Thursday, 14 March 2013

How much did things cost in 1850's USA?

[This is just being posted incase anyone finds it interesting.  It's not relevant to men's issues in anyway that I can think of.]

Here's a small list of various things from 1850's (and 1840's and 1860's) and how much they cost.  I've also included a list of jobs with their respective wages/salaries so that you can see how long you would've had to work to buy a kilogram of salted beef, or a colt revolver, or a pair of boots, or the 'Mexican Cession' (New Mexico and California), or whatever.

All of the figures have been standardised to kilograms and litres for ease of comparison (nearly all of the original data was in a numerous measures including lbs, bushels, gallons, quarts, barrels etc).  The wages have also been standardised to days, weeks and years also for ease of comparison. 

The original sources for all of the data is listed on the right hand side, and the hyperlinks for these sources are at the bottom of the page.

If you want to find the cost of a particular item, like a horse or a loaf of bread, then just press 'Ctrl' and 'F' on your keyboard and type the item in question.

If you are interested in manipulating the data further (e.g. putting all of the 'coffee' data in one collumn and comparing the variation in price) then it should be relatively easy to transfer the data into a spreadsheet.




Occupational IncomeIncome Per:




OccupationDayWeekYearYearLocationSource

Common Labouer$0.88$4.40$228.001851Lake Erie Canal[15]
Carpenter$1.50$7.50$390.001851Lake Erie Canal[15]
Common Labouer$1.00$5.00$260.001854Lake Erie Canal[15]
Carpenter$1.75$8.75$455.801854Lake Erie Canal[15]







Laborer$0.41$2.05$106.601821-30Philadelphia[16]
Laborer$0.43$2.15$111.741821-30Philadelphia[16]
Laborer$0.44$2.20$114.601841-50Brandywine[16]
Laborer$0.40$2.00$104.001841-50Maryland[16]
Laborer$0.50$2.50$130.001841-50Massachussetts[16]
Laborer$0.53$2.63$136.801841-50Maryland[16]







Trapper$11.54$57.69$3,000.001831Utah[17]
Trapper$1.15$5.77$300.001840Utah[17]
Unspecified general labour$1.92$9.62$500.001840Utah[17]







Unskilled Laborer$0.75$3.75$195.001840'sn/a[18]
Shirtmaker (Paid for each shirt made, female)$0.18$0.90$46.801833New York[18]
Railroad Contractor (Irish)$0.55$2.75$143.001851-1852New York[18]







Pony Station Rider [with board and room]$2.31$11.54$600.001860California[1]







Gold Miner$10.00$50.00$2,600.001860California[2]



The Union Army:





Private [Up to 20 June 64]$0.60$3.00$156.001860'sn/a[19]
Private [from June 1864]$0.74$3.69$192.001860'sn/a[19]
Corporal [Union NCOs were paid at a similar rate to Confederacy NCOs]$0.60$3.00$156.001860'sn/a[19]
'Buck' Sergeants [Union NCOs were paid at a similar rate to Confederacy NCOs]$0.78$3.92$204.001860'sn/a[19]
First Sergeants [Union NCOs were paid at a similar rate to Confederacy NCOs]$0.92$4.62$240.001860'sn/a[19]
Engineer Sergeants [Union NCOs were paid at a similar rate to Confederacy NCOs]$1.57$7.85$408.001860'sn/a[19]
First Lieutenant$4.87$24.35$1,266.001860'sn/a[19]
Second Lieutenant$4.87$24.35$1,266.001860'sn/a[19]
Captain$5.33$26.62$1,386.001860'sn/a[19]
Staff Officer$5.56$27.81$1,446.001860'sn/a[19]
Major$7.80$39.00$2,028.001860'sn/a[19]
Lieutenant Colonel$8.35$41.77$2,172.001860'sn/a[19]
Colonel$9.78$48.92$2,544.001860'sn/a[19]
One star General$14.54$72.69$3,780.001860'sn/a[19]
Two star General$21.09$105.46$5,484.001860'sn/a[19]
Three star general$34.98$174.92$9,096.001860'sn/a[19]














The Confederate Army:





Private [Up to June 1864]$0.51$2.54$132.001860'sn/a[19]
Private [from June 1864]$0.83$4.15$216.001860'sn/a[19]
Corporal$0.60$3.00$156.001860'sn/a[19]
'Buck' Sergeants$0.78$3.92$204.001860'sn/a[19]
First Sergeants$0.92$4.62$240.001860'sn/a[19]
Engineer Sergeants$1.57$7.85$408.001860'sn/a[19]
Colonel (infantry)$9.00$45.00$2,340.001860'sn/a[19]
Colonel (artillery, engineer, cavalry)$9.69$48.46$2,520.001860'sn/a[19]
Brigadier General (1 star General)$13.89$69.46$3,612.001860'sn/a[19]




Commodities:
Cost per X Units: [1], [2]



ItemUnit of Measure1 Unit1000 UnitsYearLocationSource
CoffeeKilogram$0.40$396.481853Texas[1]
BeansLitre$0.09$92.451853Texas[1]
FlourKilogram$0.11$110.131853Texas[1]
Hard BreadKilogram$0.22$220.261853Texas[1]
RiceKilogram$0.22$220.261853Texas[1]
BaconKilogram$0.33$330.401853Texas[1]
Fresh BeefKilogram$0.11$110.131853Texas[1]
PorkKilogram$0.24$242.291853Texas[1]
Salt BeefKilogram$0.20$198.241853Texas[1]
SugarKilogram$0.18$176.211853Texas[1]
VinegarLitre$0.06$55.031853Texas[1]







CoffeeKilogram$0.44$440.531861Wisconsin[1]
TeaKilogram$1.65$1,651.981861Wisconsin[1]
ButterKilogram$0.40$396.481861Wisconsin[1]
CheeseKilogram$0.31$308.371861Wisconsin[1]
EggsEach$0.02$15.001861Wisconsin[1]
LardKilogram$0.26$264.321861Wisconsin[1]
CranberriesLitre$0.11$105.661861Wisconsin[1]
CurrantsKilogram$0.26$264.321861Wisconsin[1]
Dried applesKilogram$0.20$198.241861Wisconsin[1]
Dried peachesKilogram$0.44$440.531861Wisconsin[1]
Hubbard squashKilogram$0.02$22.031861Wisconsin[1]
LemonsEach$0.03$30.001861Wisconsin[1]
PotatoesKilogram$0.01$8.441861Wisconsin[1]
RaisinsKilogram$0.44$440.531861Wisconsin[1]
SquashesEach$0.03$30.001861Wisconsin[1]
Sweet potatoesKilogram$0.07$73.421861Wisconsin[1]
BarleyKilogram$0.01$9.911861Wisconsin[1]
Bran & shortsKilogram$0.01$13.221861Wisconsin[1]
Corn mealKilogram$0.04$44.051861Wisconsin[1]
Indian corn in cobbKilogram$0.01$5.511861Wisconsin[1]
Indian corn, shelledKilogram$0.01$7.711861Wisconsin[1]
OatsKilogram$0.00$4.411861Wisconsin[1]
RyeKilogram$0.01$9.911861Wisconsin[1]
Rye flourKilogram$0.05$49.561861Wisconsin[1]
WheatKilogram$0.01$14.321861Wisconsin[1]
Wheat flourKilogram$0.05$52.861861Wisconsin[1]
BeefKilogram$0.07$66.081861Wisconsin[1]
CodfishKilogram$0.13$132.161861Wisconsin[1]
HamsKilogram$0.31$308.371861Wisconsin[1]
HobsKilogram$0.13$132.161861Wisconsin[1]
Lake Michigan troutKilogram$0.18$176.211861Wisconsin[1]
LambsKilogram$0.05$51.761861Wisconsin[1]
Veal calves (6 weeks old)Kilogram$0.07$66.081861Wisconsin[1]
Brown sugarKilogram$0.20$198.241861Wisconsin[1]
Common saltKilogram$0.06$60.571861Wisconsin[1]
HoneyKilogram$0.55$550.661861Wisconsin[1]
MolassesLitre$0.11$110.061861Wisconsin[1]
Vinegar (cider)Litre$0.06$55.031861Wisconsin[1]
White sugarKilogram$0.31$308.371861Wisconsin[1]







CheeseKilogram$3.30$3,303.961849California[2]
FlourKilogram$1.10$1,101.321849California[2]
Fresh beef Kilogram$0.77$770.931849California[2]
PorkKilogram$1.65$1,651.981849California[2]
SugarKilogram$1.10$1,101.321849California[2]







BrickEach$0.08$80.001849California[2]
LumberEach$0.15$150.001849California[2]
CoffeeKilogram$0.35$352.421849California[2]
TeasKilogram$2.20$2,202.641849California[2]
ButterKilogram$2.20$2,202.641849California[2]
CheeseKilogram$2.20$2,202.641849California[2]
FlourKilogram$0.40$396.481849California[2]
RiceKilogram$0.22$220.261849California[2]
Fresh PorkKilogram$0.55$550.661849California[2]
HamKilogram$2.20$2,202.641849California[2]







BlanketsEach$100.00$100,000.001849California[2]
BootsPair$25.00$25,000.001849California[2]
ShoesPair$12.00$12,000.001849California[2]
CoffeeKilogram$0.73$726.871849California[2]
BeansKilogram$0.44$440.531849California[2]
PotatoesKilogram$0.31$308.371849California[2]
FlourKilogram$0.88$881.061849California[2]
RiceKilogram$0.66$660.791849California[2]
SugarKilogram$0.66$660.791849California[2]







FlourKilogram$0.66$660.791849California[2]
BeefKilogram$1.65$1,651.981849California[2]
Salt PorkKilogram$1.65$1,651.981849California[2]
MolassesLitre$0.88$880.501849California[2]
Sugar Kilogram$1.10$1,101.321849California[2]
Mining CradlesEach$60.00$6,000.001849California[2]
Mining PansEach$8.00$8,000.001849California[2]
MulesEach$150.00$150,000.001849California[2]
OxenEach$150.00$150,000.001849California[2]
WagonsEach$80.00$80,000.001849California[2]







MocassinsPair$1.00$1,000.001849Utah[3]
ButterKilogram$0.44$440.531849Utah[3]
CheeseKilogram$0.55$550.661849Utah[3]
MilkLitre$0.09$88.051849Utah[3]
PotatoesKilogram$0.04$36.711849Utah[3]
FlourKilogram$0.04$44.051849Utah[3]
BeefKilogram$0.22$220.261849Utah[3]
SugarKilogram$1.10$1,101.321849Utah[3]







HayKilogram$0.04$44.051850n/a[4]
HempKilogram$0.11$110.131850n/a[4]
HopsKilogram$0.22$220.261850n/a[4]
FlaxKilogram$0.33$330.401850n/a[4]
Maple SyrupKilogram$0.18$176.211850n/a[4]
TobaccoKilogram$0.22$220.261850n/a[4]
WoolKilogram$0.77$770.931850n/a[4]
Butter and CheeseKilogram$0.33$330.401850n/a[4]
Beeswax and HoneyKilogram$0.33$330.401850n/a[4]
CottonKilogram$0.18$176.211850n/a[4]
RiceKilogram$0.09$88.161850n/a[4]







RumLitre$0.17$170.001833n/a[5]
BeefKilogram$0.07$66.001847n/a[5]
ButterKilogram$0.38$380.001848n/a[5]
WhiskyLitre$0.08$80.001848n/a[5]
SugarKilogram$0.19$190.001850n/a[5]
PorkKilogram$0.13$130.001850n/a[5]
BaconKilogram$0.20$200.001850n/a[5]







Blanket (serape)Each$80.00$80,000.001849California[6]
HandkerchiefEach$1.08$1,080.001849California[6]
Flannel ShirtEach$8.00$8,000.001849California[6]
Blankets (bed)Each$25.00$25,000.001849California[6]
BootsPair$24.00$24,000.001849California[6]
Uniform JacketEach$32.00$32,000.001849California[6]
ThreadKilogram$2.25$2,250.001849California[6]
TrousersEach$18.00$18,000.001849California[6]
Tin of CrackersEach$8.50$8,500.001849California[6]
Box of ChocolatesEach$40.00$40,000.001849California[6]
Tea SetEach$24.00$24,000.001849California[6]







TobaccoKilogram$0.06$60.571846Kentucky[7]
FeathersKilogram$0.55$550.661846Kentucky[7]
Cured MeatKilogram$0.13$132.161846Kentucky[7]
EggsEach$0.01$5.001846Kentucky[7]
WhiskyLitre$0.08$83.631846Kentucky[7]
SugarKilogram$0.22$220.261846Kentucky[7]
CoffeeKilogram$0.28$275.331846Kentucky[7]
PepperKilogram$0.57$572.691846Kentucky[7]
CoffeeKilogram$0.28$275.331846Kentucky[7]
Fine Tooth CombEach$0.15$150.001846Kentucky[7]
Tuck CombEach$0.17$170.001846Kentucky[7]
CandlesKilogram$0.28$275.331846Kentucky[7]
TallowKilogram$0.14$139.501846Kentucky[7]
Ball of Candle WickEach$0.13$130.001846Kentucky[7]
Candle MoldsPair$0.87$870.001846Kentucky[7]
WhiskyLitre$0.08$83.631846Kentucky[7]
WhiskyLitre$0.04$44.011846Kentucky[7]
Whisky Barrel (Empty)Each$0.50$500.001846Kentucky[7]







PeltsKilogram$13.22$13,215.861831Utah[8]
PeltsKilogram$4.41$4,405.291840Utah[8]







Colt RevolverEach$10.00$10,000.001847n/a[9]







Colt Revolver (Retail Price)Each$25.00$25,000.001861Missouri[10]







Springfield Model 1861 RifleEach$20.00$20,000.001861n/a[11]







Springfield Model 1861 Rifle (Manufacturing cost at the official armory)Each$12.00$12,000.001861n/a[12]
Springfield Model 1861 Rifle (Manufacturing cost at private armories)Each$14.00$14,000.00
n/a[12]







Gatling GunEach$1,000.00$1,000,000.001864n/a[12]







Slave ('in the prime of his life')Each$1,600.00
1859Georgia[14]
Slave (mean average price at the auction)Each$708.28
1859Georgia[14]
Slave (injured)Each$300.00
1859Georgia[14]







SlaveEach$400.00
1850Southern States[4]







Slave ('Prime Field Hand')Each$1,800.00
1860Southern States[12]







HorseEach$120
1861n/a[12]
HorseEach$185
1865n/a[12]




























Restaurant Food





ItemUnitCost
YearLocationSource
Cup of chocolate (hot chocolate)Each$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Mammoth glass of Mason Celebrated BeerEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Clam chowderEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Hot oatmeal mushEach$0.10
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Beefsteak and onions, with fried potatoesEach$0.10
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Boiled mutton with oyster sauceEach$0.10
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Chicken pot pieEach$0.20
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Pig's feet, soused or in batterEach$0.10
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Porterhouse steakEach$0.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Roast beef with lima beansEach$0.10
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Roast turkey and currant jellyEach$0.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Stewed mutton with bread, butter and potatoesEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Baked ApplesEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Buckwheat cakes with honeyEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Stewed prunesEach$0.05
1850'sCalifornia[1]







Ale (bottle)Each$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Champagne (bottle)Each$5.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Champagne cider (bottle)Each$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Claret (bottle)Each$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Old Madeira (bottle)Each$4.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Pale sherry (bottle)Each$3.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Baked sweet potatotesEach$0.50
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Boiled Irish PotatoesEach$0.50
1850'sCalifornia[1]
CabbageEach$0.50
1850'sCalifornia[1]
CheeseEach$0.75
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Ox tail soupEach$1.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
SquashEach$0.50
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Baked trout, white and anchovy sauceEach$1.50
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Beef stewed with onionsEach$1.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Curried sausagesEach$1.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Pork & apple sauceEach$1.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Roast beef, Stuffled lamb or muttonEach$1.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Stewed Kidney, Sauce de ChampagneEach$1.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Tenderloin lamb, green peasEach$1.25
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Apple PieEach$0.75
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Brandy peach pastryEach$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Bread puddingEach$0.75
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Jelly OmeletteEach$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Mince PieEach$0.75
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Rum OmeletteEach$2.00
1850'sCalifornia[1]
Stewed PrunesEach$0.75
1850'sCalifornia[1]


Sources:


Footnotes:
Footnote 1:
The metrics from the orginal source data has been standardised for the sake of uniformity, and to allow like for like comparison between items.
lbs are taken as 0.454kg; pints as 0.568 litres; gallons as 4.546 litres; bushels are taken as 36.368 litres; quarts are taken as 1.136 litres;


Footnote 2:
Many of the prices in the source data gave a price range, marked by a low figure and a high figure.
If that is the case, then the figures given in this listing are of the higher figure, the higher possible price.


Footnote 3:
As the source data only provided income for one period of time (either day, week, month or year), that piece of information has been listed.  If the income data provided by the orginial source was in months, then it has been multipled by 12 to give the income per year, and then divided by 52 to give the income per week, and then 5 to give the income per day.  This works out to 260 working days per year.

 
[End.]

21 comments:

  1. I am curious. It seems that for the wages you took the daily rate and multiplied it by 5 to get the weekly rate when most people worked 6 days a week in this time period. Can you clarify/elaborate?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah you're right that they often worked six days a week, the only reason that I converted the figures to five days/week was simply for comparison sake, i.e. to allow people to compare modern day incomes with those of the 1850s.

    Talking of working hours, did you know that the average amount of hours that a person worked during the their life doubled during the Industrial Revolution:


    1400-1600 - Farmer-miner, adult male, U.K.: 1980 hours

    Calculated from Ian Blanchard's estimate of 180 days per year. Assumes 11-hour day ("Labour productivity and work psychology in the English mining industry, 1400-1600", Economic History Review 31, 23 (1978).

    1840 - Average worker, U.K.: 3105-3588 hours

    Based on 69-hour week; hours from W.S. Woytinsky, "Hours of labor," in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. III (New York: Macmillan, 1935). Low estimate assumes 45 week year, high one assumes 52 week year

    1850 - Average worker, U.S.: 3150-3650 hours

    Based on 70-hour week; hours from Joseph Zeisel, "The workweek in American industry, 1850-1956", Monthly Labor Review 81, 23-29 (1958). Low estimate assumes 45 week year, high one assumes 52 week year

    1987 - Average worker, U.S.: 1949 hours

    From The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure, by Juliet B. Schor, Table 2.4


    Source: http://groups.csail.mit.edu/mac/users/rauch/worktime/hours_workweek.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. My great grandmother was born in Prussia in 1840. She made carrot pudding for holidays. She emigrated to US in the early 1880's. Carrot pudding is a steamed pudding made with grated carrots, potatoes, oil, sugar, flour, cinnamon, cloves, and nuts. I was telling my family on this thanksgiving day, that I know carrot pudding has been served at holidays from my great grandmother's time too today. I was trying to figure out the cost of making carrot pudding in 1860 (just randomly chosen, my belief is that it would have been expensive to make in 1860). I came across your website, and I haven't figured out the cost yet, but I'm having a great time perusing your site. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks! I can see why you’re great-great… grandmother’s recipe got handed down generation to generation: it’s got me salivating just at the thought of it!

    You’re probably correct in thinking that the carrot cake would be expensive, because from what I’ve read spices have been pricey since time immemorial. For instance back in Medieval England ginger could cost 12 pence/lb, when the wage of a skilled worker would be 6 pence/day. (https://www.economics.utoronto.ca/wwwfiles/archives/munro5/SPICES1.htm).

    That said, I haven’t stumbled across any lists which mention the cost of spices in 1800s USA yet, so I really don’t know. I’ll keep an eye out though, and update the list if I find anything.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What s Cooking Food Wine Life All mixed up Love my Coach sneaks! Cooking with Amy A Food Blog.
    food

    ReplyDelete
  7. what is the cost of a house?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only data I've found concerning accomodation is rental data. An agricultural house cost $24 per year in the 1850s's. That's according to data from this excel file.

      http://gpih.ucdavis.edu/files/Maryland_1752-1856.xls

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. At a Price,... Liberty & Freedom, derived from biblical law, in Creator inspired USA.
    Was paramount in improving our wages & life style.

    At the "Cost" of.. Satan inspired . "New Deal" Free stuff, Progressivism, [the antithesis]
    Our is nation is now broke. [In more ways than one.] God help us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. what is the price of land

    ReplyDelete
  11. How much did a loaf of bread cost in the 1840's?

    ReplyDelete

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  13. cost of living per month every decade 1850 to 2010 would be interesting and keeps as a good record. dwarakanathnama@yahoo.in

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  14. trying to find out how much it would cost to rent a horse per day.

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  15. Deadwood TV show had a rate of $ 4 a week to rent a horse.

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  17. How much was a newspaper in 1843?

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  18. Thanks, very helpful.

    ReplyDelete