On this day 125 years ago: 25 July 1891

The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo Charles Deville wells gambler fraudster extraordinaire Robin Quinnobin Quinn
A view of the famous Monte Carlo Casino from the south-western side, with a glimpse of the harbour (right).

On this day an advertisement in the Illustrated London News described Monte Carlo in the most complimentary terms as,

one of the most quiet, charming, and interesting of spots on the Mediterranean sea-coast. The Principality has a tropical vegetation, yet the summer heat is always tempered by the sea-breezes. The beach is covered with the softest sand; the Hotels are grand and numerous, with warm sea-baths; and there are comfortable villas and apartments, replete with every comfort. … There is, perhaps, no town in the world that can compare in the beauty of its position with Monte Carlo, or its special fascinations and attractions—not only by the favoured climate and the inviting scenery, but also the facilities of every kind for relief in cases of illness and disease, or for the restoration of health—in short, Monaco and Monte Carlo enjoy perpetual spring. Monte Carlo is only thirty-two hours from London and forty minutes from Nice.

In his gushing praise for Monte Carlo, the writer of this advertisement carefully avoided all mention of the Casino, regarded by many British people of the Victorian era as a “hell on earth” which was sure to undermine the morals of those who ventured inside its gilded halls.  From a more practical point of view, to claim that Monte Carlo enjoyed ‘perpetual spring’ was not quite true.  July and August in the principality of Monaco could be extremely uncomfortable because of the heat.  Despite the temperature (not to mention the possibility of eternal damnation), as the end of July approached, Charles Deville Wells prepared to make his legendary trip to the Casino, where he would soon win the equivalent of £4 million in today’s money and be known to history as ‘The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo’

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