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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1770-1779

Links to U. S. government documents listing retail prices for typical consumer purchases, and wages for common occupations. All data is for the United States unless specifically indicated.

Wages, up through 1779

Prices, up through 1779

Prices in Massachusetts - 1750s forward

The extensive price figures below were collected by the state of Massachusetts, and reported in Comparative wages, prices, and cost of living (from the Sixteenth annual report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, for 1885) / by Carroll D. Wright.  Most tables below report price data up through the 1860s.

FOOD

  • Dairy products
    • Price per pound of butter back to 1760s;
    • eggs and cheese back to 1750s;
    • quarts of milk back to 1770s.
  • Food preparations
    • Prices for individual biscuits back to 1770s, sugar, salt and tea back to 1750s.  Bread, lemons, chocolate, coffee, crackers, raisins, lard, macaroni, molasses, and more.  Tea is extensively subdivided by type and priced by the pound.
  • Flour and Meal
    • Flour prices back to 1754, including buckwheat flour, graham flour, "Indian Meal," rye meal, oatmeal, wheat bran and more priced by the pound or bushel.
  • Agricultural products (Fruits, vegetables, grains)
    • Reported for almost every year as far back as the 1750s.
  • Meats and Nuts
    • Prices by the pound for bacon, beef, ham, lamb, mutton, pork, etc. in some cases dating to the 1750s.  The table for nuts includes prices by the pound for almonds, filberts and walnuts.
  • Poultry and game
    • Price per pound of goose, turkey, and poultry back to 1758.
  • Fish
    • Codfish by the pound back to 1782; by the hundred pounds back to 1754.  Prices for other fish including halibut, herring, haddock, salmon, eels, etc. by the pound.
  • Liquors and Beverages
    • Prices by the quart or gallon for beer to 1812, brandy to 1782, cider to 1755, wine to 1783, gin to 1784, rum to 1761, and more.  Prices indicate source in some instances, for example, Gin from Holland or Rum from the West Indies.

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

  • Tallow, candles, soap, etc.
    • Soap prices date to 1770s.
  • Fuel
    • Charcoal, oak wood, pine wood, coal, etc. Price for wood as fuel dating to 1752.
  • Miscellaneous, not elsewhere classified
    • Price for brooms, brass kettles, brick, matches, tubs, tumblers, clocks, candlesticks, silver watches, feathers (by the pound), wine glasses and more. Prices for some items date to 1750s.
  • Tobacco and snuff
    • Prices for cigars by the dozen, and tobacco and snuff by the pound or (sometimes) ounce.  Tobacco prices date to 1760s.

CLOTHING and SUPPLIES FOR MAKING CLOTHES

  • Clothing
    • hats, handerchiefs and stockings back to the 1760s,
    • gloves, breeches, pantaloons, hose and coats back to 1780s,
  • Cloth
    • Prices for some types of cloth back to 1770s
  • Dress goods
    • Prices for alpaca wool and calico by the yard, as well as batiste, cambric, cashmere, crape, gingham, gauze, lawn, muslin, linsey woolsey, plaid, poplin, satin, silk, velvet and many other fabric types, some back to the 1770s but most back to the early 1780s.  More fabrics are listed under the Dry Goods heading.
  • Dry goods
    • Prices for blankets back to the 1780s, cotton flannel, damask and denim, diaper cloth, shirtings, ticking, and more, some dating to the 1750s.
  • Boots, shoes and leather
    • Prices reported by the individual pair or by component such as buckles, leather, buttons, braid, fringe, etc. Detailed prices for style and type of shoe, boot, sandal, slipper, rubber overshoe, etc.  Earliest price dates to 1750s.
  • Small wares
    • Yarn, needles, pins, embroidery silk, cotton and linen thread.  Some prices date to 1770s.

HARDWARE & BUILDING MATERIALS

  • Lumber
    • Price for boards, plank, shingles, timber, clapboards, etc. by the foot.  Earliest price is for 2.5 inch plank wood in 1757.  Reports some prices by type of wood: ash, white oak, spruce, pine.

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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
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106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phone (573) 882-0748