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Remember Remember ?

Remember Remember ?

The fifth of November, of course, Gunpowder Treason and Plot ? Well, that’s the cue for yet another pop up special cartophilic celebration, especially written for those of us who cannot attend an outdoor event this year, or are quite understandably unwilling to.

So why do we celebrate at all? Well that is rather curious, because we are in effect ensuring the remembrance of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, with the fireworks reminding us of what would have happened if the act had succeeded, and the “guy” that we burn on the fire not just being any male guy, but instead being an effigy of the bomber Guy (or Guido) Fawkes. And it almost did succeed, except that one of the gang ratted, he was caught in the act, and executed. This is what the story usually says, but in actual fact he remained in charge of his own destiny, and thwarted his executioner by leaping to his death on his own rather than waiting to be killed.

It only took a few months before an Act of Parliament decreed that his criminal act, intended to terminally remove King James and replace him with his daughter, “should never be forgot” as they say in the rhyme, which we still chant today. It was in 1606 that an Act of Parliament decreed that this criminal act “should never be forgot” as they say in the rhyme, which we still chant today.

In fact up until 1959 it was illegal NOT to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.


As to the man himself, he had been a soldier for Spain in the Eighty Years War, though he had been born and educated in York. The only place which did not celebrate by burning an effigy was St. Peter’s School, where he had been educated, though it did have a bonfire.

Guy Fawkes, just as a person, appears on C151-310 [Tobacco : UK] Carreras Cigarettes “Highwaymen” – though we are not sure why! He was never a highway robber. This set was issued in July 1924, and he is card no.14, the back of which has a good biography mentioning his place of birth and his service with the Spanish Army.–guy-fawkes.jpg

To add a spot of humour, he also appears as card 11 of Churchman “Howlers”, issued in 1937, which takes its text from amusing slip ups found in exam papers. For instance “Guy Fawkes chose the 5th of November for his plot because it was Firework Day”. Sadly only three “howlers” appear on this card, but the set is very funny, and you will not be able to resist quoting a few to your friends, then having the additional fun of explaining that they came from a 1930s cigarette card. You can see the front at :

For cards showing his discovery, lets start with Hignett`s “Historical London” card no.14  


This has another very full description, and is one of the few to mention his height, calling him “a very tall and desperate fellow”. This is probably why he appears to tower over his captors, even given the forced perspective in this rather roomy cellar. The same set was also issued by Ogden.

His arrest, rather a struggle, is also shown on W.D. & H.O. Wills “Historic Events” card no.29, which mentions the thirty six barrels of powder, which may be partially glimpsed under the bundles of sticks on the Hignett card above. You can see the Wills’ card at : This set was originally issued in January 1912, but has since been reprinted for collectors, though the colours are quite different if you compare the two. Be very careful if buying odds to make up a part set of this one, because not only must you guard against buying a reproduction, but Wills issued it with and without Imperial Tobacco Company wording along the sides on the reverse, and also it was issued with “Havelock” and “Wills’s Specialities” brands in Australia – plus the same set was also issued by Franklyn Davey in 1924.

C504-515 [tobacco : UK] Churchman “The Houses of Parliament & Their Story” (December 1931) card no.24 shows him alone in the cellar[3]-3924-p.jpg


The firework aspect is less popular on cards and we can only find one full set devoted to them, by Amabilino  Photographic, who issued a large sized set of 30 cards entitled “Display Fireworks” 1988 – these do not appear in our trade indexes because they are “commercial” – that means they were not given away with a product, they were sold as promotional items. But they do appear in dealer’s catalogues.

However, our featured card right at the top is a firework, or a rocket, anyway, that comes from FAC-040 [trade : UK] Facchino Chocolate Wafers “How or Why” (1937). Its card no. 38. These kind of ‘Do You Know’ general information sets often contain subject cards that thematic collectors may miss, so it’s always worth looking through them, especially if you can find a dealer online that sells their stock as pick or select a card. This simply means that the cards are individually listed and often photographed, so you are able to look at, or buy odd or type cards, rather than having to buy a whole set..

Now ZA05-200 [tobacco : UK] R & J Hill “Crystal Palace Souvenir Cards” card no.21 also shows a firework display. Why it has that odd reference code is because the cards are anonymous. This set was originally issued in 1936 with matt fronts, then hurriedly reissued in 1937 shortly after the Palace had burned to the ground (on November 30, 1936). The reissued sets have varnished fronts, and were issued in greater numbers, but both were printed by the same firm, W. Oliver of London. You can tell if a card is varnished by moving it under a light, it will look shiny if it is varnished.

Moving along to almost the present day, Panini has issued cards known as “fireworks fabric” specials. These seem to mostly be American Footballers, and behind the image of the player appears a background that looks like fireworks going off. They seem quite rare as the trading card database lists all the cards but shows few images. However we found one reasonable enlargement at:


Well that’s all for now. We hope you enjoyed our cardboard connection. And our next special event will cover Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

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