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Past Values

October 12, 2017
Posted at 11:04 am
 

I'm posting this as its own blog entry because it relates a number of stories. Due to inflation and other economic factors it's hard to relate prices and values of long ago with those of today. Improved manufacturing makes things cheaper while other factors push prices up. For example, the common desktop computer that cost $2,000 today has more computing power than a $5,000 system did 20 years ago or a $5,000,000 computer did 50 years ago. Yet a gallon of fuel 50 years ago was only a few cents.

You can't really compare prices of then to now. Back in 1860 the latest Colt .45 revolver sold for $20, based on inflation between then and now it would cost about $500, while the changes in manufacturing should make it available for much less for the same gun today, but other factors like increased labour means they sell for $1,500 today - which is much higher than the inflation rate. Rural land in Arizona sold for $5 to $10 an acre in 1860 and now sells for thousands an acre.

The best way to get an idea of prices is to look at key factors of the time and place. In 1860 farm land in Maryland sold for $30 an acre while most people were paid $1.00 a day for a full day of work or about $0.10 per hour (or less), and new revolvers cost $20 each.

I hope this helps with looking at comparative values.