On this day 125 years ago – 4 November 1891

The "Salle Mauresque" (Moorish Room, so-called because of the style of decoration used).  In this room Charles Deville Wells broke the bank several times.
The “Salle Mauresque” (Moorish Room), so-called because of the style of decoration. In this room Charles Deville Wells broke the bank several times.  (At the time of the illustration shown here, it was known as the “Salle Schmit”, after a later architect who worked on the décor)

After a disastrous start, when he lost the equivalent of £400,000 in a day, Wells started over again on 4 November (see previous post).  This time, though, he placed bets of about £500 in today’s values – much smaller sums than previously.  Perhaps he was just being unusually cautious: but it’s possible that he really was down to his last few francs.   According to a report in The Times:

Commencing yesterday with the modest sum of six louis*, and gradually increasing the amount, he in the course of the sitting won the sum of 98,000 francs [thus more or less recouping the sum he had lost earlier].  An excited crowd gathered round the tables in the Casino today to watch the successful player, and their expectations were not disappointed.  Mr. Wells made a vigorous attack on the bank, and at the close of play had amassed a pile of 70,000 f, bringing up the total of his winnings since his arrival in Monte Carlo to over 250,000 f [£1 million].

Charles Deville Wells had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.  But would luck be on his side for the rest of his stay, or would the Casino win back everything he had won so far?

To be continued.

*The louis was a small gold coin with a face value of 20 francs [worth about £100 in present-day purchasing power].

NOTE:  The news report quoted above was published in The Times of 6 November, 1891.  In that era a delay of a couple of days in reporting news from afar was not unusual.  I was fascinated to see how – over the following days – many smaller British papers shamelessly copied the Times article, often word-for-word.  Some credited The Times as their source, while others did not.  Some even had the audacity to use such phrases as ‘from our correspondent’ to make it appear that the piece was their own ‘scoop’.  In fact, it would have been prohibitively expensive for local and provincial newspapers to have overseas correspondents in all parts of the world to report such stories.

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