The Prince Who Kept A Watchful Eye On All His Country’s Stamps

Monaco Stamp

Not many countries have a stamp museum quite like Monaco’s.

There probably wouldn’t be a Museum of Stamps And Coins in Monaco if the late Prince Rainier III hadn’t been so passionate about stamps. He was constantly reviewing designs, weighing in on production issues, and retaining the services of distinguished engravers such as Czeslaw Slania.

The prince called stamps, “the best ambassador of a country.”

In 1950, the year Prince Rainier assumed the throne, he launched the Monaco Postal Museum. Today, the Museum of Stamps And Coins is perched atop what is largely an underground shopping mall in Monaco’s Fontvieille District.

It’s not far from the Princess Grace Rose Garden, and Stade Louis II, the stadium that’s home to the AS Monaco FC football club. The museum, the stadium, the rose garden, and Fontvieille have each been featured on a Monaco stamp.

Anchoring the museum’s exhibits are stamps from the collections of Prince Albert I and Prince Louis II.  Every two years, it hosts MonacoPhil, an international exhibition that showcases the world’s most prized stamps.

Monaco’s first stamps were released in 1885. They featured an image of Prince Charles III. Chances are, the prince never actually saw Monaco’s first stamps. For the last ten years of his life he was virtually blind.

Prince Charles was encouraged by his wife, Princess Caroline, to rescue the royal family from certain financial ruin by opening a casino in Monte Carlo. The casino was not an overnight success. In 1856, the year it opened, there was no road or railroad connecting Monaco with nearby Nice, France.

Casino management changed and so did the location. It wasn’t until 1878 that the casino was a going concern, and able to help cement Monaco’s unsurpassed reputation for elegance, beauty, and charm.

In 1921, the first Women’s World Games, forerunner to today’s International Women’s World Games, were held in the casino’s gardens.

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