This weekend 100 of the world's wealthiest collectors will be meeting in Monte-Carlo for MonacoPhil2009, the world's most prestigious stamp exhibition.
MonacoPhil 2009 will include displays from the collections of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Elizabeth II, financierand the National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.
Each will exhibit a star item from their collection...
The "100 of the World's Rarest Stamps and Philatelic Documents" expo was the brainchild of Alexander D Kroo who suggested to Prince Rainier III of Monaco the idea of creating a new philatelic organisation.
Mr Kroo envisaged a new elite global club - one that would promote high-end philately on a worldwide scale like never before.
In 1998, a highly prestigious philatelic event was held for the first time in Monaco, at which one hundred of the rarest and most treasured stamps in the world and other philatelic documents were displayed.
Several pre-eminent international postal administrations were invited to attend the event - the first of its kind - with each institution or collector displaying a highly rare and unique philately artefact.
Mr Kroo's exhibition was timed to mark the 60th anniversary of the stamp issuing office of Monaco, the Office des Emissions de Timbres-Poste, and also to commemorate seven centuries of the Grimaldi dynasty in Monaco.
It proved to be a huge success; well-received by both participants and the public, who appreciated its unique mix of classic philately with modern commercial products.
The exhibition was complemented by an illustrated and detailed luxury catalogue. Amazingly, the definitive brochure sold 35,000 copies.
In addition, several leading international collectors lent their support.
Each consigned a rarity to the Musée des Timbres et des Monnaies (Stamp and Coin Museum), appearing alongside an outstanding item from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the collection of HSH The Prince of Monaco.
The second event, held the following year in 1999, saw the long-heralded establishment of the Club de Monte-Carlo de l'Elite de la Philatélie.
The Club's membership was limited to institutions and around 100 prestigious collectors, with the Musée des Timbres et des Monnaies as its headquarters.
Its birth was made official at a Gala dinner presided over by Prince Rainier III.
The current President of the Club de Monte-Carlo is Belgian businessman Mr Patrick Maselis.
Paul Fraser is a past member of the Club de Monte-Carlo.
Further successful events in 2000, 2002 and 2004 saw MonacoPhil grow to be regarded as the world's most important international philatelic exhibition.
At MonacoPhil 2006, the club's renowned members played a more active role.
The event showcased over 80 frames from federations and associations, and a further 250 contributed by individual members.
MonacoPhil's famous "collective exhibition" was also introduced in the same year.
Intended as a definitive philately exhibition, and also to inform the public about stamps, the first expo was dedicated to the Papal States.
Since then, MonacoPhil has continued to go from strength to strength.
Today, MonacoPhil 2009 is one of the year's most anticipated global stamp events.
This year's collective exhibition will be devoted to Belgian philately.
The exceptional collection is accompanied by six high quality reference works, all compiled over three years backed by several years of study and countless hours of preparation.
MonacoPhil 2009 will also include a display two of the most expensive and stunning philatelic items in the world: The $6m stamps from the.
We will be attending this year's exhibition, to provide you with a full and in-depth report on the world's most important stamp fair.
Watch this space for further news on what promises to be an experience of a lifetime for philatelists.