Nicholas Pocock, Nelson’s Flagship at Anchor (detail), 1807

Here follows a photo-story of the reinstatement of lettering on one of England’s most iconic ships, HMS Victory, Horatio Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In October 2015, the lettering was drawn and directed by John Morgan and Adrien Vasquez, painted by Phil Surey, with guidance and historical research by James Mosley.

The name of HMS Victory, the oldest ship of the Royal Navy still in commission, launched in 1765, has been repainted. When Victory was repainted, many times over, during the 19th and 20th centuries, the name was naturally also redone, so the original letters were replaced. In 2005, when the ship was refurbished for the two-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the name was painted in a roman letter that was based on the inscription on the Column of Trajan in Rome, a style which was used during the 20th century for lettering on many historical monuments. Unfortunately this was a style that was quite unknown in Britain in 1805. During the current repainting of the ship, the style of the name has been painted in a bold and vigorous style that is based on the traditional lettering that is known to have been in use at that date. (James Mosley)


Nicholas Pocock, The ‘Brunswick’ and the ‘Vengeur du Peuple’ at the Battle of the First of June, 1794 (detail), 1795
Capitals from George Bickman’s Universal Penman, 1733
Trying out letters at real size on the stern of the ship
Our lettering for the stern of HMS Victory
Phil Surey tracing the outlines of the ‘R’
The ‘R’ outlined in chalk
Phil Surey painting the name of HMS Victory
A look at the finished name
HMS Victory in dry dock, Portsmouth, 2015