Rosenbom is a unique wooden statue and poor-box from the 18th century, representing a begging boatswain. To put money in the box you must lift the hat. The statue stands outside the Admiralty Church in Karlskrona and is one of the most frequently visited attractions in the city and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
A locally produced Rosenbom
The figurine of Rosenbom was designed and produced by Walter Garstecki in the late 60’s. Today the figurine is reproduced in Karlskrona, completely handmade, in glaced stoneware to get a modern look. It comes in five colours, each colour in a limited edition.
Designer Walter Garstecki
Walter Garstecki (1913 -1991) worked as a designer at Karlskrona Porcelain factory in 1934-68. When the factory shot down in 1968 he started the Kera-studio where he produced this fantastic, fine model of Rosenbom. It was sold as a souvenir and when he retired, ”Swedish Metal Art” got the moulds and continued the production for a few years. In 2014 the moulds were found and Lasse Carlsson restarted the production.
The history about the begger Rosenbom
Rosenbom was a poor father of many children, who because of sickness (probably malaria) had to stop working. His correct name was believed to be Mats Hendriksson Rosenbom. He came, as many others, to the new town Karlskrona from Åland in the fall of 1679 to work at the shipyard builing boats. He was one of the first inhabitants in the new town. When he came to Karlskrona he had the lowest grade of commissioned officer-leading seaman on the ship “SUN”. In 1689 he advanced to work as a Constable. He lived with his wife and children at Björkholmen 5, where he had a lot and a cottage.
During a begging round among the burgess population of the town on New Year’s night 1717 alcohol was generously offered which resulted in Rosenbom becoming more and more drunk. At Captain Lagerbjerke’s, he lost his hat when he bowed too deep, which the captain found to be amusing and said: ”If one wants a thank you from Rosenbom one must lift his hat“. Then Rosenbom staggered further, while he cheerfully repeated the words that Lagerbjelke had said.
When Rosenbom arrived at sculptor Kolby’s he recited the rigmarole cheerfully on shaky legs. Kolby was not amused, but instead got mad and gave the visitor a few slaps on the ear before he threw him out of the house and Rosenbom ended up in a snowdrift. After a while Kolby had regrets and went outside to look for Rosenbom who got scared when he saw Kolby coming out of the house and therefore ran to the Admiralty Church to hide. Kolby did not succeed in finding Rosenbom so he returned home.
The next morning Rosenbom was found frozen to death leaning at the churchwall with one hand stretched out like a beggar. Kolby who worked with figurehead sculpting then made a wooden sculpture of Rosenbom in form of a poor-box where one hand is stretched out and the other hand holds a placard with the words below.
Humbly I beg you
come put some
but lift upon my hat
Blessed the one who cares
about the poor
Since that day Rosenbom is standing outside the Admiralty Church – Ulrika Pia, the largest wooden church of Sweden.
Rosenbom of today
After 200 years of service outside the Admiralty Church Rosenbom started to be old and worn. He was moved inside the church to be shielded from weather and wind and a new Rosenbom was to take his place. In 1956 shipyard statuary worker and sculptor Karl ”Hästö-Calle” Karlsson got the commission to carve a new Rosenbom that today is standing outside the church.