Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum

Queen of Fences


"It takes brains to be a real lady."

Marm Mandelbaum
“Mother Mandelbaum” from Recollections of a New York Chief of Police (1887) by George W. Walling

Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum, nicknamed Queen of Fences, was a criminal working in the 13th Ward. She fenced stolen goods, knowingly buying stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit. She acted as a middleman between thieves and the eventual buyers of stolen goods. Over her career, she dealt with between $1 to 5 million in stolen goods. She was first recorded by the police in 1862 for peddling stolen merchandise door to door. In 1884, she was finally arrested through a sting operation, but escaped on bail. She lived in Canada until her death though she allegedly returned to New York in disguise, to attend the funeral of her daughter.

"I would gladly forfeit every penny of my wealth in order to once again breathe freely the atmosphere of the 13th ward."