Sterling today and yesteryear [was: "Location, location, location": a proverb?]

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed May 30 20:44:01 UTC 2007

Another comparison of sterling today to 1739 (admittedly very rough):

Mean wages for a Philadelphia laborer in
1737-1739 were 1.50 shillings sterling per day;
for a Boston seaman in 1736-1740 were 1.20 pound
sterling per month.  [Gary Nash, _The Urban
Crucible_ (1979), p. 392.]  These come to about
15 pounds sterling a year -- if there was employment for the whole year.

A minimum wage of about $7.00 per hour today in
the U.S. amounts to around $14,500 per year,
which is about 7,300 pounds sterling at current
rates of exchange.  The wage factor (7,300 to 15)
is 486 -- again, not quite 1000 to 1, but closer.


At 5/30/2007 10:36 AM, I wrote:
>[Jon L. wrote:]
>>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?

The American Dialect Society -

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