Thursday, 11 April 2013

Early photographs of the Monte Carlo Casino

The Monte Carlo Casino, photographed probably about 1890.

When these photographs of Monaco and Monte Carlo were taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s the Casino hade been an international success - and the primary source of income for the ruling Grimaldi family - already for over thirty years.

Monaco with Monte Carlo in 1905.

The man behind the success was the French businessman and property developer François Blanc, who in 1863 took over the casino business. It did not take long for "the Magician of Monte Carlo" to make the Casino to a virtual money machine, both for himself and other investors - and, of course, the Grimaldis.

Among the investors in the company inititated by Blanc were some quite interesting names:

To manage the new venture, a company—the Societe des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers—was formed with capital of 15 million francs. Among the prominent investors were Charles-Bonaventure-François Theuret, Bishop of Monaco, and Cardinal Pecci, the future Pope Leo XIII. Blanc became the single majority stockholder in the company and received a 50-year concession, which would last until 1913. Blanc used his connections to quickly raise the required capital, and began the massive construction. On Blanc's insistence, the Spelugues area where the gambling complex was located was renamed to make it sound more attractive to casino visitors. A few suggestions were considered, and the name Monte Carlo was chosen in Prince Charles' honor.

The Casino in 1905. The gardens were laid out in 1883.

The new gaming room, the Salle des Amériques, was inaugurated in 1881.

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