Charles Wells claimed on several occasions that he had developed a unique system for winning at Monte Carlo, though naturally he did not go into any great detail. He is quoted as having said that capital of £6,000 was needed for the system to succeed, though on this – his first known visit – he evidently made do with just £4,000. Over the next few days he reportedly turned this sum into £40,000, worth about four million pounds in present-day values.

In my most recent post I mentioned that, immediately before leaving for Monte Carlo, Wells had advertised for a loan of £75, offering to pay no less than 15% interest. Yet he arrived at Monte Carlo the very next day with £4,000 stake money.

Initially I wondered whether he could have borrowed £75 from each of about 50 different lenders – the total would have come to about £4,000. On reflection I dismissed this theory: it would have been difficult to find 50 lenders, and it would have taken far too long to contact them all. In any case, why not borrow the whole sum of £4,000 from a single person?

Another possibility is that he already had £4,000 to gamble with, but needed to pay for his ticket to Monte Carlo, and expenses during the few days he was there. But £75 was a large sum, the equivalent of some £7,500 in today’s values – much more than he would have needed for the fare and a week in a hotel. Moreover, his arrival in Monte Carlo on the following day, 28 July, was widely reported in the press. Would it have been possible to make contact with a lender on the 27th, collect the money, and still have time to make the journey and arrive at the Casino on the 28th?

TO BE CONTINUED.