It is a great pleasure to celebrate the 500th anniversary of such a great national icon as the Mary Rose on a UK commemorative £2 coin this year.
Providing a unique insight into Tudor life, the iconic warship, reclaimed from the deep in 1982, now rests at her home in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard while her incredible story continues to fascinate each generation.
The special reverse for the £2 coin was created by John Bergdahl FRBS who was inspired by the drawing of her included in the pictorial survey of Henry VIII’s navy compiled in 1546 by an official in the ordnance office. Originally comprising three rolls of vellum, the manuscript features paintings of each of the king's 58 ships, below which are set details of their guns, shot, and related equipment. Several of the illustrations have become familiar, especially that of the Mary Rose, herself already a wreck when the work was presented to the king.
John explains: ‘After a trip to the museum currently the home to the Mary Rose, I was immediately inspired by the only acknowledged painting of this iconic vessel – an image that I used as the basis for my design.’
The carrack Tudor warship profile is clearly shown, with the high ‘castles’ fore and aft and an impressive number of heavy guns pointing through the newly invented gunports. Looking at the stern of the ship, it’s easy to see the gradually narrowing width of the decks, designed to make the ship more stable and to make boarding more difficult. The Mary Rose is complete with the all-important banners and streamers that made Tudor vessels so majestic and awe-inspiring.
The gold and silver commemorative £2 coins have all been struck to Proof quality and the Mary Rose stands out in frosted relief against the polished table of the coin. The outer ring includes the surrounding inscription bearing the ship’s famous name in Tudor script while the words YOUR NOBLEST SHIPPE 1511 provide an appropriate edge inscription and have been taken from a letter written by Sir Edward Howard, Lord Admiral onboard the Mary Rose, to the King. 22 March 1513.