"Location, location, location": a proverb?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed May 30 14:36:47 UTC 2007

At 5/30/2007 07:59 AM, Jon L. wrote:
>Who was he trying to convince?

I think he was trying to convince the world
--  if you mean the owner of the treasure, the
Mogul emperor.  :-)  If you mean Axworthy, I
think he was just reporting the impression made on others at the time.

To be fair and fully disclose:

First, I need to correct a misstatement of
mine:  The plunder of 87.5 million pounds
sterling was not the jewels alone, but rather the
total:  "the 'gifts' or contributions (jewels as
well as cash) ... money levied from the populace,
the money and valuables taken from the imperial
treasury and the goods confiscated (furniture,
textiles, cannon and other weapons)".  Axworthy
puts the value of the jewels themselves as about
half that sum -- still a considerable,
considerable, considerable amount.  (There, I've
said it three times.)  Axworthy writes that some
said Nader Shah's soldiers took an additional 8 million sterling.

Axworthy claims "a number of authoritative
contemporary sources concur" on this total.  (He cites half a dozen sources.)

Axworthy acknowledges imprecision:  "Given the
difficulty of valuing gems, then as now, it is
perhaps rather nugatory to debate the precise
value of the haul.  When assessing the worth of
such a huge quantity of such precious things,
standards of value begin to shiver and
crumble."  [Also, many must have been uncut at
the time -- one such being the Koh-i-Noor.]

>Also, could a pound sterling of 1739 really be worth _1,000_ pounds today?

Perhaps.  There has been a lot written about
wages and cost of living in the 18th century;
al;though of course comparisons are difficult as
jobs and products are not the same.  I do not
have the best sources quickly at hand.  But a correspondent once wrote to me:
>£3907 of 1746 had the purchasing power of
>£467,503.53 in 2002 (that's $829,144.22 this
>morning) - if one follows Lawrence H. Officer and his computations presented at

This gives an inflation of 120 (from 1746 to
2002) -- not quite 1,000, but it would still make
Nader Shah's plunder 10.5 billion pounds
today.  And the factor of 120 is presumably the
"consumer basket" -- what has the rate of
inflation been for gold, silver, and precious
jewels, articles of conspicuous consumption?

My correspondent also wrote:
>I prefer to think of contemporary prices and
>wages. The following table will give you
>information on the level of wages in the UK for the period 1710-1911:


>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society
>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson"
>Subject:      Re: "Location, location, location": a proverb?
>  From the 18th century ... what, this isn't the "long 18th century"
>email list? ... well, anyway, from at least the reign of Shah Jahan
>(ruled 1628-1658), for whom this palace in Delhi was built:
>"High on the walls of the room [containing the Mogul Emperor's
>Peacock Throne] was repeated an inscription in Persian: 'If there be
>a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.'"
>How's that for a location, location, location?  When the Mogul empire
>was conquered in 1739 by Nader Shah (spellings vary, especially in
>the 18th century), the jewels in this room were pillaged.  My source
>gives a value of 87.6 million pounds sterling at that time, perhaps
>90 billion pounds sterling today.  One jewel, the Kuh-e Nur
>(Koh-i-Noor) diamond, found its way into Britain; others are still in
>Tehran although the original throne itself was destroyed around the
>time of Nader Shah's death in 1747.
>Michael Axworthy, _The Sword of Persia, Nader Shah: From Tribal
>Warrior to Conquering Tyrant_ (London, I.B. Tauris, 2006), pages 3 and 10.
>For the fates of the Koh-i-Noor and the Peacock Throne and for Shah
>Jahan, Wikipedia.
>For the full inscription as quoted above, 5 hits on Google.  (But it
>hangs up Google Books -- Server error.)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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