The fascinating story of Prince Albert I’s floating time capsules 

time capsule prince albert

Did you know that in the 1800s, Prince Albert I of Monaco, the “Explorer Prince”, released almost 1,700 floating time capsules into the sea?  

During his time on sea voyages in 1885, 1886 and 1887, Monaco’s Prince Albert I (1848-1922) launched close to 1,700 floating time capsules into the water. Around 15% of these objects, which took the form of a pear in glass and covered in copper, not unlike a buoy, would eventually make their way back to the Principality from such far-flung places as the Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean, Norway and the Atlantic coasts of Brittany, Spain and Portugal.  

Inside and safely encased in the fascinating capsules was a message from the Prince himself, a man who dedicated much of his life to the sea, oceanography and science, that asked the person who had come across one of these “flotteurs” to send the information of where and when it had been found to the Monegasque authorities.

Today, the story of the capsules that were located is retold at Monaco’s famous Oceanographic Museum, which was opened by the Prince in 1910, just a few years after the establishment of his Institute of Oceanography in 1906. Their wondrous tale forms part of the permanent exhibition on the “Prince of the Seas”, which includes a 27-metre-long replica of the ship Prince Albert I embarked on for one of his many voyages of discovery. 

There’s also a comic book available to buy at the museum shop called “Albert I er de Monaco, Le Prince Explorateur”, which was published by Éditions Glénat, that features scenes involving these historic time capsules.  


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Photo credit: Éditions Glénat BD