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What Could An Early American Buy With A Silver Dollar In 1797?

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 Posted 06/22/2021  5:34 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@westcoin An interesting question that comes to my mind when thinking about early American coinage is what was the velocity that these coins circulated. Were people keen to save some of their pennies/thalers/reales/dollars or was life much harder back then, and saving a coin with a decent purchasing power the last thing on their minds? Perhaps the longest any early Americans held on to their coins was a day or two, a week at the longest? (I'm just throwing this out there, this is all hypothetically speaking). I can appreciate why coins in higher grades are so valuable and sought after. The probability of a coin from that era never having to circulate is probably exceptionally low, especially when comparing to more modern issues, like the Morgan dollar.
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 Posted 06/22/2021  6:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Sap to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
1.00 from 1797 is the equivalent of 21.20 today
according to officialdata.org.


I'm just going to go on a limb here, but maybe perhaps one reason why I was feeling a little confused at first with reading that $1 in 1797 had the equivalent purchasing power of the $20 bill in my wallet today is perhaps because price variations between different commodities(?) then were much different than what they are today?


I don't trust the inflation calculator results for that far back...

Even just those 200+ years has made a considerable difference between today's civilization and that of 1797.

Food was more expensive back then, because they had little to no mass-production techniques to create an economy of scale. Clothing was much more expensive back then, for the same reason, which is why people repaired worn-out clothing until it was physically impossible to do so, rather than simply throwing it away. Imported goods were much more expensive than locally-made equivalents, due to the cost of shipping, and the increased demand caused by the common perception that European-made items were of higher quality or more fashionable than local goods. Land, on the other hand, was much cheaper.

You cannot compare the price of "eating out", because "eating out" hadn't been invented yet.
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 Posted 06/22/2021  10:00 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Newguy, that is an interesting point to ponder on. There certainly wasn't as much to spend hard money on, no Starbucks, or McDonalds every day, I assume purchases were made weekly on shopping trips into town for rural folks and farmers, those that lived in town or city, more often certainly.

Many items at the local store might be purchased on a credit note and paid on at the end of each month rather than per transaction. I would think coinage didn't circulate as fast as it did later on (say another 50-80 years), of course by then we had a banking system in place and our mint was cranking out a steady stream of coinage.

I don't have the answer at all though, I'm "just thinking out loud."
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 Posted 06/22/2021  10:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
A number of good points made. Really enjoyed pondering/ researching this topic!

Also makes you sit back and realize just how wasteful we are in today's society.
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 Posted 06/23/2021  5:32 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@West Those are some great points and insight. Daily life for the average American back then was completely different to the lifestyles many of us live today, and it's important to keep that in mind when considering how money would have flowed and been used in that kind of a society. I always wonder, when looking at an old worn coin from that era, where it has been, who had used it and for what purpose, and what it could have bought. Great discussion and a great topic to research!

@Ty Yes I do agree with you, I think people today are much more wasteful than the people of the past. I wonder what questions people in the future will be asking themselves when looking back in our time and our coins haha!
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 Posted 06/24/2021  09:54 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I wonder what questions people in the future will be asking themselves when looking back in our time and our coins haha!


Well, assuming the zincolns even survive that long, probably "why the heck did they keep the cent around that long?" !!!
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 Posted 06/24/2021  10:03 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add hfjacinto to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
While I can't help with your original question, I can give a more recent example. I recently acquired this note:




This note comes from a small run of 4,095,000 and has a rarity index of 92 on Numista. Less than 1 note was printed for every 2 people.

As my mom was around in the 50/60's I asked my mom about this note and she said she doesn't remember ever seeing one in circulation, 1000 Escudos was a lot of money in 1956 (equivalent to $34.78 USD then), considering the GDP per capita was $360 in 1960, this note was 1/10th of your yearly income. At the time, my mom and grandmother sold produce, eggs and other items at the loca market, they lived in a small town, the only goods they purchased were clothes and shoes and that was rare. So a 1000 escudos note was not used unless you lived in a large city. The largest she remembers seeing was 100 escudos (1/10 of this note). So assume a $1 coin in 1792 would be the same thing. You probably saved it until you had enough to buy what you need.
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 Posted 06/24/2021  11:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Well, assuming the zincolns even survive that long, probably "why the heck did they keep the cent around that long?" !!!
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 Posted 06/24/2021  3:55 pm  Show Profile   Check nss-52's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add nss-52 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
You cannot compare the price of "eating out", because "eating out" hadn't been invented yet.
Oh yes it had, they even had restaurants in Roman times.
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 Posted 06/25/2021  09:59 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TNG to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:

Quote:
You cannot compare the price of "eating out", because "eating out" hadn't been invented yet.


Oh yes it had, they even had restaurants in Roman times.



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 Posted 06/25/2021  4:12 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I just found this new book (well new to me):
NUMISMATIC ARCHAEOLOGY OF NORTH AMERICA.
Akin, Margorie H., James C. Bard and Kevin Akin.

Q. David Bowers comments: This book is one of the most thorough and most detailed work I have ever read on the use of money in the United States. From Indian wampum to modern turnpike tokens, from foreign coins used as money in America to gold coins recovered from sunken treasure, this book will enhance the knowledge of all who read it.

I haven't read it, nor do I have a copy (yet). But it looks right up this alleyway of research on money and it's early uses in America. Looks quite interesting and if Dave Bowers endorses it, well then, you know it's well done.



It just popped up as a new arrival at Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Books. Another one to add to my list of for the near future books.
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
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 Posted 06/25/2021  4:33 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Oldfordman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I think I want it too.
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 Posted 06/25/2021  5:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@westcoin, the latest Archaeology magazine had a blurb on the use of shell bead money being pushed back by 1000 years to 2000 years ago on the California coast, by the Chumash people. Possibly the earliest example of money being used in the Americas. A more thorough article here https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas...29120245.htm
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