To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the launch of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, a special £2 coin was issued by the Royal Mint in 2011. It set sail from Portsmouth in July 1511 and served for 33 years during conflicts with Scotland, France, and Brittany.
Read on to discover the story behind the 2011 Mary Rose £2 coin, its design, and how much it is worth today.
History of the coin
The Mary Rose, built and completed at Portsmouth Harbour in 1511 for Henry VIII, was named after his beloved sister, Mary Tudor. This historic ship was the first to have gun-ports to accommodate carrying six or eight large guns. It has been suggested that Henry had insisted on the design, perhaps a reason why he was so proud of the Mary Rose.
The Mary Rose was a large carrack-type warship with multiple masts and designed to engage enemy ships at close range, enabling soldiers to board and fire.
The ship successfully sailed in campaigns against France and was the pride and joy of England's Royal Navy. But on 19th July 1545, while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet, during the Battle of the Solent in the English Channel, the ship sank in the Solent, the straits north of the Isle of Wight.
The captain of the Mary Rose was Roger Grenville when it sank. Out of the 200 sailors, 185 soldiers, and 30 gunners on board, only about 34 survived.
After many attempts, it was retrieved from the sea bed in 1982.
In Portsmouth, a new museum opened in 2012 to house the ship. At Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the new museum brings together the ship and 19,000 of its artifacts, including the skeleton of Hatch, the ship's dog.
The chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, Rear Adm John Lippiett, said "This elegant new coin is a fitting tribute to the world's only surviving Tudor warship."
He urged people to donate £2 each to the fund for the museum. He said without the money "the future of this national icon is not yet secured".
Dr Kevin Clancy, head of historical services at the Royal Mint, said: "We were especially impressed with the way the designer captured the stature and presence of this great Tudor ship on the coin."
Design of the coin
The reverse of this commemorative Mary Rose Two-Pound coin has a design that honours the 500th anniversary of the warship Mary Rose.
The £2 coin features an impressive image of the ship by artist John Bergdahl, inspired by the iconic vessel's only acknowledged painting by Anthony Roll.
The coin showcases the ship's renowned name in Tudor script THE MARY ROSE across the top of the reverse with the inscription YOUR NOBLEST SHIPPE 1511 encircling the edge. These words were penned by Sir Edward Howard, Lord Admiral aboard the Mary Rose, in a letter to the King in March 1513.
The coin showcases Henry VIII’s flagship, sailing proudly with waving flags and grand masts. A legend surrounds the image on the outer rim.
The lettering on the legend reads TWO POUNDS at the base of the coin.
The designer of the special coin, John Bergdahl was inspired by the painting during his visit to the Mary Rose museum. It depicts a side view of the Mary Rose at sea with its masts and flags fluttering in the wind.
The initials JB are also present on the coin which stand for the engraver, John Bergdahl. Find them toward the bottom left of the ship.
The obverse of the coin features the Fourth Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II facing right that appeared on the Two-Pound coin from 1998 to 2015. She is wearing the “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland” diamond tiara. The infamous tiara was a wedding gift from Her Majesty’s grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1947.
The initials IRB are present just beneath her portrait which stand for the artist Ian Rank-Broadley. Also below her head on the outer ring, centred on the bottom is the date 2011.
Surrounding her head all around the outer circle is her legendary ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF which translates from Latin to mean Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.
The Fourth Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, in this iteration facing right, is depicted on the coin's obverse. From 1998 to 2015, this design was featured on the two pound coin.
Her Majesty's grandmother, Queen Mary, gave her the diamond tiara known as the "Girls of Great Britain and Ireland" as a wedding present in 1947.
Her image is immediately followed by the letters IRB, which stand for the initials of artist Ian Rank-Broadley.
The famous ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG FID DEF, which translates from Latin to read Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith, is inscribed around her head and all the way around the outer circle.
Mintage of the Coin
Only 1,040,000 Mary Rose £2 coins were minted and entered circulation in 2011. A mintage of just over 1 million is considered very low for a £2 coin and is similar mintage to the 2011 King James Bible £2 coin released in the same year which had a mintage of only 975,000
Additional versions were minted of the 2011 Mary Rose £2 coin namely 25,000 Uncirculated coins in a presentation folder, 20,000 Silver Proofs, 4,000 Silver Piedfort Proofs and just 1,000 Gold Proof versions.
How rare is the 2011 Mary Rose £2 Coin?
In terms of rarity, the Mary Rose £2 is considered to be one of the rarest £2 coins in circulation due to its low mintage of just over 1 million.
Although you are still able to find one in your change, the Mary Rose £2 coin has been in circulation for over 12 years now, and with coin collectors adding them to their collection thus taking them out of circulation, these coins are becoming harder and harder to find. If you do happen to find one, it is definitely worth hanging on to.
How much is the 2011 Mary Rose Two Pound coin worth?
The 2011 Mary Rose £2 coin is worth around £8.25 in good condition, which is considerably more than face value and the value of this coin is steadily increasing.
Where can I buy the 2011 Mary Rose £2 Coin?
You can buy the 2011 Mary Rose £2 coin online on auction sites such as eBay or Amazon but please ensure you look at all the information and reputation of the seller.
Alternatively, you can buy it from us by clicking here.
Unfortunately, as this coin is now 12 years old, the Royal Mint no longer stocks this coin so it is only available to buy on the secondary market.
Are there any known errors of this coin?
The Royal Mint has not confirmed any official errors for this coin so please beware of any sellers trying to inflate the selling price by claiming they have an error coin.
The writing on the side of the coin can be either one way or the other and there is an equal chance of it being either upside down or the other way, it is not an error.
Bit of trivia...
No-one fully knows why the Mary Rose sank. The only confirmed eyewitness, a Flemish sailor who escaped from the sinking vessel, claims the Mary Rose had fired all of her guns on one side and was turning sharply when her sails were caught in a strong gust of wind, which pushed the still open gun-ports below the waterline causing seawater to pour in. Other accounts agree she was turning and that there had been a sudden breeze, but believe there were other factors, such as inexperienced crew, or the ship was simply too heavy with all the guns, ammunition and crew.