The value of money in past centuries
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About 4 decades later a famous song cited "Mamma mamma dammi cento lire che in America voglio andar" 100 lire paid a sea voyage to the States... In the kingdom of the Two Sicilies the cost of life was lower than in the rest of Italy, and also indirect taxes were the lowest, and direct taxes were only levied on land.
The System in 1816
In 1816 a laborer's day was paid 15-20 grana (and on this he meagerly supported his usually large family), a common worker 20 - 40 grana, 55 a specialized worker, 80 grana for craftsmaster; usually 10-15 grana daily were added for the food if not provided on the workplace (this gives us a cue to the cost of one day's food, one tenth of a ducato); a state clerk 15 ducati a month, a lieutnenant 23 ducati, a colonel (among the highest paid) 105 ducati, but the military people did not have to pay for food and housing, receiving it from the state.
Supposing a state clerk had to pay for everything (house, food, clothing) and that it was not a well-paid job, considering there was no cost of service bills or cars, and that rents were very low, we could compare at most it to a current salary of 500 Euros, which is partly an arbitrary conversion, having a conversion of 1 ducato to 30 euros, and would have a colonel's salary at around 3000 euros. In 1816 a roll of bread (890 grams) was 6 grana, the same weight of maccheroni 8 grana, beef 16 grana, one liter wine 3 grana, three pizzas 2 grana - these may feed a family for one day, at a total of 35 grana, that is one third of a ducato.
And Before Then?
Often, they paid professionals (doctors, midwives, notaries) or artisans (cobblers, smiths, carpenters, tailors, jewelers) not in money but with their products. The little money they had was obtained through paid work or the sale of products. So how much money was needed a month? Very little. The land and the farm animals were the great assets of the family.
DENOMINATIONS OF NEAPOLITAN COINS
- "Carlino": a small coin in gold and silver, first minted under Charles I, from whom the name. Equivalent to10 grani, 20 tornesi, 0,4368 lire until 1784, 0,4249 lire from 1784 to 1814.
- "Cavallo": ancient Aragonese coin in copper, circulating in the Neapolitan kingdom until October 1862. Equivalent to 0,0036 lire until 1784; to 0, 0035 from 1784 to 1814.
- "Centesimo": one hundredth of a lira.
- "Doppio": gold coin weighing 5,869 gr.also called doppia napoletana or doppia napoletana di don Carlos. Equivalent to 4 ducati or 18,32 lire.
- "Ducato": silver coin circulating in the Kingdom of Naples and later in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies until 1865.
- "Grano": equivalent to 2 tornesi or 3 quattrini, 12 cavalli, 0,0437 lire until 1784 and 0,0425 lire from 1784 to 1814.
- "Lira": silver monetary unit ethimologically derived from the Latin libra (=pound).
- "Tarì": ancient coin of Arab origin used mostly in Sicily. Equivalent to 20 grani, 40 tornesi and 0, 8737 lire or 0, 08497 lire from 1784 to 1814.
- "Zecchino": gold coin weighing 2,907 gr., also called zecchino napoletano di don Carlos or zecchino napoletano di Ferdinando IV. Equivalent to 2 ducati and 9,07 lire.