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

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 Posted 06/18/2021  3:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jaberwoke to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
An excellent source is the Hathi Trust Digital Library

https://www.hathitrust.org/

Here's a sample:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt...=1up&seq=117
Edited by jaberwoke
06/18/2021 3:32 pm
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 Posted 06/18/2021  4:41 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Oldfordman to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You could buy a musket if you had 6 more of these.
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 Posted 06/18/2021  4:47 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add suipakpaikungfu to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I'd keep it and tell my heirs not to sell it until 2021...
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 Posted 06/18/2021  5:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
I'd keep it and tell my heirs not to sell it until 2021...
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 Posted 06/18/2021  5:31 pm  Show Profile   Check westcoin's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add westcoin to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
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).


I assume you mean a 1793 or 1794 large cent, the 1793 cents are really rare and even in the 1960's they would cost at least $100 to buy one, if not more, the 1794 and later dates were much more common and ran $10 and up back then, though they were still rare coins, and not seen all that often even in collections.

The 1792 Large Cent is a pattern coin or trial piece and thus extremely rare. There are less than a few dozen known in total today.

Here is what the 1792 Large Cent patter looks like, it's worth well over a quarter of a million dollars in today's money. One uncirculated example sold in 2015 for $2.5 million. (pictured below), from Heritage Auctions and the Donald G. Partrick Collection.




The 1792 coinage has become something of a obsession of mine, only in reading though as I doubt I will ever be able to afford even a worn example, even lower cost half disme, prices have hit the stratosphere and show no signs of slowing down or reversing.

I find the entire study of colonial coinage really fascinating as it pertains to exactly what this thread is about, the value of things in a new America. Before we really had any type of unified monetary system in place, the stop gaps of colonial coinage like the Fugio cents, circulating foreign coinage (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Irish, English, etc). the pre and federal era state coinage of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts. There is so much recent release of great (and free) information on the NNP through the C4 club literature, as well as some amazing books that have come out through new research in the past 5 or 6 years.

"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
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Edited by westcoin
06/18/2021 7:59 pm
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 Posted 06/19/2021  11:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Ballyhoo to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Purchasing power varied widely, dependent upon location. Transportation as we know it did not exist back then. The farther one was from it's source, the more it cost. Also, the time of year played an equally large role on things grown, more so in the north than south. Not much will grow up there for five months of the year.
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Edited by Ballyhoo
06/19/2021 11:04 am
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 Posted 06/19/2021  4:44 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add ExoGuy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
What could I purchase if all I had in my possession at that moment was this coin (1797 $1?


As for me, I'd buy copper .... a hundred 1793 Chain Cents, 200 1796 or 1793 Half Cents or any combination thereof!
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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.
Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise, you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. - C. S. Lewis
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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."
"Buy the Book Before You Buy the Coin" - Aaron R. Feldman - "And read it" - Me 2013!
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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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