From 22 to 25 October, the Museum of Stamps and Coins will host a temporary exhibition titled “The Principality of Monaco and Trade with the Levant at the Time of the Luigini (17th Century)”.

It will be short but sweet. The 4-day long exhibition at Monaco’s Museum of Stamps and Coins will explore the surprising link between the Principality and the Ottoman empire. The museum promises a “spectacular exhibition” which will display “very rare and very beautiful old coins”.  Archive documents and rare books will also be on show.

A coin Ottomans fell in love with

Monaco begins to trade with the Ottoman Empire in 1659, which at the time was also known as the “Levant”. In partnership with Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the French Finance Minister at the time, Monaco takes part in issuing the coins required for trade. The coins depict the Princess of Dombes, a cousin of French King Louis XIV. “The Turks were so entranced by the coins depicting the portrait of the Princess of Dombes that they overvalued them and paid up to twice their issue value, turning them into a commodity,” explains the museum.

Due to the coins’ success, Prince Louis 1st of Monaco and other lords of the Italian Riviera decide to mint fake coins, depicting “outrageously imitated portraits of the Princess of Dombes”. The coins would later be known as “Luigini” or little Louis. To maximise profits, some swindlers even cheated on the weight and the title of the coins. Find out more about the full story at Monaco’s Museum of Stamps and Coins from 22 to 25 October.