The biggest money makers in England were throwing away their change in the Solent this week. Where dropping a couple of quid in the sea would usually irk holidaymakers, The Royal Mint has joyfully bobbed a three-metre replica of its current Mary Rose £2 coin on the exact ocean spot where the famous ship sank 500 years ago.
Floated by a team of divers and excavators above the seabed where the Tudor wreck was raised in 1982, the nautical stunt was backed by the Mary Rose Trust and the Royal Navy Fleet Diving Squadron. “In our 1,000-year history, we have never floated a coin before,” admitted Shane Bissett, the Mint’s man for all things commemorative who has overseen the creation of more than 1,500 precious metal versions of the coin, struck in 22-carat gold.
“There seemed no better way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of such an iconic vessel. We produced the Mary Rose coin as a tribute to the world’s only surviving Tudor warship, and hope it serves as a reminder of Britain’s rich heritage as a maritime nation. Executing the idea at sea was an honour as we remember our naval past and look to its future.”
That future includes a new Mary Rose Museum planned for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in 2012. Planners for the site are expecting their adventures to encourage potential visitors to support their fundraising mission. “Our hope is that people will send a Mary Rose £2 coin back to us here in Portsmouth to help us achieve our target,” said John Lippiett, the Chief Executive of the Trust.
“We have much work to do to secure the future of the ship and we are grateful to everyone who supports our fundraising drive to help us build the new Mary Rose Museum here in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.”