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The Rise of the Mob: Silver Coin of the Two Sicilies Box


The Italian mob is not a monolithic organization, but rather two distinct crime syndicates: the Sicilian mafia, headquartered in Palermo, and the Naples-based Camorra. Both emerged in the early nineteenth century, when southern Italy was the dominion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.-At the turn of the 19th century, southern Italy was a backwater the poorest and least progressive region of Western Europe. Its economy was feudal, its population illiterate. This began to change at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, with the founding of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. As the old feudal system broke down, there was an enormous spike in landowners from 12,000 in 1812 to 20,000 in 1861. The bureaucratic administration of the king, Ferdinand II, did not grow quickly enough to accommodate the sudden demand for civil servants. The Sicilian mafia and the Neapolitan Camorra filled this power vacuum. Once simple bandits and horse thieves, the mob took advantage of the opportunity, devising ever more elaborate criminal enterprises. By the end of Ferdinand's long reign, both crime syndicates were firmly entrenched, and remain highly influential in both Italy and the United States.-Certificate of Authenticity-This silver 120 grana coin was issued by King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, who reigned from 1830-1859 a 29-year period that coincided with the rise of the mob. Coins like this were collected from new landowners by mafia agents as protection money.