reverse bears the inscription NON DORMITASTI ANTISTES IACOBI, translating to “you, the keeper of James, have not slept,” which was adapted from a verse in the book of Psalms, with a rosette and rayed name of God in Hebrew. 

To learn about all the items in the auction, visit the firm’s website.

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