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

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 Posted 06/17/2021  8:54 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message


Let's say the year is 1797 and in my hand is this exact silver dollar. What could I purchase if all I had in my possession at that moment was this coin? If anyone has great sources that touch on this subject, please feel free to share!
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 Posted 06/17/2021  9:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add TNG to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
About 4 lbs of coffee.
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 Posted 06/17/2021  9:55 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ty2020b to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Interesting resource I stumbled on.

https://libraryguides.missouri.edu/...es/1790-1799

Edit: sure wish we could still get bacon for $0.14 per lbs. !!!
Edited by Ty2020b
06/17/2021 10:01 pm
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 Posted 06/17/2021  10:12 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@Tye Wow thank you for the resource! I'll definitely be checking it out.
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 Posted 06/17/2021  10:27 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Most inflation calculator sites I've visited suggest a value today of just over $21 for a dollar minted in 1797, but somehow that just seems too low. Any thoughts?
Edited by Coinfrog
06/18/2021 10:40 am
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 Posted 06/17/2021  10:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jimbucks to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The equivalent of a good time in Vegas?
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 Posted 06/17/2021  10:58 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
George B. Evans book indicates that the average salary for a workman in the U.S. mint in Philadelphia, 1795 was $1.14 per day. I believe the workers were at work longer than 8 hours back then, more like 12 hours, so it's about a 12 hour day of hard labor. The mint was open 6 days per week, so $6.00/week or just about $25.00 month was the salary to make the actual money (dollars and cents) back then.

I know the Numismatist over 2018-19 had a series of Mint archives from R.W. Julian Titled US Mint Expense Warrants, he listed each payment made to the mint and the reason for it, in & out, salaries were included, fascinating stuff, I'm sure the NNP has a lot of that scanned by now through the National Archives.

Just went through my archives found this pretty interesting lots of prices from March 1796:



Hope it's readable. Pages 60-& 61 from Numimatist June 2018.
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Edited by westcoin
06/17/2021 11:11 pm
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 Posted 06/17/2021  11:29 pm  Show Profile   Check Yokozuna's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Yokozuna to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great question! I always wondered about things like this.

@Ty2020b That link is fantastic! Thanks for posting the address. I'm going to spend a lot of time on that site.
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 Posted 06/18/2021  12:14 am  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I just lost half an hour in that rabbit hole of historical data. LOL Thanks a lot Ty2020b!
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
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 Posted 06/18/2021  12:17 am  Show Profile   Check Pacificoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add Pacificoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
1.00 from 1797 is the equivalent of 21.20 today
according to officialdata.org.
Compounded @ 5 per cent a dollar invested from 1797 is
Worth 55,750.00 in today's value give or take .

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 Posted 06/18/2021  09:48 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Most inflation calculator sites I've visited suggest a value today of just over $21 for a dollar minted in 1797, but somehow that just seems too low. Any thoughts?

Quote:
1.00 from 1797 is the equivalent of 21.20 today
It checks out.

This means the half cent would be analogous to one dime today. Still think we need to keep the penny and nickel in circulation?
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 Posted 06/18/2021  10:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
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?

For example, if everyone in the community was growing or had their own little farm plot for producing food, perhaps food was much cheaper back in those days than today relative to the cost of other things not food related? Why pay to eat somewhere when you have everything you need at home, especially with no Walmarts, Costcos, and McDonald's nearby? Growing up, my dad was always fascinated with the 1792 large cent because "you could buy a whole dinner with just one cent in those days." (I don't know how true this statement is).

Whereas objects relating to metal work, clothing, glass, hygiene luxuries, or office supplies may have been more expensive because supplies were already pretty limited in the US, with needed materials having to cross an ocean a couple months on a ship to reach you. This is also not taking into account price increases that incorporate the needed skills gained through years of apprenticeship to produce some of these goods, which I'm sure would have made things such as axes, buckles, horse saddles, non-coin buttons, and hats more valuable then than what they may be today.

This is why there may be larger differences in prices when comparing food prices to novelty goods back in 1797, whereas the $20 bill in my wallet in 2021 could go to either buying the No.3 burger combo at my nearest family-owned fast food restaurant or purchase a decent hat at Tuesday's local farmer's market.
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 Posted 06/18/2021  12:03 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kbbpll to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I don't trust the inflation calculator results for that far back. I just tried several that gave me the value of $1 in 1900 as $31.53 and for 1913 a couple were consistent at $27. Then for the calculator that goes back to 1800, I get $15.13. There's no way $1 was worth twice as much in 1800 as it was in 1900. There's a British one https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/mon...n-calculator that goes back to the 1200s that shows 1 = 128.49 for 1797 - that seems more reasonable as a ratio. But then that one gives 85.66 for 1800. Hmm.

I notice in the warrant list posted above that they were paying about 28 cents a pound for copper. It's currently $4.42/lb which is about 16x, but I imagine copper was relatively more expensive back then?

Edit: If what @westcoin posted is accurate, the average wage was about $0.10/hr, and it is currently $11.29/hr, so roughly 100 times more. That roughly lines up with the British inflation calculator.
Edited by kbbpll
06/18/2021 12:12 pm
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 Posted 06/18/2021  12:14 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@kbbpll Compared to today, copper supply back in those days was definitely more scarce, but demands for the metal may have been much lower.



This graph shows copper production from 1750-1880 from Europe in the units of tons.



This graph shows copper production in the world from 1900-2012, with units in tons^6 (tons to the 6th power). That's a lot of copper!
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 Posted 06/18/2021  12:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add newguy22 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
^Continued

Here are my sources:

1750-1880 graph: https://bernarddeacon.com/mining/co...ort-history/

1900-2012 graph: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_copper
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 Posted 06/18/2021  1:43 pm  Show Profile   Check NumisRob's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add NumisRob to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Are there any published diaries from the period or popular novels that give prices of items? Novels by authors like the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens often refer to purchasing goods or a service for a certain sum of money. Charles Brockden Brown would have been writing novels in the USA in the 1790s, but I've never read any of his books...
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